Rani Sweis is the owner and Creative Director of AtticSalt. AtticSalt is a brand and design studio that is “hell-bent on telling captivating stories and building brand identities that connect with people on a deeper level.”
What part of Arizona do you call home?
I’m on the border between Arcadia and Old Town Scottsdale.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
As the son of a serial entrepreneur, I guess you can say I was preconditioned. I’ve been writing down business ideas since elementary school. (Weird, I know.) I studied marketing with a minor in consumer behavior. I’ve always been obsessed with what makes people tick.
What was your very first entrepreneurial venture?
When I was 7, I talked a neighborhood friend into trading me his gold plated, limited edition, Mortal Kombat Slammer for a magical racoon tail that I found in the dumpster behind the complex. It was then that I learned that power great storytelling and how it can positively affect my life.
How did you come up with the idea for your current business?
I spend several years in sales and marketing with some notable tech companies. After working with hundreds of businesses across the it became evident to me how much brand design impacted the success of a company. So many wonderful business owners open up wonderful businesses without a solid brand and they go under within their first year. I’ve seen it so many times and it breaks my heart. So I started this company to help them succeed.
What is your favorite part about running a business?
The shittiest boss I currently have, is myself.
What was the biggest challenge in executing this idea?
Design hasn’t reached maturity in AZ quite yet, and it’s been an interesting challenge educating the Phoenix market about the true value of great design. All the best talent eventually graduate Phoenix and seek a job with a firm on the coasts. It’s my prerogative to reverse that.
How long have you lived or worked in Arizona?
I moved from Chicago in 2005. As DJ Khaled likes to say, the entrepreneurial scene in AZ is . . .
If you could only describe your city with one word, which word would it be?
. . . “BOOMIN’!”
What’s your favorite thing about living in Arizona?
Let’s be honest here. I’d be crazy not to say the beautiful winters.
What’s your least favorite thing about living in Arizona?
It’s very dispersed and pretty much nothing is within walking distance. You have drive 45 minutes just to buy some groceries.
In what area do you think Arizona still has a long way to go?
A real downtown area. No, stop kidding yourselves, Arizona natives—downtown Phoenix still has a long way to go to truly have a downtown culture. Yes, I admit it’s growing and it’s come a long way in the 12 years I’ve been here, but we’re light years away from Chicago, NY, Boston, LA and even Atlanta. I think it roots from the fact that Arizona is so dispersed and that they’ve been charging big city prices for something that doesn’t exist yet. Being a former city slicker, I’d move in a heartbeat if they charged face value for real estate and not what they’re hoping it will be one day.
The foodie scene is growing bigger and bigger by the day here in Arizona. What is your favorite place to get breakfast in your city?
My favorite has always been Breakfast Club in Old Town Scottsdale. It may not be trendy or new, but it’s consistent and damn good.
What’s your favorite place to grab lunch?
I’m currently obsessed with Ahi-Poke Bowl. (My mouth is watering now.)
What’s your favorite dinner spot?
You’re killin’ me! There are so many great places but right now I’d have to say Mora Italian on 7th St. & Montebello. It doesn’t hurt that my wife designed the interior. It also happens to be down the street from my second favorite, Fuego Bistro.
What’s your favorite place to work in your city aside from your office?
Arizona’s #1 co-working space, of course. If you haven’t checked out CO+HOOTS, you’re truly missing out.
Best place for a meeting over drinks?
AZ88. Great music, even better drinks. All the better with the right company.
What is your favorite memory from Arizona?
Meeting my wife at the James. I mean, the Mondrian . . . no wait, The Theodore. They’ve changed names so many times now that I can’t keep up. I think it’s The Saguaro now. Maybe they just need a good branding agency. I also get a kick out of sending winter pictures by the pool to my friends and family after a snow blizzard in Chicago.
What is something about living in Arizona that only a local would know of?
If I was a local, maybe I would know.
Any tips for new Arizona residents?
Just because it’s hot doesn’t make it okay to wear a Speedo.