Women In Business 2022

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Women in Business • August 31, 2022| 1

Celebrating WOMEN IN BUSINESS AUGUST 31, 2022

Dedicated to all the women who help to innovate ideas, gather and produce products and build successful businesses, large and small, in the Oakdale, Riverbank and Escalon area.

A special supplement to

The Oakdale Leader | The Escalon Times The Riverbank News


2 | August 31, 2022 • Women in Business

Passion For Produce Yields Successful Business

Photo By Teresa Hammond She is the oldest of four Ruvalcaba siblings and Madison Ruvalcaba is involved in many facets of running their business, SONS Farm Fresh fruit stand, on Oakdale’s east end. They have expanded their offerings and operation since first opening in 2018 and hope to continue growing in the future.

Soroptimist International of Oakdale Celebrating 68 years of service to our community!

By TERESA HAMMOND Madison Ruvalcaba comes from a long lineage of hard workers. Raised on her family ranch on the northeast end of Oakdale, the Oakdale High alum knows what it means to both get your hands dirty, as well as live off the land. It was the crazy “fun” idea she shared with her three siblings, however, which unbeknownst to her at the time would ultimately result in a career change she did not see coming. Madison, along with her siblings Jackson, Allison and Hudson are the owner/operators of SONS Farm Fresh Fruit Stand on the east side of Oakdale. With each sibling having “son” in their names, the fruit stand name came to be. First opening in 2018, the hobby of bringing fresh fruits and veggies from

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Our organization helps women and girls live their dreams through our Dream Programs and other scholastic programs. We also provide hands-on and monetary support to our community. For more info, check our Oakdale Soroptimist Facebook page, website www.oakdalesoroptimist.org, or E-mail sioakdale@soroptimist.net. Please join us for our upcoming events: Mixer, Sept. 22, 2022, 5:30 pm-7:30 pm, Oakdale Tourism & Visitors Bureau Holiday Luncheon Fundraiser, Dec. 7, 2022, 11:30 am-1:30 pm, Community Center

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Motor Madness Fundraiser, March 25, 2023, 6:30 pm-9:00 pm, Community Center Soroptimist is a global volunteer organization that provides women and girls with access to the education and training they need to achieve economic empowerment.

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Women in Business • August 31, 2022| 3 their family farm to the community during the summer, quickly blossomed into something much more. The fruit stand is at 1936 E. F St., Oakdale. “I grew up wanting to become an elementary teacher,” Madison shared. In 2021 she graduated from Master’s University with the realization that her career path would take a change. “Fast forward to our fifth year, this year 2022, I have expanded and I absolutely love it,” she said of the stand starting as a summer business to its current mid-April through October season. “I never would’ve thought that would turn into my fulltime career.” The eldest of the four siblings, the young but savvy businesswoman shared she and brother Jackson are the only full-time family staffers, as siblings Allison and Hudson are still in high school.

“You can almost always find the four of us working at our fruit stand,” she said. “However, my siblings and I all play many other roles when it comes to running our fruit stand. Madison’s roles include managing the additional 11 employees, creating the labels and management of the Social Media pages. “One of my favorite things about my job is creating the best memories with my family and coworkers,” she said of working the farm as well as the fruit stand. “My siblings and I have always been close. Working and owning a business together is so fun. I also love creating friendships with people traveling from all around the world.” The fruit stand offers a variety of locally grown fruits, vegetables, nuts, dried fruit, bread, sauces, oils and so much more. From mid-September through October, they also host a

pumpkin patch complete with several unique pumpkin varieties. “We have traditional orange, small, large, jumbo, Cinderella and gourds,” she shared. “Think of any color pumpkin and we have it.” As business continues, so too does the family’s passion for the products and what they bring to their customers. “After a busy day of work, we close up at seven and head back to the farm,” she stated, sharing that they often discuss the business over a good meal, or return to the farm to continue picking. Now in their fifth season, the SONS definitely have plans for their future endeavors. “In five years, I see SONS Fruit Stand expanded,” the eldest sibling said. “My siblings and I would love to incorporate a u-pick farm at our fruit stand location. We also have ideas for

our pumpkin patch that we want to incorporate every year.” Reflecting back on where they started versus where things are today, Madison shared some insight as to what she feels contributes to a successful business. “I think what makes a good business is to find something you’re passionate about and give it your 110 percent every single day,” she said. “It’s a lot of hard work to run your own business so you need to also make sure to balance that with rest time for yourself so you’re able to keep working hard. You need to treat your customers well and give them the best quality possible.” The career path, though not leading to a classroom, nevertheless has proven to be a fruitful choice for Madison. “I absolutely love being a farmer.”

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4 | August 31, 2022 • Women in Business

Discovering The Beauty Inside And Out By SARAH LAWSON

From using her mother’s high-end makeup from her purse, to pursuing her passion and maintaining a growing business, makeup artist Jennifer Ledo Uribe has a tight grip on her position in the makeup industry and she is not letting go. Oakdale born and raised, Jen first got her taste with makeup during her junior high school years, when she began using her mother’s makeup. As she moved in to high school, her curiosity with the various makeup products on the market only grew. She realized that she was good at art and blending all sorts of colors, and from early on she knew that becoming an artist is what she wanted to do. Her family has lived in Oakdale for multiple generations, and she was a member of the Oakdale High School

Class of 2002. After graduating at the age of 17, she enrolled in beauty school through California Beauty College while continuing her full-time job at The Nutcracker, a former Oakdale restaurant in the location Firenze Ristorante now occupies. A year later she got her cosmetology license and then after turning 18 left her restaurant job and began her first makeup job with the company of MAC in Walnut Creek California. “Makeup was my true passion, and MAC accepted anyone and everyone,” she stated. “I was never accepted in my school days, but MAC was a place where I was accepted.” She worked for MAC for a total of 18 years, working at different stores from Berkeley, to Sun Valley Mall, to Stoneridge.

After leaving MAC she decided to open her own freelance makeup business and move back to Oakdale in 2018. She has two sons, Lucas, 6 and Lincoln, 4. Taking on the freelance job back in her hometown gave her the opportunity to spend more time with her kids and husband. Her house when she moved in already had an extra room attached to the garage with its own door leading to outside; which she said worked well for a studio and feels it was just meant to be. Not only does she have clients that she sees at the home studio, but she also gets much of her clientele through doing travel parties. She specializes in weddings, bridal showers, and maternity shoots. She

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Women in Business • August 31, 2022| 5

Taking her time with every client to make sure it not only looks good but that the client enjoys what she sees when she looks in the mirror, Jennifer Ledo Uribe has followed her dream and carved out a career as a makeup artist.

also does the hair and makeup for proms and formals. Over the last year, she has done makeup for more than 500 people just in Oakdale residents alone. Many bridal parties including weddings book over a year in advance. “I already have a wedding client for December of 2023,” she expressed. “I always have more than enough time to do last minute looks and usually have weekends and weekdays available for booking days in advance versus months or years.” Her goal is to have her own studio storefront some place or have a spot in a salon, eventually hoping to move out of the home studio. She also used to host makeup classes while at MAC and has the inspiration to start teaching again to new artists or people who are just interested in learning. The artist said she enjoys the creative freedom that working with someone on their makeup to find that

special look gives her and noted that the skin is where it all begins. “The skin is the foundation of the look, it is where we find the most self-acceptance,” she stated. She struggled with acceptance all through school; makeup not only helped her work through that but also helps others that are going through the same things find their beauty. “If I could go back to my teenage self with only a couple minutes to speak with her, I would tell her that it is going to get so much better, these years are going to be gone in a flash. You are so worthy of love and acceptance, and success just the way you are. You are a super fun person even if people do not give you the time of day to see that side of you; you are enough,” she said. Jen started her business JenLedoBeauty on her own, appreciating the way she can now balance family and her dream. What mainly began to grow her business into what it is today was Continued on page 6

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6 | August 31, 2022 • Women in Business the support of the clients she began with; they would post their photos of their wedding, maternity shoots, and dances in school and others would see their makeup and reach out to Jen to do theirs. “Any other women who want to start their own business, the only advice I have to give is to believe in yourself, you are worthy, and no matter how small you

think you are, no matter how many other people are doing the same thing you are, you have to not pay attention to them and only focus on the value and purpose you have,” she expressed. Her makeup looks can be found on her Instagram JenLedoBeauty where she can also be contacted through DM or email at JenLedoBeauty@gmail.com.

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Women in Business • August 31, 2022| 7

Locally Owned Stewart Kriese Insurance Puts Clients First By MARG JACKSON Being able to tailor policies for each individual client is a hallmark of the Stewart Kriese Insurance Agency, Inc., at 100 Laurel Avenue in Oakdale. Broker Lucy Stewart, who co-owns the agency with her husband Brian, has been in Oakdale serving the insurance needs of residents for more than 20 years and has been in the insurance field for over 30 years. The longtime local business became the Stewart Kriese Agency when the Stewarts purchased the Kriese Agency and combined the two, bringing decades of expertise to their clients. “I enjoy being able to help people out and educate them; help them with their insurance needs,” Lucy said. “We write all lines and we are an independent agency as opposed to a direct writer, we write for many different companies.” That gives the firm flexibility and they can shop around to make sure their clients get the best possible value for their money, no matter what their coverage needs are.

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Lucy Stewart is co-owner of the Stewart Kriese Insurance Agency in Oakdale.

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“We can tailor it,” Lucy explained. “One product might be better with one carrier; another could be better with someone else.” In that case, the client might see car insurance through one firm, life insurance from another, homeowners from yet another; whatever the best value is, the agents at Stewart Kriese will work to find it for you. As to how Lucy got involved in the business: “We laugh about that question because no one ever said they want to be in insurance when they grow up,” she explained, chuckling. Right out of college, Lucy got a job in the accounting department at an agency. “I thought it was going to just be until I got a real job,” she admitted. “Then I became an underwriter, then an assistant vice president; that was with CalFarm (Insurance) out of Sacramento.” Lucy majored in business, with a focus in marketing, at Chico State and also got a management certification from UC

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Davis after she started working in the insurance field. “We write a lot of ag (policies) because of where we’re at,” she added. “We serve clients all over California and we also write out of state, throughout the Western states so now we can be accommodating to those who are moving.” The Stewart Kriese office is at the corner of Laurel Avenue and West F Street in Oakdale and Lucy said the staff there is “constantly learning” and goes through continuing education classes to keep their licenses active and to stay updated on the latest trends and changes in the field. Stewart Kriese staffers are also active in the community and Lucy is involved with the Independent Agent Association on the county level and the state level and is a past President of the organization. They can be reached by calling 209-847-8025. The agency offers home, auto, business, farm, health, bond and life insurance policies.

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8 | August 31, 2022 • Women in Business

Owner Heather McClain shows just a small portion of the colorful, catchy T-shirts for sale at the Patched Pumpkins Boutique, at 2001 Main, Escalon. Originally an online only store, McClain now has expanded to a storefront as well.

A corner of the Patched Pumpkins Boutique is dedicated to ‘Cougar’ gear for fans of the Escalon High School teams and they plan to change the lines out for the different sports seasons throughout the school year.

With a large presence on social media, owner Heather McClain said this area of the Patched Pumpkins Boutique in Escalon is utilized by many people for taking selfies and also showcases some of the other products offered in the store.

Jeans, jewelry, key chains, hats, handbags, shoes and more are offered at the Patched Pumpkins Boutique in Escalon. Shoppers can find something for everyone on their list at the store, which features a Western flair.

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Women in Business • August 31, 2022| 9

Patched Pumpkins Offers Online, Storefront Presence By MARG JACKSON

Heather McClain started her business in September of 2019 – Sept. 1, to be exact – and was online only for two years. Now, she also has a storefront along Main Street in Escalon and said between online and in store, her Patched Pumpkins Boutique is enjoying a growth spurt. “We opened online only and COVID actually helped us,” she admitted, noting that when many stores shut their doors during the height of the pandemic, shoppers went online. That trend helped her business flourish at a very unique time in history. However, she is excited to be open at 2001 Main in Escalon, ready to celebrate her third year in business and loves offering shoppers the opportunity to come in to the shop and see the wide variety of products there, while still maintaining the online side of the business. Born and raised in Oakdale, Heather said the boutique opened initially as a “baby only” boutique but then started to add more lines, including a huge focus on products for “the Western woman in us all.” Product lines now are more for men and women as

opposed to babies, but Heather said it felt like a natural progression and she loves to have people come in and peruse the merchandise. There is still a large selection of children’s clothing and items as well. Proud to be a third generation Oakdale Saddle Club member, Heather said they do offer a wide range of clothing and accessories with a Western flair, but also have Cougar merchandise for those Escalon High School supporters. As far as the name goes, it is an homage to family. “My grandmother is a quilter,” she said of the ‘Patched’ portion of the name, “and the ‘Pumpkins’ are my two kids.” Son Shaun is 13 and is an eighth grader, while daughter Harper is three and often comes to work with mom. Heather also noted that her husband Steven was instrumental in getting the Main Street location ready for business, with plenty of display space, dressing rooms and an office all a part of the layout. A 2010 Oakdale High School graduate, Heather said she learned about business

ownership from her parents, who own a pallet company in Stockton. “I come from an entrepreneurial family,” she explained. She also likes to re-purpose items, and many of the display racks and shelves have been created out of other products. And, as a businesswoman, she has learned the importance of supporting others in their endeavors, with candles and soaps from fellow entrepreneurs also featured in her shop. “We offer items for the Western side of life,” Heather said, with something for all ages and tastes. Shirts are the biggest sellers, she said, especially those with the modern western themes, and she said they also pride themselves on being supportive of military and first responders. They offer sizes from small through 3X in the store. “I am a firm believer in people feeling beautiful in their own body,” she said of finding just the right item for shoppers. A graduate of both MJC and Stanislaus State, Heather majored in psychology and said she can bring that background into the business world as well.

“Honestly, I love the people,” she said of what she enjoys most about owning a business. “It sounds cheesy and corny but I have made so many friendships and I love being around people, I love the relationships we’ve made here.” Starting out online, they have shipped to locations across the country, to many different states. “We have 14 left to ship to,” she noted. Heather’s goal is to have customers in every state, a goal she is working toward. “I love it,” she added of the business. “I love that we’ve been able to branch out and reach so many people.” She also loves filling the online orders for store pick-up, as customers can order their products online and she will package them, ready for a quick pick up for those ordering from the local area. Store hours are Tuesday and Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed Sunday and Monday. For more information, email Patchedpumpkinsboutique@gmail.com or call 209-691-6046.

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10 | August 31, 2022 • Women in Business

No Quit Attitude At Menchie’s Leads To Prosperity

BY VIRGINIA STILL Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt in the Crossroads Shopping Center in Riverbank celebrated two years in business in July. Opening during a pandemic in 2020 was quite the challenge but owners, the husband and wife team of Sunny and Satvir Athwal, persevered. “She (Satvir) really worked hard through it (COVID-19) even though she had some health issues,” said Sunny about surviving COVID. “They all love her. We have to say thank you to the community of Riverbank, Escalon, Oakdale, and a part of Modesto. They wanted to come in and support us. They come here and when they leave, they feel good.” The pandemic was not the only challenge for Satvir as she braved learning a new language, a culture, and a business along with having health issues, this woman in business charged forward. Satvir was born and raised in India and has been in the US since 2013. She has worked a few different jobs where she gained some experience including being a CNA which helped build her confidence. This is the first time that she has managed a business and is a co-owner.

“There was a big difference,” remarked Satvir about coming here to the states. “My culture was totally different and then the language was totally different for me. But my husband and my family helped me so much to make sure I learned everything, especially my husband. I give credit to my husband. He helped me learn the culture and get my driver’s license so I can start working. I am happy. I am really blessed I am in America.” The self-service Menchie’s frozen yogurt (fro yo) bar has a variety of flavors, 32 toppings, fresh fruit, five syrups, and waffle cones that are made fresh daily. They have birthday parties and do customized cakes. Menchie’s is at 2231 Claribel Road in Riverbank, Suite 1A. Although the custom cakes look like she has been doing it for a while, this is another first for Satvir. She customizes, decorates, and makes them from scratch. “I really enjoy decorating cakes,” noted Satvir about the custom cakes. “I’ve never done it in my life. I have just been doing it on my own. I was surprised.” They have had a few fundraisers at the yogurt shop and most recently hosted

a gathering for National Night Out in Riverbank. They change some of the flavors every other week but keep the customer favorites like chocolate, vanilla, cookies and cream, and Dole pineapple. They have regulars and some that frequent them on a daily basis so keeping them happy is important. The quality of ingredients that Menchie’s uses was another reason the Athwal’s pursued the business. They use real yogurt with live and active cultures, use natural ingredients with no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial colors or flavors and have vegan and gluten free options. “When they come to Menchie’s we want to give them a great experience with good quality, great service, and make sure we make their day and the Menchie’s concept is to make people smile,” stated Satvir. “We want to make sure that every customer is treated like family.” A highlight for Satvir is the customers and especially the kids. She loves talking to people and shared that it is important to listen. One of her favorite things is when the kids give her a hug.

They are currently hiring and are thankful for their hardworking crew of about nine employees. “You have to work hard and give 100 percent to the business,” expressed Satvir about having a successful business. “Make sure that you are on top of everything like cleaning, sanitizing, making sure everything looks nice. You have to treat every guest very nicely, but all of that is equally important. I like being a boss because I love my employees, I love my customers, and I love talking to them.” In the future, the Athwal’s may open another Menchie’s but until then they will enjoy the community and continue to bring smiles and good quality fro yo to customers. “We really like working with people,” added Sunny. “We like being here. It is a good environment and our clientele is very nice. Customers are nice. It is not easy having your own business but I love it. It is challenging and there are times you want to give up but if you have willpower and think you can do it and have support then keep on going.”

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Women in Business • August 31, 2022| 11

There is no shortage of toppings to add that extra special touch to your frozen yogurt treat at Menchie’s in Riverbank. Customers serve themselves at Menchie’s frozen yogurt bar, co-owner Satvir Athwal shown here demonstrating who you are able to choose one or a mix of as many flavors as you want to create a unique flavor profile.

Photo By Virginia Still

Photo By Virginia Still

Self-taught in the art of cake decorating, Satvir Athwal of Menchie’s has created many unique cakes for customers, tailoring it to their specific celebration and tastes. Photo Contributed By Satvir Athwal

Welcoming customers to Menchie’s in the Crossroads Shopping Center in Riverbank are the husband and wife team of Sunny and Satvir Athwal, who want to make sure everyone has a great experience and enjoys their visit to the frozen yogurt shop. Photo By Virginia Still

It’s a fun experience at Menchie’s, as you pick the flavors, syrups and toppings to create your own flavorful refreshing treat. Photo Contributed By Satvir Athwal

Located in the Crossroads Shopping Center in Riverbank, Menchie’s opened in 2020 and is a popular spot for residents around the region, stopping in for frozen yogurt, gelato and custom crafted cakes. Photo By Virginia Still


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Clockwise from lower left: Karen Brainard, 1 year, Accounting; Michele Flanagan, Human Resources, 22 years; Zoe Kilkenny, Operations Coordinator, 7 years; Dr. Caroline Ylioja, Nutritionist, 3 years; Dr. Marit Arana, Nutritionist, 19 years; Not pictured: Yvonne Ortega, Accts Rec, 22 years; Lesly Muncy, Acct Rec/ Sales Asst, 18 years; Judy Bradley, Receptionist, Semi-retired

A. L. GILBERT

304 Yosemite Avenue, Oakdale | 209.847.1721 Serving California Ag Industry since 1892