Welcome To The VF&M Blog! - A Little About Me
Many of the first people reading this know exactly who I am and what I do, but for those who will read this in the future and discover me through this blog, I figure the first post is the best place for some background and introduction stuff. Some of my regular viewers might even learn a little here.
Welcome to Vintage Fans & More! When I started VF&M on YouTube nine years ago, it didn't even have a name. But perhaps I should backtrack even further and cover who I am first. My own name is Cole Semanko, and I operate the Vintage Fans & More social channels across most major social media platforms. You can find those links on the side menu.
Since I was a very young child, I've had a fascination with fans. All fans. If it has blades that spin, I'm into it. My parents and family were always very supportive of my interest in fans, often buying me new ones to grow my interest throughout childhood. Early on it was all portable fans, at the time I never even considered collecting ceiling fans as an option. The furthest I went was to pick up the product brochures at the hardware stores to look at the ceiling fan pictures. By age 10 I had quite a little collection of portable fans going, and had started discovering what thrift stores had to offer in the way of older used fans from the 1970s-1990s. A lot of those first used fans I got were ones I remembered seeing earlier in life. It was cool to find some of the fans that I had always thought were interesting for myself. At this point I was still very alone with my interest in fans. I'd gotten the concept that there were some other people out there, but had never really connected with anyone over the interest. That was all about to change...
In my early teen years, I started searching around on the internet for pictures of different fans. I'd started building some more interest in ceiling fans, and wanted to try to learn more about them. One day I found a website that forever changed my life. Vintage Ceiling Fans introduced me to a new world of ceiling fans from the 1970s right on up to current day, and even some antiques. As I began searching through the galleries, models I recognized from my own life started turning up. At last I was able to figure out what so many of the fans I remembered from my childhood were. I pored over the images and compiled information, absorbing everything I could. Eventually I moved over to the community forums, where boundless knowledge awaited me. It was then that I started picking up the occasional ceiling fans that I'd see at thrift stores, recognizing what they were, and building my collection. About a decade ago, now, is when I entered the online community of electric fan enthusiasts on the forums at VCF. I owe every success of mine to the people who built the Vintage Ceiling Fans community, some of whom I still network with regularly today. This blog is not meant to take away from that community or provide competition in any way, this place just allows me to grow in new and different ways. Every ounce of knowledge I gained in my earliest days online was from those awesome, knowledgeable, patient human beings at VCF. It wasn't long until I was being encouraged to cross platforms and begin uploading fan videos to YouTube, and that's where Vintage Fans & More comes back in.
I joined YouTube December 15, 2008, and uploaded my first video the very same day. YouTube was still really in its infancy, I had no idea that it would become the platform that it is today. Unfortunately, I did not have the foresight to come up with a creative channel name then and was not very internet-savvy, so I just used my dad's screen name and email when setting up the account. To this day the channel URL is youtube.com/mpsslovak. The Vintage Fans & More name came a few years into my ventures, when a YouTube update allowed a channel name to be inserted on the channel page. YouTube now allows channels to branch and separate under new names, so mine now lives completely under the Vintage Fans & More moniker, however they will not allow the address to be re-customized so it remains. Most people probably don't fully understand the name. Originally the 'Vintage Fans' portion was pretty obvious and still is, but the 'More' was mostly indicative of the few random assorted videos with friends and family I put on the channel. Since then, the 'More' has become representative of the fact that I offer much 'More' industry insight than just vintage fans. I'll come back to that later. My first videos were not entirely too good, in fact you can very much see my progression toward quality content through the years, but I've always enjoyed doing them. These days I make pretty good ad revenue from my videos, but in those early days I wasn't a YouTube partner or paid at all for anything. I just liked doing it, and connecting with people in the process. And that's still why I do it. Extra income is a great perk, but really I just enjoy it so very much.
It's hard for me now to look back and pinpoint when things started to really take off, but all of a sudden I had a million combined views. Then five million. Now I'm doing a million views a year across my content. One time I do recall and think, "That was a pretty big deal", was when this video NuTone 'Hug-The-Ceiling' started racking up views. It was kind of the first time anything had gone remotely viral for me. Viral for that time period and the type of content, anyways. It was racking up thousands of views very quickly, a minor feat by today's standards, but impressive back then. It is arguably one of the worst videos that still remains on my channel. Many of my really bad early videos were deleted, replaced with better copies. I would have deleted this one as well, but it was getting the views and bringing new people to my channel, which I loved. It is still one of my most-viewed videos, and I was approached more than once by production teams wanting to use snippets of it for their projects. I believe I signed at least two releases before shutting it down to that kind of thing, since I was not happy with the quality of the video and it being my representation in other media. Just about a year ago, I had my first single video surpass one million views, probably the video I've always been best-known for; Garage Fans. This video put me on the leaderboard of legendary fan videos on YouTube among collectors and enthusiasts. It's made a lot possible for me, including the provision of some funding for the assembly of my new and current display which is vastly larger and more comprehensive than anything I've ever had before: New Display
It's funny, I've never been a social media person. I was hesitant to get on that very first forum a decade ago, and was resistant to almost every form of social media that came before or since then. YouTube was always my exception, though I was able to keep that outlet mostly focused on the fans. For years I did not even make myself present in my own videos (and still do not appear very often!), because I've never wanted it to be about me. I don't like sharing myself through a camera or screen, there are always people who have something to say that you don't want to hear. But I began to realize what a powerful tool social media can be, and that I could use it to share my passion for fans regardless of any negativity that might make itself known. I've been getting YouTube comments practically since the beginning from people telling me I'd inspired them. I've also gotten some real nasty comments, but the positive always outshines the negative. People have discovered that they are not alone in their interests, the same revelation I'd had discovering the forum communities. The drive for connection, not only to fan enthusiasts, but also to companies, retailers, and design professionals, has been my motivation to embrace online media.
I first joined Instagram in its earlier days, too. I didn't really understand how it worked, but I liked posting the more artistic pictures of my fans and discovering what other people were posting. Eventually brands started joining the platform, and for the first time I was getting noticed by them through constant and persistent engagement. Casablanca Fan Company was the first fan manufacturer account to ever reply to a comment I made and I was so excited about it. Others soon followed; it felt like a dream then and still does now. I'd pushed back against joining Facebook for so long despite the fan collecting community migrating away from the web forums to new groups there, but ultimately the power to network with brands and companies on the platform was too good to miss out on. Since then I've tried to embrace every platform that makes sense for my own branding, from Twitter, to Snapchat, to Pinterest, in order to expand my reach across the web. I'm not a pro with all of them, but I do really try for the sake of the viewers since everyone has a personal favorite platform. I have had no prior experience or training in social media networking or marketing, but I've found great self-taught success as a niche social media influencer. Something about it comes naturally to me. I'm an extreme introvert, but being able to speak through social media has given me a voice I never thought I had. It's not easy either. People often assume that work on the internet or social media is easy, since they do that stuff for fun in their free time, but I have put in countless hours and missed out on many things putting in the time to build the contacts and relations that I cherish so much. But I wouldn't have it any other way. I love what I get to do on the internet, with the industry, and with my own collection.
Networking online has brought many blessings into my life and made dreams that I never thought were possible come true. Hunter Fan Company in partnership with Casablanca Fan Company has been so supportive of what I do for years now. They were first to send me a product to try out a few years back, which started breaking open a new world of opportunity and I've been thrilled to continue working with them occasionally. In late 2015, Emerson Ceiling Fans approached me hoping I would do a video featuring one of their fans, but there was a major requirement that was a game changer for me. They wanted me to appear and speak in the video. Up to this point, I'd barely appeared in a video and had hardly uttered a word on camera. The video for Emerson was the shove I needed to continue growing, so I have them to thank for that. Since then I've done numerous videos specifically for new Casablanca, Kichler, and Fanimation products, and started some vlogging on my channel to connect with viewers in a less formal space and show more of what I do behind the scenes. Through my various social channels, I've been able to establish connections worldwide with former and current designers, executives, and employees at the companies I have idolized, not to mention countless showrooms who sell their products. I have worked with incredible people, the support I receive from my affiliated manufactures and friends in the industry is more than I could ever ask for. I am forever grateful.
So now, we come back to the 'More' in Vintage Fans & More. These days, the 'More' means boundless things. 'More' in that I offer an in-depth look at new products on the market. 'More' in that my interests have fostered a love for all things design. 'More' in that I offer a platform for anybody to learn, share, and be in touch. This has been the motivation in building this new blog. It's a place to share everything I love together and expand horizons, to offer a compilation of my interests and maybe find an even wider audience. This place will bring together my love for design with what I do elsewhere across the web. Still though, my adoration of vintage fans stands at the forefront of what I do, and that balance of representation is what makes Vintage Fans & More special.
Thank you all for reading and being here. I look forward to what this new place holds in store.
Vintage Fans & More