Debora Balardini is the co-founder of PUNTO Space and award-winning Nettles Artists Collective and is also the founder of Group.BR. Balardini is a social entrepreneur, theater performer, director, and producer. She has recently accepted the honor of becoming the Director At Large for the League of Professional Theater Women. Taking a leap from multiple nominations for contributions to original theater productions, she proudly accepted a 2017 SheRocks Art Influencer of the Year award and is a 2017 40 Over Forty honoree. Currently in the works, Balardini and her company Group .BR are in the pre-production stages of Inside the Wild Heart, an original immersive theater production. Balardini is a member of several organizations including Americans for the Arts, SAG-AFTRA, Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Yoga Alliance, and the Alliance of Resident Theaters (The A.R.T.)
How did you get into the industry?
I got into the event’s industry when I decide with my friend Sandie Luna, to open a space where we could practice our art as well as foster our artistic community. Having an events space seemed like the way to foster those dreams while creating an environment of celebration. We love making people happy!
Any emerging industry trends?
We were very brave by opening Punto Space 3 and half years ago when the economy was not good but still we accepted the challenges. To a certain extent there is a small struggle to keep our door open, as in any other business with the same age, but once we started being recognized in the industry then you feel the flow of things. Events are definitely much more technological in 2018. One needs to be able to mix the real and the virtual nowadays if you want to have “cool” event. Having said that, here is a general list: think about having virtual attendees, implementing local flavors, always personalize if possible, think of sustainability, and as always, the “why” about an event is always important. The stronger the ‘why’ the more inspired guests and industries will be. That especially includes immersive theater events and experiences, a trend that is growing in popularity.
Any industry opportunities or challenges?
One definitely has to be very creative in order to follow the trends but also, using that same creativity to reinvent your event space in original ways as well. There is an opportunity to put your own personality in everything and that is one of the good things about being unique human beings that we are: we are unique in our experiences so, use that technology trend as an opportunity to put your own twist in to it. The challenge is to implement that same technological aspects while pushing sales and dealing with updates in those same trends.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for the Business?
What originally inspired our business concept was having a place where art and pretty much every celebration are the basis for everyone who walks into Punto. Being founded by artists, it is very important for us to keep that vision. Our desired future for our business is to thrive in that same idea yet using trends to complement every event that comes to Punto.
What's next for the Business in the near future?
We are under a new management (MMEink) and are very excited about working with a full service one-stop-shop company that provides pretty much everything for our clients (catering, rentals, entertainment, etc.).
Your key initiatives for the success of the Business?
Definitely our new management is something positive for our business but also, we are a for profit company with philanthropy in mind. Our initiatives such as #PuntoInspires #PuntoGivesBack and #PuntoArts have been impacting our business in very good ways.
Your most difficult moment at the Business? (and what did you learn?)
I wouldn’t call it difficult moment but rather a few challenges along the way related to sometimes not having the correct setting or the lighting that the client wants. All this was overcome by contacting the correct vendors and finding help within our community. Now that we have a management company with a one-stop-shop capabilities, this is all much easier to deal with. We learned that any challenge can turn into a positive experience.
Ideal experience for a customer/client?
A recipient of our services always appreciates the costumer service we provide. They like to know that they are being taken care of and that we are holding their hands every step of the way. We strive to give that touch of humanity into everything we do at Punto. From a simple smile to a friendly hug.
How do you motivate others?
We motivate others by always finding the positive across the board in every situation. My partners and I prioritize working with programs such as H.O.P.E., UpNext Fellowship, and the Futures and Options program, supporting non-profits such as Debora America, SOS EB Kids, and embracing inclusive events for clients celebrating LGBT prom night and Queer Tango.
Career advice to those in your industry?
Always think that whatever is yours has already been created and is there for you. Get rid of fear, focus on your desire, be aware of the actions you need to take for your desire to happen and let the universe take care of the “how”.
What do I do best?
Personally, I am very good at organizing and managing my time. Having said that, when it comes to my businesses, my organization skills help me create systems and be more efficient in the tasks I commit myself to doing.
What makes me the best version of myself?
Loyalty to myself and those around me. Also the need to having closure for all I do. I don’t like to leave things pending. When things pend for too long, the momentum is lost, the energy is lost and to recover that is a bit difficult. Not impossible but definitely difficult.
What are my aspirations?
Personally I always aspire to be a better person than the minute before. Be it in my relationship to those around me, with my environment and with myself. It is not about just the career goal but more than that, it is about being aware of the power we all have to inspire people.
My Biggest Success?
My two greatest accomplishments are:
1. seeing my son grow up! It is an amazing accomplishment when you see your offspring growing. There is no feeling like it.
2. seeing my own personal and career development, and that of my business partners and my friends.
These two things are directly connected with all the other accomplishments that are connected to my life.
My Most Challenging Moment?
Deciding on getting out of my native country, Brazil, was and still is the most challenging moment in my life. That huge shift was a decisive moment that gave shape to all I am today. Being an immigrant, not speaking the language of the new land you are in and needing to eat and find a place to live is pure survival.
I have a few but here are two of them:
1. that which I seek is seeking me. I let go of how it will come to me and I focus in my heart’s desire.
2. I aspire to inspire before I expire.
My Favorite People/Role Models?
- My mother! always reinventing herself and always in a better version.
- Sandie Luna - one of my business partners. Sandie is a pillar of strength and her words of justice and inspiration always resonate in my head. I learn a lot from this dear friend.
- Andressa Furletti - one of my business partners. Persistence, persistence, persistence! She shows me the power of having a vision and trusting how important that vision is for my soul.
- Duke York - my husband. A man who struggles to be a better person every day. His tranquility inspires me.
So many other people around me inspire me. I feel like I am cheating by leaving them out. Everyone around me definitely inspire me in different ways.
My Favorite Places/Destinations?
Love taking my occasional trips to Paris. Even though I wouldn’t like to live there, it is definitely a place where I find inspiration in art, people and culture.
My Favorite Products/Objects?
Favorite product: Mademoiselle perfume by Chanel.
Object: rings. I like wearing rings. I love all my rings.
My Current Passions?
My current passion is working on my new show (Inside the Wild Heart) based on the works and life of Brazilian Jewish writer Clarice Lispector. Every time I work on a show I love diving in to that world and, in my researches of my character, reading Clarice has been an eye-opener to life. I am also thrilled to have recently been elected as the Director at Large for the League of Professional Theater Women who are as motivated as I am to support #OneMoreConversation to empower women in theater.