The story of Heiga Studios started in a garage, back in Malury Imbernon’s home country of Venezuela in 1998. After high school, Imbernon went to a recording school – she was the only female in her class — and after an internship at a large recording studio there she started her company in her home.
When she yearned to further her studies in the recording arts, she came to the United States in 2000 and studied media arts and animation at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. Soon after with the crisis in Venezuela worsening, she moved the company here, starting up in Broward County.
Later, Adrian Morales-Demori, her business partner and her husband, joined her to run it together. “It was like starting over again. But we were really lucky, and we got to learn a lot about American local market,” she said.
Around 2012, the company was working a great deal with the American market but the business partners couldn’t help noticing that the Latin American market was growing. “So we took a chance and moved to downtown Miami before just before the whole thing exploded here with the Latin music,” Imbernon said. “We grew from there, and we have a 3,200 square foot facility in the center of town.”
That’s when they started working with Latin labels and on the visual side and they worked with different corporations like Burger King and Popeyes, she said. “I can’t complain. It’s been good.”
Heiga Studios is an audio/visual post-production studio. In addition to having a state-of-the-art recording studio, Heiga Studios is a one-stop shop for artists or companies seeking audio post, video, music, motion graphics, and animation. They have worked with Paramount Pictures, 2K Games, Sony Music, Universal, Sprint, Disney, Toyota and Burger King.
This summer, the company earned certification in 360 audio, an immersive experience, and started offering that service. During the pandemic, Imbernon made an award-winning documentary on human rights, a project that “fills my heart,” she says. Also during the pandemic, podcast work became very popular. “Our services are always evolving, adjusting to the market,” she said. Imbernon and Morales-Demori have a pool of experienced contractors they regularly hire to help with their projects.
Being partners in marriage and business is not always easy she says but they have complementary skillsets. Morales-Demori is an expert on the creative technical side – he’s won a Latin Grammy and been nominated for more than eight. Imbernon takes care of the business side, including business development, but also handles much of the visual work given her background in media arts & animation and has other engineering expertise they can tap as needed, such as during the pandemic when demand for streaming and podcasting took off.
They also have a partner in the Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development center within the university’s College of Business that offers no-cost advisory services to entrepreneurs. Heiga Studios has been an SBDC at FIU client since 2014.
Their work with the center has run the gamut from competitive intelligence research, developing marketing strategies, and website/digital marketing assistance. One of the consultants Heiga has worked with is Nile Kirec, who specializes in strategy development, marketing-communications planning, brand-image communication and positioning, and crisis management. “Nile has been amazing. It really helps if you’re able to hear advice from somebody who has absolutely no self interest and will just only tell me what I need to hear. Every business owner needs that,” Imbernon said. “And she really helped me focus on what’s most important.”
Imbernon said she began seeing results in business growth right away. “I never had a business plan before, so we did a business plan. We did the marketing plan, we do market research, she helped me with PR, she put me on track. I’m very thankful for the opportunity.” The SBDC team also helped her with her website and offers ongoing support.
During the pandemic, Imbernon took the reins of the business, including the technical side, when her husband was on another project. Kirec encouraged her to put her face out there. “I was shy and it was hard at first, but I just kept doing it day after day.”
With SBDC at FIU’s help, Imbernon then restructured the company. Imbernon is now CEO and she reorganized the studio, focusing on attracting more artists and growing the relationship with record labels with Heiga Studios’ one-stop-shop of services.
Heiga Studios is now growing its recording and audio post business and is getting sponsorships from music equipment companies. The small business has been more and more recognized as a woman-owned business amongst producers and record labels. And when Imbernon needs business advice, her SBDC at FIU team is just a phone call away.