Victoria Wellman, Oratory Laboratory, Woman Entrepeneur
Recently, I have not been consistent about doing the Woman Entrepreneur of the week every Monday. I do realize how it resonates with so many as Victoria came to me through a friend who said you should talk to Victoria because she would be great for the Woman Entrepreneur of the week. Right she was. I think of artists, playwrights, book writers, people who are able to earn their keep on their creative brain as entrepreneurs. Victoria took her creative passion and turned it into a business through a series of dot connectors.
Victoria grew up in the Chelsea area of London. Her mother is Scottish from Glasgow. She always worked but did not have the classic career per se. She did editorial work for law firms including a weekly parliamentary paper that kept firms aware of what was happening in the legal world of England. She also dabbled in real estate and most importantly was a mother. Her father is a NYer at heart born in London with Polish parents but moved to NYC when he was 12 and stayed through college eventually traveling the world. He identifies as an American even though he spent most of his life overseas. Her parents met in Elba when someone recommended that her father let her mother water ski on his shoulders. He has a serious sense of adventure even though he spent many of his days in suits working for big banks and now he is an advisor to aviation companies.
Victoria went to prep school in London until she was 11 years old before going to boarding school in the country. It was your typical British boarding school but her last two years of school she transferred back to the city and went to Westminster. After high school Victoria went to University of Bristol where she majored in language. Between high school and college Victoria spent a year in Madrid. She worked for a friend of the family who had worked at Sotheby’s in Madrid. He had broken off and and started his own fine arts consulting company. She says it was a funny way to spend your year off as most people go to Asia or somewhere exotic and just travel but she loved working.
At University of Bristol she took one year and lived in Barcelona. You can essentially do whatever you want but it has to be in the city/country that you have chosen for your junior year. Victoria worked in PR for a Spanish designer.
After graduation Victoria went to drama school. It was something she always wanted to do but her parents said get a degree first and if you are still obsessed with drama we will support you to go afterward. She went to Mountainview Academy of the Arts in London. She said it was the best year. She was completely entrenched in theater and loving every moment. After graduating she spent time going to audition after audition for theater, movies, commercials, etc. She was going to give herself a year to make money in her trade.
It was on her radar that moving to NYC might be the next best step. Her sister and her Grandparents were already living here so it was would be easy to make the move. Her sisters roommates had moved out and her sister said if you are going to do it, do it now. That is how Victoria ended up living in NYC. Once she got here she through herself into the actors life getting head shots, doing the auditions, the mailings etc just like London but in NYC she knew nobody. She had to make money so the good news is that her sister knew an investor in La Esquina and got her a job at the door. That was her entry into the hospitality world.
Victoria then ended up working in hospitality at The Box and the Norwood to make money. She began to meet some amazing people. She soon realized that she was actually not feeding her creativity by going to auditions. Soon she began to write. She had a lot to say about her experience being a Brit and making it work in NYC. She had met a few people who worked for major publications and they became her mentors. She says she has always been very opinionated and that came across in her writings. She has mellowed as she has aged like we all do. She was amazed how many people were willing to help her and as she says the accent goes a long way.
The writing turned into speeches. She met her husband Nathan at an experimental theater show that they did in NYC. They were friends and it eventually turned into dating. They were traveling upstate to go to a wedding together discussing how awful the speeches were at weddings. They both had this unique background that led to speech writing and speech delivery. They compliment each other as she is a dry wordy English lady and he is a comic writer performer from Massachusetts. They decided to start Oratory Laboratory together.
They built a site, had dinner with someone from Cool Hunting who picked them up and then Urban Daddy picked them up. Before they knew it people were reaching out to them to help them write their speeches including help with the execution of giving the speech. It was 2009. Essentially they were a different agency. People hire them to write pitches, do speeches, and stay on message and brand. The first job they did was for a guy that was going to be on 60 Minutes and he wanted someone to help prepare for those 3 days of taping so that he was able to stay on message. They also work on product demos and media training. There is really no end to the importance of writing. Even writing a good break-up letter.
Currently the company consists of just Victoria and her husband but I do believe they have stumbled on to something. The importance of sticking on brand, being able to speak to an audience and writing something that truly articulates what you are trying to get across is a gift. Victoria obviously has that gift and she has turned that into a business. Another woman entrepreneur taking what makes sense for her and building it into a business. She thanked me for promoting the voices of bright, accomplished women all over the worldwide web who still find themselves at the mercy of draconian male gender discrimination. Gotta love that.