In the 1980s, New Jersey native Collette Liantonio was a single mom commuting into New York City everyday to work at an ad agency. Fed up with her long commute and even longer hours, she decided to take her production experience and start her own business, Concepts Video Productions, Inc. Thirty-five years later, Liantonio’s business is a respected name in the commercial and digital video production industry — but she’s not done yet. She’s finding ways to give back by making pro-bono videos, and she just finished building a 11,000-square-foot state-of-the-art studio for future projects.
Collette Liantonio’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
My ex-husband passed away at Christmastime in 1982, and I was raising two small children (7 and 9) alone. Work and life balance? There was none. I left the house for my New York City ad agency job before the children awoke and returned at bedtime after hours of exhausting commuting. To make ends meet, I’d freelance as a copywriter under my DBA, Concepts by Collette. As account supervisor at the NY agency, I was creatively unfulfilled and saddened by the backstabbing atmosphere.
In December of 1983, I approached a TV production company where I once worked in New Jersey and asked the CEO to hire me as an outside TV producer for his direct-response commercials. We struck a deal, and Concepts Video was born. The location? My kitchen table.
Success is self-actualization. It’s the freedom to determine your future. Giving yourself the business opportunities to fully realize your talents and to help develop the talents of your team. Succeeding financially, while adhering to the highest ethical standards. Success is the joy of knowing your work is exceptional and that you have provided your clients with the best possible value. It’s impeccable communication and collaboration. It’s having a positive impact on the world.
“Success is self-actualization.”
– Collette Liantonio, Founder of Concepts Video Productions
As an entrepreneur I’ve been able to introduce hundreds of great products to the world. From the George Foreman Grill to HipHop ABs to Veggetti, I’ve influenced how people eat, dress and strive for success. Our MD Hearing Aid Production and Molesafe Systems (diagnostics for Melanoma) have been extremely fulfilling by empowering medically challenged individuals. As a mature business, we’ve been able to give back by creating pro bono fundraising videos for a girl’s school in India, a women’s refuge in Newark, The Girl Scouts and other worthy causes.
This year we built an 11,000-square-foot state-of-the-art studio that gives us the freedom to creatively execute greater pieces with the highest video production values. We just completed an award-winning digital campaign for Google/Onkyo.
All of my children have worked in my business, and I believe that has been a great motivation for me to continue to expand the company. Both of my daughters have launched successful careers in the arts, and my son is now VP of operations. In addition, I have a loyal group of long-term employees, my work family, who give me the strength to search for great new opportunities. Many former employees have started their own companies, I’ve been told, as a result of my example.
We’ve reached the pinnacle of success in the direct-sell world. We work directly with the principals, belong to the trade associations and hold a respected place in that vertical market. We have worked with many of our clients for decades. Moving into the corporate-video realm has posed a greater challenge. Navigating the bureaucracy of big business and the ad agency gatekeepers can be frustrating. “Build it and they will come” was the reason I built the studio in the middle of the tri-state business corridor.
We are currently in the process of designing a strategy to let the world know of our state-of-the-art studios. We believe that we can inject new life into the traditional marketing via cutting edge video graphics and digital creations.
My parents are my role models. They emphasized the importance of education and to follow my dreams. I was fortunate to achieve an MA in Theatre Education by the age of 21, and that education has given me the confidence to succeed. Early in my career, I was a financial reporter for Dun and Bradstreet, and in that capacity I interviewed dozens of successful business owners and entrepreneurs who educated me in the strange and wonderful world of business. I had the best of both worlds … creative and financial.