Milwaukee agency Lori Lins Ltd. opens branch here

Trent Raffaelli and Lori Lins

Wisconsin’s biggest talent agency, Lori Lins Ltd., has opened a Chicago office in the person of founder Lins’ son, Trent Raffaelli, in the West Loop.  The office will serve as a home base for LLL’s Chicago-based talent, with an eye towards expansion in other areas.

“It was simply time for us to expand to Chicago in order to accommodate a growing base of actors and clients,” says Lins, who founded the agency in 1978 “with a cardboard box and a typewriter in my Madison area living room.” 

The multi-listed agency moved its headquarters to Milwaukee in 1982, where it currently employs nine. 

The 800-sq. ft. office at 1101 W. Adams features a video casting facility and audio studio.  With the office in place, Lins plans to expand the Chicago-based talent roster and, down the line, possibly create a Latino talent division, for which she says there’s “a definite need” in the market.

New clients in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles have boosted LLL’s business in the past few years.  “We have been getting new business from all over the country and so we must be doing something right,” she says.

“We invest a great deal in our website, our database and our equipment.  The majority of our business comes from our website and that is the lifeline of our company,” Lins says. 

While Lins, like many other agencies use online casting, she is clear that is only one tool the agency employs.  “Nothing replaces our deep relationships, organizational skills, welcoming personalities and, well, a lot of luck,” she notes.

Raffaelli the sole local staffer

Raffaelli has lived in Chicago for nine years, since graduating high school, and for the past eight he’s been working for LLL “testing the market here and being a liaison for the Milwaukee office,” he says.  At this time, he is the sole local employee although Lori Lins or a Milwaukee staffer (they don’t have titles) will work out of the local branch.

Involving her son in the business was the “natural progression” of Lins’ plan to have him eventually take over the agency and move the headquarters to Chicago. But asking to become involved was not an easy decision, she says. 

“I was absolutely nervous about having him in the family business.  It’s every mother’s dream and nightmare.  I told him he did not have to do this but if it were something that was going to create happiness in his life, he should go for it.”

She adds she has no immediate intention to retire.