How Tara Razavi Built a Creative Haven From the Ground Up

Happy Place founder says it's all about 'having faith' and trusting yourself

director and other people behind the scenes on a film set
Happy Place’s music video work helped Razavi (second from left, seated) break into the advertising world. - Credit by Courtesy of Happy Place Creatives
Headshot of Kelsey Sutton

Tara Razavi, the founder of the full-service creative production company Happy Place Inc. in Encino, Calif., didn’t always know she wanted to break into the music and entertainment industry. Instead, she was planning on becoming a lawyer before an ad about a record label program at UCLA caught her eye and rerouted her career.

“I love music—music is my absolute first passion—so I did it with literally no plan,” said Razavi, who used to watch and tape music videos as a kid. “Why not? By day two, I had that actual lightbulb moment. My whole world just opened up.”

The entrepreneur and first-generation American broke into the industry at a major entertainment company and later at a smaller outfit, working demanding days and learning the ins and outs of the music and entertainment industry.

Razavi, who says she’s not so great with authority, created Happy Place in 2008 to handle a part-time project and decided to commit to the company full time two years later.

“I think it was just destined that I was going to have my own company, because I couldn’t do it any other way,” Razavi said.

The company has grown considerably in the last decade and now counts artists Tyler the Creator, A$AP Rocky and John Legend as collaborators. Happy Place’s music video work helped her break into the advertising world, Razavi said, and the company creates commercials and social content for brands like Apple, Converse, Lacoste and Nike.

Razavi credits her work ethic and her commitment to every project the company takes on to her success. “It sounds not that romantic, but I just outwork everyone,” she said. “[And] I treat every project like my company is going to live or die by the validity and outcome of this project.”

Razavi said she is laser-focused on building a company that serves as a creative haven for artists, brands and all the people who work there. “We’re thankful every day that we get to literally get paid to make cool shit,” Razavi said. “It just doesn’t get better than that.”

Big Mistake

“The biggest mistakes I’ve made is anything that’s centered around my ego first—having my feelings hurt because someone didn’t like [my idea], or I didn’t like the way a client talked to me on set,” Razavi said. “We are trying to collectively get to the absolute best thing we can make for this moment in time, to make something that’s so fucking cool that it brings people some joy [and] conversation. There’s no space for ego there.”

Lesson Learned

“The universe will completely humble you if you need it,” Razavi said. “[Those mistakes] got me to a place where I can totally strip everything back and just have fun, and let this be about the work.”

How She Got the Gig

Razavi created Happy Place to handle a side project without a plan as to where the company might lead. “I didn’t have the full plan when I papered it,” she said. “And it just kept growing. I still have grandiose plans about where I’m going to take this place. It’s always on my mind.”

Pro Tip

Have faith in the general direction in which you want to head and be ready to pivot, Razavi said. “Do the one thing,” she advised. “Make that one phone call. And then do that one thing the absolute best. When you do that, you will know where to place your other foot. Eventually, when you look up, you will be 100 yards from where you started.”

This story first appeared in the Sept. 2, 2019, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@kelseymsutton kelsey.sutton@adweek.com Kelsey Sutton is the streaming editor at Adweek, where she covers the business of streaming television.
Publish date: September 3, 2019 https://dev.adweek.com/brand-marketing/how-tara-razavi-built-a-creative-haven-from-the-ground-up/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT