Ventura Blvd

  • Address

    200 N. Pacific Coast Hwy.,
    Suite 110, El Segundo

  • Phone

    310-376-7800

  • Website

    venturablvd.goldenstate.is

  • L to R:

    Michelle Villas, Nikki Smith, Robin Sanders, Sue Williams, Linda Grasso

  • Special Section

    Women in Business

Now in its 11th year, the Ventura Blvd  lifestyle platform provides enlightening and entertaining stories of the San Fernando Valley—from the people to art and culture to the dining scene. Those stories are available in a magazine published eight times a year, on a website and through various social channels. The through line across all Ventura Blvd media: We focus on the things that matter to our community. Here, meet the women who make it happen.


Where do you find your inspiration?

Michelle Villas, Creative Director: “I’m constantly inspired by the people we feature in the magazine. When I’m on location directing our photo shoots, I come in contact with so many interesting people with unique stories.”

Sue Williams, Director of Brand Partnerships: “I gain a great deal of inspiration from the community. The Valley is a living, breathing entity. No matter what happens in the world, Valley businesses rise to the challenge. I find that inspiring!”

Nikki Smith, Senior Graphic Designer: “When I find myself in need of inspiration, I start my search on Instagram. I follow a handful of artists who produce authentic pieces that give me the urge to create something new. Afterwards, I take a walk or visit someplace new. This allows me to break routine and absorb the world around me. Nature is a fantastic source of inspiration. From a glowing droplet of morning dew on a leaf to the melting sky at sunset, everything in nature has some sort of beauty and texture that I take a mental note of.”


What is your advice for a woman starting in your line of work?

Robin Sanders, Publisher, Ventura Blvd magazine: “Anyone starting out should be flexible, roll with the punches and be open to doing things that aren’t in your job description. I have learned so much by doing tasks that are outside my purview. It’s great to get a bigger picture of how everything comes together, and it makes you better in your field.”

Nikki: “If you have an idea, fight for it. I used to give up at the first sign of resistance, since I’ve always been one to avoid conflict. However, I’ve come to understand that you can learn so much more about a topic through debate and intentional critique. If you give up on a concept right away, that removes the opportunity for you to think critically about it. You might end up changing your mind, and you

might not. But it’s all about the process and allowing yourself to articulate what you think is right and why.”

Sue: “Become a great listener. Media sales is about listening and partnering with clients to create solutions that allow them to tell their stories. It’s about satisfying their individual needs.”


What puts a spring in your step and keeps you feeling energized?

Linda Grasso, Editor-in-Chief, Ventura Blvd magazine: “Meeting people—which I do daily with my job. I find it invigorating to meet new people with each new issue of Ventura Blvd. I get to learn about them and their lives. I’ve made so many friends since I got this job 11 years ago—real friends—and it has been tremendously meaningful.”

Michelle: “I love finding creative ways to visually tell stories. Pulling together all of the elements of the magazine is a bit like putting together a recipe, and I love creating that balance every issue.”


What is on your bucket list, personally or professionally?

Linda: “It is important in life to keep growing. As humans, we tend to settle into our comfort zone. On my bucket list: keep pushing myself, getting outside my comfort zone, trying new things, striving to accomplish.”

Nikki: “There’s no better way to understand the world and the people in it than to travel. I find differences in architecture, artwork and language remarkably compelling. Immersing myself in another culture by learning about others’ values, beliefs and histories helps give me a greater sense of place in this world.”


How would clients describe you? 

Sue: “I like to think they see me as a trusted advisor. My career has been about building long-term relationships based on helping businesses succeed. I have clients of many years who have become good friends.”

Robin: “I’m a collaborator. It’s important to me to understand a client’s business and their goals. Every person I work with is important, and I believe it shows in how I interact with them. My entire team takes a holistic view on how we work with local businesses.”


How has motherhood changed you? 

Linda: “It has made me a better person. I believe I have a greater sense of empathy and an appreciation for kindness—and it has helped me set my priorities. I know what is important in life and what is not.”


How does your business provide clients a competitive advantage?

Robin: “Ventura Blvd places a client’s message 

into the living rooms of the highest-value homes in our community. We offer the ability to speak to people when they are relaxed so they can take in our engaging stories about their neighbors and their endeavors. There is no other platform that can offer that in the San Fernando Valley.”


What is the silver lining of the recent pandemic for your business?

Michelle: “Working through the pandemic brought us all closer as a team. We were challenged to adapt, think on the fly, strategize how to keep production in motion and give our clients creative solutions. Now that we get to spend some time face-to-face, we just appreciate it more.”