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Katherine Fischer and her husband, Neil, have owned and operated Fischer’s Jewelry, at 225 E. Main St., Santa Maria for 40 years. Len Wood Staff

A salute to women who make a difference in our community and the businesses that support them


MARCH 31, 2019

»»Women In Business

Learning from the ground up, State Farm agent


‘The thing that I’m most proud of is developing and having my own team of young people.’ Jennifer Best CO N TRI B U T I NG WRI T E R‌

2  |  March 31, 2019 | Santa Maria Times

D ‌

onna Randolph prides herself on serving as a mentor to a new generation of business people. It’s a value instilled in her from her earliest years as an alumna of the Regional Occupational Program (ROP). “The thing that I’m most proud of is developing and having my own team of young people. It gives me such pride to see them develop, to be a part of their journey,” said the owner of Donna Randolph State Farm Insurance. Randolph was raised in Santa Maria in no small part by her grandfather. “When he died, Mr. Ruben Salazar, the business teacher at the high school, knew I’d be going home alone after school because my mom worked. He knew ROP would be good for me, pull me out of my shell. It would teach me job skills and give me somewhere to be after school rather than home alone,” Randolph said. Salazar sent her to an insurance agency owned by Muril Clift to interview. Her heart raced as she walked through the front door. “I was scared out of my mind. Here was this big, tall man with his cigarette and coffee waving me back to his office, but we sat and talked for probably two hours. I’d never had an in-depth conversation with a business owner ever,” Randolph said. These were the days before the internet when paperwork was maintained in a wall of file cabinets. Paperclips needed to be pulled. Mail needed to be metered. There was copying and collating to be done. “Everything he asked me to do, I’d try to go above and beyond because I began thinking this was someone I wanted to make proud of what I do. I wanted to be an overachiever and show him that I deserved to be there,” Randolph said. At the end of her eight-week ROP assignment, Clift offered her a job, and

Len Wood, Staff‌

Donna Randolph, owner of a State Farm agency in Santa Maria, started working for an insurance agent through ROP when she was 16. Three decades on, she remains in the insurance industry where she owns her own agency.

when she graduated high school, he promoted her to office manager. “Muril taught me all kinds of things: how to balance a checkbook, how to save money, how to live beneath your means, how to pick a boyfriend. I asked him once what he got out of it. He said it gave him more reward than I could know to play that part in a young person’s life. I didn’t get that, I didn’t understand it fully until now as an agent, an owner, and managing my own team and becoming a mentor,” Randolph said. The opportunities Clift provided did, in fact, help Randolph pop out of her shell. She claims she was an introvert, but you’d never know it these days.

Joyful and energetic, she quickly turns a conversation away from herself, showing genuine interest in the happenings of other people’s lives, their families, their stories. “He taught me as much about life, living, being a good person as he taught me about working in an office, about insurance, about working with customers,” Randolph said. Clift won a petition with State Farm to allow Randolph and other Californians to test for their licenses according to California’s 18-year-old minimum age limit, rather than State Farm’s national limit of 21. “He was so passionate that he spoke

up on my behalf. He worked his way up the ladder until State Farm changed its policy to match state law,” Randolph said. She worked for Clift for 20 years, shackled by a lack of college education then required for insurance agents. “I used to feel like I’d be forever cloaked unless I got back to college, but then I had this more-than-full-time job, we were having kids,” Randolph said. When Clift retired, she worked for State Farm’s corporate office, providing training to team members, helping them develop plans for their own offices in a region that spanned from Paso Robles to Carpinteria.

Then the rules changed. Her decades of experience in the insurance industry, from filing clerk to the corporate office, paid off. She opened her agency in 2007. In 2016, Donna Randolph State Farm Insurance became one of only a handful of agencies nationwide licensed by State Farm to operate multiple locations. “Working at the corporate level gave me the 30,000-foot view and insights I wouldn’t have been able to see as an agent,” Randolph said. Through it all, she has been active in the community at large. She has served as chairman of the board for Santa Maria Valley Chamber of Commerce, president of Santa Maria Women’s Network, active participant in Relay for Life and Santa Maria Valley YMCA, fundraiser for Knights of Columbus and St. Louis de Montfort School, and supporter of Allan Hancock College and Future Business Leaders of America. Today, she works with Santa Barbara County’s Workforce Resource Center to provide young people the opportunity to explore a career in the insurance industry. “It’s just as important to find out what you don’t want to do as to find out what your dreams are and what you want to do. The youth program pays

Len Wood, Staff‌

Donna Randolph, right, works with Betty Hernandez, a young representative in her State Farm insurance agency in Santa Maria. Randolph started working for an insurance agent through ROP when she was 16 and now mentors young people, including interns and employees through various programs like Santa Barbara County’s Workforce Resource Center.

youth to get work experience, build a resume and job skills, then go out to the workforce and be amazing people,” Randolph said. She’s taken a dozen or so through that program, two of whom she hired

and remain with her today: Betty Hernandez and Francisco Santos. “They did everything to go above and beyond, to show their worth and that they could do the work and make the most out of everything they do.

I’m proud that they’ve chosen to stay here with me several years now, and I’m proud to be able to continue to pay it forward with youth,” Randolph said. But it’s not about finding her own workforce. “It’s about taking these youth, giving them job skills, and, whether they stay here or go somewhere else, helping them reach for their dreams,” Randolph said. For Randolph, entering the insurance office at age 16, advancing as her workplace skills progressed and ultimately opening her own agency did bring her out of her shell. She has cast aside the cloak she allowed herself to bear as she recognized the life training, the job place training, the lessons of industry work provided got her every bit as far as a degree might have. “I always felt like I had this invisible ‘X’ on my shoulder that says ‘no degree.’ No one else made me feel that. It was me. I’ve had to overcome that with positive self talk. We can sure be negative and hard on ourselves. I had to learn to turn that around to make that I’m not less because I don’t have a degree on the wall. I surround myself with people who will lift me up and lift up this agency. Now, here I am. I own my own agency. It’s a dream come true,” she said.

Santa Maria Times |  Sunday, March 31, 2019 | 3

»»Women In Business

CALL KRISTA: Real Estate isn’t what it used to be!

Krista Murchison CONTRIBUTED‌


4  |  March 31, 2019 | Santa Maria Times

Krista Murchison owns and operates OiC Real Estate Services, locally known as “Call Krista.”

iC Real Estate Services is a real estate brokerage company serving northern Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties as far north as San Luis Obispo. OiC opened its first office location in 2016 and is owned and operated by Krista Murchison, locally known as “Call Krista”. Real estate is a constantly changing profession. Over the course of the three decades of my career, there have been multiple swings the real estate industry. It is vital to know how to shift and adapt so we can serve the people who put their trust in us with one of their biggest life choices whether they are buying or selling a home. We do not have a crystal ball, but

I believe that paying close attention to trends, data, and keeping people accurately informed is important, and keeping up with the current trends in marketing is essential. How real estate was sold in 1989 is dramatically different than today. Now people are buying homes without ever setting foot in them! Knowing how to navigate and offer information in a way that reaches people and engages them to keep their attention is vital. People want information to be visual, quick, and inviting! Being licensed as a REALTOR® in 1989, and seeing all the changes in how real estate business is conducted and all of the economic shifts that have happened since, has been like a roller coaster. In 1989, we were using books to sell homes. The internet was not even part of how real estate was presented. Now, 30 years later, because of the rapid

changes in the real estate industry, we are implementing multiple programs to be certain our clients get more than what the standard REALTORS® and real estate offices offer. OiC Real Estate Services’ office was opened so we can propose multiple unique programs that are benefiting our clients tremendously and we can render services others cannot.

Some of our more popular programs are:

Dream Home Finder Program: The Dream Home Finder Program will search for a home that is not on the market currently. Using our own funds we can locate homes that our clients can purchase before they go on the open market. This has helped our clients find the home of their dreams in a competitive market, especially if they want to have a home under contract before they put their current home up for sale. Secret List of Homes: The Secret List of Homes is an ongoing list of homes we have that’s updated constantly to include homes that are not on the market, however the sellers would consider selling if the right opportunity or offer was presented. This program helps both our buyers and sellers achieve wonderful results. Real Estate Retirement Programs:

The Real Estate Retirement Program offers two main components. The first is using cash that is in underperforming investments to purchase “Pretty Homes” which are managed by state licensed professionals at a savings because of a unique agreement we have with the owners. The second is using the client’s 401K retirement programs to invest in real estate. Each retirement product is personalized to fit the needs of the client. American Assets Holding Program: American Assets Holding Program offers advanced repairs to clients who find themselves in a situation where they have equity in their home; however, they do not have the cash resources to improve the home to get a higher and better sale. This program is flexible. It has helped people overcome challenges they face in the transition of going from their current home to where they are established into a new home. Best Bidder Home Sale Program:

The Best Bidder Home Sale Program is a weekend event where through multiple marketing media strategies we get over 100 people through a home in a mega open house event. We offer this on a limited basis and can only do 10 a year; however, they have been truly amazing in getting properties great exposure! Central Coast Investment Network Program: The Central Coast Investment Network Program is accessible to people who would like to have their home offered to our National Investors for Cash purchases at appraised value. These are only a few of the unique

ways we are assisting our clients. In addition, we are a huge advocate of educating and empowering people. We want to stay in touch and have worked hard to create ways to engage with you. Real Estate is changing rapidly! We have developed many ways to meet current needs for communication and are adapting to meet people’s needs as communication styles change. We provide a monthly printed newsletter to over 1,400 people, and this is growing daily! Weekly, we do a blog post on our Facebook, LinkedIn, and our website. Every weekday, we offer an informative post on our YouTube Channel and Instagram with a quick 3 minute or less video about real estate, lending and tax questions that come up from our clients! We invite you to subscribe at no cost or obligation. Check us out, we promise you will not be disappointed. We never run out of Information to share. I always tell people If you need a resource, just “Call Krista!” If I do not have the information or contact you need, I KNOW how to get it for you!” At OiC Real Estate Services, we are here to help you “C your dreams come true”. Have a blessed day! Krista! “Call Krista” (Krista Murchison) can be reached at (805) 620-7355 or

Fighting Neurological Conditions One Punch at a Time!

What is class like?

Neuroboxing Santa Maria 116 S. Palisade Suite 304 Santa Maria, CA 93454

April Sargeant 805-698-1983

Santa Maria Times |  Sunday, March 31, 2019 | 5

Neuroboxing Santa Maria enables people with certain Neurological Conditions, like Parkinson’s Disease, to fight back by providing a non-contact boxing style fitness program designed to combat the symptom many people experience with these conditions and to improve their quality of life. Neuroboxing provides a fun, encouraging environment through a “tough-love” approach, to help with muscle rigidity, voice, balance and coordination. Boxing works by moving your body in all planes of motion. Neuroboxing classes are offered at any and all levels!

»»Women in Business


Fischer’s Fine Jewelry

‘We do have a very personal business. A lot of our customers have become friends.’ Jennifer Best CONTRIBUTING WRITER‌

6  |  March 31, 2019 | Santa Maria Times


atherine Fischer may be the face of Fischer’s Fine Jewelry, but its soul grew from a partnership with her husband and fellow jeweler, Neil Fischer. “Initially, it was very much 50/50. We both worked at the bench and we both did the administrative things, but as it’s grown over the years, it required someone be more the front person,” Katherine said. Neil, who studied metallurgic engineering at Cal Poly, was the natural choice for the back of the shop. Katherine, who enjoys building relationships with customers over years, even decades, was a natural for the front. This year, Fischer’s Fine Jewelry celebrates 40 years in business, 20 at their 225 E. Main Street location. “I have been very fortunate. I do love what I do. I still find the jewelry business exciting today just like I did 40 years ago, and I think I’ve been very fortunate to do it in Santa Maria which is a lovely place to grow up and a lovely place to live,” Katherine said. Katherine was in 8th grade when her family moved to the Central Coast. Though they called Nipomo their home, she attended St. Joseph High School. “I always thought I’d go to college. It didn’t work out that way. I’ve always been interested in making things. I needed a job. I had an opportunity to start making jewelry and had an aptitude for it and I enjoyed it,” she recalled. It didn’t take long for Katherine to spot a void in Santa Maria Valley’s jewelry trade: repair. “It was work we did with our own two hands. There was no big investment in equipment or jewelry — this is unusual in our industry,” Katherine said. It was also unusual for a partnership of two first-generation jewelers to build a successful jewelry business. But their repair business soon began to incorporate retail, including their own creations as well as the work of other creators. “Jewelry is another form of art. It’s a form people wear on their person. It’s

Len Wood, Staff‌

Katherine Fischer and her husband, Neil, have owned and operated Fischer’s Jewelry, at 225 E. Main St., Santa Maria for 40 years.

different from a painting on the wall or a sculpture in the living room. It’s also very symbolic of life’s milestones: weddings, sweet 16s, the birth of a child, all sorts of wonderful things that happen in people’s lives,” Katherine said. As customers returned to celebrate these milestones, friendships were born. “We do have a very personal business. A lot of our customers have become friends. We’re not currently online because it would take more employees, you lose control of a lot of things, and you lose that personal touch,” Katherine said. Those relationships led to community involvement well beyond the workplace. She said she’s contributed in small ways to various nonprofits like Natural History Museum of Santa Maria. (http:// But she also has been a long-time member of Santa Maria Valley Evening Kiwanis Club ( for which she has served as secretary,

president and board member, has served on the SMOOTH ( Board of Directors since 1997, and has been very active in the Women’s Fund of Northern Santa Barbara County ( “In the case of all three of these that I’m most involved in, I was invited by someone who was a member. They were all people who I thought very well of. I felt flattered to be asked, and it said something positive about the organization that this person was a part of it,” Katherine said. Were she able to address her younger self, or other young women facing the beginning of their own careers, Katherine said she would have sent herself off to college. “Though I don’t have the benefit of a college education, it would have benefited my business. Jewelry-wise, we had the aptitude and cared enough to see it grow, but as a business, we could have

done so much better if I had some business education,” Katherine said. But she is also a realist. “I think people with that personality who really want to go into business aren’t going to do that. They’re going to find their own way. To them, I would advise: work for someone else for a little while, get a little more realistic taste of things, get some business experience as a worker before you start reinventing the wheel. Learn from other people’s mistakes. Everyone makes them; you’re going to make them, too. But you can save a lot of time, effort and heartache if you learn from others’,” Katherine said. Four decades on, Katherine can’t quite imagine retirement. “I can’t imagine not working, but I can see things changing. Owning a retail business, you’re very tied to it. It’s hard to be away for stretches at a time. I can’t see having two days off in a row,” she said.



illary Clinton, Angela Merkel, Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher. Even if you don’t agree with their politics, there’s no denying 
these women worked their way into positions of great leadership. While women in business may struggle to notch up the same high-profile success, there are many qualities women bring to work that are can create big-time value for their employers. Bob Zenger of leadership consulting firm Zenger Folkman wrote for Business Insider that his firm’s research leaves little question as to how women perform at the upper echelons of corporate America, demonstrating themselves to be incrementally more effective in middle management, senior management and executive management. “To the degree that senior executives and boards of directors are putting men into senior positions, fearing that women will not perform well at higher levels, we hope that this information adds to the assurance that they need not worry about that.”

Empathy Matters

When Fortune magazine compiled a list of the World’s Greatest Leaders in

authentic emotional response to other people’s feelings can go a long way in a collaborative environment, giving women an advantage over their male coworkers, he said.

Self Improvement

2015, it was emphatic about the fact that the 15 women on its roster were experts in a singular type of management. “It’s a model in which leaders must influence a wide range of groups over which they have no direct authority, while those groups typically command much power of their own through their access to information and their ability to communicate with practically anyone,” wrote Geoff Colvin for Fortune. “Am I really saying that women on average are just

The Teal Journey


better at this kind of leadership? Yes, that’s what I’m saying.” Those 15 women “exemplify a new model of leadership,” said Colvin, and at the root of this skill is a trait that science has attributed more to women than men: empathy. “Even at early ages, the way girls talk is much more cooperative and collaborative than the way boys talk; girls show more concern for fairness than boys do,” wrote Colvin. It’s not hard to see how having an

Writing for Business Insider, Zenger said his company’s research has found that women in business show a remarkable ability to improve themselves as leaders. He calls it “practicing self development.” “This competency measures the extent to which people ask for feedback and make changes based on that feedback,” wrote Zenger. Over time, men tend to ask for less feedback about their performance, while women continue to evaluate their own performance.

Other Competencies

In fact, women outscored men in most of the areas evaluated by Zenger Folkman, including taking initiative, building relationships, collaboration and teamwork, displaying integrity and honesty. Researchers also shook up some stereotypes, deeming women more effective in areas traditionally dominated by men: sales, technology, legal, engineering and research and development.

The Teal Journey Ovarian Cancer Foundation’s mission is to promote awareness, to aid in early detection, and educate women and men in our local communities on the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer

Did You Know:

Ovarian Cancer Warning Signs:

The Teal Journey Ovarian Cancer Foundation P.O. Box 1759, Santa Maria, CA 93456 email: visit us on Facebook


The Teal Journey Ovarian Cancer Foundation is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization. Tax ID# 81-2843035

Serving California’s Central Coast Awareness Information Workshops. Information booths Collaboration with Mission Hope Cancer Center.

Contact Us email: Cristina Martins Sinco - 805-598-3325 Visit us on Facebook

Santa Maria Times |  Sunday, March 31, 2019 | 7

• Bloating • Pelvic or abdominal pain • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly • Urinary symptoms, such as urgency or frequency

An Estimated 1 woman out of 75 will develop ovarian cancer The pap test does not detect ovarian cancer. Having a complete hysterectomy and removing ovaries DOES NOT prevent you from developing ovarian cancer. When diagnosed and treated in the earliest stages, 5-year survival rate is over 90%. Ovarian cancer is known as the “silent killer” because of lack of significant symptoms.




| March 31, 2019 | Santa Maria Times


elcoming women into the boardroom is not just a trend or a flavor of the week. It’s an emerging best business practice that can translate into corporate success. ‘Massive business opportunity’ The Harvard Business Review pointed out in 2014 that women were leading Germany, the IMF and the Federal Reserve — and held up gender diversity in the boardroom as a “massive business opportunity.” Meanwhile, Business Insider notes that only 3 to 4 percent of CEOs around the world are women, and in 2012, the nonprofit Catalyst found that women held just 16.6 percent of board seats in Fortune 500 companies. “The shift is away from wondering what is wrong with women who don’t make it to the top, and towards analyzing what is right with companies and leaders that do build gender balanced leadership teams — and tap into the resulting competitive edge,” according to the Harvard Business Review. “In the US, women under 30 out-earn their male peers and 40 percent of American households have women as the main breadwinner. … Companies with more gender-balanced leadership teams out-perform those with less. While the skeptics will spend another decade resisting this fact with demands to

prove causality, the best leaders prefer leading the charge to following it.” A 2009 Catalyst study concluded that Fortune 500 companies with higher numbers of women board members reported a 42 percent greater return on sales and a 53 percent higher return on equity. And the benefits aren’t limited to a business’ bottom line. “Companies with both women and men in the boardroom are better equipped to oversee corporate actions and ensure corporate citizenship standards are not only met, but exceeded — building stronger, more sustainable companies,” according to Catalyst. “A company that holds its supply chain accountable, values customer loyalty and improves both the community and environment creates a positive cycle of influence.”

Overcoming obstacles

The challenges are undeniable. Decision-makers must be trained on the differences between men and women, such as the varying ways in which they communicate and move through their careers, and entrenchment against gender quotas can be shared by workers of both genders. But the potential rewards are too big to ignore. Says Catalyst: “This approach not only makes the world a better place but also increases the likelihood of sustainable big wins for the company and its stakeholders.”

ore than 9 million women own businesses in the U.S., employing nearly 8 million people and generating $1.3 trillion a year in sales, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners. The NAWBO also provides the following eye-opening statistics about women-owned businesses:  One in five firms with revenue of $1 million or more is woman-owned.  4.2% of all women-owned firms have revenues of 1 million or more.  2.9 million firms are majorityowned by women of color in the U.S. All those impressive numbers mean that if you’re a woman interested in starting your own business, you’re in good, experienced, powerful company.

Get support

According to the 2013 WomenOwned Business Report, published by American Express OPEN, the number of women-owned businesses jumped 59 percent between 1997 and 2013. This trend means there are plenty of women out there to support women in their journey of starting a business. The U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Women’s Business Ownership provides training and counseling to help women realize their dream of business ownership through education. The SBA also offers a network of 100 educational centers that help women start and grow their businesses. Find one near you at

In 2014, Goldman-Sachs 10,000 Women pledged $600,000 to launch The Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility. Visit the website of the Minority Business Development Agency, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, at http://www. to learn more about available grants. At z5l9gfy, you can find links to state agencies that help women start businesses. With a wealth of resources for information, funding, education and support, there’s no need for any woman to go it alone in bringing their product or service to the marketplace.

Pay it Forward

The World Trade Organization reports that women own only 1 percent of the world’s wealth and have only a 10 percent share of global income. Why not use your business to help other women get ahead, too? Consider importing and selling fair trade products produced by underprivileged women from around the world. Fair Trade USA is a nonprofit that certifies fair trade products, including apparel and consumer packaged goods. Visit to get started. From investing to mentoring to joining your local women’s business organization, there are many ways women can help other women get ahead. Forbes Magazine published a list of “13 Simple Ways Women In Business Can Make A Difference.” Read the list at

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Women in Business  

Women in Business