I've always believed in the power of broke: the less you have, the more creative you get. And (usually) as a result of this, you end up creating way cooler things than if you had millions of dollars and amazing connections to create your masterpiece.
This is especially true when you are opening up any kind of food or drink establishment. It can be a blessing in disguise. It was for me when I opened my nightclubs in Hollywood, Golden Box and Genesis. A couple of my friends and I built it from the ground up without any money or help from anybody, which is a feat to to admire on a touristy boulevard with one of the most expensive rents in the city.
A lot of people don't realize this but nightclubs and bars—as douchey as some have become—are still part of the hospitality industry. It shouldn't be about having to deal with an asshole bouncer or finding your name on a list; it shouldn't be about entrance covers; it shouldn't be about who you are; it shouldn't be about super expensive bottle service, or the club owners gouging you on how much money you want to spend when you go out.
It should just come down to if you're cool, have a good attitude, and wanna have a good time.
You see, there has been a metaphorical red rope that separates people of all classes from having fun together, especially in Hollywood, and it is my goal to get rid of this. Nightlife does not have to be a dictatorship. It can be a democratic experience that everybody can enjoy, too.
I was lucky enough to discover this, along with my passion for nightlife and hospitality, at the age of 16. I did a straight-edge, pop-up concept where I picked an off-night at a local club, and had fellow teenagers over to enjoy cocktails without alcohol and Red Bull. I grew that during the summers for a few years every Monday and it became really successful.
My mom owned restaurants and I learned a lot about the hospitality industry from her, although when I told her that I wanted to open up a nightclub, she begged me not to do it.
By democratizing it, I'm now attracting a variety of people who have the common desire to just let loose and be themselves, including celebrities. I think because they feel like they can be themselves instead of keeping up with the appearance of extreme, excessive luxury. It used to be that celebrities like Paris Hilton—and other ones from her era revolving around The Hills—would hang out and blow stupid amount of money on bottle service. Now we are in an era where even celebrities prefer to hang out in places in Silverlake and East Hollywood that are more low-key, without a red carpet.
Of course, the ironic setback of all this democratization is that some of my nights have been shut down by the cops because the lines of people outside outgrew my venues. Too many people just want to have fun. Fortunately for me, this is the best problem that anybody can ever have.
As told to Javier Cabral
This post previously appeared on MUNCHIES in December, 2015.