What do you need to be an entrepreneur?
I think you need a great concept and business plan, a clear vision and most of all be a risk-taker. At some point, even with doing all your homework, you need to just be able to trust in your plan and jump into the fire.
What did inspire you to start your business?
Actually, the business originally started in San Diego when me and a few friends started a local community theatre company and rented out space in downtown. A couple years later, I moved to Los Angeles and started making short films, spec commercials, etc. to build my portfolio and needed to form a production company. As my portfolio grew, so did interest in companies to hire me. I sort of grew into my business.
How did you finance it?
I personally financed it and kept overhead cost to a minimum. I already had a body of work and I needed a web-site. The advantage to my business is that I have a team of people that work with me, whom most own their own equipment.
Being Hispanic…Does it have any influence on your business?
Yes, the market of advertisers are starting to broaden their demographics globally and we are a team of professionals who range from 1st generation Latinos to 4th Generation Latinos. My grandmother is not going to be interested in the same things I am and visa versa. Understanding that first and foremost from living it helps give us an advantage of understanding how to market to a multi-cultural global community.
In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going?
I have a motto "where there's a will, there's a way." I think I thrive more when the odds are against me. It's like a challenge and being creative it's nice to overcome those challenges, that's how art happens. I always think if it was easy then everybody would be able to do it.
What is the biggest challenge your business has faced?
I think competing with larger companies who have been around for 20+ years. It's harder to compete with them. The only way I can keep up with them is to put a large body of quality work with them. For instance, we are smaller but we are nominated for two Imagen Awards this year for BEST ON-AIR ADVERSTISING PSA's and two of the other nominees are Fox and Telemundo. Just because we are smaller doesn't mean we have small ideas.
If you could change one thing about your business, what would it be?
I think I can find more creative ways to gain more exposure to my company. I think it's about marketing the business to more corporate clients.
What was your childhood ambition?
When my friends and I used to play as kids, I always wanted to play the owner of the store where they bought their babies diapers and food. I loved numbers. When I was five, I was privy to be on set with Nick Cassavettes, who rented out my uncle's house for a shoot. After that, I was hooked and knew I wanted to be a filmmaker.
Tell us about three entrepreneurs that you admire?
Maria de Lourdes Sobrino, CEO and Founder of LuLu's Desserts Corporation. I have read articles about her. She's from Mexico and had a dream to make and package Latin desserts. Her company is one of the most successful women owned Latin companies in the US. She built from the ground up when there wasn't even an Ethnic section in supermarkets. Anna Maria Arias, who founded Latina Style Magazine and set out to help young Latina entrepreneurs. Although, she is no longer with us, the magazine continues to thrive and has created the Anna Maria Arias Memorial Business Fund helping Latina Entrepreneurs. I really respect Laura Posada one of the co-founders of the Posada Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to reaching out to families in need whose children are affected by Craniosynostosis and provide them with emotional support through the Foundation’s family support network.
For business meetings: breakfast, lunch, or dinner?
Lunch for sure. Dinner is a little personal and more intimate. Breakfast is a little to quick for me. Taking time out of the middle of day is a perfect way to get to know your client.
What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to become a business success?
I don't have a personal life. When I get up in the morning, I'm on the go... and it's non-stop until the evening. But, when you do what you love, it's really not work.
What is your favorite quote?
"The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there... and still on your feet." - Stephen King
Is it difficult to be unconventional?
I think you have to be unconventional. Or at least that's how things operate in my world. I own a film production and new media company, and I'm constantly having to be creative in all aspects of my business with the exception of Accounting of course.
Biggest mistake made?
Not starting my business sooner. I really think I should have started five years earlier.
Do you consider yourself an innovator? Why?
I don't know if I see myself really as an innovator. I am a woman with my own vision. I don't really think about breaking codes, I just think about fulfilling a need.
About the Company:
4 Elements Entertainment was founded in 2005, and specializes in Film and New Media projects that target the nation's growing multicultural audience. We work closely with 4 Elements Production's clients to develop American ethnic, urban and diverse media content. Our approach has a vantage, we are a multicultural team that identifies with the "New American" and cross-generational diverse population. 4 Elements Entertainment is a full service production company and advertising agency offering a one-stop boutique experience.
In March of 2008 Shawna Baca was honored by La Opinion newspaper and the City of Los Angeles with a "Mujeres Destacada" award for her contribution to the community in the Arts and Culture sector and she was given the New Media Director Award by the Professional Latinos In Entertainment which was sponsored by Anheuser Busch. On Sept. 5th, 2008 she was honored at the Latina Symposium in Washington D.C. with an award and recognition for being a Latina Entrepreneur.