New 24 Hour Fitness ribbon cutting

Photo by Michael Gordon

A Ventura Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting was held for the new 24 Hour Fitness located at 3350 Telegraph Road Ventura. (805) 256-6071.

At 24 Hour Fitness, they see their clubs as your ultimate daily retreat, where motivation and camaraderie are simply part of your gym membership.

After 14 weeks of training graduates completed the course

The cute one on the left is Breeze Publisher Emeritus Staci Brown. From a different WEV class but we had to show Staci.

Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV) recently celebrated the accomplishments of 19 women and men who successfully completed WEV’s Ventura County-based Advanced Spanish Self-Employment Training (SSET) course with a graduation ceremony held at Ventura Adult & Continuing Education (VACE) in Ventura.

After 14 weeks of training on topics including finances, marketing and sales, public relations and advertising, legal and insurance issues, record keeping, and how to write a business plan, these graduates completed the course with the necessary tools and support needed to start or expand their businesses.

“We are so proud of the dedication and passion these graduates showed in class” said Leticia Sandoval, WEV Spanish Program Coordinator. “Even though some had to travel or come straight after a long day of work, they committed to doing the work and now have graduated with more confidence and the resources necessary to achieve their dreams. We can’t wait to see how far they can go!”

The graduates range from first-time business owners to those who have turned to WEV to help expand their existing businesses. Graduate businesses and business ideas include blacksmithing, construction, day care providers, produce vendors, folkloric dresses, ice cream shops, personal empowerment coaching, housecleaning, and more.

Twin Palms Health and Beauty Boutique

Twin Palms Sharlene is on left and Shannon on right. Or is it Shannon on the left and Sharlene on the right?

by Victoria Usher

Shannon and Sharlene Lenardson, the owners of Twin Palms Health and Beauty Boutique, have always been passionate about helping people heal. Having the ability to help people feel better both physically and mentally brings them the greatest joy. Shannon and Sharlene were born and raised in a small town in the San Fernando Valley known as Sunland/Tujunga, in the foothills above Burbank.

They attended California Healing Arts College where they became certified Massage Therapists ten years ago. After becoming certified/licensed, they began working for a day spa and a chiropractor. Their dream was to one day open their own Day Spa. In February 2013, they discovered the perfect location in Downtown Ventura to open their very own Day Spa, at 35 South Oak Street, and they made the move to Ventura, where they now call home.

May 3,2013 was the Grand Opening of Twin Palms Health and Beauty Boutique! This year marks the milestone of their Fifth-Year anniversary! The two of them both love what they do, and they both love everything about the Ventura community.

Over the years they have continued their education and are now licensed Estheticians, (including Skincare & Waxing), Microblading Artists, and Spray Tan Artists. Soon, they will be adding Eyelash Extensions to their services as well. Twin Palms Health and Beauty Boutique is open by appointment only Tuesday – Friday 12:00pm – 7:00pm and Saturday 11:00am – 2:00pm. Visit their website: Twinpalmshealthandbeauty.com. Call: 805-643-0100, or Email: Twinpalmshealthandbeauty@yahoo.com.

Carolyn’s Natural Organic Handmade Soap

Carolyn adds her special touches of natural ingredients.

by Mira Reverente

Not all soaps are made the same. There are some that are good for you and some that may do more harm than good. Soap entrepreneur and cancer survivor Carolyn Aranda can attest to this.

Lather is the best medicine

Since being diagnosed with stage 1 uterine cancer about 30 years ago, Aranda has been particular about what she puts in her body. “I do a lot of research on scents and chemicals like parabens and sulfates. They are typically found in cosmetics, shaving and hair care products, which are absorbed by the skin,” says the Camarillo resident and mother of two grown children.

She started experimenting and making her own soaps and laundry detergents three years ago. In the process, she learned about the three ways to make soap, settling on the melt and pour method which involves melting the soap base glycerin and pouring into molds or containers. She says, “It’s the simplest and least toxic way to make soap.”

Aranda adds her special touches of natural ingredients such as goat’s milk which is great for lathering. Sometimes, she’ll add olive oil or use it separately. To add natural color, she uses blueberry or turmeric. For packaging, she also tries to use as little plastic as possible.

Sudsational and soaptastic

For the holidays, Aranda has a few holiday-themed designs up her sleeves. Think gingerbread men, snowmen, snowflakes, snow crystals and Christmas trees.

In the past, she has churned out stars for the 4th of July, pumpkins for the beginning of fall, some Halloween designs and seashells for the summer. “Others just have regular bar soaps, but I can jazz up the soaps with various interesting designs and even two-toned ones,” she says of her unique sudsational and soaptastic products.

Prices range from $5 a piece to $4 for three or more soaps. Small soaps retail for $2. Custom orders are encouraged although there is a wide variety of designs and scent combinations like lavender, lemongrass and peppermint to choose from. There are no minimums.

Raising the bar

Variety is the spice of life, and soaps apparently. Aranda is currently concocting more soap varieties and promoting gift baskets for the holidays. Think corporate and party giveaways. She’ll help you come up with a theme and put together gift baskets to match your idea, drawing upon her years in corporate America.

She also looks up to her husband for his business acumen. “He inspired me to break away from the 9 to 5 grind, pursue my interests and set up my own business,” she says.

She’s also dabbling with the idea of widening her reach and shipping internationally. Also, adding more adult themes for bachelor and bachelorette parties.

Look for her at a farmer’s market or bazaar near you soon. Soap is the limit for this solo entrepreneur!

For more information go to https://www.facebook.com/Carolyns-Natural-Organic-Handmade-Soap or call 747.231.SOAP (7627) or email carolyn6991605@gmail.com.

The Buzz About Heritage Honey

Heritage Honey has a unique collection of bee products, from honey to skin care products to beekeeping supplies

by Mira Reverente

Quaint, inviting and unpretentious, walking into Heritage Honey along Thompson Blvd. is akin to walking into a friend’s or family member’s home. Jars of honey and curio items adorn the neatly-arranged shelves. A swinging glass door filled with bees stand out. It is after all a business that is bee-focused.

Co-owner Marcelino Zavala asks, “Can you spot the queen bee?” To the untrained eye, it takes awhile to spot her so Zavala had to point out her majesty. There she was, lording over her hive.

A legacy of bees

Zavala’s bees have a long, interesting lineage, having inherited them from Wailen Bennett of Bennett’s Honey Farm in Piru Canyon. “He taught me everything about the beekeeping business,” says Zavala of his mentor and former employer.

Not everyone starts out like Zavala. “Usually, hobbyists start out with a hive or two then go from there,” says Suzanne Lamey, who is Zavala’s business partner.

Lamey’s expertise lies in honey production where she was a quality assurance manager for eight years. The two were employed by Bennett where they gained the knowledge about the honey industry in Ventura County.

The bee kingdom

Aside from the honey varieties, skin care products, candies, honey products and beekeeping supplies, it’s a coop for local beekeepers and the only place that’s a retail and packing facility in one, says Lamey.

“The beekeepers bring their honey here and we package and sell them. The retail side of Heritage Honey is just a bonus but the bulk of the business is in packing,” she says, showing us around the pristine room where all the packing takes place.

Zavala also sells Nuc boxes, also known as a small colony of bees, and sometimes lends his expertise to beekeepers on swarms and other issues, for free. “I’ll answer any question on the phone and If I’m free, I’ll go out and check on their bee issues,” he says.

Wasp are you talking about?

Good, ethical beekeeping practices are important. As an example, Zavala explains, “We don’t feed bees during a ‘honey flow.’ Doing so affects the integrity of the honey,” he says.

An all-terrain natural setting is also preferred, so the bees are exposed to less pesticides and parasites. Says Zavala, “Good honey is usually judged on color, taste and moisture.”

Looking bee-yond

Probably immune to bee stings at this point, but not to small business challenges. “A good rain year is key to a good honey production year,” says Lamey, citing a challenge that’s tough to control but not unusual.

Unknown to many in the area, honey is an agricultural product so just like everything else in this agricultural region, weather needs to be on the growers’ side. “Otherwise, we have great soil for pollination for crops like avocados,” says Lamey.

Springtime is “bee season” but October to December are usually considered peak months in the business. However, the Thomas Fire last December also brought an unexpected slump in sales.

The duo feels optimistic about growth and getting the word out about their good reputation. Lamey says, “We just want this to be a gathering place for hobbyists, beekeepers and locals alike from all over Ventura, Santa Barbara and LA counties.”

For more info: Heritage Honey is at 2031 E. Thompson Blvd.. Contact 805.641.0408, www.heritagehoney.org.