When I owned a clothing boutique I worked briefly with Liz Klafata, who is a stylist and worked part time at the boutique. Liz became very busy and left to pursue her full time job. I did not see Liz for a couple of years until last year when I read in a local paper about Liz renovating and renting out properties in Chicago and starting her own rental company. Firstly, the article caught my attention because it was Liz and I knew her and it was exciting to read about someone I know. Secondly as I rent properties almost everywhere I go, I was excited to know more about the rental properties. I recently googled Liz and came across her company website www.bangtel.com. In a word AMAZING. Bangtel properties are stunningly designed apartments that I just want to move into. I reached out to Liz and it was great to re-connect. I found out more about her exciting new venture. Liz was kind enough to give a fantastic interview.
What were you doing before you started Bangtel ? What motivated you to get into the property rental business ?
I was a free-lance Wardrobe and Prop Stylist for commercials and print ads for 13 years. My clients ranged from McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Marborlo, Orbit, Expedia, American Express, HGTV, Crate & Barrel, and many more. If you name a product, I have most likely done one of their ad campaigns.
I purchased and went all out on the rehab of my townhouse. When I moved to New York City three years ago, I started renting my home out on Airbnb because I knew I was not ready to give away my overly designed home. People’s reaction to my home and their positive feedback and gratitude was a new and exciting avenue for me. I felt I was truly taking care of people and inspiring them with the spaces I designed and housed them in. I immediately had an urge and saw an opportunity to open design more inspirational places for people to stay.
In the last 10 years the rental market has become so popular. Obviously Airbnb is a leader but there are many rental companies out there, what sets Bangtel apart?
At Bangtel, we offer 24/7 concierge and well designed spaces that offer attainable art, furniture, and design services! We have a full staff and try to cater to every need of our guests. My issues with most Airbnb’s is the inconsistency sometimes you have amazing hosts that make amazing recommendations other times you could arrive to a dirty home, no toilet paper, and a MIA host. As a result of a few bad experiences, I prefer to stay in hotels. Therefore, I like to offer consistency, attention to the guest, and attention to all details.
Your apartments are beautifully decorated, you clearly put a lot of effort into aesthetics. What is your design process? would you say you have a decorating style ?
First of all, thank you! I would say my design process is getting in the space and letting it tell me what to do. I like to then pick a few things people would not expect to make it interesting. My style is definitely modern with an eclectic mix of items. I generally like to collect a mixture of random and almost ridiculous items at the time of furnishing and cross my fingers it will all look good together. I also believe you can make something look amazing without spending a ton of money.
Are you planning on renting more properties in other cities? what is next ? any other projects coming up ?
I am currently in discussion about properties in a number of other cities. We are currently in New York and have been actively trying to find the perfect property in LA. We are also in talks with Berlin and Atlanta, which we are hearing is the new LA on the Atlantic side.
We are currently opening a vacation rental on Milwaukee Ave in Chicago in partnership with New Era Chicago that is next to the Whistler boasting a Chic Southwestern theme. Think black antler chandeliers dripping with silver chain and Gold honed marble laid in a chevron pattern and black exposed brick. I am way too excited about it! I am also designing the historic bank building on the square New Era Chicago just acquired. Come sleep with BANGTEL in a bank from the 1920’s! Definitely going to keep that historic with modern touches that will make one smile.
We are also designing a themed bar in Wicker Park and designing a few single family house flips in Logan Square.
It is inspirational that you built this company from the ground up what advise would you give to any budding entrepreneurs out there ?
Firstly, thank you, again! I think that the most important advise is to surround yourself with other positive friends, mentors, acquaintances and co-workers that inspire you and that you can learn from. I think the most inspirational thing for me is collaborating with people. I think my best projects have come partnering with certain artists, etc. I am the one usually calling them about these crazy things that their creations have inspired my mind to brainstorm. Together we make the most amazing creations.
My little sister, who is only 25 years old, is the most inspirational entrepreneur I know. She invented a vegan ice cream free of the top 8 allergens, called Nana Creme, and gets letters every day from parents thanking her for making a delicious “ice cream” their child can safely eat. She quit college and researched the food industry for a full year. She literally lives and breathes her product and is the hardest working entrepreneur I know. Her hard work paid off as she was accepted into every Whole Foods across 8 states and is with the largest distributor nation-wide. She inspires me every day!
Her story proves my last line of advise that you have to be persistent, which I am sure sounds cliche. I continually asked for and sought out some of my strongest business partners and contacts till they became such. You won’t get anything if you don’t actively work and seek it out. I literally work from 7 am till 10 PM most days, but I can honestly say I love every day and everything I do.
If I did not already live in Chicago and I wanted to visit I would stay in a Bangtel property. I love the fact that Liz puts so much effort into the interiors of her apartments. I believe the look and feel of a place is really important as it greatly enhances the experience of ones stay. Liz is a true creative in every sense – she created her own company, she creates interesting, inspiring and original spaces that are full of ideas for everyone. Thank you Liz.
To find out more about Bangtel and all the services the company has to offer please go to the website www.bangtel.com