Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin of SohoMuse: 5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society

Parents are the greatest role models for a child and they will see through the lens of their parents in the earlier stages of their life. It is important for the parents, grandparents and other mentors to teach these lessons. My mom used to say, “You wake up and you’re the only person who’s looking back at yourself in the mirror.” If everyone’s willing to open their eyes, then I believe it can be resolved.

As part of our series about ‘5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society’ I had the pleasure to interview Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin.

Consuelo Vanderbilt Costin, seventh generation descendant of shipping and railroad tycoon, Cornelius Vanderbilt, is an American singer, composer, songwriter, actress, philanthropist and entrepreneur.

In 2010, Consuelo founded her record label C&R Productions and her first four singles landed her in the Top 20 on the Billboard Dance Charts. Since her musical career took off, Consuelo has toured across the globe, sharing stages with Vanessa Carlton, Mya and Tweet earning recognition within the dance world, which took her from cafés in Italy to London’s Royal Alert Hall, New York’s Central Park and some of the most legendary clubs on Hollywood’s famed Sunset Strip.

While on tour in Germany, she came across the need of a backup dancer, and unfortunately had nowhere to turn to, to hire someone. Realizing this, she came up with the idea for SohoMuse, a membership based networking platform built for creative professionals to promote their talent and projects, while also allowing creatives to collaborate with each other, find talent and more, across the globe.

Since SohoMuse’s launch in 2017, Consuelo has been leading the charge of bridging the gap between entertainment and technology. Over the last three years, the platform has garnered thousands of memberships from globally renowned designers, artists, musicians, and directors to dancers, makeup artists and more — who have collaborated through the platform to work on projects ranging from New York and London Fashion Week experiences to television and film productions, photo shoots and more.

Carving her own path through her ventures in music and business, Consuelo has been featured in Vogue, Town & Country, 25A, Prestige, PAPER and Raine Magazine for her many accomplishments. She currently resides in New York City with her husband.

Thank you so much for doing this with us Consuelo! Before we dig in, our readers would like to ‘get to know you’. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?

I was born in New York, moved to L.A when I was two years old and then we relocated to London and I lived there for a majority of my childhood. I joined a professional gymnastics squad when I was seven and subsequently began training 4–5 days a week. To train for competitions I lived at my coaches’ houses on the weekends and I even traveled to Paris and trained with Olympic coaches. This level of focus and discipline has shaped the rest of my life and career.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

“The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle is a guide for day-to-day living and stresses the importance of living in the present moment and transcending thoughts of the past and/or the future.

When I was first signed to my record label, this book was my bible because I never wanted to forget one moment of that experience. I was learning to be a songwriter at the time. To me, being a songwriter means sharing the chapters of my soul. It’s the diary of my life. That is my power of now.

Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life or your work?

“If I had learned education I would not have had time to learn anything else” is a quote from my great great great great grandfather and it rings true in my own life because I have learned so much more by traveling, being with people and life experiences then I ever did in school.

My mother thought it was very important for me to learn practical skills and after attending a course in secretarial school, I was told I was the worst secretary they had seen in 120 years and I wore that as a badge of honor and have not looked back since.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

I think leadership is when a human being, who has been through different phases of their life, can take full acceptance of the situation and turn it into helpful knowledge for other people. The compassion for other people and always having the ability to be humbled by knowledge is the greatest area of expertise. That to me is the definition of a leader. A perfect example is sitting in a room and just watching. The quietest person is often the most powerful and the smartest in the room.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

As an artist, preparing to perform — whether it be in front of one person or hundreds or thousands of people — I often think of myself as someone else. I picture who that person is, I visualize the entire performance. If I’m performing to a track, I visualize the dancers, band, musicians, and the songs so its a mix of practice and preparation. I like to realign my mind, body and soul before I conquer the day. I spend most mornings at the gym to meditate to find my inner power and to block out my own pre-conceived notions.

As for an example, whether it’s performing for one person or for thousands, everything is very prepared and a well-oiled machine. I never want to look back and think to myself if only I prepared a little bit more — that’s my nightmare and what I try to avoid!

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. The United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This is of course a huge topic. But briefly, can you share your view on how this crisis inexorably evolved to the boiling point that it’s at now?

I’m greatly saddened by the state of where we are, truly. My heart breaks for what’s going on right now. I agree, we are at the boiling point but the boiling point has been going on for many years and even decades. In today’s day and age, we have access to information 24/7 and now all of these incidents are being documented and spoken about in a way they’ve never been done before. The power of media is that everything is immediate and you can’t ignore what’s right in your face. Today, it seems louder than it’s ever been.

I want to learn more about all the things that I don’t know. I would never put myself to say that I know what someone else has experienced. I want to learn more and see how I can help my peers and how my community can help. In a moment like this, you have to get quiet and listen and learn. Then, go out in the world and make a difference based on knowledge.

Can you tell our readers a bit about your experience working with initiatives to promote Diversity and Inclusion? Can you share a story with us?

We are a platform that’s based on the merit of your creativity on every level. The extraordinary thing about being in a creative world is that race, religion and other factors don’t matter. You work with the people that inspire you and that you want to learn from, grow from and build with. Magic comes from the beauty of one’s talent. Building and creating SohoMuse is exactly what the root and essence of the platform is.

Over the last few months of the pandemic, we’ve built an entertainment series to help our artists and creatives. In August, we held a series of virtual events for artists and performers through SohoMuse. These concerts and panels featured special musical guests along with some extraordinary artists in support of the uncomfortable conversations around Black Lives Matter. At SohoMuse, we’re about supporting the talent, the voices and the artists. That’s very important to me.

This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?

It is important on every level — as it is just important to have both male and female on a board. Inclusivity cannot exist without representation. Because everyone has an interesting insight and their own expertise and levels of talent. If you don’t have the voices fighting for every color, race, religion, they’ll get left out. The only way you can be truly inclusive is to have representation from different backgrounds working together to create something that fits for everyone. All of this helps making universal decisions. I build teams based on knowledge, experience, and what’s going to help make a successful company.

Ok. Here is the main question of our discussion. You are an influential business leader. Can you please share your “5 Steps We Must Take To Truly Create An Inclusive, Representative, and Equitable Society”. Kindly share a story or example for each.

The five steps to make more of an inclusive society include:

  • You always have to have representation from different backgrounds
  • Be mindful to look at the merit of talent for all candidates and what they bring to the table
  • Be respectful and do not discriminate on age. Age is power and knowledge. Do not discriminate on religion or the color of your skin. You are who you are.
  • Listen. Get quiet and educate yourself. Be mindful. Take a breath and listen.
  • Be willing to listen and appreciate someone else’s life experiences

For example, my co-founder, Umi McGuckin is a beautiful, SriLankan woman. When we first were building our company, people would describe us as an “Oreo cookie.” This was somewhat extraordinary because both of us were coming in from completely different walks of life and each of our unique experiences helped us create a successful company. We learned to listen to each other every day.

We are going through a rough period now. Are you optimistic that this issue can eventually be resolved? Can you explain?

It can only be resolved when people start waking up and making a difference. People need to want to make a change. If people were more mindful and didn’t judge someone else right away, then we would be living an extraordinary life.

Parents are the greatest role models for a child and they will see through the lens of their parents in the earlier stages of their life. It is important for the parents, grandparents and other mentors to teach these lessons. My mom used to say, “You wake up and you’re the only person who’s looking back at yourself in the mirror.” If everyone’s willing to open their eyes, then I believe it can be resolved.

Since we have access to technology, it has enabled us to watch and monitor more closely and carefully. Because of this, it will encourage parents and leaders to be more cautious and be more accepting when teaching their kids. Until you’re living in someone else’s shoes, you don’t know how or what they feel but if you’re open to be more accepting on race, gender, religion, etc., then that’s one step closer.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Oprah Winfrey because she’s bold, fearless and not afraid or ashamed to talk about what’s uncomfortable. She listens, learns, grows and continuously keeps going. I have to name two — Elon Musk is someone who I’d like to sit down with. I’ve never met anyone whose holds 5-minute meetings. My mission is to learn how to have a 5-minute meeting!

How can our readers follow you online?

@consuelo_vanderbilt_costin on Instagram, @consuelocostin on Twitter, @sohomuseinc and on

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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