If you’re a fan of the Lane then you know about our amazing founder and CEO, Kristal Mallookis. She started ML when she first moved to NYC. Her survival job was flyering for a cafe while she pursued a career as a dancer. Kristal then began helping friends find side gigs and ran with that idea. Twelve years later and Mustard Lane is a nationwide event staffing agency with about 5,000 staff in all markets across the country. We sat down with her to hear just how she built her company!
Can you give an example of an early lesson in life that helped shape who you are today?
At a young age I was taught the value of money. I grew up going to the Mile High Fleamarket every weekend and watching my dad sell from his booth. He’d sometimes even let me haggle with the customers! Our family lifestyle revolved around how good the sales were the previous weekend.
Who would you consider to be a significant influence on you professionally and can you explain why? How did the idea for your business come to fruition?
My Dad. Growing up with an entrepreneurial father I learned a lot about the day to day life of a business owner. Having the ever consuming passion and drive toward business, nonstop creativity, always figuring out new ways to make a buck and expand. Also knowing that life owning a business is going to be a rollercoaster ride. There are ups and downs and you have both in order to achieve the perfect balance and perspective in your business.
How did the idea for your business come to fruition?
It was immediate. After being in NYC for 6 months I craved a working community of people like myself who needed gigs to survive and that didn’t require too much of a commitment.
Mustard Lane was literally built on the streets of NYC. I had applied to hand out flyers for a well known cafe through craigslist. They loved my work so much that they asked if I had friends as they had multiple locations. OF COURSE I HAD FRIENDS! I handed out flyers for 6 years and am extremely grateful to have had that consistent client as I was building the business.
What was the hardest part in the early stages of the company’s growth?
A few things! First, finding reliable people! In the beginning, when we didn’t have a whole lot of jobs we had a lot of no shows. Secondly, early on I had a client go bankrupt and not pay a rather large amount that was almost detrimental to ML. I worked like a machine for about a year and paid every last Laner out of my personal pocket. It was an extremely stressful time.
What three tips would you give to other entrepreneurs who are starting out on their journey?
- You’ve got to jump in HEAD FIRST. You have to live and breathe what you want to create.
- Build that foundation of your business. Make sure to educate yourself on all moving parts.
- Network like it’s your job. And it can be very time consuming but very beneficial. Even just being in the presence of other entrepreneurs will help keep you confident as well as build your contact list.
How do you see the company changing in two years, and how do you see yourself creating that change?
It has taken time to build the perfect ML internal full-time team as well as fine tuning our very own Dijon Express. I think that this has been the preparation to create the change! We are set up for growth, more Markets, more Laners, more events at Meaux Space, more of everything!
What are you really like outside of work?
Ha… Ask my hubby Matt Zur. I definitely need my down time. If it’s been a crazy week at the office I generally like to just be home and chill.
Assuming there is only one job (leave aside Mustard Lane for a second) that you could apply for at this stage of your career, where would you apply and why?
What a good question. I am thankful to have created the job of my dreams. I seriously love what I do. There is nothing beyond the Lane for me.