Women’s Work: Los Angeles Edition

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Alexandra Becket

Artist/Designer/Entrepreneur Alexandra Becket of ModOp Design is not the usual house flipper.  In the competitive Los Angeles housing market, Alexandra (and her husband) have created their own niche by purchasing old bungalows and properties and updating them with modern amenities without disturbing the home’s original charm.  Alexandra’s own line of wallpaper is often included in the makeovers. 

ModOp Design has become a notable brand and their flip houses are highly desired.  But, success – especially in real estate – requires risk.  

Women’s Work Discussion:

Manage risk

Ashley Sumner and Gianna Wurzl

Ashley Sumner and Gianna Wurzl are making it easier for women entrepreneurs to connect.  They created Quilt – a membership community that hosts weekly, intimate meetups of up to eight women in private homes in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, along with monthly parties and a members-only forum.  To date, more Quilt has over 2,000 members.

Women’s Work Discussion:

Value community

Chandra Anderson

Once upon a time, Model/Actress Chandra Anderson’s perception of philanthropy was that it was something to do when you were older and established.  However, when Chandra learned that there were women around the world (including the United States) who lacked access to feminine hygiene products during their monthly cycle, she knew she had to act. Chandra formed The Model Behavior and rallied her model friends together and began distributing sanitary pads and tampons to women in shelters. 

The Model Behavior has grown into a non-profit organization that includes Ambassadors, corporate sponsors and beneficial partnerships.  Its mission is to provide our most vulnerable women with feminine hygiene products that are essential to leading a healthy, dignified life.  The Model Behavior will soon send an entire shipping container of feminine hygiene products to Africa.  Chandra hopes her service will inspire other millennials to consider philanthropy.

Women’s Work Discussion:

Be philanthropic

Claudia Ramos

Hola Mijas Bonitas is a stationery brand created by Claudia Ramos. She illustrates and designs her characters influenced by her life growing up in Los Angeles, CA.  Her main goal is to bring inclusivity and diversity with her stickers, washi tapes, and more. Claudia is the first from her family to graduate with a B.A. from CSUN and be an entrepreneur. Her goal is to create an empire with her brand Hola Mijas Bonitas and continue to bring happiness and joy to everyone. "I want to spread joy to the world"-Claudia R.

Claudia Ramos
Hola Mijas Bonitas
IG - @claudiaramosdesigns

Dr. Renee Dua

Dr. Renee Dua’s big idea for on-demand doctor house calls came to her while she spent hours in an emergency room waiting for her small child to be treated for what turned out to be a non-emergency issue. 

As a busy kidney specialist, wife, and mother, Dr. Dua recognized that her great fortune of having the resources and community to assist her in the event of a family medical emergency is not everyone’s experience.  So, with her husband’s help and the backing of celebrity investors like Lionel Richie, Dr. Dua created Heal, a mobile app that brings affordable in-home pediatric, internal medicine, general practitioner, and family healthcare visits to everyone and keeps primary care out of the emergency room. 

Women’s Work Discussion:

Identify a problem and create the solution

Estefani Alarcon

Estefani Alarcon has a story to tell.  She lives in South Los Angeles, a community frequently in the headlines for gang violence, murder and other crimes.  However, Estefani wants to change the narrative of her beloved neighborhood and share the positive stories of the immigrant, black, brown and LBGT people who reside and operate businesses in South Los Angeles.

A natural storyteller, Estefani is the Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Dear Southside, a print newspaper she calls her love letter to her community.  Dear Southside features local business owners, non-profit organizations that serve the community and unique individuals who Estefani believes contribute to South Los Angeles’ greatness.

Dear Southside’s first issue was self-published, self-funded and sold-out.

Women’s Work Discussion:

Control the narrative

Gia Fey

Gia Fey, founder of Body By Gia, is not just another YouTube fitness guru.  She creates content for curvy girls in both English and Spanish.  YouTube provided the platform for Gia to build a thriving business that inspires women around the world.  Her channel has over 500,000 subscribers and her videos have over 46 million views. 

Women’s Work Discussion:

Use YouTube as a business launch pad

Itika Oldwine

Itika Oldwine went from working eight seasons (including the final) on The Oprah Winfrey Show, to multiple years at AEG - the world’s leading sports and live entertainment company, and then finally at a noted Los Angeles florist, before bravely choosing to make a life pivot.  

Itika decided to merge her passion for flowers with her desire to become an entrepreneur.  Encouraged by her boyfriend, Itika opened Old Vine Florals, an upscale floral boutique in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.  Old Vine Florals has created breathtaking installations for major clients including: E! Entertainment Television, Martini & Rossi, Hallmark, Fashion Nova, and Vans.  Itika recently added flower crowns and flower bar parties to Old Vine Florals growing list of services. 

Women’s Work Discussion:

Don’t be afraid to pivot

Janeen Gudelj

Los Angeles is the donut capital of the United States.  There are more donut shops in Los Angeles per square mile than anywhere else in the country.  Janeen Gudelj flipped the script on the traditional donut shop business model and created Donut Snob - the nation’s first home delivery gourmet donut service. 

Handmade from scratch using all natural ingredients and no food coloring or dyes, Donut Snob has an enthusiastic roster of repeat customers who crave the company’s pretty as a picture pistachio orange, peanut butter chocolate, blueberry Earl Grey tea glaze, and cherry hibiscus flavored donuts. 

Women’s Work Discussion:

Put a fresh take on an old tradition

Judith Norman

Judith Norman is a creative storyteller pioneering START TV™ – a multimedia company highlighting the entrepreneurial journeys of multicultural women. She is also the author of the Women’s Work book series.

Women’s Work Discussion:

Fail – successfully

Judith Norman

Judith Norman is the founder of START TV - a multimedia company that highlights the entrepreneurial journeys of multicultural women. A storyteller and entrepreneur, Judith’s mission is to share an authentic glimpse into the entrepreneurial lifestyle as experienced from a woman’s point of view.

Judith is the author of the Women’s Work: Los Angeles Edition, the first publication in a five-book series featuring conversations with female founders in five different cities.

Judith Norman
IG - @watchstarttv

Katia Lopez

Secure My Wealth provides education to our underserved and low income communities on the importance of financial literacy. Growing up in humble backgrounds, Katia Lopez learned the importance of these concepts and how money issues are an extreme concern in almost every household. 

Families often accumulate financial stress figuring out ways to keep more of the money we make and by not having enough of it.

Her mission is to educate, utilize our resources, teach the basic financial concepts on how money works and how to create financial stability as we are being affected by lack of financial education.

Her goal is to educate others on the proper ways to manage our money, how to protect our families, and learn to build a stable financial future for us, our communities and our next generations.

Katia Lopez
Secure My Wealth
IG - @securemywealth

Mimi G Ford

Influencer Mimi G Ford aka Mimi G has built a handmade empire consisting of the popular Mimi G Style blog, Sew It Academy online sewing school, a bestselling line of Simplicity sewing patterns, conferences and so much more.  She has appeared on Project Runway Kids and is featured in Gary Vaynerchuk’s new book:  Crushing It!: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence-and How You Can, Too.  Mimi recently launched a weekly podcast called Business Shet.

Looking at her success today, you would never guess that Mimi has overcome sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, domestic violence and homelessness.

Women’s Work Discussion:

Create multiple streams of income

Nicole Dean

A love for tea, a desire for health and wellness and an eye for style led Nicole Dean on a journey to create KOLLO.  Described as the “first luxury bottled iced tea,” KOLLO is a premium line of organic, preservative, flavoring and sweetener-free glass-bottled teas produced in Los Angeles.  A former science researcher, Nicole spent a year and a half studying tea manufacturing, distribution and the luxury market.  Her efforts have been rewarded. 

KOLLO teas are sold at Erewhon, EATALY, Neiman Marcus, the Wynn hotel, Le Bon Marché, and other upscale stores and establishments in Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, and Paris, France.

Women’s Work Discussion:

Choose your market

Pamela Samuels Young

On the outside, Pamela Samuels Young appeared to have it all.  She was a practicing attorney who had made partner at a major law firm.  She had the big salary.  But, she wasn’t happy.  Inspired by bestselling author (and fellow attorney), John Grisham, Pamela decided to pursue her dream to become a mystery author. 

After years of rejection, and a book deal with a major publisher, Pamela decided to take control of her writing career.  She self-published a series of bestselling mystery novels including Anybody’s Daughter, a fast-paced thriller about sex trafficking in Los Angeles.  Anybody’s Daughter won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Fiction.  It was also chosen as a Top Ten pick by In the Margins – a library service dedicated to finding the best books for teens living in poverty, on the streets, in custody--or a cycle of all three. 

Pamela’s books are available in print, digital and audio formats.

Women’s Work Discussion:

Give yourself permission

Porsche Reid

Crunchables Box is a monthly subscription box offering a selection of the yummiest regional potato chips delivered to your home. You get to taste different locales and flavors that have been handpicked to help you discover some new favorites. 

Porsche Reid
Crunchables Box
IG - @crunchables_box

Ruth E. Carter

Ruth E. Carter just won her first Academy Award for Best Costume Design for Marvel’s Black Panther. The win was also historic.  Ruth is the first black person to win the Oscar in the costume category. 

Her meticulous research, keen imagination and stellar design abilities have earned Ruth two other Academy Award nominations (Spike Lee’s Malcolm X; Steven Spielberg’s Amistad) for costume design.  In fact, Ruth is the first African-American nominated for the Oscar in the costume design category.  Ruth is also responsible the looks seen in “Roots” revival, “Selma,” “Marshall,” “The Butler,” and many other television and film productions.

Passionate about her craft, Ruth is willing to do whatever is necessary to execute her vision.

Women’s Work Discussion:

Honor your vision

Stacy Lande and Carol Sheridan

Makeup artist Stacy Lande and photographer Carol Sheridan have a love for Bettie Page and all things vintage.  The two friends joined forces in 2009 and created Iconic Pinups – a unique, intimate and empowering photo shoot experience that transforms average gals into femme fatales.  More than 3,000 women of all ages (including an 82-year old), shapes, and sizes have participated in Iconic Pinups photo sessions that come complete with a full pinup-style makeover and complimentary vintage and retro backdrops.  The women come to Iconic Pinups for a variety of reasons:  to mark a milestone; to gift the photos to a significant other; or even to take sexy photos of their breasts before a mastectomy.  Every woman leaves an Iconic Pinups session with beautiful photos and an awareness of her unique beauty.

Women’s Work Discussion:

Transform women

Tamara Brown

Mwokaji Cakery is a custom cake and dessert bakery that specializes in creating delicious cakes frosted with buttercream and decorated with organic and natural embellishments such as fresh fruit and fresh flowers. I am committed to providing you with gourmet cakes and desserts that are made from locally sourced ingredients free of GMO’s and unnecessary preservatives. “Mwokaji” means “the baker” in Swahili.

Tamara Brown
Mwojka Cakery
IG - @mwokaji

Victoria Reese

When Victoria Reese received an unexpected Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis, she didn’t hesitate to add “Advocate” to the list of titles describing her life’s work.  A Brand Strategist (The Victor Group LA), Influencer, and former E-Commerce Entrepreneur (Baus by Victor Group), Victoria was determined not to let the disease keep her from greatness.  She educated herself about Multiple Sclerosis and then began to share her experience with others. 

As a MS spokesperson, Victoria noticed that there was a lack of outreach to women of color.  So, she created the #We Are Illmatic campaign to empower women of color living with MS by providing them with information, support and a platform to share their stories.

Women’s Work Discussion:

Make lemonade when hit with the unexpected