Working From Home With Ben Baller
April 21, 2020
Ben Baller is a “jeweler to the stars,” former music executive, entrepreneur, art collector and podcaster with a heavy travel schedule whose current passion is being a father and husband. With the new normal being working from home, we recently caught up with Ben to learn about his career and how he manages to stay motivated and inspired while staying at home with his family in Los Angeles.
You have made your mark on the music and fashion industry over the years. Can you explain a little bit about your background and how your career developed?
My love for music and hip hop culture began at a very young age, and I’m talking at like eleven years old. I learned how to DJ first, then was passionate about soul music and new wave. That, along with sports, kept me very busy. Eventually, after college, I began my professional career as a DJ and very soon after as a record executive. I look back at my life in my 20’s and think damn— I was part of some epic albums, working with Dr Dre and Jay-Z. My passion and love for music eventually died out due to the business part of the game. But that’s when I began to design jewelry and a semi-love turned into a whole new profession.
What inspired you to start your podcast, Ben Baller Pod, and what do you want your listeners to take away from each episode?
Starting a podcast is something I always wanted to do— it’s like radio but on my own terms and I get to discuss my favorite topics. After listening to Michael Rapaport’s podcast “I AM RAPAPORT”, I decided I wanted to start my own. He helped me get started with it tremendously. I want all my listeners to understand this journey was 30+ years in the making. Some blessings take 15+ years to pay off, and there’s more to it than just jewelry and the BALLER moniker. My passion now is being a father and husband. I discuss all my daily experiences and once in a while, actually more often than not, I find myself talking about my past and crazy stories.
How do you stay positive and motivated everyday, especially now that you are working from home? Can you share your work-from-home essentials?
My couch and TV! Haha. I mean, I have two desktop computers in my home along with a few laptops, but I’m typing this from my phone. My iPhone is always an essential, as is my podcast equipment and of course, my MW65 headphones. Hand soap, sanitizer and my stationary bike are all essentials now. Staying positive is pretty easy since I wake up each morning feeling super blessed. My life today is a result of hard work, a lot of failure and lessons. I’m also super busy with three kids, and they each have a lot of homework everyday. This whole situation is just fucking crazy.
You have one of the best work-from-home setups we’ve seen, and your space is often used as a recording location for your podcast. How did you get started in collecting art and coveted street style pieces?
When I was growing up I was obsessed with Japanese toys, Go-Lion(Voltron) and other robots. I was a graffiti artist too, so the mixture of both things kept my eyes sharp for street art and new-age toys. I’ve been collecting, including art pieces, since 2002.
Tell us about your favorite piece of art, item or collection you have acquired over the past few years.
There are so many, and my Warhol lithograph is definitely a favorite. I paid only $50,000 for it 16 years ago, and today it’s worth maybe 20x that. Another favorite is a rare one of two Murakami collaborations that we turned into a print. As for a toy, it has to be my 5 foot tall Fendi 2000% Bearbrick figure that I acquired through the Thomas Crown route. I began collecting Bearbricks through a pal, Eddie Cruz, who owned a store called Union and Undefeated; he’s also a part owner in Supreme New York. I would get a couple here and there, and eventually I ended up with 75 of them. I ran out of space, otherwise I’d easily have 100. I think I’ve invested $60,000 in them over the years and now they’re valued at 10x that. Along with all my Kaws toys. The newer ones aren’t as cool because they’re open editions but I’m thankful I got in early, and they’ve become a big part of my portfolio and net worth.