Weehawken resident Hal Hochhauser, president of Shakespeare Mailing Service, which has its main base in New York City and offices in Union City, describes his company as one of a kind. They use their database and website to allow actors, talent agents, casting directors, and producers to log on and meet each other.
"We're a professional service for people who want to pursue the business professionally," said Hochhauser.
What is Shakespeare?
Shakespeare's Mailing Service is not a talent agency, but they are exactly as the say - a mailing service with a bit of twist. As opposed to other mailing services, who take someone's information whether for a business purpose or social event, Shakespeare's provides something extra: marketing strategy.
"We're a very unique place," said Hochhauser. "There is no other place where an actor can a go and talk about their marketing like this."
Hochhauser and his team of consultants sit down with a client and create an on-line ad for that person. They make business cards, postcards that they use for their mailings, and even reproduce their headshots to go along with their resumes. Their resumes are actually one of the main services they provide for their clients. Shakespeare knows how to clean it up and have it appeal to the industry.
"We help them communicate with people clearly and strongly," said Hochhauser. "You have to tell people what you're up to, and what your strengths are."
Most of this is done in the New York office. The Union City site is mainly used for the mailings they provide, including storage and putting them together for shipping.
"People usually leave it to us," said Hochhauser. "Its little details, we know the things that people are looking for, and everything looks like its coming from the client."
In the beginning
Hochhauser spent about 10 years working in a corporate environment until one day he decided it was enough, and went on the venture of starting his own business. "I didn't like the politics or the bureaucracy, and I was just inspired to build my own company," said Hochhauser. "I quit my job and I called all my friends telling them I was starting my own business."
Unsure about what type of business venture he wanted to pursue, an actor friend of Hochhauser suggested the idea of talent marketing. Hochhauser remembers his friend saying how he wished that at one time this type of service was available to him. So in 1987 they began their joint venture in talent marketing.
"Funny thing about the acting business, you're always looking for your next job," said Hochhauser. "The nature of the business is about hype and marketing."
However, due to clashing views, Hochhauser and his partner quickly separated after a few weeks, and he bought the company.
"In the beginning, after about six months in business, we only had five clients, and we needed 100 more to stay in business," said Hochhauser. "We would advertise all the time, very aggressively."
Shakespeare's Mailing Service has now catered to about 5,000 acting clients since its initial inception, including clients who have remained faithful for 16 years.
"People come and go, right now they come into the office and set up their own list [in the database]," said Hochhauser. "In New York alone we have 1,000 people that represent or hire actors. We have clients that are very well known in the theatre community and have won Tony Awards," said Hochhauser.
The company no longer advertises aggressively, and actually gets many of their clients from word of mouth. In the New York office, they have a board full of thank you notes from clients and companies that they have helped throughout the years.
"It's been extremely helpful for me, I was doing mailings before on my own," said Yasmin Kazi of New York City, 24, a graduate of the New School University, the Actor's Studio Drama School. "From my very first mailing it boosted my career."
"Everything we do needs to catch people's eyes," said Hochhauser. "We want our clients' information to stand out."