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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Yuri Cataldo, Set and Costume Designer, Entrepreneur and Professor Our Coverage Sponsored by Stribling and Associates

Yuri Cataldo

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Yuri Cataldo is a classically trained set and costume designer, painter, entrepreneur, writer, podcaster, speaker, and professor.

The son of a Russian mother and Italian father, he grew up in the industrial town of Elkhart, Indiana. From an early age, Yuri had a strong interest in design and music, often spending hours sitting at the side of his Russian grandfather as he designed and built furniture. At the age of 3, Yuri was enrolled by his mother in piano lessons and ballet classes hoping to funnel his energy and curiosity. Even though the dance lessons never stuck, they did fuel his love of the arts. In his senior year of high school, he worked for an automotive company and was part of their design division aiding in the creation of the first minivan taxi cabs for Detroit, New York City, and Chicago. 

He started his academic career at Purdue Unversity enrolling in the mechanical engineering program. During his sophomore year, Yuri realized that this profession had less to do with design and more to do with math than he realized so after a candid conversation with a NASA rocket scientist guest lecturer he dropped out and transferred to the South Bend campus of Indiana University. There, he took dozens of classes in creative fields but didn’t really find what he was passionate about. That all changed when he took a design for the theater class. Working in set and costume design is where he found the mix of creative and technical that he was looking for in a profession. After a year, he transferred to the main campus of IU and embed himself in their large theater program. As one of the only undergrad students interested in design, he was able to work closely with the grad students and design main stage shows while spending his summers working for The Santa Fe Opera. 

Upon graduation, he was accepted into the professional internship program at The Juilliard School. While at Juilliard, Yuri worked closely with the costume shop and professional designers on projects in the dance, opera, and drama programs which featured the acting alumni, Oscar Issac, and Rutina Wesley. 

After a year at Juilliard, he was accepted into the MFA design program at Yale School of Drama as a costume design student. While in residence at Yale, he was also able to design a movie produced, directed, and starring Al Pacino, design 3 showgirl reviews for Foxwoods Casino and assist as the Santa Fe Opera. Upon graduation, he went right to work as an assistant in New York City working on the movie “When In Rome”, the broadway shows “White Christmas” and “West Side Story”, an exhibit at the NYC performing arts library, the opera “The Birds” and in the office of Fred Zollo and John Hart Jr. 

Less than a year after graduation everything changed.

The shift in the economy made getting theater work difficult and his personal relationship fell apart meaning he could no longer afford to live in New York City. In 2010, he moved back to Indiana to live with his parents and regroup. Over the next year, he would have a series of random jobs as a waiter, sign holder for Verizon wireless, a costume design professor, a dishwasher, a janitor, and a TV advertisement salesperson.

In 2011, he jumped in without any formal business training and founded IndigoH2O, alkaline mineral water, Highly Recommended by Whom You Know. Over the next 3 years, it would go on to become the only multiple-award-winning bottled alkaline water in the world and the 2015 best tasting water in the world. Through his efforts, IndigoH2O has been sold all across the USA and Europe, was a finalist in the 2015 Shopify Build-A-Business contest, has been featured at the Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmy’s, the MTV VMA’s, and in 50+ magazines and articles in the last two years.  Because of his efforts in 2013, he was named one of the 40 under 40 business leaders in Indiana.

Currently, he is the Executive-in-Residence Director of the Business of Creative Enterprises at Emerson College where combines his years of experience in the arts, design, entrepreneurship, marketing, and publicity into creating a unique educational experience that will aid the next generation of artists to create their own path to success. It launches in the fall of 2016 and has already received over 400 applications for the few open slots. In addition to the program, he is launching the “Advance Your Art” podcast, which is focused on the journey from artist to entrepreneur.  We are so pleased to present Yuri Cataldo as our latest Mover and Shaker! Peachy Deegan interviewed Yuri for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What is your first design memory specifically?
Yuri Cataldo: 
My first design memory comes from when I was 8 or 9. My grandfather, who was a furniture designer, was taking apart beautiful leather tufted couch he just had meticulously spend hours designing and assembling. When I asked him why he said: “What’s the point of having something look good if it’s uncomfortable to sit on.” 

What designers influence you the most if any and why?
Giorgio Armani knows how to design a suit and changed the look of men and women in the 80’s and 90’s. Rather than pay a model to wear his clothing he gave one beautiful suit to Kim Basinger to wear on the red carpet. It's common place now but he was the first person to do it and from that simple black suit on the red carpet came hundreds of orders for his clothing. 
Tom Ford. In the 90’s he brought Gucci back from the near ruin it had in the 80’s. He basically cannibalized Roy Halston's designs from the 70’s but his modern take on them oozed sex appeal. He knows how to design clothing that makes men and women looking amazing. He has a beautiful design aesthetic that he translates beyond clothing to his work in film. 
Paul Brown. He is a set and costume designer that I had the privilege of assisting at The Santa Fe Opera. His beautiful designs not only serve the opera or play well but they are so full of detail that they draw you into the world. He has a great sense of balance and color in his designs, they never overpower the production only serve it well. 
Jane Greenwood. She was my main professor at Yale and I was able to spend a lot of time chatting with her about design. She has designed over 150 broadway shows and is one of the best designers in the world at translating the thoughts of the character into their clothing. Every time I design costumes her words of putting them in real clothing is in the back of my mind. 

How do you define design?
Good design is timeless and quiet. It makes you see the world differently by closely pairing form and function in a way that suddenly becomes obvious. 

Can design be art without a technical aspect? Why or why not?
Yes, Design without the technical aspect is art. It’s beautiful to look at but has no function, it’s the function that makes a great design. 

Please tell our audience everything they should know about water that they might not know yet and the story of your water brand.
Water is the single most important resource for the human body. Water is an essential nutrient involved in every function of the body. Water accounts for approximately 70% of an individual’s complete fat-free body mass. In order to function properly, water must be consumed in set quantities inconsistent intervals (average of 2.5 liters per day). When not enough water is consumed, people can begin to develop certain illnesses and even accelerate their aging processes. Drinking more high-quality water can prevent a lot of health issues. 
Through activities of daily living, the average person loses about 3- 4 liters (about 10-15 cups) of fluid a day in sweat, urine, exhaled air and bowel movement. What is lost must be replaced by the water/ fluid we drink and the food we eat. We lose approximately 1-2 liters of water just from breathing. The evaporation of sweat from the skin accounts for 90% of our cooling ability. Exercise, sweating, diarrhea, temperature, or altitude can significantly increase the amount of water we lose each day. The most common cause of increased water loss is exercise and sweating. Even though we are all at risk of dehydration, the people most vulnerable are infants, elderly adults, and athletes. They are either not able to adequately express their thirst sensation or able to detect it and do something in time.
If you are thirsty, it means your cells are already dehydrated. A dry mouth should be regarded as the last outward sign of dehydration. That’s because thirst does not develop until body fluids are depleted well bellow levels required for optimal functioning.  Monitor your urine to make sure you are not dehydrated: 
A hydrated body produces clear, colorless urine. 
A somewhat dehydrated body produces yellow urine. 
A severely dehydrated body produces orange or dark-colored urine. 

The effects of even mild dehydration include decreased coordination, fatigue, dry skin, decreased urine output, dry mucous membranes in the mouth and nose, blood pressure changes and impairment of judgment. Stress, headache, back pain, allergies, asthma, high blood pressure and many degenerative health problems are the result of UCD (Unintentional Chronic Dehydration).

To better determine how much water you need each day, divide your body weight in half. The answer is the approximate number of water ounces you should drink daily. You should drink half of your body weight in ounces. If you weight 200 pounds, you should drink 100 ounces water (3.13 quarts, 2.98 liters or about 10-12 cups of water a day). If you weigh closer to 100 pounds you will need only about 50 ounces of water or about four 12-ounce glasses daily.Individuals who are physically active or live in hot climates may need to drink more.

We are designed to drink pure, natural water. 
Avoiding sodas/soft drinks to provide your fluid needs. The high sugar content and artificial flavors in soft drinks are harmful to your health. 
Tea, coffee, soft drinks contain water, but the diuretics contained in these caffeinated beverages flush water out of your body. Don’t count on them to replenish fluid loss. 
It is OK to drink them occasionally, but if you drink them constantly and don’t drink enough pure natural water, then you are severely compromising your long-term health. 
Natural pure alkaline mineral water is the best choice. If you are committed to a healthy lifestyle and long-term health, make water a habit and a priority in your life. 

During intense exercise, the kidneys cannot excrete excess water. The extra water moves into the cells, including brain cells. The result can be fatal. For that reason, athletes should estimate how much they should drink by weighing themselves before and after long training runs to see how much they lose, and thus how much water and salt they should replace.The studies that found 13% of the runners tested drank too much water, resulting in abnormally low blood sodium levels. The low sodium levels made many of these people very sick, and close to the point of death. The important lesson here is to balance your water intake with your sodium intake.

Start your mornings right: Morning is when you are the most full of toxins and dehydrated. Reach for a big glass of water first thing in the morning – even before coffee. This water in the morning really gets the blood flowing. 
Drink a glass of water when you get up and another when you go to bed. 
Take regular water break breaks. 
Avoid relying on sodas to provide your fluid need. 
Drink water before and after food; ideally, drink a glass of water half an hour before you eat your meal and half an hour after the meal. You can drink water with meals, and drink water anytime your body feels like it. 

Growing up I had a lot of health issues that were holding me back from living my life. After going to numerous doctors I was diagnosed with Mediterranean Anemia and was told there is nothing they could do. I would just be tired all the time and would have to learn how to live with it. On the advice of a family friend, I went to go see a natural doctor. After a series of tests, she found out what minerals my body was lacking and gave me a specific regiment to bring my body back into balance. A major part was drinking more high-quality water. After a few weeks of eating better, drinking more water, and taking the correct vitamins/minerals for my body I felt like a new person. 

Since then I have been very focused on taking care of my health through healthy eating and drinking lots of high-quality water. This was easy when I was at home but the more I traveled the more difficult it was to find good quality water in GLASS bottles, so I decided to create my own. This water was born from my passion to create the bottled water company I would buy water from and be proud to talk to others about the company. 

What are your future ambitions in drinking water if any?
I am just going to put all of my cards on the table with this one. As I stated in an interview I did with the Boston Globe my bottled water company was politicked out of business by the State of Indiana. Fighting with them really burnt me out, on the whole, running a bootstrapped bottled water company idea. Recently I have been contacted by a few well-known brands who are very interested in how I was able to bottle and ship in glass and get so much free press. I see my future in bottled water working with other brands as a branding and marketing consultant. I am world class at winning awards, getting positive press, and being featured at events, with so many brands out in the crowded marketplace I have a lot of skills that are in high demand.

What does it take to be a top business leader?
I don’t put myself in this category but all of the success I have had comes from hard work, hustle, thick skin, and the ability to keep moving forward when things don’t go the way you thought. 

How did you wind up at Emerson and what do you like about it?
Emerson has had this program in development for the last couple of years and it worked out that when my company was going through issues with Indiana that I found it and applied for it. For the last few years, I have been giving lectures and presentations about the connection between art and entrepreneurship so when I found this position I jumped at the opportunity to help the next generation of artists. The program doesn’t officially start until the Fall so this last year has been the setup work. What’s amazing so far is that many people I come in contact with are excited about this program and understand how important it is at this time. 

What does the Business of Creative Enterprises mean and how does it differ from a business school?
The title of the program is a bit misleading. It’s not really a business program in the traditional sense, more of a creative entrepreneurship program that focuses on the connection between the skills artist learn in their creative classes and how to use those skills to make money in their creative field. It's different in that it’s specific focus is on teaching creative people how to make money and work in a creative field

What kind of people are you looking to fill the 400 spots with?
This is not my department, admission is in charge of this. We don’t have 400 spots, rather had over 400 applicants this year. We accepted less than 10% of those students for our first class. 

Please tell us about your Al Pacino experience and if you danced The Argentine Tango with him like he did in Scent of a Woman?
HAHA…no, I didn’t dance with Al but I would have if he asked. Working with him was a wonderful experience but we didn’t hang out much. As the designer, I spent more time with the cameraman and the producer. We just stepped back and let him do what he does best.

If you did not do that dance with him can you please talk him into doing it with Peachy?
Haha…I don’t have his number but if I meet him again I will put in a good word for you. 

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
The honest answer is low self-esteem. For the longest time, I never felt that I was enough and by working harder than everyone else that somehow I could be enough and belong. It's taken years of self-reflection and therapy to work past that and see the holes in that logic but I can’t skip over the power low self-esteem had on my career. 

What are you proudest of and why?
I am the proudest of where I am now in my life. I have gone through very difficult times such as divorce, financial ruin, the loss of opportunities. Through it all, I have been able to adapt and grow as a person and create new jobs for myself. 

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
I would like to be a movie producer. I worked for a few before I left New York and I helped them create a few projects that turned out very well. Ultimately I am a builder and I thrive on the excitement of new projects.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?
I have received a number of awards for my work in theater and in bottled water but the ones I am more proud of are the group ones. I was the designer for the world premiere of “Bolero’s for the Disenchanted” at Yale Rep. That show was a Connecticut Critic’s Circle award for best ensemble. The dedication to detail that the set, sound, and lighter designers and I worked on made everyone’s job easier.
Same with the 3 international awards my bottled water company won from the Berkley Springs International Water tasting. It was a testimony to the dedication I and the others in my company had to create the best water we could. 

What one word best describes you and why?
Resolute – All thought my life I have had the ability to focus on the long game and survive the ups and downs by pushing past them and adapting. 

What do you take your sense of identity from?
From what I do and how I am influenced by society and the people around me. 

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan? 
The MET museum
And in Indiana? 
On the campus of Indiana University in Bloomington
New Haven? 
Yale Library
Boston Common

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan? 
The restaurant Firenze
And in Indiana? 
It's closed now but the Evil Czech brewery in Culver, Indiana. 
New Haven? 
Hull’s art store
There is a bar inside the Ritz hotel that isn’t busy and in the winter has a giant fireplace. It’s a wonderful place to get a drink and relax.

If you could hire anybody who would it be and why?
I don’t have a specific person in mind but I would love to hire an assistant who is good at anticipating what I need and will make my life run more smoothly.

What is your favorite drink?
An old fashion with rye whiskey

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party?
I was at a wedding that was boring so I wondered into another area of the hotel and crashed a party. When I was at the bar someone came up to me thought I was a friend of theirs from high school. I spent the next hour telling stories and pretending to be that person and mingling with others in the room. No one ever figured out that I wasn’t who I claimed to be. 

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan? 
And in Indiana? 
St Elmo’s steak house
New Haven? 
Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana
Ugly Mug diner in Salem. MA. Their duck confit and waffles is AMAZING!!

What is your favorite Manhattan book or favorite character in Manhattan literature? 
Eloise – who wouldn’t want to live at the Plaza
And in Indiana? 
None but my favorite Indiana author is Kurt Vonnegut
New Haven? 
The Great Gatsby (more yale than New Haven)
Hester Prynne from the Scarlet letter. Since moving to Salem, MA I have been rereading historic fiction. 

Who would you like to be for a day and why?
Captain of the America’s Cup Oracle sailboat. I learned how to sail when I was in grad school at Yale and have loved being on the water. Going fast in the open ocean with just the power of the wind in the sails is amazing. 

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why? And in Indiana? New Haven? Boston?
A foundation for all of those. Foundations have the power to affect change in the lives of others for the better.

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience? 
Watching the NYC marathon from my apartment balcony.
And in Indiana? 
Running in the Culver triathlon
New Haven? 
Being the captain of the School of Drama intermural soccer and basketball teams. We lost every game all three years I was there except the very last one.
Red sox game 

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else? 
Walk around Grand Central Station
And in Indiana? 
Time travel by heading to Amish country. 
New Haven? 
Beinecke Rare Book Library
Walk around Boston Harbor

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why?
Leonardo Di Vinci. He epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience? 
Watching bands at CBGB before they closed.
And in Indiana?
Watching Ben Folds play with the South Bend Symphony Orchestra
New Haven? 
Watching Regina Spector play at this very small bar when she was not as well known.
Swan lake at the Boston Ballet

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world?
I spend a lot of time volunteering for various organizations. 
My bottled water company always had a charity aspect to it and we would give money to either Riely Children's Hospital, Water for People, or Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Now I am part of a charity run by a well known NYT bestselling author. We are focused on helping orphans and widows in Syria. 

What do you think is most underrated and overrated in Manhattan? 
Washington Sqaure Park
And in Indiana? 
Spending time in downtown Goshen, IN
New Haven? 
Yale center of British Art
The outdoor section of the Brattle Bookshop.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite column and what do you like about it?
Your Arts section. It’s very well researched and thorough

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I helped pay for grad school by working as a sous chef on the weekends. I still love to cook French and Italian cuisine. 
I spend a lot of time working with new start up’s and advising professional artists on how to make money from their art.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
My contact info is on

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