Unique gifts from new brands


Recently I have met entrepreneurs who have developed very interesting businesses.  Their focus is on bringing unique products that are “out of the box” – while being very appealing.

Are all t-shirt companies equal? I think NOT

I fell in love with an apparel company because of their amazing display at the Celebrity Connected gifting suite for the Emmy Awards.  Gosh I loved NAIA VIBES.  If you are an entrepreneur who becomes a vendor at a trade show or gifting suite- take a page from NAIA VIBES.  The display was GORGEOUS. Very clever ways to give prizes (gifts) to the celebrities that were on hand. AND… the array of apparel and accessories made me want to order and order and order. Having a theme that was a standout made for one photographic opportunity to spotlight the brand after another.

The warm  long – sleeved t-shirt is now my NEW FAVORITE.  Here is the link if you want to put it on your “nice list” for holiday shopping.  And, the hats, backpacks and book bags were a hug hit, too!


Cosmetic Hideaways – Always able to stay pretty in pink!

I was confused when I saw this unique necklace design sitting at the Celebrity Connected.  It was a beautiful piece of jewelry but what exactly made it look “different”?  So, I inquired.  And much to my delight it was a functional piece of jewelry where a lipstick could be hidden, but also at your finger-tips for easy application.  I was trying to think if a pepper spray would fit inside – but I don’t believe so (Hint to the design team). However, it did fit my lipstick without fail.  It retails on their website for $98 and is in silver and gold colors.  It is worth the price as it is a carrying case and a statement piece of jewelry.

I connected with the creator, Christine Abdoo who sent me some background information.  She sent to me her press packet that chronicled briefly the story of this Grand Rapids based company:

“I would find that multiple times a day I would want my lipstick with me,” said Christine Abdoo. “I would get frustrated during the day, jumping from meeting to meeting, not being able to go back to my office to put my lipstick on. […] I wanted a necklace with a fashionable container where I could carry my lipstick with me.” The first designs on the market fit Chapstick size lip balms, and travel size lipsticks.

    … “It really just started with an idea. We all have them, but it’s what you do with them that makes a difference,” she said. “Taking an idea and making it come reality is pretty exciting”

Orders can be taken at their website here.




I must say that the guys from  SOLE Bicycles caught my attention recently.   In fact I made a bee-line to their vendor booth at the Halopalooza vendor fair in Los Angeles this past month.  How unique to put advertisements on the bikes themselves and then have them available to rent at hotels, resorts, etc.  Imagine having an event, such as a music festival, where vendors can bike from place to place with your logo zipping by!

If you love one-of-a-kind ideas that are eye-popping check out this Southern California company pronto!


Eat my promotional material – Please!

Are you tired of receiving or giving the same old branded products.  What if I could introduce you to products that are from sustainable materials that can turn your event wristband in to a flowers with just a little TLC? Or instead of a greeting card – send a garden in a box? So much good can come out of so little effort by simply planting your branded products after initial use or when you are done with them.   Find my favorites here. 





If you could give advice to start-up entrepreneurs…

I recently attended a bridal shower and this question was posed… “What would be the one piece of advice to give to a new couple?” Lots of great pearls of wisdom were generated by the shower attendees. A lot of what was said really resonated with me.

During the drive home I realized that I could extend this question to “wanna be entrepreneurs”.  What would have been the “gems of information” I wish I had known before I journeyed in to becoming a “solo-entrepreneur” aka solopreneur?

Before I arrived home I actually had amassed quite the list! So, here in no certain order are the things I learned in the past 10+ years! Feel free to use the comment section to add your sage words, as well! And, if you are looking for some great biz information check out the start-up #entreps column in the Huffington Post by my 411 Voices colleague, Sandy Abrams.

  1.  Seek advice from experts in starting a business. Some people find the Small Business Association in their area a huge resource. I owe a debt of gratitude for the help I received in launching SIGNING FAMILIES to Karen Geary, my first mentor, who I met at a special program for start-up entrepreneurs via the Howard Community College in Columbia, Maryland. Mentors can help you learn how to protect your intellectual property, trademark your business name, obtain a business license and set up bank accounts. There is a “ton of stuff” you probably will need to learn including perhaps about research and design, writing a business plans, etc!  So… to reiterate… seek advice of EXPERTS!
  2. If you don’t “do numbers” – get an accountant! Know where your money is going and be mindful of your expenses.  Remember that there are strict rules for tax purposes regarding what is a business and what is deemed a “hobby”.
  3. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money! What I mean by a saying I have said more than once in front of audiences is that you need to have a marketing / advertising budget. It pains me to see creative people start a company only to have it fall flat as there were no plans for advertising. Sigh.                                                                   By the way – have an AMAZING website and a strong social media presence.
  4. Be kind as nothing good has come out of being a mean entrepreneur.  Competition will happen. Others will have different or even better ideas than yours.  Look inside yourself on how to be successful and don’t blame “the other guy” for ruining your business.
  5. Hire competent people.  An intern can be a valuable asset to your company or a disaster. Remember they are learning and you are offering them an opportunity. Interns, as a rule, shouldn’t be running your company.  Hire people who are able to do the job because they are experts at the job.
  6. Pay fair wages. Period.
  7. Stay educated and give back to your local area. Nearly every profession changes – stay on top of the “learning curve”.   There is value to seeking help from those who have walked a similar path.  Be proactive and attend networking meetings and join your local chamber of commerce.
  8. Not all good ideas become successful businesses.  Not all people can be successful entrepreneurs, even if they have good ideas.  Why? EGO!  Some people believe that all they need is a great concept and charm to succeed. Sorry – charm isn’t usually associated with ROI.
  9. Give back to your community by supporting local charitable organizations. 
Electric bulb idea concept design
Having a great idea doesn’t always guarantee a successful business!


Now your turn to add to the list in the comment section below. 

Need last minute UNIQUE shopping ideas? I got you covered

Retro pretty woman and red telephone

 Tired of mall parking lots or endless waiting in line? Feeling overwhelmed by online shopping – especially Amazon?  Need help this holiday season for ideas that are not the “same old, same old”?  Then you have stumbled upon the right blog to direct you to some great gift options.

There was a time when women had limited career choices and often found income by selling beauty products or home goods, such as Tupperware or Mary Kay Cosmetics.  Now with the calendar turning to 2016 women are continuing to sell these products, but there is a distinct change. Instead of the reward being a bit of “pocket money” these women are making some serious income.  And, the selection of products is outstanding and millennials will enjoy them as much as baby boomers!

I introduced you to Anita Garcia in the Part One of  my blog about the women entrepreneurs from Beach Cities Breakfast Club (BCBC). What I didn’t relate was that she has been selling Tupperware for more than four decades. YEP! That is 40 years of selling these timeless home products! Tupperware maintains their tried and true product line, yet introduces fresh ideas on a regular basis. Tupperware of 2015 is not your mother’s (or grandmother’s) company.  Want to revisit the land of Tupperware? Connect with Anita by clicking here!

Mary Kay Cosmetics also has a reputation of empowering their representatives to be self- reliant entrepreneurs and smart business women. Lori McConnaha is the BCBC rep for Mary Kay Cosmetics and well on her way to receiving the infamous pink cadillac.  Now I must admit that I was not a consumer of Mary Kay until I met Lori.  But, now I have an insane addiction to  their mascara and eye cream! In fact, Lori and her Mary Kay cosmetics are the what the 411 Voices social media correspondents use to look camera ready on the red carpet!  Lori is so popular that we have to reserve her months in advance for special occasions and you can, too! She creates the cutest gift certificate packages when you give a make-over to a special someone!  Connect with Lori for special events hair and make-up 


Lori McConnaha, Mary Kay rep and stylist for 411 Voices –  on the red carpet for the FRIEND MOVEMENT with Jennifer Ettinger and              Louise Sattler


Often our 411 Voices has a need for a photographer. We only make one call – to Joy Daunis from Joyous Photos in El Segundo.  Another longtime member of BCBC,  Joy has an eye for snapping a photo that depicts in a single shot the essence of an event. Recently, she photographed for our group the Asian Film Festival the Global Change Gala event.  I loved how she captured the “action” during this Red Cross Benefit.  Joy also loves to photograph reunions and family group photos – which is a gift I gave my hubby last year.   Also, know that Joy can offer lessons on how to work that camera you got as a holiday gift.  Here is Joy’s contact info: http://www.JoyousPhotos.com

Photo of Kimberly Cheng, host of the Global Change Gala for the Red Cross during the Asian World Film Festival. Photographed by Joy Daunis


Your special someone likes bling?

 Lyn D Jewelry, owned by Lynette Vandaveer,  offers one of a kind pieces of wearable art at very reasonable prices!  I love Lynnette Vandaveers’ vision of creating beautiful creations.  Her heart and soul pours in to each piece.  Lynette has an active website that showcases her jewelry.


When it comes to fashion I must admit that I have another addiction to confess.  I love CABI clothing.  First because of the uniqueness of the designs and secondly because the clothing has a lasting quality.  Although 26-3034-AS-front.jpegCABI can be touted as a bit “pricey” the reality is that these clothes will outlast nearly anything else in your closet and still be “trendy”.   Plus, where else can you buy clothing and get the help of a great fashion advisor such as Kathy Gonzalez!  This dynamo knows how to pair the right clothes to the right person. CABI is a gift idea for the hard to buy woman in your life… Order that coveted gift certificate from Kathy buy clicking here.  By the way I LOVE the zigzag jacket that just arrived at my door this week!

And… to wear UNDER those fabulous CABI clothes are Ruby Ribbons foundations who are sold by BCBC member Tracy Farman.  They have special camisoles that take the place of cumbersome bras.  Also, their lace undies and other clothing pieces are so stylish.  Again… I may need a 12- step program to help save me from my Ruby Ribbon addiction!




gallery2 copyLinda Straley is a decorating genius! I had her in my home to help “erase the beige” and before I knew it we were living in shades of teal and purple!  What a difference it made  and she can help you, too!  In fact –  give a gift certificate to yourself and maybe to someone who you know would love to facelift their living area but doesn’t usually treat themselves. AND…Linda also sells amazing sculptures and functional pieces of art. Her chandeliers rock!

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Visit Linda Straley Designs for contact info and samples of Linda’s great work!

Now if you live in the Beach Cities consider giving loved ones gift certificates to these great places.

The FACE PLACE and MORE offers personalized facials and hair removal.  Owned and operated by seasoned professional, Linda Hirsch, this is THE place to go for pampering! Linda’s facial (with a neck massage) is fabulous for forgetting holiday stress!  Her prices are very reasonable and well worth every penny!

Located in El Segundo, CA

After your fabulous facial – walk to HAIRLINES where you can continue your pampering with hair styling by the incomparable Geri Dahl.  Not only do you get great service here but, you are treated to the luxury of hanging out in a funky designed salon that pumps out the best of Motown!  (Sing – a – longs are optional!).  While at the salon treat yourself to her FABULOUS hair products. (The conditioner is divine!)   Geri makes info videos, too!



Last but not least is a very special gift option from  FirstLight HomeCare.  Chanel Garcia of BCBC has often said that Firstlight offers services beyond what other agencies provide.  Here are some examples:

  • New Mom assistance. Firstlight will bring a care giver to the home to help mom out. Even take care of the simple errands or watching older children.
  • Post-operative care.  Just  back from a stay at the hospital and need an extra hand to help around the house, do errands or drive you to appointments?
  • Respite care. This is HUGE. Imagine giving parents who care for adult children with Autism a day of respite. Even a few hours. This would be huge in helping to rejuvenate those who have much responsibility.
  • Helping seniors.  Give your elderly relatives the gift of assistance with everyday living needs or special care.
  • Special events.  Need an extra helper to care for an elderly relative during a wedding.  Firstlight can help.

If you have questions or would like to learn how to access a gift certificate contact Chanel Garcia.

Senior care, respite care and new mom assistance – a gift certificate from Firstlight Homecare can make a huge difference this holiday season!

That leaves me.

Yep… as the social media marketing member of BCBC,  I represent a larger group of professionals- 411 Voices.  Our media marketing services are extensive.  We also have a full roster of experts who are nationally known media personalities and speakers.  Check out our full portfolio at 411Voices.com

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Happy Holidays!


These career women bring inspiration to the South Bay of LA


For nearly three years I have left my home on Thursday mornings at 6a.m to attend a women’s networking group that meets just as the sun is rising.   The Beach Cities Breakfast Club aka BCBC is a diverse group of hard working entrepreneur who hail from the south bay area of Los Angeles.

I have participated in many networking groups where the goal is for “leads” to be given and received by members. Lead generation is considered the “golden egg” for building a business. Many lead groups don’t foster a sense of collaboration or cooperation but offer an environment of being “cut- throat”. Not BCBC as we are a supportive group of women who cheer and champion each other’s successes!

First some background about BCBC

Maria West and Anita Garcia started BCBC nearly 12 years ago. Their warmth and compassion are the backbone of the group. Maria has been a mortgage broker for many years with a dedicated clientele who rave about her meticulous and kit glove service with  Platinum Mortgage.

Anita may be the most senior sales rep for Tupperware! Over 40 years she has sold this housewares staple.  I for one have quadrupled my Tupperware since getting to know Anita.  By the way the children’s toys are timeless! (Who doesn’t love the Shape-O ball or Noah’s Ark!)

It is my pleasure to spotlight many of the women who offer health, wellness, business and financial services to the southern Los Angeles area.

Selling homes with integrity is what makes Michelle Velasco of Keller Williams a success.  Recently, Michelle cleverly used a drone to market a home in the gorgeous waterfront area of San Pedro.  Check out the video she created (and bravo got an offer on the home in record time!)

Anita and Michelle were both guests on my radio program a few years ago. Listen to our interview here.




Travel, Travel, Travel! A premiere travel agent can be found in Malaga Cove at the Travel Store thanks to Linda Kahn- Ferrell.  Her enthusiasm for traveling to the Pacific islands, such as Fiji or far away places such as Thailand is infectious. One thing I learned from Linda is that having a travel agent during these challenging times can be an insurance policy! An here is my confession- I really would love to have her job!

These women strive everyday to make you feel  healthy!


Did you know that essential oils can be a benefit to your health and wellness. DL Sweet has convinced this skeptic that lavender and peppermint can have a positive  impact on improving health in ways never imagined. Who needs an allergy pill when you can have some peppermint oil do the trick to unclog a snuffy nose!

Talking about health – acupuncture is one of my new favorite ways to keep back pain in check! Again, I was not the person to run to an acupuncturist for a fear of being ‘needled” but-  Jean Morris has me totally convinced that acupuncture can give amazing relief to those in chronic or acute pain and also help with regular wellness regimens.

Face massage

Aches and pains also are no match for Florence Datin, massage therapist. Florence is the newest addition to BCBC and originally from France. She is quickly making her mark on the group as someone with much expertise and compassion.

Sabrina Quinene is passionate about women being vigilant with breast heae25bd6_47bd4911edd8491680a650f1ce43c62blth. She offers through her chiropractic practice breast thermography.   Learn more about this very important and potentially life saving technology. It is painless and so worthwhile! (The image affixed shows what a unhealthy breast would look like on a thermography result – red areas signal need for more investigation!)

 Debbie D’Aquino wants to help you be healthy and a better you – inside and out!  Her website is charming and this dynamo wears a lot of “hats”.  From teaching meditation, swing dance or being a distributor of Kangen water – I am beginning to think she doesn’t sleep!  Debbie is quite the professional dancer and this video proves it!  ( I told you the women of BCBC are an eclectic group!)



Money, Money, Money!

I am not going to even pretend that I understand the complexities of the stock market or the insurance world. That is why I depend on the wisdom of Kelly Markowitz and Lynn Cardarelli.  They are two of the most money wise women I know! Kelly is a ball of energy and Lynn is an insurance agent by day and master knitter by night! (Not to mention that she is a cat aficionado!

About Medicare

And protect your money and family with a good Estate attorney! Heather Miller Law   heIMG_3767.jpglps people plan for the inevitable by creating sound wills, estate and trust plans and more.  Heather is uber wise when it comes to the legal system and has an interest in helping with adoptions (coming soon – we hope!)

Helping our furry friends…

e0a52b_518e554b37b64cba8123fb369f43ee59.jpg Country Hills Animal Clinic (CHAC) in Torrance, California.  I am such a fan of Dr. Jennifer that I bring both of my shepherd mixes to this clinic.  CHAC recently started a great set of techniques to give animals a calmer experience while be examined. FEAR FREE is great! Don’t just trust my recommendations, see their YELP ratings

Also, helping animals and their owner is Anne Jones, aka Anne the Pet Nanny! Busy career keeping you at the office late at night? No worries Anne will take care of your pet! Coming soon will be an expansion of her business. Connect with Anne and her pet care services here.

When life gets rough…

It is a privilege to know Janet Dion, Linda Benecke and Tiffany Kane. These remarkable ladies help put back together lives of people who have experienced difficult challenges in life.

Janet is a therapist who specializes in helping people find their true direction.  She recognizes that the first step in helping is to listen. She is an excellent communicator and as a Psychologist,  I am duly impressed with her abilities to help others feel safe and comfortable.  Connect with Janet here.

51bsHaqvjoL._UY250_Tiffany Kane knows that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. She had to learn this lesson the hard way when she became a young widow and a single parent with the unexpected death of her husband.  Tiffany took her emotional turmoil and persevered. She began Widows with Kids  to help others. She also became a best selling author.   Find Tiffany’s trilogy series here.

Linda Benecke knows first-hand how to be a survivor, too! As a past victim of abuse, she wants to educate and empower others via her business Damsel Pro Gal, a subsidiary of the Damsel in Defense franchise.  I truly admire this woman who gives 200% in order to make sure that women (and men) are safe from predators and abusers. Listen to her story during an  interview with Margaret McSweeney of Kitchen Chat TV.

Linda, knowing I was writing a blog about BCBC,  wanted me to share this information in order to help others.

Via Damsel Pro Gal – Bruises of the heart take a lot longer to heal. If your internal flags tell you that you are being abused, you are; regardless of who it is. Abusers love to demean, criticize, direct and control you and find every reason to judge and orchestrate your every move to invalidate you. Rarely will they tell you something positive. If you try to express your feelings, they will see this as a personal affront to them, and attack or reject you for their own inability to see themselves. They interrupt you when you speak because their words are more important; they don’t care to take time to listen to you, nor do they have patience with you; especially if you’re an elder parent or a special needs person. This is not love if someone treats you this way; it’s their guise of ‘loving you’. It is their problem, acted out on you, being abusive and rationalizing their behavior toward you, and blaming you. Sad irony is that their love typically comes as a present, in a box, as a gift, but not one of the heart; patience, compassion, and simply accepting you and loving you for who you are. Sociopathic and narcissistic behavior is prevalent in our society.  I hope their mirrors don’t break as they gaze upon their own imperfect perfection telling themselves how wonderful they are.


Our BCBC group is growing in numbers and presence on social media.  Find us on TWITTER, FACEBOOK and NING!

 It is very hard not find inspiration on Thursday mornings with this group of amazing women! If you are a women entrepreneur in the LA area and interested in learning how to join BCBC please go to MEET UP for information.

Coming soon – part 2 will be a way for you to  meet more service providers and women with creative and talented businesses!