Spring Preview Issue

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The Career ‘Do-Over’ 3 Business Owners Show How It’s Done

Is a Private School Right for Your Child? Alexandria’s Secret Speakeasies and Bars Revealed


alexandrialivingmagazine.com | 2018 Preview Issue

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Feasting on History at Virtue Feed & Grain The building that houses the awardwinning restaurant contains hundreds of historic elements you may not notice at first.

The building that now houses Virtue Feed & Grain has hundreds of historic elements throughout—from the glass on the bar to the bricks in the dining room. To preserve the unique history and authenticity of the building and alley, top local artisans, builders and craftsmen were brought in to restore and reinvent the old warehouse that had been left to the mercy of time. The name ‘Virtue’ emerged from the hopeful intentions of those who thoughtfully restored and reclaimed a piece of history by re-establishing the old warehouse to feed the people. In reusing recycled materials from abandoned structures, the goal in developing Virtue Feed & Grain was to remain authentic to the original structure, benefitting both the architectural and ecological environment. Bonitt Builders, Paul Beckmann/Bartzen + Ball Architects, Decorium Design and artist Andre de Moller worked with the property owners to restore and reinvent the warehouse. This historic building was once used as a feed house in the 1800s. Remnants of the original sign painted on the side of the building remain, reading Walter Roberts Inc. Hay, Grain, Flour & Feed. Bordering Wales Alley, the project was serendipitously meant to be: a former Alexandria Mayor and Irishman, John Fitzgerald, shared ownership of the alley


Photo by David Coleman

where beer was sold as early as 1786. It was later named for Andrew Wales, the owner of the brewery. Bricks removed to create the expansive windows and doors were reused to build the pillars and dividing wall in the downstairs dining room. Likewise, the original concrete floor was carefully grinded and polished to preserve history’s footprints. The interior walls, floors and bar shelves were all constructed with period wood, each heralding from a unique past: The upstairs floor came from an old oak bar in the Wisconsin Dells, dating from the pre-Civil War era. The wall boards in Virtue’s interior were found in a Victorian-era Amish barn in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, built in 1885. The old Seaport Restaurant (now Starbucks on King and Union streets) supplied the large ceiling beam that supports the cubist-style painting in the staircase. Wired, wavy glass panels, previously abandoned from a pre-World War II military supply reserve located on the Delaware Valley in Pennsylvania, have been refurbished to fabricate both bars. Not only have remains of the early past been saved, signs of more recent years are on display as well. Stair treads of the previous tenants—the beloved Olsson’s Books & Records—were planed

alexandrialivingmagazine.com | 2018 Preview Issue

and sealed to construct the large wood dining tables. Directly in front of the entry, the structural post has a high-water mark from Hurricane Isabel in 2003. The American tavern-style menu at Virtue offers fresh flavors and made-from scratch dishes with seasonal variety. Virtue offers Sunday brunch, weekday happy hour (all day on Mondays!), and a large, pet-friendly patio. Virtue is a premier event venue in Old Town Alexandria, offering a stunning space for wedding ceremonies and receptions, corporate dinners and holiday parties, milestone celebrations and more! Virtue is one of several locations under the leadership of Alexandria Restaurant Partners, whose sister restaurants include The Majestic, Vola’s Dockside Grill, Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza & Tap, Palette 22, Theismann’s and Mia’s Italian Kitchen (opening April 2018), all of which offer private event spaces, happy hours, dog-friendly patios and weekend brunch.

Alexandria Restaurant Partners operates several award-winning restaurants in the region. Learn more and sign up for email deals at alexandriarestaurantpartners.com. To book an event, email Amber Shelley, events manager, at amber@alexrestpart.com.



Calendar of Events See events and activities that are coming to Alexandria.


The Alley Learn about what’s opening and in development around Alexandria.


Home & Garden The owner of an 1808 Brockett’s Row home says buying the home was a bit impulsive, but the restoration process has been thoughtfully researched.



Food & Dining With a new whiskey-devoted bar, you’ve got four speakeasy-style places to drink well—without the long lines of the District’s latest pop-up venue.


Pets You might think your pup tore up your pillows and corn-cobbed that table leg because he was mad at you, but it’s more likely that he was simply being a happy, normal dog.


Business The true story behind Alexandria-


based all-natural skin care business Truly-Life, which celebrates its 10-year anniversary this year.


At Home Reunions boutique owner Barbara Geyer Watts talks trends and tips for home decor.


Community Residents are cleaning the shoreline by combining litter removal with exercise.


The Last Word A few things you probably didn’t


know about one of Alexandria’s more interesting residents.

2018 Preview Issue | alexandrialivingmagazine.com





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alexandrialivingmagazine.com | 2018 Preview Issue



The Career ‘Do-Over’: 3 Business Owners Show How It’s Done


How to Decide If Private School Is a Good Fit for Your Child

The stories behind the start of these Alexandria

From practical considerations to specialized

businesses may inspire you to quit your

needs, here’s what to consider when deciding

desk job and embrace your passion.

if a private school is right for your student.


Kim Gustafson, owner of Blüprint Chocolatiers in Old Town Alexandria Photo by Chris Militzer

2018 Preview Issue | alexandrialivingmagazine.com



There’s No Place Like Home Our first discussions about creating this magazine took place at Alexandria Pastry Shop in Bradlee Shopping Center on a Saturday morning last spring. Since then, dozens of people have generously given ideas, content, technical expertise and advice at coffee shops, restaurants, stores and workspaces throughout the area. There are too many people to acknowledge here, but we know many of them will see their contributions in action this year, and we hope they know that we’re thankful. Our office is in Old Town Alexandria, but we’re rarely at our desks—there’s so much exploring to do, interesting people to talk to and great stories to tell. We’ve lived in this area for years, and we’re still learning new things every single day and sharing as much as we can. In fact, that’s a key part of our mission: We want everyone to learn something new each time they visit our website, read our weekly e-newsletters or pick up the magazine.

Beth Lawton, publisher, and Mary Ann Barton, editor. Photo by Matt Mendelsohn, taken at Virtue Feed & Grain.

Just a few months in, Alexandria Living Magazine is becoming a go-to source for delving into the Alexandria area’s unique culture, history and people. In addition to profiling local personalities, the magazine is publishing features about greater Alexandria attractions and events, real estate, retail, restaurants and other businesses, neighborhoods, economic development, local history and history in the making. In addition to covering the City of Alexandria, we’re finding unique stories in Kingstowne, Belle Haven, Huntington, Fort Hunt, Mount Vernon, Rose Hill, parts of Annandale and beyond. The Alexandria business community has welcomed us with open arms, and Alexandria Living Magazine is taking unique approaches to working with them. This year, we’ll be providing opportunities in sponsored content, social media, events, promotions and brand awareness.

We’re lucky to have a talented group working alongside us. Key team members include Strategic Marketing Director Kara Hill, designer Jessie Leiber, regular columnists and writers including Whitney Pipkin, Tracy Krulik and Jennifer van der Kleut, and photographers Chris Militzer and Rachel Hegarty. A tip of the hat to Sylvia Silver for logo and title design, as well. There’s no place like home, and we’re proud to call Alexandria ours. Come explore with us!

Mary Ann Barton and Beth Lawton Founders

To learn more, visit alexandrialivingmagazine.com or email info@alexandrialivingmagazine.com. SOCIALIZE WITH US





alexandrialivingmagazine.com | 2018 Preview Issue

DID YOU KNOW... Alexandria is one of the best places for businesses in the United States. In recent years, Alexandria has been ranked at or near the top of these lists: Best Downtown in the United States

Best City for Entrepreneurs


Entrepreneur Magazine

A Top Digital City Center for Digital Government


Beth Lawton EDITOR


Kara Hill DESIGN


Tracy Krulik, Pets Whitney Pipkin, Food & Dining Jennifer van der Kleut, News and Features

Photo by Rachel Hegarty

A Few of Our Favorite Things... BETH LAWTON


Beth has worked for several news publications and small businesses in editorial, marketing and business development roles. She loves Alexandria’s unique coffee shops and waterfront parks.

Tracy, Northern Virginia-based certified dog trainer and behavior consultant, is the founder and managing editor of iSpeakDog. She loves the dog-friendliness of the Alexandria region.


Pets Columnist



Mary Ann comes to Alexandria Living Magazine after a distinguished career in magazines, newspapers and online publications. She loves the historic homes and lively restaurant scene.

Whitney writes about food, farms and the environment as a freelance journalist based in Northern Virginia. She enjoys witnessing and exploring the development of Alexandria’s food culture.


Food & Dining Columnist


Chris Militzer Rachel Hegarty


Alexandria Living Magazine fully supports the local business community and offers several unique ways to partner with the publication. • Sponsored articles and multimedia content on the website, in our popular email newsletters and on social media. • Highlighted events in our events calendar, email newsletters and social media. • Dedicated space for brand promotion or content in our popular email newsletters. • Sponsored real estate listings. • Brand awareness through online banner ads designed to boost your business. • Contests, sweepstakes and giveaways.



Kara, owner of Bold Town Branding, is leading strategic marketing efforts for the magazine and its advertisers. She loves the strong sense of community and civic involvement.

Jennifer writes about people, businesses and more as a journalist; she is also a social media manager. She likes the unique feel of Alexandria’s neighborhoods.

Strategic Marketing Director

News and Features Writer

To learn more about how partnering with Alexandria Living Magazine can help build your business, contact us at ads@alexandrialivingmagazine.com or (571) 232-1310.




Jessie has collaborated with clients in the non-profit and tourism industries to create visual solutions that engage and inspire audiences. She loves taking classes at the Torpedo Factory and shopping King Street.

Chris is a Virginia photographer whose work has been featured by many publications, brands and tourism groups. He loves Alexandria’s city features, with a small town community feeling.



Send news releases and story tips to maryann@alexandrialivingmagazine.com.


For marketing inquiries, contact beth@alexandrialivingmagazine.com.

2018 Preview Issue | alexandrialivingmagazine.com


Carlyle House Historic Park at Lee and Cameron streets. Photo by Chris Militzer

Spring 2018

Calendar of Events EVE N T K E Y

Squirrel Nut Zippers March 22 | 7:30 p.m.

Arts & Entertainment

Hear music from the Squirrel Nut Zippers’ first new album in nearly 18 years along with classics like “Hell” and “Ghost of Stephen Foster.”

Live Music

The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Avenue, birchmere.com


Dining & Nightlife

Lee Ann Womack ‘All the Troubles’ Tour

Recreation & Outdoor

March 23 | 7:30 p.m. See Lee Ann Womack along with Sarah Allison Turner at The Birchmere. Womack will play songs from her latest album, “The Lonely, the Lonesome and the Gone,” featuring a mix of country, soul, gospel and blues music styles. The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Avenue, birchmere.com

Lee-Fendall House Easter Egg Hunt March 30 | 3 p.m. March 31 | 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. April 1 | 12:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. The 19th annual Easter Egg Hunt at the LeeFendall House Museum and Garden takes place Easter Weekend. House docents host crafts for children in addition to photos with the Easter Bunny, refreshments, prizes and more. Proceeds from the event help support the historic property. Buy tickets in advance. Lee-Fendall House, 614 Oronoco Street, leefendallhouse.org


alexandrialivingmagazine.com | 2018 Preview Issue


The Legends of R&B— The Ladies Edition

Carlyle House Garden Day

Firefighting History Walking Tour

April 21 | 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.

April 12 | 7:30 p.m. Join the Carlyle Club for tributes to Phyllis Hyman, Anita Baker, Tina Turner, Tina Marie, and many other women of R&B. Enjoy dinner and the show.

Celebrate spring at the Friends of Carlyle House’s Annual Garden Day Herb & Craft Sale. Tour Carlyle House and purchase herbs, plants, and flowers raised in the greenhouses at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate.

The Carlyle Club, 2050 Ballenger Avenue, thecarlyleclub.com

Carlyle House, 121 N. Fairfax Street, visitalexandriava.com/things-to-do/events

April 2 | 1 - 2:30 p.m. Look at Alexandria’s firefighting history on this tour, called “Blazing a Trail: Alexandria’s Firefighting History.” Learn about volunteer firefighting in early Alexandria and three devastating fires. Friendship Firehouse Museum, 107 S. Alfred Street, apps.alexandriava.gov/Calendar

Historic Garden Week

Parkway Classic

April 21 | 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.

April 22 | 8 a.m.

Old Town Alexandria will kick off the Garden Club of Virginia’s 85th Historic Garden Week public tour of stunning historic homes and gardens. Presented by the Hunting Creek Garden Club and the Garden Club of Alexandria, the local Old Town tour encompasses tours of five private homes and gardens.

Harvey April 21 - May 12 | Various Showtimes The Little Theatre in Alexandria presents, “Harvey,” a tale about an imaginary 6-foot tall rabbit and the person who sees him.

The Parkway Classic 5K and 10 mile races along the George Washington Memorial Parkway between Mount Vernon and Old Town Alexandria were voted a favorite spring race by RunWashington. This is the 33rd annual event. Registration is open. George Washington Memorial Parkway, runpacers.com/race/parkway-classic

Various locations, vagardenweek.org

Little Theatre of Alexandria, 600 Wolfe Street, thelittletheatre.com

Visit us at any of our unique restaurants for delicious food & drinks, warm hospitality, and a fun and spirited atmosphere, plus…

Happy Hour

Private Events


Milestone celebrations, weddings, corporate dinners, holiday parties… for groups up to 300 guests! JOIN US FOR

Weekend Brunch

Vola’s, Lena’s, and Majestic | 3-7pm Virtue & Palette 22 | 4-7pm & all day Monday Bonus HH at Palette 22 | Sunday’s 4-9pm!

Bring your pooch!


2018 Preview Issue | alexandrialivingmagazine.com



Alexandria Earth Day Celebration

Spring Wine Festival & Sunset Tour

April 28 | 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

May 18 - 20 | 6 - 9 p.m.

Alexandria’s annual Earth Day Celebration features demonstrations, educational exhibits, hands-on activities and more. This year’s theme is Local Action, Global Impact.

Sample some of Virginia’s best wines while taking in sunset views from George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate overlooking the Potomac River. The Estate tour will include Washington’s own wine cellar. Listen to live jazz music on the lawn. Tickets are available now.

Lenny Harris Memorial Fields at Braddock Park, 1005 Mount Vernon Avenue, alexandriava.gov/earthday

George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, mountvernon.org

Jane Austen Ball April 28 | 7 p.m. Enjoy this late 1790s-era ball at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, complete with English country dances in the historic ballroom, period-inspired refreshments, live music and more. Tickets are available now. Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, 134 N. Royal Street, visitalexandriava.com

Photo courtesy of Visit Alexandria

Photo by Rob Shenk

Revolutionary War Weekend May 5 - 6 | 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. With battle reenactments, military technique discussions and 18th century demonstrations throughout the weekend, Revolutionary War Weekend at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate is a must-see event. Hundreds of Continentals, Redcoats, Hessians, cannon and cavalry will be in action. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway, mountvernon.org

Photo courtesy of George Washington’s Mount Vernon

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alexandrialivingmagazine.com | 2018 Preview Issue


Photo by Rachel Hegarty

Property Value Assessments Increase According to the City of Alexandria, the assessed 2018 value of most properties is up again this year. About 77.4 percent of homeowners saw an increase in value, 12.6 percent experienced a decrease, and the remainder saw no change. Year-over-year, single-family residential values increased by an average of 3.4 percent. The average single-family house was assessed at $752,585 at the start of 2018. The average condominium was assessed at $324,024. This is the 8th year in a row that assessed values have increased. Relatively low interest rates, a constrained housing supply and Alexandria’s prime location are all contributing to the increase.

Photo courtesy of LPDA and Cole & Denny Architects

Del Ray Gateway Park Planned Plans are in the works to redevelop the triangle park at the corner of Mount Vernon and Commonwealth avenues in Del Ray to include a memorial garden, spray park and more. The Del Ray Community Partnership, a collaboration of community members, business owners and the City of Alexandria, is working to create the Del Ray Gateway. “We need to change the entrance to Del Ray into a vibrant space for all ages. The spray park would turn an abandoned pool into a play area where children could cool down in the summer and also work as a green space for people of all ages to hang out. I hope we can transform the space so when people enter Del Ray, they are welcomed by something beautiful,” said Nancy Lee, a Del Ray Gateway Committee Member. The memorial garden will be dedicated to Nancy Dunning, a beloved Del Ray resident who was killed in 2003.

New Luxury Community Opening A new luxury townhome community from Toll Brothers is opening this spring near the Eisenhower Metro Station. Just west of the Telegraph Road bridge on Eisenhower Avenue, the 67 planned homes of Eisenhower Square will start in the $900,000s. About a dozen homes will be available for delivery as soon as this April with pre-sales starting in late March. The community will feature a variety of three- and fourbedroom homes with up to four bathrooms each. The fourth level of each townhome is the “loft level” with an outside rooftop retreat. Each townhome will have a two-car garage, as well. The community itself will have plenty of open space, including a central courtyard park, bike racks, and featured art from local artists.

2018 Preview Issue | alexandrialivingmagazine.com



Restoring 307 N.Washington:

A Labor of Love A historic gem in Old Town is returning to its roots. BY BETH LAWTON

Most people don’t refer to the purchase of a 210-year-old home as an impulse buy. But when Brian Branton saw 307 N. Washington St. listed for sale, he immediately became—in his words—“obsessed.” He happened to stumble across a real estate listing for the Federal-style building in August 2016. He wrote in an Instagram photo caption that month, “In my mind, I’ve already bought it, moved in, renovated it, decorated, and decked it out for the holidays.” With an eye for potential and an appreciation for how the home flowed, Branton saw nothing but possibilities, even though the place hadn’t been used as a residence in decades. Since the 1960s, the home had been used as offices for a law firm. The house was built in 1808 by Robert Brockett, who built the three other homes along that block at the same time. The home was added to in the 1850s, and restored in the 1930s or 1940s. The law firm’s ownership of the home was a mixed blessing— air conditioning and plenty of extra electricity was added over the years, along with built-in bookshelves. The law firm maintained the mechanical systems, replaced the roof and more. However, the law firm had removed all the home’s full bathrooms, leaving behind only powder rooms and half baths.

Photos by Brian Branton

The law firm also added an entrance in the back, taking out part of the already-small kitchen. But because the home was in such good structural condition, Branton has been able to focus on aesthetic changes in the first year, along with planning for the major renovations to come. The home still has hundreds of historic elements—from the narrow staircases to original 1800s wood floors to detailed trim and gorgeous millwork around the home’s fireplaces. In the past year, the home has gone from red to white on the exterior. In addition, Branton has spent a lot of time on interior painting, restoring floors and furnishing it. He’s hired people to repair walls, remove wallpaper and handle other major tasks (including that exterior paint job). Branton selected paint colors for the interior of the home “to respect the age of the house,” he said. The yellow doors were inspired by a visit to President James Madison’s home, Montpelier, in Central Virginia. The decision to paint the trim and woodwork (and return the living room walls to white) was a historically minded decision, as well. Most of the interior painting and work has been completed during “staycations,” nights and weekends. Much of the furniture has an antique look—all Branton’s own choices. 2018 plans include putting in a laundry room on the second floor in what used to be a solarium. Branton also plans to renovate the kitchen by reclaiming some space the law firm took away there, and adding a gas fireplace to the dining room. Upstairs, he plans to build a full bathroom where a full bath used to be. The home was on an Old Town Alexandria house tour in the 1950s, and Branton joked about a return to house-tour status as a goal for the next few years. “It’s a labor of love,” Branton said.


alexandrialivingmagazine.com | 2018 Preview Issue


RAISE THE BAR Outfit Your Own ‘Speakeasy,’ at Home Want to create the ambiance of a cozy bar in your own pad? You can get some of the basics, with a lot of flair, at Alexandria’s The Hour, a boutique at 1015 King St., that specializes in midcentury barware that would make Don Draper feel right at home. You can also find vintage barware online, including on eBay.

GLASSWARE The best glassware for cocktails at home? You could try glassware designed by world champion bartender Charles Joly, founder of Crafthouse Cocktails; he has teamed with Fortessa Tableware Solutions, a restaurant supply store in Ashburn which designs premium tableware for professionals. They have collaborated on a line of high-end barware for sale at Williams Sonoma.

BARWARE If you’re going all out, a properly stocked home bar includes a shaker, jigger, strainer, mixing glass, bar spoons, muddler, citrus press and a zester. You’ll also want an ice bucket and a great bottle opener. You can mix and match from a variety of designers or buy complete kits from stores like The Hour in Old Town.

COCKTAILS Having trouble deciding on a cocktail to mix at your home bar? The Old Fashioned is a drink that seems like it doesn’t get old for consumers. It’s simple—rye or bourbon whiskey, a sugar cube, Angostura bitters and an orange twist—and it’s classic. And it’s the top cocktail of 2017, according to Drinks International.

The Whiskey Bar. Photo courtesy of Union Street Public House

Alexandria’s Speakeasies & Secret Bars With a new whiskey-devoted bar, you’ve got more places to drink well—without the long lines of the District’s latest pop-up bar. BY WHITNEY PIPKIN

If you’re going to pay $15 for a cocktail, you might as well feel like you’re breaking the law. That’s the idea behind a few speakeasies in Alexandria, where Prohibition-era vibes add a certain je ne sais quoi to an evening’s libations. Add to Old Town’s offerings a new whiskey-devoted bar that opened late last year, and you’ve got even more places to drink well in Alexandria.

2018 Preview Issue | alexandrialivingmagazine.com



CXIII REX cxiiirex.com; 113 King Street

Strolling down King Street toward the waterfront, past Landini Brothers Restaurant, you might miss an unmarked door. The door is the secret entrance to a private club, CXIII Rex. The combination of Roman numerals and the Latin word for king are a nod to the private club’s address: 113 King St. The club, which uses a state-of-the-art ventilation system, got its start as a place to enjoy a fine cigar after a ban on smoking passed in 2009. Private humidor lockers house favorite cigars. Members kick back to watch sports, enjoy libations from the bar or order from the extensive menu. That unmarked door? You can get in using your membership card, which will also activate the members-only elevator that will take you to the club.

PX cocktail. Photo by Whitney Pipkin

CAPTAIN GREGORY’S CaptainGregorys.com; 804 N. Henry Street

PX BarPX.com; 728 King Street, second floor

At Alexandria’s Bar PX—an upscale hideaway managed by one of the region’s best bartenders, Todd Thrasher—a blue light above Eamonn’s A Dublin Chipper glows when the doors are open. Reservations are recommended to guarantee a seat amid the soft-seat cushions and dark-wood interior that harkens to the 1920s. Chase away the winter cold with a signature Hot Toddy or cocktails like the “Feel Better and Get Well,” a mix of Rhum Barbancourt, Irish whiskey, Thrasher’s own falernum and lime bitters.

1986—THE WHISKEY BAR UnionStreetPublicHouse.com; 121 S. Union Street

This backroom bar devoted to all things whiskey opened inside Union Street Public House at the end of 2017, rounding out the options in a walkable corridor of Old Town.

Step inside the Sugar Shack Donuts on North Henry Street and pull the flag to the right to access this entirely hidden speakeasy, named after the man behind the donut hole. A wood-paneled wall slides open to reveal an intimate bar setting where our gown-and-bow-tie garb (we were headed to a party) nearly blended in one evening. We were “not the first or last to show up in that attire,” says Brandon McDermott, Captain Gregory’s executive chef, who recommends reservations to get in. Alongside a rotation of some 300 original cocktails, such as the “Benedict Cucumberbatch” (Macchu Pisco, cucumber, lime, egg white), Captain Gregory’s offers a lineup of heavy hors d’oeuvres (from smoked pork belly in mustard-studded sauce to corn nuts). Patrons can also order fresh donuts from next door from their seats. McDermott says Captain Gregory’s owners, who recently opened Nocturne in D.C., have plans to open another Northern Virginia speakeasy in 2019.

Cozy up to the long, copper-hued bar for a taste of more than three dozen whiskeys and bourbons on the menu, or opt for a signature cocktail. “The Irish Brigade” mixes cold-brewed chamomile tea and Luxardo with a vanilla-infused Jameson and, for a departure from the ordinary, the “Border War” adds sweet vermouth and ancho reyes to rye and tequila. The 36-seat bar, named for the year that Union Street Public House opened, is open Wednesday through Saturday.

Captain Gregory’s cocktail. Photo by Whitney Pipkin


alexandrialivingmagazine.com | 2018 Preview Issue


Is Your Dog Chewing Up Your House? Dog whisperer Tracy Krulik has some answers for those whose dogs are chewing up all the wrong things. BY TRACY KRULIK

When she came home and found her designer pillows de-stuffed, she knew her puppy, Champ, was a chewer. It didn’t take long for Alexandria resident Marisa Eickenhorst to designate a “dog-proof” room for Champ and load him up with a bunch of toys. “Squeakectomies are his forte,” Eickenhorst says of the Lab-Pointer mix. No one loves to dissect a stuffed animal more than Champ.

WHY DOGS CHEW Chewing is to dogs what reading books and watching movies are to people. It’s fun! It can also be great exercise for their jaws and soothing to puppies. And while humans understand that chair legs exist to hold a seat up and that the stuffing is meant to stay inside couch cushions, to dogs, these things are toys! You might think your pup tore up your pillows and corn-cobbed that table leg because he was mad at you, but it’s more likely that he was simply being a happy, normal dog.

WHAT TO DO ABOUT CHEWING The trick is to teach dogs what is and what is not “legal” to chew, and to give them plenty of activities to keep them from becoming bored. “A tired dog is a happy dog,” says Anna Fitzgerald, owner of the

store The Dog Park. Moreover, a happy and tired dog doesn’t have the need or the energy to chew up the home. While you house train your dog, it’s also an opportunity to “chew” train him or her. Set up a space that is void of anything the pup might want to chew but shouldn’t (curtains, rug edges, table legs, shoes, bags, etc.). A gated-off kitchen works great, or an exercise pen for smaller dogs. Then add in a sampling of different types of toys.

A WORLD OF CHEW-TOY OPTIONS Puppies need hard rubbery toys to chew on. Stuffed Kongs are always a good go-to. Fitzgerald also recommends toys made by West Paw and Planet Dog, both of which have a one-time replacement guarantee. The brand Fluff and Tuff makes super-sturdy stuffed toys to challenge even the best surgeons—like Champ. And, while puppies shouldn’t chew on anything harder than a Bully Stick when they are young, Fitzgerald says, once they are at least six months old, you can give them tougher chews such as antlers and marrow bones.

CATCHING MISTAKES If you catch your dog starting to chew something he shouldn’t, please do not scold him. He’s just being his normal doggy self. Instead, happy talk him away and give him his favorite chew toy. He’ll learn soon enough that it pays to play with his approved toys—not that other stuff.

SEPARATION ANXIETY One final note: Many dogs are terrified to be left home alone. A common symptom of this phobia is chewing things like crate wires as well as door and window frames. These dogs will likely also bark, howl, pace frantically, have accidents and possibly even try to escape through windows when left alone.

ARROW-ALT-CIRCLE-RIGHT If you suspect that your dog has separation anxiety, please reach out

(tracykrulik.com/separation-anxiety) for help. 2018 Preview Issue | alexandrialivingmagazine.com



In the Garden at Truly-Life Mellenie Runion’s company unofficially started at a dog’s birthday party and is officially 10 years old this year. BY JENNIFER VAN DER KLEUT

How many business owners can say they got their business started at a dog’s birthday party? It’s a true story for the Alexandria-based skin care business Truly-Life. Truly-Life was never meant to be a business in the beginning, says founder Mellenie Runion. Originally, she started making soap just for herself out of all-natural ingredients grown in her Del Ray garden as a way to “stay green.”

Mellenie Runion and Andy Loll, founders of Truly-Life. Photo courtesy of Runion

However, once friends and neighbors caught a whiff of her decadent, all-natural soaps, the business practically started itself, she says. Runion is known for throwing a fun birthday party for her beloved dog Max each year, which she says is mostly just a way to get many of the neighborhood dogs together for a playdate while the mommies and daddies socialize.


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Much like a child’s birthday party, she would buy inexpensive trinkets to send home with all the guests as party favors—until she realized they were all going unused and mostly getting tossed in the trash. “It just seemed like such a waste,” she recalls. So, when the next year came around, she decided to just produce a handful of extras of the soap she was regularly making for herself anyway. It turned out to be a huge hit, she says. “People just loved them!” She began getting so many requests from friends, family and neighbors that she decided to start small and make a simple website to show off her creations. Needless to say, everything skyrocketed from there, and Truly-Life Eco Skin Care and Garden Gifts was born in 2008.

A GARDEN FULL OF INGREDIENTS Runion and her partner, Andy Loll, need only step out the back door of their Del Ray cottage to collect ingredients for TrulyLife’s selection of all-natural skin care products. Runion’s soaps come in a variety of scents with ingredients grown right in her garden. As a base for her soaps, Runion says Loll, who is a chemical engineer by trade, helped her create formulas using olive oil and coconut oil. In addition, Runion makes heart-shaped lotions that look and feel like a bar of soap but hydrate like a lotion when rubbed on the skin. She also makes soap-infused loofahs, bath fizzes, pomace stones, shaving lather, face masks made from clay or cocoa and seaweed, organic lip balm, and hypoallergenic soaps for dogs. In the beginning, Runion ran her business in her spare time, in addition to working her full-time job. Eventually, as her dog Max aged, she realized he needed more attention. Since her online product sales were doing well, she decided to take the leap and try running Truly-Life full time from her home. “I miss the water cooler moments at work, but I love improving the soil and taking care of my dog, while also making affordable gifts.”

Above: Loofah vine growing in the garden of Truly-Life in Del Ray. Below: A harvest of white lavender from the Truly-Life garden in Del Ray.

With a full-time schedule to devote to Truly-Life, Runion says the business is truly thriving. Truly-Life is now found in the guest rooms of a few local hotels such as The Alexandrian (formerly Hotel Monaco), Morrison House and Hotel Indigo.

A typical spa camp will walk guests through the process of harvesting ingredients from the garden and making them into basic products like lip balms.

Several businesses in Alexandria carry Truly-Life products. In addition, Runion can be found most weekends selling products out of a booth at the Old Town Farmers’ Market.

Runion says neighbors are so supportive of her business that some have even offered up some of the space in their gardens to allow her to grow more ingredients.

By popular demand, Runion has started hosting Truly-Life special events as well.

“I was needing more lavender than I could produce,” she explains. “So in exchange, I cultivate and improve their soil, and then I grow a lot of my lavender in their gardens.”

In addition to allowing people to book private events in the garden, including intimate parties, wine tastings, weddings and photo shoots, Runion has started offering DIY classes and “spa camps” during the garden’s peak months.

Runion says they have learned to plan ahead, and grow excess ingredients during the blooming months and then dry them out to store. They dip into the dry ingredient stash during the winter months in order to continue to produce fresh products year-round. Other tricks Runion has learned over the years include creating excess compost in the winter, and using rabbit manure to fertilize the garden. All of this means Truly-Life is a 100-percent, all-organic business that uses no artificial chemicals to make their products. “I’m still a tiny company, but I turn 10 years old this year, and at this point I’m just happy to still be in business. And I know a lot of small businesses don’t make it that long, so I feel very fortunate,” Runion says.

ARROW-ALT-CIRCLE-RIGHT Runion’s products can be purchased online at


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How to Give Your Home a Refresh Reunions boutique owner Barbara Geyer Watts talks trends and tips for home decor. BY ALEXANDRIA LIVING MAGAZINE STAFF

Looking to pull together the interior design of your home? There are plenty of interior designers and home decor retailers in Alexandria ready to help. Sometimes the best way to freshen up a home is to start on the edges: Choose a color scheme (with the help of a local color consultant) first, and then start with fresh paint or wallpaper, window treatments, updated lighting and new floor coverings. Once your color scheme is set, accessorizing and furnishing becomes a bit easier. You can browse for accessory ideas at a number of boutiques and antique shops in and around Alexandria for everything from pillows and candles to lamps and picture frames.


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If you choose to use an interior designer, expect to pay $75 to $200 per hour. Interior designers have the ability to pull things together with an eye for both style and usefulness. “He or she balances aesthetic considerations with structural planning to reflect the clients’ lifestyle, set the desired mood, complement the home’s architectural features, and ensure that less glamorous details (like electrical outlets and air vents) fit into the scheme,” according to Houzz. Often, interior designers will ask you to start collecting photos of items that you like from magazines or websites (using Pinterest or an old-fashioned notebook). That can help the designer assess your style and find items that suit your personality—but they may ask you to be open to new ideas, too.

Looking ahead, what sort of home decor trends should we be looking for in the next 12 months?


Barbara Geyer Watts Owner of Reunions Looking for a one-of-a-kind table lamp? This is your place. Reunions, at 1709 Centre Plaza (near the intersection of Quaker Lane and King Street), offers unique items new and consigned. We recently asked Reunions owner Barbara Geyer Watts a few questions about how you can freshen up your home decor this year.

What are some home decor accessories that can be used to make a home more inviting that people sometimes overlook? What immediately comes to mind is lamps. We feel that lighting is extremely important in our shop, and that same philosophy would also apply in our customers’ homes. We carry a large variety of lamps in different styles, sizes and colors. Baskets are another item. Baskets are a great way to tame clutter, as well as look good on their own. Finally, customers often forget about the scent of their home. We carry a vast array of scented candles, fragrance mists and diffusers.

Have you noticed any sort of home decor trends this season that have been popular that you can share? We noticed that customers gravitated toward neutral colors in 2017. Melamine serving pieces—salad bowls and trays—were extremely popular. Customers continued to love table linens, especially runners.

From what I have read and seen at trade shows, it looks like the color purple—especially lavender and lilac, will be popular in 2018. Velvet will continue to be “in.” We expect to see more circular patterns. Photo courtesy of Reunions

What are some go-to items that local residents can find if they are looking to freshen up the look of their home?

Where to Shop Local for Home Decor

Reunions carries high quality artificial greens and flowers year round. These are very popular with our customers, who use them to change their decor for each season. We also carry a wide variety of pillows in different colors and sizes. An especially popular one is our rectangular black on linen Alexandria, Virginia pillow. We recently added an Arlington, Virginia pillow. I have also made a concerted effort to find unique vases, candlesticks, sculptures, etc. made by American artists around the country. Our customers have been very receptive to this idea of supporting other small businesses and artists.

A few home decor stores and designers in Alexandria that you can check out include: RED BARN MERCANTILE 1117 King Street Red Barn Mercantile is a furniture and home gift store that mixes old and new, antique and modern. ARROW-ALT-CIRCLE-RIGHT redbarnmercantile.com

VICTORIA AT HOME 1125 King Street Victoria at Home has a collection of home furnishings and accessories curated by Victoria Sanchez.

What are some of the more popular consigned items customers are looking for?

ARROW-ALT-CIRCLE-RIGHT victoriaathome.com

Our most popular consignment items are stemware, china and silver trays. We almost always have several Waterford stemware patterns in stock. We frequently sell entire sets of china. Silver trays are always popular, especially during the holidays. We also sell consignment furniture.

If a customer isn’t sure about figuring out how to pull together a look in a room, does Reunions offer any sort of help in that regard? Although we do not make house calls, we are happy to help customers with their design questions. Frequently, customers bring in photographs or scraps of fabric showing their color schemes. We love helping customers select furniture that fits their needs and spaces. We also help customers design mantles, arrange flowers, and create unique table settings and baby nurseries.

RANDOM HARVEST 810 King Street Random Harvest focuses on pieces that are beautiful, unique and functional. ARROW-ALT-CIRCLE-RIGHT randomharvesthome.com

HOUSEWORKS INTERIORS 421 S. Washington Street Houseworks Interiors works with individuals on creating beautiful, architecturally thoughtful interior design. ARROW-ALT-CIRCLE-RIGHT houseworksinteriors.com

STUART NORDIN DESIGN 600 Cameron Street Stuart Nordin Design focuses on designing and decorating homes with a nod to personal tastes and life stories. ARROW-ALT-CIRCLE-RIGHT stuartnordin.com

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Old Town’s newest co-working space is opening in May 2018. 


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READY TO TALK MEMBERSHIP? Contact Philip Brady, Membership Manager • 703.216.2187 • phil@alxcommunity.com alexandrialivingmagazine.com | 2018 Preview Issue 20

Learn, Grow, & Network. TA L X We are dedicated to providing you opportunities to learn & share ideas in short powerful TALX. You can look forward to topics such as: driving sales, marketing, recruiting talent, and more.

E V E N TS There’s no better way to trigger connections than gathering together & striking up a conversation during one of our many networking & social events. Think happy hours, wine tastings, & much more.

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CAREER SWITCH If you had no concerns about making money, what would you do?




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The saying goes, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” These three local entrepreneurs figured out how to leave their unfulfilling day jobs behind and find interesting careers doing something they love. From taking an inspirational vacation to embracing a lifelong passion, these Alexandrians prove it can be possible to make a living and have fun doing it.



Old Town Alexandria resident Kim Gustafson traded the buttoned-up corporate world for life as a chocolate maker and retail store owner, opening Blüprint Chocolatiers at 1001 King St. after finding inspiration on a trip to Europe. Gustafson makes the chocolates onsite in the building’s lower level with high-end European chocolate from France and Belgium. The chocolates are only limited by Gustafson’s imagination and inspiration. In her previous life, Gustafson worked for big food companies Cargill, Wrigley, Dr. Pepper and Snapple in food science, regulatory affairs and research and development. Gustafson’s husband’s telecom career brought them to Washington, D.C. Her Washington consulting job was “uninspiring and unfulfilling,” she said. While she often found the work fun and challenging, she felt it was missing “a little heart.” A trip to Europe got ideas percolating on a big career switch.

Kim Gustafson, owner of Blüprint Chocolatiers in Old Town Alexandria. Photo by Chris Militzer

“We went through a few little chocolate shops in Sweden and Denmark, your head’s in vacation space, and we thought, ‘This would be fun, I wonder what it would take?’” she said. On the flight home, they started talking about what they would need to do to get a chocolate shop off the ground. She put together a 120-page business plan.

tried to stay neutral,” she said, but then they realized that people thought she owned the building and had rented to him. “So then we leaned in and said, ‘No, no, no that’s not who we are,’” she said. She created a special chocolate bar called Inclusion and donates proceeds to the ACLU.

After searching for just the right location for nine months, they found their space at the corner of King and S. Patrick streets in Old Town. They signed the lease in November 2014 and opened their doors in April 2015. Less than a year after opening, Gustafson was hit with an unusual challenge when white supremacist Richard Spencer moved into one of the upstairs apartments. “At first we really

Why the name Blüprint Chocolatiers? “We think of chocolates sort of like an architect thinks of a building and the structure and beauty and design,” Gustafson said. “What I like best is my connection with the public and they’re delighted to have chocolates,” Gustafson said. “People sit down and they have chocolates and they enjoy a moment together and that seems to be missing in the world sometimes. I love that.”

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Photo by Alexandria Living Magazine



It sounds like a Washington Beltway office worker’s fantasy: After slogging to work on the Metro and listening to yet another conference call, you start daydreaming about some amazing alternative career—and then make it real. Todd Ketch did just that. He ditched his 25-year long career working as a lobbyist and running a couple of healthcare associations, and this spring opened an electric bike shop. His new business, Pedego Alexandria, is located at 210 N. Lee St. in a renovated brick building that used to be home to a bakery back in the 1800s.

something that allowed me to pursue that passion of getting people outside and being active. And I was looking at an article in Inc. magazine in February last year and it was about Pedego and their model for their dealerships.” The electric bikes make riding much easier without taking away any of the fun. The battery-powered bikes come in a variety of styles, from mountain bikes with heavy-duty shock absorbers to oversized tricycles with a storage unit in back. There are about 150 stores nationwide. Ketch’s location is the only Pedego store in the Washington metro area; the closest one is in Richmond, he said.

“This is my first time as an entrepreneur,” he said. He’s always had a love for bikes.

Ketch and his wife have three daughters and a son, and the entire family is supportive of his new venture, even pitching in at the store to help get it launched.

“I have this affinity for bicycles and a love of outdoors and was looking for

When deciding where to locate the store, Ketch and the owner of the company


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drove around Northern Virginia to find just the right spot and decided on Old Town Alexandria, Ketch said. “We just both went, ‘This is the place.’ It has everything—it has all the great opportunities to go and see history, it has great bike culture, it’s got bike-friendly pathways and roadways,” he said. “And so, it’s just a super opportunity here, in terms of the people who live here and there’s a need for people to do less with cars in Alexandria—to do more on bikes,” he said. “And there is great tourism here. That’s where the tours and rentals can come in. This location offered every aspect of where we can do well to get these bikes out to people so they can enjoy them.”

CONSIDERING A RADICAL CAREER SHIFT? Check out the additional resources on p. 26 to help you get started.

Photo by Alexandria Living Magazine


How much does Dylan Kough love good barbecue? “It’s an obsession,” he said. That’s why, despite spending years on a lucrative career in accounting and federal consulting in Washington, D.C., Kough made a serious career switch and is finally living his dream. He is now operating two successful food trucks that serve up his own signature barbecue cuisine, and soon will open a restaurant on Duke Street in Alexandria. While most 13-year-old boys he knew were asking for video game consoles or skateboards for their birthdays, Kough says he just wanted to own his own meat smoker—and he got it.

was to import handmade bratwurst from a store in rural Western Michigan and sell it around town. But the costs proved to be too prohibitive for a teenager with no real money to his name and no idea how to run a business.

officially hit the road, serving up lunch

So, Kough decided to do the smart thing and head to college to study accounting.

In the past few years, Kough said, he

With two degrees and a CPA certification to his name, Kough landed a job with KPMG in the District in 2011. “From day one, I knew, ‘OK, I can’t do this forever’,” he said. It was a good job that paid well, but Kough said he soon began to think of his federal consulting job as a means to save up money to start his own business. “I would be at client sites all throughout the day and there would be these cool food trucks everywhere—I just thought it looked like the best job ever,” he said.

for the first time. The first truck did so well, it was only one year before Kough decided to buy a second truck and expand.

was often approached for advice from people who have the same dream he did. So, in addition to running his food business, Kough started a consulting company, working to advise people on the best plan for starting or growing food truck businesses. While looking for a new ‘home base’ for the Smoking Kow BBQ trucks, discovered a kitchen and restaurant space in Alexandria and the idea for a Smoking Kow BBQ restaurant was born. “It’s a second-generation restaurant space, so it already has a lot of the in-

Kough ended up working at KPMG for a little over three years—exactly as long as it took him to save up to invest in his own food truck.

frastructure I need, so I don’t need to do

“I would just make stuff in it, just about every day, right in my parents’ backyard,” he said. Kough’s first attempt at starting his own mobile food business happened in the summer of 2007, in between graduating high school and starting college. His idea

He purchased his first truck in July of 2014. In April of 2015, he officially gave his notice at KPMG, and one week later, the Smoking Kow BBQ food truck

to our trucks in Arlington and D.C. live

as much to fix it up and get it going, and that’s really nice,” he explained. “I’m hoping a lot of the people who go around here and know who we are, so we’ll have a little brand recognition built in,” he said.

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Considering a Radical Shift? Taking the leap from a job you hate to a career you could love can be risky and scary—and one of the best decisions of your life, if you play your cards right.

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO WITH YOUR LIFE? Figuring out what to leap into is the first step, and experts say doing that requires asking yourself a series of questions. Here are some questions to get you started: • What gets you fired up? When you talk with friends or family members, what are you particularly passionate about? • Do you see a problem in everyday life that you could solve with a product or service? • What are your natural talents? • What do you choose to do with your free time? Do you have any hobbies that could turn into an income? There are also some things you can do to prepare yourself and your family financially and emotionally for the Big Switch. After going through your budget (and cutting out every unnecessary subscription), figure out how much income you’ll need and when you’ll need it. For some people, it makes sense to start a second career while holding onto the first job. This means working hard and long hours, but it often provides a financial cushion, a chance to save the extra income for any future lean times, and even give your new career a trial run before committing. Using this time to get any extra training, classes or licenses you need can also be a smart move. If you’re not single, getting your family on board can be another challenge. “It’s important to recognize that support isn’t synonymous with your partner blindly nodding yes to every new idea you come up with,” wrote Kat Boogaard in a Forbes article about switching careers. Having an open and honest conversation about finances, logistics, hopes and fears can help.

LOCAL RESOURCES AVAILABLE Both the City of Alexandria and Fairfax County have resources for those interested in starting a business or changing careers. The Alexandria Small Business Development Center offers counseling in a range of topics from marketing to human resources, business plan development, legal issues and more. The Center also offers classes and workshops for people starting a business or growing a business. Learn more at alexandriasbdc.org. The Fairfax County Economic Development Authority holds a variety of free workshops for those interested in starting and growing a business in Fairfax County. The County’s Small Business Commission also helps small businesses and businesses owned by women and minorities in the county. A variety of counseling, resources and information is also available. Learn more at fairfaxcounty.gov.


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Portrait and Landscape Photography miliman12.com

Here’s a look at what you should be thinking about when considering a private school. BY JENNIFER VAN DER KLEUT

You’ve had a nagging feeling in the back of your mind for some time that your child just isn’t flourishing at your local public school academically, socially, or both. You think, maybe, in a different environment, your child could really excel. Maybe it’s time to start thinking about private school. A few Google searches later, you’re in way over your head. There are countless private schools in the

D.C. metro area (more than 30 private and parochial schools in the Alexandria area alone), of all different varieties—same-sex, co-ed, religious, progressive, STEM-focused—and then there are the schools that cater to the likes of the children of presidents. How are you supposed to pick the best one for your child? Organizations like the Virginia Association for Independent Schools (VAIS) and the Private School Review say there are largely four main criteria that you can use to help evaluate nearby schools, and help you narrow down the list of options: practical needs, specialized needs, location and cost.

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EVALUATING YOUR FAMILY’S NEEDS Practical needs include evaluating how your family will handle the school’s schedule, commute and routine around the needs of any other children you may have, as well as what kind of transportation your child will need and how it gels with the parents’ work schedules. If you and your spouse or co-parent will need before- and after-school care, does this school offer it or partner with any business or organization that does? Are you adverse to a school that requires uniforms, or would you welcome it? What other needs does your family have that the ideal school will need to satisfy or work with? Then there are the specialized needs that you desire for your child. What will the ideal school for your child look like? Is it a school with a robust science or technology curriculum? Is it a school known for its music or performing arts? Is it a religious school? Do you think a samesex campus or co-ed campus would be better for your child? Or is your child a budding sports star who needs a topnotch athletics program? Location and cost are common-sense criteria that most families think of first—how far are you willing to travel every day to get your child to and from school, if they aren’t old enough to travel on their own? And, how much can your family realistically afford to pay per year to send your child to the right school?

HOW TO CHOOSE THE ‘BEST’ SCHOOL It’s no wonder that entire businesses have cropped up in our area over recent years that do nothing but help families find and choose the best schools for their children. One such business is the Alexandriabased firm Independent School Options (ISO), founded by Leigh Cahill. ISO employs a number of educational consultants who meet with families and learn more about their desires and needs, and help match them with the best schools in the area that fit the


student, public or private. Families can pay for as much hands-on consulting as they desire, even having their consultant walk them through the entire application/admissions process from beginning to end if they choose. Sometimes, Cahill explained, that service starts with teaching a family the difference between the “best school,” and the “best school for their child.” For example—yes, Barron Trump attends The Potomac School in Maryland, and the Obama daughters attended (Sasha is still a student there) Sidwell Friends in D.C., so those schools are obviously very prestigious (and pricey)—but that doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for every child. “The last thing you want is to place your child in an environment where the academics are too tough, and the pressure is too severe,” Cahill said. “It’s best to find out where your child’s true talents and passions lie, and find the best school to fit that niche.” The Virginia Association of Independent Schools (VAIS), which provides an accreditation program for independent schools in the Commonwealth, agrees. “No two children are the same. Finding the right fit for your child means aligning the school’s mission and values with your own, as well as taking into account

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the temperament, interests, intellectual ambition and personality of your child as they relate to the school you’re considering,” according to the association. That is why Cahill and the other consultants at ISO say they like to meet with families and really get to know the child’s personality first—their interests, passions and strengths—to help them find the school or schools that will be the best “fit.” “We want to know who their kid is, how they’re doing in school where they are currently, and what are their child’s interests,” she said. “Then, we learn what their idea of the best school looks like. For example, do they want religious, progressive, traditional, and so forth. We also like to talk with the child and find out what they like and don’t like about their current school, or past schools they’ve attended.” Cahill says ISO also specializes in special needs resources, such as for families with children in crisis, who need therapeutic placement, have autism or other learning disabilities, or who need individualized education plans (IEPs), and even kids in “school refusal mode.” Cahill and her team can often match families with public schools in the area that have the best special education professionals and resources, or can even recommend independent schools that

specialize in educating children with exceptional needs. Next, Cahill and her team help families figure out the nitty-gritty details—those practical needs mentioned earlier—such as how much the family can afford in tuition and the maximum distance they’re willing and able to travel to get the child to school every day. All of those discussions hopefully result in a list of potential schools that Cahill and her team recommend to the family.

WEIGHING ADMISSIONS AND AFFORDABILITY Much like choosing a college, Cahill says it’s good to have at least a handful of schools the family is willing to consider rather than getting their heart set on one, since private school admission in the D.C. area can be rigorous and competitive. “We want that list to not only include schools that we think will be a good fit for the child, but also include schools we think they have a good chance of getting into, as well as a few ‘safety schools,’ much like with college,” she said. Of course, affordability is often a factor as well. When it comes to schools in the D.C. metro area, there are what Cahill likes to call a few “price tiers” or “subsets” in terms of tuition costs.

Five Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a School for Your Child There are many aspects of a school families should consider, when trying to determine which may be the best fits for your individual child. Here are five questions to ask yourself, that may help you create a “short list” of schools to apply to, or consider further. WHAT TYPE OF STUDENT IS YOUR CHILD? Does your child have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and welcomes the pressure and challenge of assginments & tests? If so, your child may thrive in an advanced academic environment. On the contrary, if your child is bright, but not necessarily fascinated by facts and figures, a more hands-on, progressive school may be best.

WHAT ARE YOUR CHILD’S MAIN INTERESTS AND STRENGTHS? Is your child a clear tech whiz or science enthusiast? Or, is your child more into the performing arts, liberal or literary arts, or music? If so, a school with a special focus may be best. Browse through school options to find one that really speaks to your individual child’s passions and personality.

IS A RELIGIOUS SCHOOL IMPORTANT TO YOUR FAMILY? BOARDING OR DAY SCHOOL? SINGLE-SEX OR CO-ED? There are a wealth of options open to D.C.-area families. Once you have esablished the type of academic environment best suited to your child, there are additional factors to consider, such as whether an allboys or all-girls school may benefit your child, and whether boarding or lodging may help your family. There are also a number of religious schools in the D.C. area that serve all grades, from pre-school up to high school.


Cahill said parochial and archdiocese schools are often “in the teens” per year, but other independent religious schools can sometimes range from the high teens up to the low $20,000s annually.

We wish it wasn’t, but distance is an important factor when choosing a school for your child. If you live in Alexandria and you’re considering a school in Maryland, that could be a prohibitively tough commute for your family; be sure to come up with a potential plan for commuting around job schedules and the needs of any other children before deciding to apply.

Small, exclusive schools like Merritt Academy, Pinecrest, The Sycamore School and others are often around the high teens to low twenty-thousands per year.


In the City of Alexandria and surrounding areas you’ll find tuition between $6,200 and $11,000 at Immanuel Lutheran School; $20,000 at Grace Episcopal for grades K through 5; $27,500 to $29,800 for Alexandria Country Day School; $28,000 to $32,000 at Burgundy Farm Country Day School; and around $30,000 at Browne Academy. At St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes,

Another make-it-or-break-it factor that all families must consider ahead of time is how much tuition the family can reasonably afford. As we mention in our article, tuition can be a base cost of $10,000+ annually for private school in the D.C. metro area. Many schools also require fundraising from every student’s family, as well as lunch costs, commuting costs and supply costs for uniforms, sports equipment, books and more. Be sure you have the full picture of a school’s total costs firmly in hand before applying (and remember there may be an application cost too, which is often not refunded if your child isn’t accepted). Be sure to ask about financial aid.

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Alexandria Private Schools Alexandria Country Day School

Commonwealth Academy

Grades K through 8th grade

Grades 3 through 12

2400 Russell Road

1321 Leslie Avenue

Aquinas Montessori School

Engleside Christian School

Ages 6 through 12

Age 3 through 6th grade

Bishop Ireton High School

Episcopal High School

8334 Mount Vernon Highway

201 Cambridge Road

8428 Highland Lane

1200 N. Quaker Lane Grades 9 through 12

Grades 9 through 12

tuition rises into the $30,000s, Fusion Academy is in the low $40,000s with less expensive options for part-time or single classes, and Episcopal High School’s tuition and fees add up to more than $50,000 per year. There are dozens of others, as well. All offer tuition reimbursement, financial aid and payment plans, and many offer scholarships. Most of the schools offer some sort of financial aid packages and tuition payment plans. Cahill said, every family’s needs are different, and therefore families tend to come to her for all sorts of assistance. “Some have already done their own research and really just want a sounding board to help them solidify their decision in terms of the impression they got from a certain school,” she said. “Others truly come to us from square one, knowing nothing. It can be overwhelming, truly, looking at all the different options out there.” Sometimes, parents even call from locations all over the country or the world, once they find out they’re moving into the D.C. metro area. Cahill said, if having the best school for their child is really their top priority, some parents will want to choose the school first, and then decide where to live based on that. “Overall, for the most part, most parents just truly want to find the best school that fits their child, and their family. And we are delighted to help them do that.”


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Blessed Sacrament School & Early Childhood Center 1417 Braddock Road

Pre-K through 8th grade

Blue Bird of Alexandria 346 Commerce Street

Preschool and Kindergarten

Brentwood Academy 3725 Nalls Road

6414 Landsdowne Center Preschool and Full-day Kindergarten

Old Town Montessori School 112 S. Columbus Street

Preschool and Kindergarten

Potomac Crescent Waldorf School 3846 King Street

Fusion Academy

Through grade 5

One-to-one learning for grades 6 through 12

Queen of Apostles Catholic School

333 John Carlyle Street

4401 Sano Street

Grace Episcopal School 3601 Russell Road

Kindergarten through 8th grade

Pre-K through 5th grade

(The) Howard Gardner School 4913 Franconia Road

St. Louis Catholic School 2901 Popkins Lane

Pre-K through 8th grade

Grades 6 through 12

Through 2nd grade

Browne Academy

Immanuel Lutheran School

Pre-K through 8th grade

Pre-K through 8th grade

Alexandria, Virginia

Northern Virginia Academy of Early Learning (Lansdowne)

1801 Russell Road

St. Mary’s Catholic School 400 Green Street

Pre-K through 8th grade

St. Rita School Burgundy Farm Country Day School 3700 Burgundy Road

Pre-K through 8th grade

Cavalry Road Christian School 6811 Beulah Street

Pre-K through 6th grade

Chesterbrook Academy

6200 Interparcel Road Pre-K and Kindergarten students

Christian Center School

5411 Franconia Road Pre-K through 8th grade.

Little Acorn Patch

5801 Castlewellan Drive Pre-K and Kindergarten

Little People’s Place 2720 Arlington Drive

Serves students up through grade 5

Metropolitan School of the Arts (The Academy) 5775 Barclay Drive

College preparatory performing arts conservatory for grades 7 through 12

Montessori School of Alexandria 6300 Florence Lane (703) 960-3498

Serves students up through age 12

3801 Russell Road

Pre-K through 8th grade

St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School (Lower School) 400 Fontaine Street

Pre-K through 5th grade

St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School (Middle School) 4401 West Braddock

6th through 8th grade

St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School (Upper School)

1000 St. Stephen’s Road 9th through 12th grade


Plogging Along the Potomac Emily Wright and other residents are helping clean the Potomac River shoreline and tributaries by combining litter removal with exercise. BY BETH LAWTON

Alexandria resident Emily Wright walked down to the shoreline of the Potomac River in North Old Town, wearing compostable gloves and carrying a degradable garbage bag. She picked up cigarette butts, bits of Styrofoam, a car oil bottle (empty), bottle caps, bits of plastic and fast food wrappers. Lunging, bending and holding yoga-like poses, plogging turns out be a pretty good workout. The term plogging comes from the phrase “plocka upp,” which means “pick up” in Swedish, and jogging—thus, plogging. For an increasing number of people here in Alexandria, plogging is a creative, civic-minded way to get exercise. Wright said she has seen joggers run intervals between picking up litter and depositing it in a nearby trash can. She has also seen women walking in groups carrying long-handled trash grabbers. (Wright strongly recommends compostable gloves or gardening gloves, and recycles as much of the litter as she can.) For Wright, plogging is much more about picking up trash that can harm animals and the environment than it is about getting a workout. The health benefits of getting her heart rate up are just a bonus. While getting her graduate degree, Wright started cleaning up the closest inlet to her home in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. From there, Wright started learning about (and loving) the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. The Potomac River’s water quality has improved in the past several years, moving from a grade of D in 2011 to a B- in the most recent (2016) State of the Nation’s River Report from the Potomac Conservancy. The top three pollutants in the Potomac, according to the Potomac Conservancy, are nitrogen, phosphorus and sediment—all are on the decline. But urban water runoff is getting worse, and Alexandria has plenty of that. “When rainwater washes over paved surfaces and rooftops, it carries harmful toxins, chemicals and debris into local streams. This is called polluted urban runoff. At high volumes, runoff can

Alexandria resident Emily Wright picks up trash along the Potomac River and carries it to recycling and trash bins.

also erode stream banks and dump harmful levels of sediment into our waterways,” according to the Potomac Conservancy. In addition, all those pieces of plastic that end up in the river leach out toxins and chemicals—there isn’t enough research yet to determine how living in such pollution is affecting fish, turtles, snakes and ducks. When Wright moved to Alexandria last year, she continued picking up waste along the Potomac River. She’ll go out to pick up for at least an hour a day every other day. Wright, who is a cellist and a writer, has a flexible schedule allowing her to plog. For people with more routine, 9-to-5 jobs, she recommends doing it while out for a morning or evening run. “There’s a meditative quality to it,” she said. “It’s like a compulsion for me. I can’t stop if I see it. It can be really gross, but you have to ask: what’s worse? Dealing with someone else’s trash for a moment or letting it enter the watershed forever?” 2018 Preview Issue | alexandrialivingmagazine.com



Q&A What do you like most about living in Alexandria? Alexandria is a real place where cultivating community is a consistent, personal value to its residents. We know each other and genuinely care about one another.

What do you value most in your friends? Humor, brilliance and trust.

It’s a friend’s first time in Alexandria, where do you take them? The Torpedo Factory, Columbia Firehouse and Captain Gregory’s.

What’s your favorite getaway spot? Carlsbad, California and Lewes, Delaware.

What is your greatest fear? Heights.

Julie Jakopic Speaker, Coach, Facilitator, Strategist

Alexandria resident Julie Jakopic has been helping leaders succeed since, as she puts it, she tutored her friends in math in third grade. Today, she is a top organizational and leadership development consultant and coach. Author of Planning for Results, a nationally recognized strategic planning tool, and creator of the Don’t Await It, Create It framework and event, Julie gets rave reviews as a speaker, coach, facilitator and strategist known for her pragmatic and optimistic approach. Before launching iLead Strategies, Julie built and led successful teams in her work as vice president and human services practice leader at the Development Services Group and in executive positions at ICF International, The Finance Project and the National Association for State Community Services Programs. She is also chair of Virginia’s List, a political action committee that raises money for female Democratic candidates for Virginia’s General Assembly. Julie was awarded the Ann Kagie National Community Services Award by the National Association for State Community Services Programs and the Legislative & Public Policy Award by the Alexandria Commission for Women. She holds an MA in Sociology and a BA in Communications from the University of Maryland.


alexandrialivingmagazine.com | 2018 Preview Issue

What do Alexandria people do best? Contribute.

Every morning I read... Axios AM - Mike Allen’s Top 10.

What is your motto? “Don’t Await It, Create It.”

This issue’s theme is following your passion into a new career. What’s a passion or hobby that you would want to turn into a career? I changed my career when I left a corner office and founded iLead Strategies nearly 10 years ago. I was a senior executive who longed for direct impact, missed speaking and training and knew that there were better ways to lead than command and control. Now I work with leaders and their teams to ignite change, accelerate success and create workplaces where people want to work.

In 2018 my goals are to: Raise $100,000 for Virginia’s List where I serve as chair, launch iLead Strategies Tackling Turbulence initiative and spend more time at the beach.


Alexandria Living Magazine is looking for a positive, smart, entrepreneurial ad sales associate to work with the company’s strategic marketing director. THE APPLICANT FOR THIS POSITION SHOULD HAVE: • Advertising multi-media sales or comparable experience • A warm, positive, welcoming personality that encourages relationship-building • Professional, creative, problem-solving attitude and strong presentation skills • Exceptional written/verbal communication skills

• Proven track record of closing new business and maintaining current business • Team-oriented, extremely motivated and able to work independently • Entrepreneurial spirit • BS/BA degree or equivalent preferred

Interested in applying? Please send your resume to ads@alexandrialivingmagazine.com. Alexandria Living, LLC is an equal opportunity employer.

Thank You! Alexandria Living Magazine’s launch party would not have been possible without support from the following businesses, organizations and individuals: Photo by David Coleman

HOST Alexandria Restaurant Partners and Virtue Feed & Grain

GOLD SPONSORS Lindsey Schmidt, Fathom Realty Guaranteed Rate Mortgage

ADDITIONAL SPONSORS AND SUPPORTERS: A Brand Made • Access National Bank • Alphagraphics • Dawn Wilson,

TTR Sotheby’s International Realty • DC Rentals • Lansdowne Resort • Tamburro Interiors • Velvet Moss Floral Design SPECIAL THANKS GO TO: ALX Community • Alexandria Chamber of Commerce • Passworks • Visit Alexandria

Now serving Alexandria Low rates. Fast tech. A smarter home financing choice. At Guaranteed Rate, we’re changing the homebuying process by offering low, low rates and a smarter way to shop for your mortgage. We’re excited to serve your local community by offering: • Freedom— Our intuitive Loan Finder App lets you search and sort financing options. • Simplicity— We created the Digital Mortgage to cut all the paperwork and stress. • Speed— Our cutting-edge platform could get you pre-approved in under 24 hours. Welcome to the next evolution in mortgages. Welcome to Guaranteed Rate.

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Jeff Cramer

Kyle Geoffrion

Allison Cramer

Mark A. Ragland

Nancy Donovan

Branch Manager/VP of Mortgage Lending O: (703) 659-1903 C: (202) 360-8773 Rate.com/ChristianHartung christian.hartung@rate.com NMLS ID: 483527

VP of Mortgage Lending O: (443) 569-0390 C: (410) 599-0145 Rate.com/AllisonCramer allison.cramer@rate.com NMLS ID: 532647

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VP of Mortgage Lending O: (443) 569-0367 C: (443) 840-0390 Rate.com/JeffCramer jeff.cramer@rate.com NMLS ID: 532684

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VP of Mortgage Lending O: (571) 291-4631 C: (571) 208-7779 Rate.com/KyleGeoffrion kyle.geoffrion@rate.com NMLS ID: 808832

VP of Mortgage Lending O: (571) 291-4632 C: (703) 408-8252 Rate.com/NancyDonovan donovan@rate.com NMLS: 483536

NMLS ID #2611 (Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org) DC - Lic #MLB2611 • MD - Lic #13181 • VA - Guaranteed Rate, Inc. - Licensed by Virginia State Corporation Commission, License # MC-3769 • Address: 1775 Tysons Blvd, Office 5152 Tyson, VA 22102