2020 – Imagine Partners was strategic advisor on a lawsuit to recover Warhol artwork from a Gallery in NYC that resulted in the compensation for sold artwork and the return of all unsold artwork for our client.
2019 – Imagine Partners worked as strategic advisor to Serendipity 3, Inc and Stephen Bruce on an ongoing labor lawsuit. In that capacity, Imagine advised on the selection of counsel and worked closely with counsel on client’s behalf. Imagine’s role resulted in a successfully mediated settlement in alignment with our client’s goals.
2018 – Imagine Partners successfully sold the restaurant Serendipity 3 of New York City and all related assets in an asset sale of over $10 million for the owner Stephen Bruce. Mr. Bruce had operated the restaurant for over 65 years. Imagine Partners acted as advisor to Mr. Bruce and in that capacity, performed a valuation of the assets, prepared the restaurant for sale, contacted and negotiated terms and structure with multiple potential buyers and also engaged and worked together with the legal team at Rheem Bell & Freeman to bring the transaction to closure. Imagine also acted as strategic advisor on the employee labor lawsuits that arose during the course of the assignment.
2018 – Imagine Partners secured three short term financing commitments totaling $4.5million to finance expected liability of legal settlements for client within 30 days. The financing enabled the negotiated settlement of for a lawsuit and continued operations of the company.
We are a small, women-run restaurant based out of Hudson, NY– we opened with no investors and no financial know-how. Charlene came into our lives when we needed her most– we had just experienced a huge financial crisis due to a perfect storm of us not knowing how to interpret our finances and leaving too much in the hands of our bookkeeper and accountant. Charlene helped us change our relationship to our finances and our business overall in such a major way– we were in so deep that we didn’t even know what questions we needed to be asking. Her blend of non-judgmental understanding and high standards were exactly what we needed to change our narrative of our incapacity to understand our finances; we felt comfortable enough to talk about the hard stuff like our partnership agreement, and inspired enough to stick to weekly financial meetings to increase our financial literacy. Although Charlene is so immensely professionally accomplished in her own right, she is incredibly talented at listening to the needs of *your* business and providing tangible exercises. Instead of plugging us in to some formula to pad her resume, she really focused on the health of our business and us as business owners in a way that felt so personal and effective. We cannot sing her praises enough.
—Wheeler + Carla + Hannah, Lil’ Deb’s Oasis, Hudson, NY 2020
“Charlene Chai is the strategic thinker business owners need when they find themselves in uncharted waters. She has been an integral part of CEDC’s Technical Assistance program for the past 5 years, routinely helping small business owners develop business plans and obtain financing. Her keen understanding of the numbers behind your business makes her the consultant you want to have in your corner.”
—Martha Lane, Business Development Specialist, Columbia Economic Development Corporation 2020
When it was time to sell my business, I realized there were a number of obstacles that I couldn’t quite get a grasp on. Consulting with Charlene ended up being, quite possibly, the wisest business decision I’ve made in the last five years. The way I see it, we all have options regarding our future, although some might be smarter than others. Charlene has a way of asking seemingly small questions that end up uncovering possibilities you never knew existed! After each session, I would leave with the wheels spinning in happy and unexpected ways, and breakthroughs would continue to happen hours, or even days later. Charlene’s style is naturally clear, direct, and to the point, but also gentle.
These attributes, combined with a lifetime of experience in the high-pressure corporate world, made her an invaluable business ally.
I found it easy to trust the relationship right away, when I realized that her suggestions come free of attachment. Her approach from the beginning was, “Hey, it’s your life, let’s figure out how you really want to live it.”
The work we’ve done together will be long-lasting and far-reaching for my personal and professional growth. I’ll always be grateful that I took that initial step in meeting with her.
—Maggie McCann, Oskar’s Boutique, Kauai
Advisor, coach, mediator, role model and friend: All these titles would fit the role Charlene Chai has had in my life. We first worked together when, upon the recommendation of our lawyer, my business partner and I sought her assistance mediating the differences between us that were sabotaging our successful business. This was a great opportunity for me and I learned many lessons – more than I knew at the time as I look back. Charlene and Imagine Partners were able to look at our business from both the financial and the personal perspectives to untangle some of the conflict and help us to generate working models for our company’s growth. This combination of financial savvy and spiritual enlightenment was very inspiring to me. She did say this was a temporary fix, as she knew we were not ready to take some of the larger steps, but this enabled us to enter a short term growth spurt that increased sales dramatically over a few years.
Eventually it did become clear that my business partner and I held dramatically different visions of how we wanted to run our bakeries and how we wanted to live. At this point I again sought out Charlene’s help to figure out what strategy would get me out of a situation that had become unhealthy. This was a fairly involved process with many lawyers and lots of turmoil, but Charlene was able to help me understand what I really wanted and structured a unique proposal that became the basis for the separation agreement. I was finally free to continue in the process of creating a business that held true to my vision of building a team of coworkers who were committed to making great artisanal baked goods.
The most important lesson from our experience together was a simple one and it was about freedom. I had to work through all the consequences of letting go and losing before I could imagine having and winning. This was a liberating process and describing it in a simple sentence belies the time and effort that Charlene put in to helping me discover this truth. I now own three bakeries in NYC and am thriving.
Her methods have not always fit into what I imagine to be the traditional business consultant’s process and this makes working with her a constant process of discovery and adventure.
—Monica Von Thun Calderón, Grandaisy Bakery, New York City
Growing a business from a start-up to a medium size enterprise is, at best, challenging. Charlene Chai’s advice, attention to detail and guidance have been invaluable. She is professional, friendly and timely. We love working with her and regard her as a trusted member of our advisory team.
—Kate Arding, Talbot & Arding Cheese and Provisions, Hudson, NY 2021
I regularly recommend Charlene to businesses and professionals in need of advice and guidance around business development, company structuring, and partnership creation and dissolution. She is a thoughtful, clear, and no-nonsense advisor – someone I would want on my advisory team for any important transactions I am negotiating, be they financial or partnership related.
Charlene’s thoughtful listening skills, and ability to see through the competing interests to clear and logical solutions for her clients makes her an invaluable advisor in all transactions.
Overall working with Charlene is like having your own sophisticated, experienced strategy team.
—Jessica Mennella, FLWR Napa Valley, CA 2020
Charlene is an incisive agent of transformation for you and your business. Her direct questions and resulting suggestions produced significant and tangible improvements immediately, and she continues to help us remain in alignment with our ever-evolving vision.
—Geoffrey Good, Geoffrey Good Jewelry, New York 2020
For over a decade I have owned and operated Turf, a multi-disciplined, full-service advertising agency in New York City.
Despite having both a CPA and a bookkeeper, after 7 years my finances and operations were a mess. I felt as though I was constantly on the defensive with payroll, suppliers, and unforeseen expenditures. The income was healthy, but the management of it certainly was not.
Advertising is a bit of am anomaly in the world of business. Primarily because it is a creative service, so certain qualifications relative to “time spent” versus renumeration for that time are somewhat fluid. Therefore it is a bit of a task managing a consistent profit margin vs. salaries and overhead. In addition, I was determined to provide many kinds of creative solutions for my clients, as opposed to narrowing down our core competencies to just a few, which would have helped with effeciencies.
Not many financial consultants are able to wrap their head around this paradigm. I had tried others, and it usually came down to, “What? It took an Art Director how long to come up with that idea?” or “Just bill them up front, like a contractor.” Charlene was able to quickly understand the dynamics of the business, determine where the flexibilities in the system could remain, and tighten up the other processes so there was a prioritization for payables, such as payroll, suppliers, and debt reduction each month. In addition, she saw where the agency personnel were contributing to the problem, and made recommendations in that area for improvement.
Last, and certainly not least, Charlene understood that the problems with Turf were ultimately “owner driven.” She helped me take a close look at that, where I was simply not willing to before, in a very skillful and supportive way. From there, a seemingly unmanageable problem, became just another creative problem to solve.
I recommend her highly.
—Mark Trippetti, Turf, New York City
When I met Charlene I felt that I had finally found someone who understood my aspirations for my brand.
Being an entrepreneur and trying to navigate my business is often overwhelming. I always have a million questions about the ins and outs of operating a successful company. The sustainable magazine I have created has been around for a few years now and apart from financial questions I also have been concerned about structuring a productive team from the ground up. Thankfully I met Charlene along the way, with her mindful approach to counseling and her expertise in finance and brand building she has quickly become an indispensable part of the growth of my company.
I’m always excited to meet up with Charlene because I know that she has my best interests at heart. She often starts the conversation with “I’ve been thinking about something for you”, which is such a positive way to start a meeting. I love to hear that she doesn’t clock off when our meeting has concluded. Apart from her vast knowledge of business practices and a wide network of connections, she is extremely intuitive. She has a gift of empathy and compassion which she applies as she delves into comprehending your life and your plans. Her holistic approach incorporates all aspects of ones lifestyle and character to determine what is the best way of making your dreams come true.
Charlene’s technique is fresh, personable and incredibly supportive. I highly recommend her to anyone who is sincere in building a business that suits not only their passion and goals but also their character and personality. I applaud Charlene for creating an intelligent and holistic consulting business that puts heart and soul center stage at Imagine Partners.
—Mara Schiavetti, EDITOR IN CHIEF, A Green Beauty 2017
I can’t thank Charlene enough. Our dream of owning our business was just a dream until I met Charlene. She was able to figure out a solution for creatively financing the acquisition, found the lender, talked them through the merits of the transaction, and supported us throughout the entire complicated process. She was there for us far more than she had to. Without Charlene’s help and guidance, we would not be the proud owners of the business in which we grew up. Thanks to her skills, enthusiasm and patient mentoring, my brother and I are on the path to success and we can’t be more excited and grateful.
—Cricket Sauca, Hudson, NY 2017
In today’s changing business environment you need innovative thinking, wise advice and understanding support to thrive in this new world. Charlene Chai is just the right person to move your business forward. Her clarity, compassion and vision makes her stand out in the crowd – I think any business owner would benefit from her experience and personal approach. I know I have.
—MFH, Director, WisdomWord 2020
I worked with Charlene to help raise capital for my IT start-up. She met all my expectations concerning professionalism, experience, insight, innovation and industry connections. She wildly exceeded them, however, with her personal support and the feeling that she believed in me and my business 100%. Finding her was like landing on a gold mine.
—Nina Alastruey, CEO and Founder, theChanner
The best investment I ever made in my personal and business life…I am very honored to have worked with Charlene. Selling my first business was obviously a business decision but very personal as well. I knew I was ready to move into a new direction, but not totally sure exactly how to go about the change. I was not sure if I needed to speak with an attorney or an accountant. Charlene helped me value my company based on an unconventional market, as well as structure the actual sale of the company. Whether I was getting a pep talk or “crossing all the t’s and dotting all the “i’s” I could not be more inspired or thrilled about this experience. It was exactly what I hoped for in every way. I hope I will have the pleasure of working with Charlene in the future, I highly recommend her services!
—Jenn Voorhees, Aspen Babysitting Company
OUR CLIENTS INCLUDE:
- aFeinberg Gallery, Kauai
- A Green Beauty: AGB, New York
- theChanner, San Francisco/Barcelona
- Center for Economic Growth, New York
- Columbia Economic Development Corporation, New York
- Copake General Store, New York
- East Chatham Food Company, New York
- E.Marmur Dermatology, New York
- FLWR Napa Valley, California
- Foods of Vail, Colorado
- Geoffrey Good Jewelry, New York
- Grandaisy Bakery, New York
- Haven Spa, Rhinebeck, New York
- Hotline Wetsuits, California
- imby, New York
- JWSalon, New York
- Lil’ Debs Oasis, New York
- Oskar’s Boutique, Kauai
- Paddlehead Boards, New York
- Pampered Pooch, New York
- Scenic Hudson, New York
- Serendipity3 Restaurant, New York
- Sullivan Street Bakery, New York
- Talbot & Arding Cheese and Provisions, New York
- Tambor Acai, Kauai
- Turf Advertising, New York
- WisdomWord, California
- Verdigris Tea & Chocolate, New York