Laura van Galen on the Business of Staying in Business

As Bleu Marketing marks its 15th year, those who know Laura van Galen won’t be surprised that her company has not only survived, but has thrived in the highly competitive world of business-to-business marketing. We asked our charismatic leader to shed some light on how she began Bleu and what she thinks the next 15 years might bring. laura2_bg
Roots in Retail
Growing up in an entrepreneurial family set the stage for Laura’s passion to control her own destiny. At first, it was the proverbial lemonade stand. Much later, however, after working for a few companies in the Bay Area and traveling the world, it was her uncle (owner of a local upholstery business) who advised her to set out on her own and do what she does best­­––make and nurture deep relationships with those who could benefit from her expertise. “I was working for a company and we were doing about a million dollars a month,” she says. “My uncle couldn’t understand why I was doing that for someone else, when I could be doing it for myself.”
Bleu Begins
In 2001, Laura opened Bleu in a small residential flat. Dana Al-Suwaidi, Associate Account Manager, says that “Bleu had a very start-up feel to it before ‘start-up’ became a huge buzz word. With just two or three employees and Laura’s pure gusto and long-standing relationships, we were able to grow into what we are now: a full-service agency with multiple departments.” As the company grew, expansion was inevitable—from a small flat to a four-story Victorian in the Marina District. Thanks to Laura’s relationship building and strategic planning, the agency weathered the worse recession of the 20th century and now provides marketing services for some of the biggest names in the tech industry.
On Breaking Rules
Laura’s been in the business long enough to know integrity is non-negotiable. “No matter who you are in business, it is a risk to break rules. And not only that, you have to go to bed with yourself at night.”
The Female Perspective
When asked how things would be different if society was a bit less patriarchal, she believes that “women are ‘web’ managers, so the world would work more collaboratively without the hierarchical structure that we have now. That structure works really well in certain companies and in others it doesn’t. It all depends on what’s the fabric; what’s the need.”
Words of Wisdom
“To the students out there in the world: take risks. Go where you need to go and enjoy it. To the clients of the world and the clients who work with us: Thank you for working with us and, also at the same time, don’t take any shortcuts—always do it right. In the end, it will pay great dividends. To my employees: I want to thank you for supporting Bleu Marketing and sticking with me through thick and thin as the roller coaster ride continues.” Of course, what we really want to know is what actress is best suited to portray her in her biopic. “Since we’re talking pure fantasy here, might as well go all out and choose Helen Mirren to play me. She would be terrific and I would be honored!” Like Laura’s enthusiasm, the depths of her knowledge can’t be contained in a short narrative. Fortunately, we have another 15 years to learn more.
Five things you should know about our fearless leader:
1) She is fluent in Arabic, Spanish, French, and English. 2) She is an excellent water skier. 3) She is an introvert in her personal life and an extrovert in her professional life. 4) She sang in a band in high school. 5) She owns a live-streaming, live music, and dining venue called Fenix in San Rafael, CA.
Tina Bayles
Tina Bayles
(Senior Copywriter, Story Creator) I'm a transplant from Texas who has no business being in the coolest state in the union. But I moved here anyway and found a home at Bleu. I love creativity in any shape, form or fashion, and am lucky to have an outlet for mine in something they call a "job."

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