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He Makes Justin Bieber and the Bee Gees Go Viral on TikTok



Name: Griffin Haddrill

Age: 24

Hometown: Bozeman, Mont.

Currently Lives: In a four-bedroom house in Las Vegas with walls covered in street art.

Claim to Fame: Mr. Haddrill is a co-founder of VRTCL, an agency hired by major record labels to make songs go viral on TikTok through remixes, mash-ups, meme-able chorus snippets, creator partnerships and other algorithmic alchemy. “I usually start with the lyric sheet to see if there is maybe a trend we can capitalize on or maybe a creative idea around the beat,” he said. For Lil Nas X’s “Montero,” that meant devil-themed makeup tutorials and interpretive dance routines set to the track. He also works with vintage hits like the Bee Gees’ “More Than a Woman,” which thanks to his efforts, has been featured in more than 279,000 TikTok videos including sunset selfies, boba tea tutorials and cyst removals. The right music “makes influencers feel part of a cool and cultured moment, and they like showing that off to fans,” he said.

Big Break: Mr. Haddrill has always had an ear for music and business. At 12, he handed his father a business plan for high-tech earbuds. At 16, he was a music manager for Gregory Lake, an underground hip-hop artist, and 100Tribn, a D.J. act, while he was completing rehab in Salt Lake City for cocaine addiction. At 20, he dropped out of San Jose State to pursue music management full-time in Las Vegas. In 2019, he and Sean Young, a former influencer on Vine, saw how social media algorithms were starting to mold the habits of young listeners, and founded VRTCL.

Latest Project: VRTCL, which Mr. Haddrill said brings in $1 million in monthly revenue and employs 18 people, was acquired in July by Create Music Group, a data-driven music company in Los Angeles. Mr. Haddrill, who is staying on as chief executive, is guarded about the terms of the deal. “With earning potential, the acquisition is in the eight figures,” he said.

Next Thing: Mr. Haddrill helped turn “Stay” by Kid Laroi and Justin Bieber and “Best Friend” by Saweetie and Doja Cat into TikTok earworms last year. But his dream client list skews older: Duran Duran, Billy Joel and other cassette-era acts. “One song that I always thought could really blow up again is Cher’s ‘Believe,’” he said.

Unlimited Data: He recently hired Conover Wang, a former roommate and software engineer at Reddit, to develop a program to analyze TikTok song data, including views, comments and shares. “The software is really a core part of our business, although it doesn’t have a name yet,” he said. “We should probably call it something cool.”

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Cannabis Events Come Out of Hiding in New York City




New York may have legalized recreational marijuana in 2021, but the state still has not passed the laws that would allow its sale in stores, or its consumption at club-like lounges — moves that would open doors for a potential $4.2 billion industry.

Though licenses and permits are not expected to be issued until later this year, with businesses up and running in 2023, the recreational marijuana industry is already setting down roots, hosting events aimed at educating consumers and drumming up excitement.

In November, the Cannabis World Congress and Business Exposition descended upon the Javits Center. Over the course of three days, vendors showed off goods they hope to one day sell in New York, and attendees spoke about their eagerness to see the stigma of cannabis consumption erased.

Arnaud Dumas de Rauly, a co-founder and the C.E.O. of the Blinc Group, which makes and sells vapes, spoke about the purpose of the event. “I think it’s just creating a lot of buzz,” he said. “But still, we’re in this middle ground where everything’s open and people are going to come here to learn about the industry.”

Once legalization goes into effect, he expects to see new kinds of spaces opening in the city that cater to cannabis users. “I would love to see consumption lounges pop up here,” Mr. Arnaud said.

Faye Coleman, the C.E.O. of Pure Genesis, a cannabis business with a social mission, attended the expo to showcase her company’s products and to talk about equity in the industry in terms of agency and access. Historically, Black and Latino people have been arrested and jailed for marijuana-related crimes at far higher rates than white people; for that reason, some cannabis activists say, many have been reluctant to align themselves with cannabis-related businesses, even legal ones.

“Those are some of the things that are plaguing diversity, equity and inclusion, and I would say stigma and confusion.” Ms. Coleman said.

Hundreds of attendees at the expo participated in conversations about the future of legal cannabis, panels on cultivation techniques, marketing, sustainability, and presentations that provided insight into international markets. All around were indications of what New York City could look like as soon as all the regulations are enacted.

Last summer, a New York City lifestyle brand called Happy Munkey tested the waters for “consumption events” with a couple of cannabis-infused nights at the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit at Pier 36, a 75,000-square-foot waterfront space on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

Masked-up guests, who were instructed to wear all-white outfits, walked into the lobby to view an imaginative 3-D recreation of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” (which featured about 7,500 painted brushes by the designer David Korins), then made their way through a gallery and into the adroit work and vision of the painter.

There was no marijuana consumption allowed inside the gallery. Outside, however, smoke filled the waterfront air and edibles were consumed.

Technically, no marijuana was sold at the event. But included in the Happy Munkey package, along with the pass for Immersive Van Gogh, were generously packed pre-rolled joints. The event was advertised as “B.Y.O.C.” — “bring your own cannabis.”

Happy Munkey’s co-founders, Ramon Reyes and Vladimir Bautista — who are both from the Dominican Republic and grew up in New York City — started the brand five years ago and began hosting cannabis-related events in 2017. After Mr. Reyes traveled to Amsterdam, where he visited several cannabis coffee shops, he told Mr. Bautista he wanted to bring a similar feel and experience to their own city, with a local twist.

“New York is just going to give it that pizazz that we need,” he recalled telling his business partner. “That New York touch. That New York fly life.”

Chantaé Vetrice, a hip-hop and pop artist, attended the Immersive Van Gogh premiere with her boyfriend, Stephen Ship. While there, she joked with the exhibition’s head of marketing, Keith Hurd, about wanting to view the exhibition under the influence of marijuana. The next day, Mr. Hurd called them and asked: How could they do this as an actual event?

Mr. Ship, who is friends with Mr. Hurd, suggested Ms. Vetrice reach out to the Happy Munkey founders to see if they’d be interested in collaborating. The company — which, in addition to hosting events, sells merchandise and produces multimedia content — had already helped her produce a single, “Elevated.”

“We set up the meetings with Keith, Vlad and Ramon,” Ms. Vetrice said. “They loved the idea and they just went for it. And it was a success.”

She hopes that further collaborations between arts organizations and cannabis companies are on the way. “I think it can bring two separate communities together and kind of destigmatize the use of cannabis,” Ms. Vetrice said.

Maria Shclover, a producer of the Immersive Van Gogh exhibition, also expressed enthusiasm for the synergy. “Happy Munkey is a minority-owned local business, and we love to support minority owned businesses, because we are first-generation immigrants ourselves,” she said. “Now that cannabis is legal, this partnership seemed like a very good New York thing to do.”

Beyond Happy Munkey, which has made its previously invitation-only events open to the public, there are other signs of the New York that’s to come.

The Astor Club, a members-only cannabis club that opened on the Lower East Side in 2020, already draws a who’s who of the pot industry insiders. And large events appear to be here to stay: The next Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo will be this summer. And Happy Munkey’s next cannabis consumption event will be held, fittingly, on April 20.

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They Broke Up With Two Architects Before Finding the Right One




When Gagan and Jasmin Arneja bought a Bay Area hillside home designed in 1975, they knew it would need some work. But with big windows offering expansive views over San Francisco and an interior lined with distinctive redwood-plywood paneling, there was already a lot about the house they liked.

So after closing on it in 2011 for about $1.5 million, they moved in without changing a thing. “We believe it takes at least three to four years before you understand the quirks, and the pros and cons, of a house,” said Ms. Arneja, a photographer. “We didn’t want to tear it up or remodel it before we even had a chance to get to know the house.”

“The house changes through the seasons,” added Mr. Arneja, a software engineer at Arista Networks, noting that the home, designed by the architect Albert Lanier, has overhangs that allow the interior to be flooded with sunlight in the winter, while shading it in the summer — something they wouldn’t have understood without living there.

The couple, who are in their late 40s, also couldn’t help but notice the shortcomings. The three-story house is nestled into a hillside, with the main entrance and primary living space on top. But the bedrooms, one level down, seemed shoddily finished, and the level below that wasn’t finished at all. The home also had inefficient single-pane windows, and its original kitchen and bathrooms were in desperate need of updating.

By 2016, the Arnejas were finally ready to make some changes, but they weren’t looking to do a gut renovation. They wanted to retain the redwood paneling they loved, while expanding the house to make it more comfortable for family visits (Mr. Arneja’s parents sometimes stay for months when visiting from India), improve its energy efficiency, replace its 1970s fixtures and appliances, and add a few stylistic touches to make it their own.

Finding the right architect for such a job wasn’t easy. They engaged one, but soon realized they had very different ideas about how the house should be updated. They switched to another, but found his proposed design too heavy handed as well.

“It’s like going through bad relationships,” Ms. Arneja said. “The house needed an architect who wasn’t so driven by ego, and who was mature and confident enough in their ability to take on the renovation of a house with a strong architectural identity and not feel like they had to put their imprint over it.”

Fortunately, Monica Viarengo, a landscape designer who had been consulting with the couple’s second architect, believed she knew just the right person for the job: her husband, Brett Terpeluk, the principal of Studio Terpeluk. When the Arnejas met him, it felt like a perfect match.

“I think Brett’s sensibility veers toward the Italian sensibility,” Mr. Arneja said. “It’s not about creating these blank, clean, modern lines; it’s really about, in totality, how everything feels warm.”

Mr. Terpeluk saw why the couple wanted to preserve so much. “When I walked into the house, the architecture just really resonated with me,” he said. “It has such a beautiful, almost mystical quality, in the way the space embraces you. Taking a curatorial approach to maintaining that, while upgrading the house, was the right approach.”

His plan called for expanding and finishing the bottom level, to make space for an office and a media room with a kitchenette that looks out to a new garden designed by Ms. Viarengo; updating the bedrooms and bathrooms on the second level; and making surgical additions to the main living spaces on the top floor.

Throughout, Mr. Terpeluk worked with Beatrice Santiccioli, a color consultant, to coat new architectural elements in unexpected hues. The cabinetry in the renovated kitchen is finished in minty green and soft pink lacquer, and a nearby console is coated in sunny yellow. The primary bedroom has built-in cabinetry with aubergine hues, and the connected bathroom has similarly colored mosaic tile.

Every level has access to outdoor spaces, including the garden, an internal courtyard and balconies, mostly through floor-to-ceiling sliding-glass doors.

Underfoot, Mr. Terpeluk installed whitewashed Douglas fir flooring with deep brown knots, reclaimed from old pier pilings, where the house previously had dark-stained oak. Then he tied all three levels together with a sculptural folding-steel staircase featuring a handrail resembling a shepherd’s crook. Descending the stairs is now “kind of a cinematic experience,” Mr. Terpeluk said, as it snakes past the various colors of the different levels.

The Arnejas moved out when construction began in the fall of 2017 and returned to their completed home in the summer of 2020, after spending about $500,000 on the renovation. It took nearly a decade of dreaming, designing and building, but now that their 3,200-square-foot home is complete, they know their patience paid off.

“We use every single part of the house every day,” Ms. Arneja said, as they move between spaces for sleeping, working, eating and relaxing. And when no one is staying with them, she added, the guest room doubles as a workout room.

“The end result is a house that’s different than what we started with, but doesn’t destroy what was already here,” Mr. Arneja said. “It enhances it.”

For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.

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Sculptor, 93, Still Works in Ivory




PARIS — Pedestrians on the boutique-lined Rue Bonaparte might pause at a little shop displaying the discreet sign “Ivoire,” their curiosity piqued by the elderly man at a workbench near the window. He might be repairing an ivory necklace that had lost a bead or the chip in an ivory jewelry box — practicing a dying art.

In Europe, Pierre Heckmann, 93, may well be one of the last ivoiriers, “a sculptor who works with ivory,” he explained. He is sure he is the lone member, and therefore president, of the Chambres Syndicales de l’Ivoire and de L’Ecaille (tortoiseshell), one of France’s many organizations for skilled artisans.

Mr. Heckmann said he learned to carve ivory from his father, who learned from his father. They used the very same tools that now clutter his workbench and the machines that stand ready in his workshop, but then the tools of this trade, from metal files to jigsaw cutters, have not changed since the 1800s.

He may be the last of his family in the trade, too. While Mr. Heckmann’s grandson Nicolas, 39, now works with him, his duties are limited to sales rather than craftsmanship. And Nicolas’s son is only 10, so his future is unknown.

Ivory, the hard white material of elephant tusks, has been prized since ancient times in treasures like the 35,000-year-old Venus of Hohle Fels, one of the oldest known sculptures of the human form, and the scores of ivory bangles that the British shipping heiress Nancy Cunard stacked along both arms in the early 1900s for her portraits by Man Ray and Cecil Beaton.

But as demand for ivory grew and elephant herds were decimated, countries took action, and in 1989 the international ivory trade was banned, although authorities continue to battle poaching and smuggling operations.

The restrictions in France changed Mr. Heckmann’s career. “I made sculptures for the most part of my life,” he said, “but a law about five years ago prevented that. Now you can only sell ivory that’s been made before 1947.” So his work now focuses on repairs, like the damaged crucifix that he was handling one bright, crisp December morning. Christ’s feet were missing so “I have carved new feet,’’ he said, fingering the individual toes of the arched feet that he was attaching to the figure.

To make repairs — and he has boxes filled with ivory pieces waiting for his expert touch — he has dozens of chunks of ivory, pieces left from his grandfather’s and his father’s time. Each one is a surprisingly dull beige until it is polished to a gleaming surface that exposes the creamy color underneath.

Mr. Heckmann’s family came from Dieppe, a port city on the English Channel. When his father was young the city was still a center of the ivory trade, with ships bringing the tusks of elephants and walruses from Africa and Asia. As the port city began to lose its prominence, the family moved to Paris in 1910, living and working at 57 Rue Bonaparte. “I was born in this building,” Mr. Heckmann said with some pride. (Now he and his grandson live outside the city, and Nicolas drives them to work. “I come every day except Sunday; I never miss a day,” Mr. Heckmann said.)

He studied sculpture at the Académie des Beaux-Arts nearby. “I trained on hard woods and marble, because ivory is very hard.” After classes, he would come to the family shop for lessons on ivory from his father. At age 18 he made his first statue “of Venus, nude” and became a true ivoirier.

As the bells of the church of St.-Sulpice, just around the corner, chimed 12 times, Mr. Heckmann prepared to head to lunch, locking the front door and grabbing onto the arm of his grandson, a necessity since he fell down some stairs a year ago.

The St.-Sulpice neighborhood has changed a lot since his family arrived, he said. “The shops used to all sell religious objects,” he reminisced. “Now it’s all clothes,” and any place not selling expensive fashion is selling expensive chocolates and macarons.

But some things have not changed. Turning onto Rue Guisarde, Mr. Heckmann pointed out the shop Au Plat d’Etain, which has been selling metal military miniatures since 1775. Across the street is Le Bistrot de L’Enfance, a restaurant where he has been dining for decades and where young staff members greeted him warmly, offering a glass of Champagne.

Over grilled fish he talked more about business, which seems surprisingly brisk for a shop so small and a skill so specialized. He said he received “about five or six customers a day coming in for a repair and five or six to buy a piece of antique ivory.” Mr. Heckmann and his family have collected pieces over the years that attract local customers, like Catherine Deneuve, and ivory aficionados from all over the world.

After lunch, two customers stood on the sidewalk waiting for the shop to reopen. One had a small statue of a Chinese peasant with a broken arm that needed repair. The other was Salama Khalfan, a jewelry designer based in Paris and Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. She loves the shop, she said, because “I find inspiration here.” She was interested in an ivory chess set; the shop has a half dozen or so on display, ranging from about 2,000 euros to 5,000 euros ($2,260 to $5,655).

Not all the items are costly, however. A small beaded bracelet was €45, a modest amount reflecting that “ivory jewelry is not so popular today; it’s gone out of fashion,” Mr. Heckmann said. It is why he also sells necklaces in lapis lazuli, jade, carnelian and other hard stones, all displayed in the shop window.

And the shelves and cabinets were filled with other ivory treasures: buttons, handles, the heads of walking sticks and canes, belt buckles, door knobs like the one on the shop’s front door — all with their own stories, which Mr. Heckmann was happy to share.

He has no plans to retire. “It’s important to keep working,” he said, as he picked up a bangle with rough edges and gently began to file them smooth. So he will keep coming to Rue Bonaparte — every day but Sundays.

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