Category Archives: INSPIRATION

Blessing Bags


With the holiday season in full-swing, my mind has been racing with little things we can do as a family to bless others.  We intend on feeding the homeless on Thanksgiving morning and purchasing a few gifts for those in need at our local elementary school.  But, when I came across this picture on Pinterest~I thought what a great way to make this all a bit more personal.  In the next week, the kids and I will assemble six Blessing Bags~one each.  We will include the following:

travel-size toothbrush and paste

water bottle


fruit cup

apple sauce

bar soap

granola bars



holiday card with a positive message personalized by each one of us

All six  bags will be kept in our car.  It will be our personal choice, who receives the bag.  My holiday wish is for this tradition to continue monthly, all year-round.



Voodoo Couture Vintage’s Robyn Hove

Ever since I can remember I have loved all things “old”.  As a child, my room was draped in antique linens and pictures and I spent my time watching old movies and then raiding my mother’s closet for anything that resembled the female character’s wardrobe.

I met Robyn Hove at a charity fashion show last year.  I had heard of her company~ Voodoo Couture Vintage around town and was excited to finally meet her.  If you are looking for something truly, special Robyn is the gal to contact.  This Summer I had two events coming up~ A daytime wedding and an evening birthday dinner in Santa Barbara.  I contacted Robyn, one foggy morning and later that day found myself trying on a multitude of colorful dresses from the 60’s and 70’s in her home.  I loved the fact, she was there and was more than helpful with what would work on my frame and with my coloring.  I ended up falling in love with a pastel floral piece that stood out with butterfly sleeves(wore this to the wedding) and a soft yellow YSL-inspired pleated dress for the birthday dinner.  What I adore about vintage is, (1.)these purchases are long-term.  They will be with me until I can’t fit into them any longer.  (2.)They are unique(sorry~H&M, Forever21) and I won’t fear running into anyone in my dress and lastly, (3.) they have a history.  Let’s find out more about Robyn and how she is making a business out of her passion. 

Where did you come up with the name Voodoo Couture Vintage?

I thought voodoo sounded kinda old & cool and mysterious, couture means sewing

When and what was your inspiration to start your business?

I am a former antique dealer, and I have loved vintage things ever since I can remember. I had to give that up to take care of my mom when she got Alzheimer’s disease. She eventually went into a nursing facility. I have a friend named Tanah who sold vintage clothing at expo’s and shows. She got me interested in vintage clothing. I bought a few pieces at garage sales & listed them on Ebay. They sold and I was hooked!! Soon I shopping for vintage clothing every weekend. I had to learn all the era’s and words for different types of clothing styles. (Still learning) lol! Been doing it for about 3 years, first year and a half getting my feet wet & now I’m obsessed! I don’t find much at garage sales these days so I have to travel to find it. All that to say I am inspired by the beauty and history of the clothes. The intricacy of the design and fine sewing of the older pieces. I’m inspired and enamored by who may have worn them and to where. I have to admit I get a little giddy when I find a special piece. I recently found a crochet skirt and the women told me it was from a flea market in England and was worn by Kate Moss back in the day before she was famous for a photo shoot. THAT inspired me! How exciting can you get. Anyway it was bought by a gentlemen in Paris. ( I never mentioned the story, who would have believed it anyway Ha) I’m inspired by the delicate nature of old silk and how some has held up so long. Also inspired by newer 60s, and 70s which covers so many styles…Hippie Boho, Jackie O and so on.
Did you have a shop at one time? Do you reinvent/re-design any of the pieces you find?
Well, I was inside a shop on Oak street. I had a large room call “Robyn’s Nest”- sounds corny to me now but at the time It was pretty popular. lol. I do some redesigning only if needed. If particular dresses are selling short , then I hem them. I pretty much keep up on what is selling on eBay on popular stores and try to apply what I learn.. I LOVE to repair things in a way that will never be detected or seen. I call them my “magic tricks”
Also getting stains out that may have been there forever is very rewarding for me. LOL. I’m so glad my Mom taught me some sewing skills when I was younger. I don’t know a lot but what I do know is invaluable.
Robyn, What is the next step for your business?
At this point I just want to keep getting my name out there and to continue to keep up with inventory and photo shoots. I want to get as much of a reputation as I can.

Voodoo Couture Website

Voodoo Couture Vintage’s Facebook page

Talia Wunder~Local. Support. Entrepreneur.

I met Talia when I opened Bludress Boutique in Santa Paula.  She had just started her handmade jewelry business, Devone Design.  Each piece is created with unique gems/beads and constructed by Talia, herself.   I immediately fell in love with her designs and we became quick friends. Now, she is know as a local artist’s best friend.  Her shop supports and promoted all things made locally here in Ventura County.  Read on to find out more..

Hi Talia, Would you share your back story with us?

Hmmm, where to start? Basically, ever since I can remember, I wanted to have my own business.  My parents had their own company, and even though I saw them struggle at times and understood the incredible effort it takes to have a small business, this is still want I wanted.  At age 18, while living in WA state, I
got my wish when I borrowed a down payment from my parents and bought a 4-unit apartment building.  I expanded my real estate ‘empire’ to include a duplex and three additional houses over the next few years, while I finished my degree in Biology with the hopes of being able to work with animals.  My dream was to study large cats in their own environment.  However, these jobs paid less than what I was already making as a bookkeeper, and even less than what my yearly college tuition was.  Instead, I continued to work full-time as a bookkeeper, with my apartments as a nice side business.  Things were good, but not what I truly wanted when I decided to move to CA 13 years ago.  Even though this decision was one of the best in my life, it also was a tremendous struggle to restart in a new state.  The management company I hired for my apartments and houses was less than satisfactory, I soon had soaring vacancy rates, and after two years, I had to sell or lose all my properties. Around this same time, my mom had open-heart surgery, and I agreed to move back to WA permanently to help her with her recovery.  I remember the first two weeks I was back I couldn’t stop crying, as much as I love my parents, I didn’t want to be in WA.  After 6 months helping my mom, I was out of money and knew in my heart that CA was the place for me.  I packed up my little pickup and drove back to CA with gas money for the trip and $70 to spare.  I continued to work as a bookkeeper, and also had started another small side business with a multi-level marketing company.  I met some wonderful people during my time with this company, however, it financially ruined me, and also contributed to me breaking off my engagement to my then fiancé, and led to a nasty ‘divorce’ over splitting up our household, even though we weren’t married.  Once again I was out of money and I moved, this time from Santa Barbara to Camarillo.  That was five years ago, and I met my husband-to-be that Christmas.  Fast forward a couple of years, and I was happy with my life, my husband and our furry kids, but I still felt like I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I kept on going back to my original dream of owning my own business, but what could I do?????  After a lot of soul-searching and research, I started Devone Design Jewelry in 2009 while continuing to work full-time.  I had been designing and making semi-precious and just fun jewelry for years, and also had worked in fine jewelry, so I felt it was the best choice I could make at that time.  After the 6 months, I was stuck, I didn’t know what to do to market and expand my business, so I took the WEV Self-Employment Training course.  I think every small business owner should be required to take this BEFORE they open their doors!  It was so eye-opening, even though I had businesses before and I had been a bookkeeper for 20 or so years at that point.  Then, in 2010, I lost my full-time job and was not able to find a new job.  This put the pressure on my business – how do I expand it so that it can replace my full-time income?  Several months later,  a friend offered me an opportunity to set up ‘shop’ with my jewelry as a tiny department of her boutique dress store, a perfect opportunity to expand!  This was probably one of the most valuable experiences of my life.  First, I found out I loved working retail and having a set schedule  – I always thought I would hate the lack of flexibility.  Second, it really opened my eyes to two things: 1)  In order to be profitable with just my jewelry, I had to focus on wholesale sales, and this was not a direction I wanted to take.  2) I still absolutely loved my making jewelry and my customers, how could I keep this part of the business that I loved, and add something else to it for a real career?  And The Best of VC Marketplace was born.

You did something really interesting with your business~ you started designing and making your own jewelry and now you own The Best of VC Marketplace.  Can you tell us what prompted you to make that change and where you came up with the concept for VC Marketplace?

This question is partially answered above, but the concept was just one of the ‘duh’ moments. As a teenager, I had worked for a store called Made in Washington, and one day, I realized that CA did not have anything like this.  But, I didn’t want to open a Made in CA store, I really wanted to specialize and also celebrate my new home town of Santa Paula and Ventura County with a Ventura County store – the Best of VC . . .

Any tips for how to make a business(that consumes the majority of your time) and marriage work in unison?

I have to admit, I have an incredible husband Mikiel understands and supports my working around the clock right now as I get the store up and running and even helps out with events, though it’s REALLY his least favorite thing to do.  It helps that both Mikiel and I are very independent and like our alone time, and I also think it helped that we met and married when we were older and just a tad wiser.  We also really understand each other.  I know there are times where I should just leave him alone, and I know there are times that I need to press him to work through an issue, and he knows that sometimes I’m just in a mood and he should ignore it, or sometimes he needs to push me to get me to open up.  And, we still do fun, new things together!

Lastly, where would you like to see your business a year from now?

That’s a hard question!!!!  I don’t have any plans to expand in the next year – just being in the two museums is enough. What I would like is to have a trusted employee who can run the store for a week so I can take a vacation – not that I will, but to have the option would be nice.

The Best of VC Marketplace is located at 108 N 10th St, Santa Paula, CA 93060

What’s Cooking With Kate?

When I walked into my first WEV’s Self-Employment Training Course in the winter of 2010, I found a seat in the over-crowded room at a table with 3 other women.   After a few minutes of introductions and “getting-to-know yous”whispered between our instructor’s comments, I found myself most drawn to a fellow-mom named Kate Dunbar.  We quickly bonded over being two women in our 30’s with husbands, kids and plans for new businesses.  It felt like I had known her for years.   I specifically remember  gazing intently around our classroom one night.  I was trying to envision who would become the successes out of our group.  Kate is the one who stood out.  She has a great story about a little dream that has grown quite fast.  Please read on to find out what made Kate stand out to me that first night and what has continued to make her stand out as a woman business owner today.

Kate, you have an interesting story on how your business idea came about. Will you please share?

I was working for a family that wanted to create their own infused vodka company.  I was the recipe maker, marketer and point person. I entered into a business writing program and discovered that the ABC would not allow this type of business in California. I was at a one day conference and one of the guest speakers was the owner of a tea company. Her story truly inspired me to search out what I wanted to do and as I was driving home, I started to create my chocolate and dessert company.  My husband was deployed to Iraq in 2003-2005  and many desserts were made and shipped to him- so there was the recipe start. Within 10 weeks of starting that business plan course, I had created more recipes, found taste testers and almost had my business plan finished.  From the day that I figured out what I wanted to create to my first public presentation at a food & Wine Festival… it was 11 1/2 weeks.

Petit Reve means little dream. And here you are living a very, big dream. When you came up with the name of your business, did you foresee it growing so large? What was the turning point? 

  I never saw myself growing this big this fast. I figured I was going to be the private dessert caterer and small delivery based dessert company. The turning point was when I was asked to speak in Long Beach Ca at The Women’s Conference this past October. Standing on the stage in front so many women and all the celebrities that were speakers, too opened my company to a completely different level of clients.  My phone was ringing off the hook and I had to find a retail location with a kitchen quickly.

Can you give any of the other “mompreneurs” out there any tips for juggling business and family?

First, off know what you are willing to sacrifice… friends, family, private time, the gym, girl’s nights out, shopping, sleep.  You name it- you are going to sacrifice that and then quite a few more things. You really need to be secure in your relationship with your partner. I would not be here doing what I am doing without my husband’s support. I never asked him if it was ok to create this company and leave the care of our young twins and teenager up to him. I told him “I’m empty, I’m not happy. I love being a mom and a wife, but I am missing something of my own.  I’m doing this and I need you to support me”. He did and so did my mother, my family and friends. I am a stronger mother, a happier woman and truly a better partner for my husband now.

This past year you’ve been able to meet some pretty, influential people. Can you share a story about the one who has inspired you the most?

I can’t pick one, it’s too difficult so, I will pick two. First is my mom.  I want to share a little back story.. I became a mother when I was 17. I had to grow up very quickly and leave a lot of dreams behind because I knew in my gut that having my son and being a single parent was the right path. My Mom was my rock.  I could not have done it without her help, love and support. Over the last 18 years, all I have wanted to do was create a business to show her how much her lessons, guidance, support and compassion influenced and molded me. When I was standing on the stage at The Women’s Conference and I looked into the audience and saw her face.  I knew I finally had given her everything she gave to me, funny thing was she bent over to Donna Karen (who was sitting next to her) and said, “That’s my daughter!  She’s my hero, I’m so proud of her!”.   My business is another extension of me, it’s my passion it’s my dreams and above all its every lesson my Mother gave to me. The next person would be my mentor, Zhena Muzyka the founder and CEO of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea.  We both said jokingly to each other that we were brought together because of our humble, single, mom days and we will be inspirations to each other because we know to give to others above all else.  She is by far one of the most graceful women I have ever met.  I can not explain how that gift of grace has helped me. My employees can tell you, I am one of the most giving employers they have ever had.  I say thank you every day to them and I show them how much I appreciate them.  Zhena was the one that said “make your employees as important as you want your business to be, and everything good that is to happen to you and your business will-trust me”.  She was right!  My suggestion to anyone reading this is to take a sharpie pen, go to your mirror and write this on it so, you see it every day ” I am worth it, I am successful, I am capable of amazing things!”
In conclusion, can you divulge any secrets as to what’s next for your “small dream”?

The next step for me is giving back. Since opening a brick and mortar, I knew I wanted to find an organization that I could not only give financially but also volunteer my time with. I know my journey in food industry and being a business owner has just started but secretly, I have been creating my next mind map for the second phase of Petite Reve.  All I can say at this point, is if it truly goes in the direction I want it to then my mark on the food scene will be completely, unique to anything in the area. I have never stopped dreaming and creating it’s who I am and honestly that is what makes my business stand out.

Kate's Family~

Petite Rêve Cafe & Petite Rêve Chocolates
1124 S. Seaward Ave #A
Ventura Ca 93001
 805-641-1581 (cafe)

Courtney Nelson of Fit N’ Fine Fitness

I’m very happy to announce our first official Wednesday’s Woman~ Courtney Nelson.  If you are not yet familiar with her fitness studio Fit N’ Fine then you should probably plan on attending her next class after reading this article.  I had the pleasure of meeting Courtney last year through mutual friends.  After, getting to know her I decided to attend one of her fitness classes.  Myself and about 6 other women, kids in tow met Courtney at a local park.  After an hour of blood, sweat and tears ~I was impressed.  Her class was hard but not to the point of no return.   She was upbeat and supportive without being too pushy.  And I saw results.   Her classes grew too big for the park so we took them to her driveway of her home in Santa Paula.  By this time, there were several classes a week with each having at least 20 women in attendance.   Women weren’t dropping like flies, as I had seen in other fitness classes~ they were more like flies attracted to…well you know, what I’m saying.  This year has been huge for Courtney~she opened her studio in the spring, got married and is now training several hundred women.  I am so thankful she took time out from her business, husband and two children to let us in on how she does it.

When did you start Fit N Fine Fitness?

**I opened the doors to Fit N’ Fine Fitness on March 14, 2011 …

What inspired you to start your business?

**Well… I never had a plan of opening my own business, it kind of just happened!! I decided to leave my job at Gold’s Gym of Oxnard and be a Stay @ Home Mommy. I did need some income to pay my car payment and to buy groceries, so in 2010 I decided to start training a few groups around Santa Paula; groups of Friends, 5-7 at a time. I loved it! I realized that this was my niche! Throughout the year my groups of 5-7 slowly started to grow to 10-12, the 15-17, then before I knew it, I had 25 girls at a time training outside my house in my driveway! It was obvious that what I was doing WORKS, and it wasn’t gonna slow down anytime soon!!! I found a location on Main St that, at the time, I thought was plenty big enough to train my 100-110 girls. Now, just 4 1/2 months later I have well over 400 women in the Fit N’ Fine Family and have out-grown my space! It’s just AMAZING what has happened..I never expected this!

What are your plans for the future of Fit N’ Fine?

** I am currently looking for a bigger location and plan to offer spinning, Pilates, salsa dancing, and -YES- it will continue to remain Women Only  🙂:) I don’t know exactly How Big it could be? This, right now, was more than I ever expected! We’ll see… I plan to remain a steady part of my business, plan on continuing to make Fitness FUN, and to make sure every woman who joins gets RESULTS!!!!

What does a typical day look like for you?

** Ha!!!! BUSY!!! 🙂:)
Today… woke up at 6:45am, trained a group at 8am, and at 930am.  I rushed my kiddos to swimming in Ventura by 10:45am… dropped tanks, sweaters, bags and pants off to be printed, and am now answering these questions to all of you 🙂:) I will make my kiddos lunch when I’m done with this, take them on a short hike, then go to Vons for some groceries… I will pick up some printed clothing at 3:15, be back at the studio by 3:30 to train at 4pm, 530pm, and 7pm… Yeah, that’s just today, everyday is a little different, but all-in-all, BUSY 🙂:)

What is one piece of advice for the women out there that, you would like to share?

**Life, Business, Family It’s all Can and Will work if you stay Organized, and can manage to balance it out daily!!!…. I live by my organizer/calendar … My Children, Husband, Family, and Clients are all happy, so it must be working! 😉;)

If you could trade shoes with anyone for a day who would it be?

**Honestly… I love my life… I can’t think of anyone

Thanks, Courtney! Fit N’ Fine Fitness is located at:

939 Main St Santa Paula, CA 93060;  Find them on Facebook  here