FEED FAM: TALISA BRUNENGRABER

True to BSTN’s proprietary ‘Feed Fam, Fuck Fame!‘ philosophy, we’re introducing you to some members of the immediate as well as the extended BSTN family. In their own words, they talk about themselves, their career, and selected topics close to their heart. This is Feed Fam – Episode IV featuring Rug Riders co-founder and DJ Talisa Brunengraber.


On faking it ’til you make it:

I’ve been rather fortunate because a female DJ was more of a rarity when I started, ten years ago, than it is today. I’m happy to see more women in the profession today but back then, it helped me to stand out a little bit more. I’ve lived in Paris at the time and the city’s most well-known restaurateur and his music collective made an effort to sign me.  

Coupled with the next chapter of my career, which took place in New York, this opened a lot of doors for me. It has allowed me to build a reputation and a client list without the necessity of constantly promoting my career online. I’m not an Instagram girl. I’d rather keep things to myself than sharing it with the world. But if I started today, I probably wouldn’t have any other choice than to play the social media game.  

My philosophy was ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ to the fullest, back in the day. I was taught the very basics in just one day, took a chance, and went to an audition together with my best friend from Paris. Turns out, we both got the gig. From then on, the regular appearances helped me practice the craft on a much higher level.  

On the role of the internet: 

The internet truly is one of the greatest tools we have at our disposal. Everyone can build a platform for themselves, make music, and share their project – as well as themselves – with the world, basically overnight. The potential reach you can build for yourself is totally unprecedented. It simply wasn’t possible back in the day.  

It obviously helped to have lived and worked in New York or Paris for example because it allowed me to perform there, meet, and connect with people in those cities. But today, the physical element of being in a specific city would not be necessary any longer.  

Today, any girl, even from a small city, could use platforms like Instagram to get recognized internationally as long as she has the talent and something to offer to her audience. It’s about being creative and showing what you got. Today, you don’t have to live in Paris or New York, even though it still helps. You could also have the same career while you’re still based in Kufstein [a small city in Austria], for example. Taking a chance and believing in what you do can get you places, even if you might have to ‘fake it ‘til you make it’ at the beginning. (laughs)  

On the crucial importance of self-belief: 

Courage gets rewarded, which has also been the case in my career. It’s about putting yourself out there and not being afraid. I’ve done just that and it’s a huge reason why I have been able to have my career in music without needing an agency. I’ve dealt with all of those people within the industry directly and believed in myself and wasn’t afraid to pursue that path.  

Self-confidence is key. Don’t get distracted by what’s already out there. There’s no point in thinking ‘This person is better looking.’ or ‘That person is already at an advantage.’ If you’re feeling like it’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it, you have to allow yourself to trust your intuition and go for it. You can’t listen to the voices that are telling you what’s difficult or even impossible about it. Self-belief and trust cannot be overstated on the way to achieving great things!  

On starting her own business:

I’ve never felt like I didn’t want to work a traditional 9-to-5 job. I wouldn’t mind working for one of the people I’m looking up to or for a company whose values I share. This could be anything from a charity that I feel like is doing great work to a musician I like. But the actual reason I started Rug Riders, one of my three projects, was that I saw a gap in the market, something that hadn’t been done yet. If something inspires me, it also serves as motivation at the same time. It doesn’t take long for me to get started in those circumstances. My motto is: Trust your intuition and work super super hard. 

Everything fell into place for Rug Riders. The circumstances were ideal and so were the people. The timing was just right which is why we went ahead and started the company. My fiancé, Bardia, was already working in the rug business. There is so much heritage and so much art involved. Coupled with the fact that I have majored in art history in college, it’s most definitely a passion project for me.  

I saw how these beautiful pieces of art didn’t get the respect and the recognition they deserved and that was the main reason for us to start Rug Riders. We were set to shine some new light on these artworks and re-introduce them to the people of our culture and our generation. The niche we saw was to add something to the carpets your grandmother may have had to share the artwork with today’s consumers as well.  

On giving back: 

We’re still in our start-up phase so everything is still fairly fresh. However, we’ve introduced a “shop for good” button on our homepage that showcases products that support a charity project through the proceeds of specific products. It’s an important element of our young brand never to forget to include some charitable aspect into what we do.  

On stereotypes she faced as a female entrepreneur: 

It’s still wild out there. I’ve learned quickly that female founders or entrepreneurs still have to keep their guard up. In my experience, friendliness and kindness are often mistaken for weakness, especially when it’s women displaying these character traits. Trying to accomplish things in a nice way is perceived differently in the world of business than the stereotypically tough businessman banging his fist on the table.

The friendly approach being mistaken for naiveté was an obstacle at times. Especially during negotiations, I’ve noticed that women are still treated differently instead of as an equal partner in some cases. However, I take it as an incentive even though I’ve certainly noticed some differences for female entrepreneurs.  

On why ‘done’ can be better than ‘perfect’: 

I wouldn’t necessarily change anything about the early phase of our start-up. Of course, there were times that were more hectic or more chaotic than they would have had to be. Looking back, some shipments that got stuck in customs for an unnecessarily long period of time would be handled differently today. But at the end of the day, all of these experiences were important for the growth of our company because we learned a ton.

Most importantly, we realized that flexibility is our key to success. We’re good at adapting to challenges. We’re not giving up but we’re learning every day. That’s all part of the process, including all of the hurdles you have to clear. Aiming to be perfect each and every time runs the risk of prolonging any project forever. You can’t satisfy everyone every time. That’s why perfectionism is not necessarily the way to a more successful future, as long as you constantly keep learning from all of the experiences you’ve had.  

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