Southbay | May 2023

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SOUTHBAY.GOLDENSTATE.IS SIX DOLLARS MAY 2023 THE STYLE ISSUE Fashion on Deck SUIT UP FOR A BEAUTIFUL SUMMER
Experts.
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TORRANCE MEMORIAL AND CEDARS-SINAI’S CANCER AFFILIATION BRINGS MORE EXPERT CANCER CARE TO THE SOUTH BAY. More access to cancer specialists and programs located on the Torrance Memorial campus. More advanced multidisciplinary care, state-of-the-art treatments, and cutting edge clinical trials for greater outcomes and results. More expert care for our patients and the South Bay. Learn more at MoreCancerExperts.org
Left to right: Melanie Friedlander, MD; Paula Eboli, MD; David Chan, MD; Amirhossein Paymon Mahfoozi, MD Opposing page: Vanessa Dickey, MD

More Breakthroughs.

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For healthy births, Providence delivers.

Providence Little Company of Mary offers personalized support, including doulas, for expecting and new parents.

At Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance, our patients receive family-centered care in a peaceful, healing environment. As part of our commitment to providing parents compassionate and individualized care, we have launched a new doula program to provide mothers-to-be physical, emotional and informational support throughout the birthing process. In addition, you and your family will receive personalized care from our maternity program’s comprehensive team of experts. We offer:

• Board-certified team of OB/GYNs

• Doula program

• 24/7 on site Neonatology physician support

• 24/7 on-site OB physician support

• Pediatricians

• Midwifery program

• OB navigator providing guidance and support throughout your pregnancy journey

Whether your delivery is natural or high-risk, our support team is well-trained to provide expert clinical and compassionate care. When it comes to such a sacred moment in life, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center Torrance is here for you and your family.

Providence.org/ TorranceMaternity
00498-11/22 *Complimentary financial plan, provided by Kinecta Wealth Management, valued at $300. Offer expires June 30, 2023. The financial advisors are registered with, and securities and advisory services are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Insurance products are offered through LPL or its licensed affiliates. Kinecta Federal Credit Union and Kinecta Wealth Management are not registered as a broker-dealer or investment advisor. Registered representatives of LPL offer products and services using Kinecta Wealth Management and are employees of Kinecta Federal Credit Union. These products and services are being offered through LPL or its affiliates, which are separate entities from, and not affiliates of, Kinecta Federal Credit Union or Kinecta Wealth Management. Certain fixed insurance products may also be offered through Kinecta Financial & Insurance Services, a subsidiary of Kinecta Federal Credit Union. Securities and insurance offered through LPL or its affiliates and fixed insurance products offered through Kinecta Financial & Insurance Services are: Not Insured by NCUA or Any Other Government Agency Not Credit Union Deposits or Obligations May Lose Value Not Credit Union Guaranteed wealth management 1120 N. Sepulveda Blvd. Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 310.643.2791 | kinectawealth.org | Count on us to help safeguard your financial future. Contact us today to receive a customized, complimentary financial plan* . L to R: Laura Tompkins, Private Client Services Manager; Paul Smith, Insurance Specialist; Frank Azizi, LPL Financial Advisor; Justin Fleming, LPL Financial Advisor; Whitney Bullock, CWS®, Manager of Financial Planning Headquartered in Manhattan Beach, the Kinecta Wealth Management team is dedicated to nurturing client relationships with a focus on planning and communication, especially important during times of market turbulence. • Financial Planning • Retirement Preparation and Income Strategies • College Saving • Private Client Services • Investment Management • A sset Preservation and Insurance Planning • Business Solutions • Business and Family Protection Plans
30 CLEAN CONSCIENCE goop Kitchen 34 LITTLE BEAR Tour de Pier 36 TROPICAL HIDEAWAY The Aloha Bungalow 68 ROMANCE REVIVED Mar Monte Hotel in Santa Barbara 86 FRAME OF MIND Brooke Wilen Fine Art 94 GETTING ROOTED Umay 98 WELLNESS WITHIN MBUSD’s Social and Emotional Learning Week 106 SEEN Who’s who around town 130 LAST WORD Life, Love, Cactus 36 94 86

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FIT FOR SUCCESS

Founder of the denim brand that bears her name, Paige Adams-Geller is more than a designer and entrepreneur. She’s a rape survivor, advocate and philanthropist fighting for women in a male-dominated industry.

40 NAUTICAL BY NATURE

We’re on board with these fresh spring and summer looks from South Bay boutiques.

62 A LITTLE WORLD

With Le Bien-Vivant, Antoinette Loupe offers a taste of France blended with years of marketing and design prowess.

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GORGEOUS GREENS

Brighten your spring table with these vibrant and delicious salad recipes.

80 IN THE MIX

A childhood connection leads to a project for a family of five in Manhattan Beach, awash in an artful mash-up of personal styles.

100 ELECTRIC COMPANY

Stylish and efficient, Rivian’s electric vehicles show great promise as California pushes toward a carbon-neutral future. But can the emerging company overcome its growing pains?

ALSO...

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AGENT SPOTLIGHT

Jenny Morant & Tyler Morant Jenny Morant Group

51 SOUTH BAY STYLE

Our guide to local seasonal style

20

76

BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT

Tania Kvakic RBC Wealth Management

90

AGENT SPOTLIGHT

The Jen Caskey Group at Compass

108 PROFILES Financial Services

120

REAL ESTATE Spectacular local listings

COVER

Photographed by Shane O’Donnell

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22200 Hawthorne Blvd. Torrance (310) 375-4471 www.MorgansJewelers.com Torrance EXPERIENCE THE DIFFERENCE

CUSTOM LUXURY MENSWEAR

Bespoke by Chase is a menswear store specializing in luxury tailored garments, handmade one piece at a time. Have a drink while you shop a wide selection of sportswear and tailored clothing and update your wardrobe in the finest menswear.

UPCOMING EVENTS:

Italian shoe trunk show May 12th & 13th with DI BIANCO. Shop new styles and models while sipping crafted cocktails. Everything from dress shoes, sneakers and boots.

1100 Manhattan Ave, Suite 104, Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 | 503-358-0332 | chase@bespokebychase.com Open Monday-Friday 11-7, Saturday & Sunday 11-5 | www.bespokebychase.com | @bespoke_by_chase

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Darren Elms

COPY EDITOR

Laura Watts

DEPUTY EDITORS

Bonnie Graves (Food & Wine)

Kara Mickelson (Food Style)

Tanya Monaghan (Style)

Jennie Nunn (Home)

WRITERS & CONTRIBUTORS

Jenny Karl, Quinn Roberts, Carol Wolper

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Michelle Villas

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS

Ajay Peckham and Yuiko Sugino

DIGITAL MARKETING

Paul Fisher

PHOTOGRAPHERS

Jeff Berting, Siri Berting, Jessica Hickerson, Shane O’Donnell, Lauren Taylor

PUBLISHER

Amy Tetherow | 424-220-6338 amy@thegoldenstatecompany.com

DIRECTOR OF BRAND PARTNERSHIPS

Erika Carrion | 310-897-2424 erika@thegoldenstatecompany.com

DIRECTOR OF BRAND PARTNERSHIPS

Marcie Gutierrez | 310-947-5404 marcie@thegoldenstatecompany.com

DIRECTOR OF BRAND PARTNERSHIPS

Jen Turquand | 310-528-5351 jen.turquand@thegoldenstatecompany.com

SOUTHBAY IS A DIVISION OF THE GOLDEN STATE COMPANY

MANAGING PARTNERS

Charlie Koones Todd Klawin

MARKETING & OPERATIONS

PARTNER/BRAND PUBLISHER | Emily Stewart

PARTNER/MANAGING DIRECTOR, MEDIA & ANALYTICS | Warren Schaffer

DIRECTOR OF DIGITAL | Charles Simmons

DIRECTOR OF FILM & VIDEO | Bryce Lowe-White

OPERATIONS DIRECTOR | Allison Jeackjuntra

ACCOUNTING | Emilie Artacho, Janet De La Cruz, Tanisha Holcomb

To learn more about us, visit thegoldenstatecompany.com.

No part of this periodical may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior written consent from The Golden State Company, LLC. Any and all submissions to this or any of The Golden State Company, LLC publications become the property of The Golden State Company, LLC and may be used in any media. We reserve the right to edit.

SUBSCRIPTIONS: info@goldenstate.is or 310-376-7800. Subscriptions are $29 per year.

TO OUR READERS: Southbay welcomes your feedback.

Please send letters to Reader Response Department, Southbay magazine. Please include your name, address and email. Edited letters may be published. 200 N. Pacific Coast Highway, Suite 110, El Segundo, CA 90245 Tel 310-376-7800 | Fax 310-376-0200 | goldenstate.is | southbay.goldenstate.is

Turning the Page

After what seems like an eternity of dreary, damp weather, the idea of summertime fun and adventure is more than just a wish—it’s a necessity. The thought of being able to shed our sweaters and boots and instead slip into light, breezy clothing and feel the sun on our skin seems almost too good to be true. Our fashion shoot and cover for this issue dream of sunny skies and endless opportunities for adventure and relaxation.

This issue celebrates some of the South Bay’s finest creative people. The colorful photography of Brooke Wilen is an ode to the beauty that surrounds us every day. Her photographs feature bright, saturated colors and playful compositions that evoke a sense of joy and remind us of the vibrant energy of the beach. We feature Dasha Simpson, the founder of Umay, a floral and ceramics atelier that places the wonder and purity of nature into your home with an elevated, earthy aesthetic.

We also explore a few new stores in the South Bay. The charming Le Bien-Vivant studio shop in Manhattan Beach showcases design aficionado Antoinette Loupe’s Afro-chic/French designs. The Aloha Bungalow in Redondo Beach is the living embodiment of a young

couple’s dream of spreading love while supporting young local artisans. And Manhattan Beach welcomes California-born clothing brand PAIGE, whose founder, Paige Adams-Geller, is far more than a designer and entrepreneur. She is an advocate and philanthropist fighting for women in a male-dominated industry, and her story is inspiring and powerful.

As a longtime fan of Gwyneth Paltrow and her goop lifestyle brand, I am excited to share the story of Gwyneth’s goop Kitchen, now open in El Segundo. The idea is to make clean eating easy, quick and accessible— a concept that is well aligned with the South Bay’s healthy lifestyle.

The promise of summer feels like a beacon of hope. This issue is a celebration of the warm, sunny days that are sure to come.

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MAY 2023

French Connection

Antoinette Loupe shares a taste of France at Le Bien-Vivant in Downtown Manhattan Beach. More on page 62.

fit for success

FOUNDER OF THE DENIM BRAND THAT BEARS HER NAME, PAIGE ADAMS-GELLER IS MORE THAN A DESIGNER AND ENTREPRENEUR. SHE’S A RAPE SURVIVOR, ADVOCATE AND PHILANTHROPIST FIGHTING FOR WOMEN IN A MALE-DOMINATED INDUSTRY.

Paige Adams-Geller had an idyllic childhood growing up in a tiny Alaskan town. Her entrepreneurial spirit was sparked early by her father, a mathematician, who began a respected business designing spec homes. Both Paige and her older brother claim that math was their strongest subject in school.

Her brother became a talented architect and interior designer, while Paige applies her mathematical perspective to fashion. “Design is about lines and angles and proportions,” she says. “And I think we always see things creatively in that kind of visual alignment of proportion.”

She always had an eye for design, but she didn’t see fashion as a career until later in life. Though her father pushed for continuing her education, Paige’s mom steered her toward a career as an actress or model. She felt the pull of both worlds strongly, but when she graduated high school early at age 16, she decided to pursue modeling.

Paige moved to New York to join the Elite Model Management agency. She quickly realized this was not the environment for her. Incidents of sexual harassment in the world of 1980s New York modeling added to her discomfort. She soon decided to continue her education at the University of Southern California, majoring in broadcast journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

After graduating from USC at age 20, Paige dipped her toe back into the entertainment world. She was acting and modeling, as well as singing in the popular South Bay act Joe’s Band. Paige’s talents did not go unnoticed, and she was asked to sing the national anthem at Lakers and Dodgers games.

From the outside, it appeared the world was Paige’s

oyster. She was young, smart and talented, had recently won the title of Miss California and was working as a top fit model. But a traumatic incident at her workplace changed everything.

Though sexual harassment was prevalent and mostly unchecked during this point in her career, she experienced the worst of it. And although she was not alone, the culture of suppression and silence forced on so many women by their perpetrators and others in society made her feel like she was.

Now Paige wants her story to be heard and her experiences to be known. She hopes her voice can help other women find theirs.

While enduring this workplace harassment, Paige was hiding a deep, dark secret that fueled her shame. Before she relocated to Los Angeles, she was raped by a family friend when she was only 16. The rapist was an all-star athlete who graduated with honors. She felt powerless, doubting anyone would believe her story. Though she was the victim, she blamed herself for being attacked— a common misperception for many rape victims.

Shame fueled her silence, but the negative voices in her head never stopped. She spent over a decade in an abusive relationship with herself, developing anorexia and struggling with mental health.

“I spent 13 years fighting anorexia because physically and mentally I wanted to disappear,” shares Paige. “I felt empty inside, never good enough. I suffered horrible, recurring nightmares that I was buried alive and couldn’t get out of the grave. I had no voice. No one could hear me, and I couldn’t move my arms or legs— just like the night I was raped.”

At work the harassment intensified. Paige explains how she was being groomed for years by the owner of the company where she had a modeling contract.

“He touched me inappropriately in front of others. He cornered and groped me in private and then threatened me by saying that if I told anyone, he would blacklist me in the industry and I would never work again. Eventually I was invited to his office to discuss

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my future. The doors were locked behind me, and he put his hand up my dress.”

At the time of this incident, Paige was in a loving relationship with her boyfriend, who had a 16-year-old daughter. In the aftermath of the attack, while coiled up on the bathroom floor feeling helpless all over again, she had a new realization. “If this were my daughter, would I blame her? Would I shame her? Or would I get her help?”

Paige turned to the Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica, where she received much-needed therapy for the first time. She felt truly embraced and supported by this community and entered a 30-day treatment facility to process and heal.

“From the moment I walked in the door, I wasn’t judged. I was nurtured. This was the next event that changed my life forever,” she reflects. “The silence lifted. Once my secrets were revealed in a safe place, I let go of all the shame. I didn’t ask to be a victim of rape and sexual assault. No one does.”

Paige was asked if she wanted to take on her attacker. She thought about all the other women he could damage in the future, and she found inner strength she never knew she had. In 2001, with the help of her therapists, she filed a civil suit against her attacker. As retribution, she was followed and bullied by his people, but it did not deter her. She was not only doing it for herself but for all women.

“I knew I had to continue the fight and not let him get away with it,” she shares. “And then other women who had experienced similar abuse came forward to help me. I cannot stress the importance of strength in numbers. I am amazed at how long this abuse in the entertainment and fashion industries has been ignored—powerful men who have been able to get away with their behavior as a result of others’ fear.”

Through overcoming her trauma and facing the evil that held power over her, Paige understood her strength for the first time. “I had so much more to tell, and I didn’t want to be a commodity anymore.”

She stepped into that power and began seeing a life coach, who suggested she start her own clothing company. She knew Paige loved fashion and had been around the industry as a fit model for successful companies. So why not create her own brand and tell her own story?

When Paige mentioned the idea to her husband Michael, he couldn’t have been more supportive. Right then, the PAIGE fashion brand was born.

Paige analyzed the industry with her mathematical mind to find an opportunity. Although the premium denim market was exploding at the time, she noticed there were no women leaders—especially those approaching denim as high-end fashion. Paige wanted to be a unique female voice, empowering women to feel comfortable and confident in the often difficult and personal process of finding that great outfit. She named the brand PAIGE so people would know that there is a female voice rooting for them.

In 2004 Paige compiled her first collection, employed a PR firm to represent her and found a New York showroom to represent the brand. The collection was shown at a trade show a few months later and became an overnight success.

Paige recalls, “I ended up writing more orders in that trade show than I had projected we would do the whole year.” And she hasn’t looked back.

Paige now has 18 stores, the most recent opening in Downtown Manhattan Beach. She was especially excited about the location of this store, as the South Bay was a huge part of her 20s.

“Manhattan Beach has always been an area I’ve had my eye on,” she says. “I feel like authenticity is one of the most important things when it comes to brandbuilding. And anytime I have a connection to something, it’s all coming from my heart and soul. That’s what Manhattan Beach is for me.”

Today Paige has grown her company from focusing on denim to a Los Angeles lifestyle brand. “Our women’s collection is made up of denim that takes you

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from morning to moonlight, feminine blouses, effortlessly chic dresses, edgy leather toppers and everything in between.”

Paige has a fast-growing men’s line too. She explains, “One of the things that put PAIGE Men’s on the map was the fact that the jeans (even the skinny fit) can be worn by athletes and still be comfortable. We have so many Dodgers, Lakers and football players who love to wear PAIGE.”

The great success of PAIGE has afforded her the opportunity to amplify her voice and philanthropy even more. Her life coming full circle, she now sits on the USC Annenberg Board of Councilors. She loves to mentor girls interested in fashion or being an entrepreneur.

She’s not afraid to share her story to empower young girls about to enter the workforce.

Paige sits on the board of The Rape Foundation and works with young women who have been in similar situations. She is a member of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network’s National Leadership Council, a trained volunteer at Stuart House, and a proud supporter of many other charitable organizations, including the National Eating Disorders Association and The Advot Project.

“I think part of my motivation was that I wanted to do something important in my life,” she says. “I really wanted to be successful so I could pay it forward, give back and have a voice to make a difference.” ■

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“I FEEL LIKE AUTHENTICITY IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT THINGS WHEN IT COMES TO BRAND-BUILDING. AND ANYTIME I HAVE A CONNECTION TO SOMETHING, IT’S ALL COMING FROM MY HEART AND SOUL. THAT’S WHAT MANHATTAN BEACH IS FOR ME.”

A SOUND INVESTMENT

Two local Realtors® and investors give their perspective on why you should buy in the South Bay.

As Realtors® and real estate investors, we believe that owning a home in the South Bay is an investment that goes beyond happiness and housing security. It will also generate a positive financial return. With commercial real estate taking a dive as companies continue to focus on work-from-home lifestyles, we see single-family homes as the most

profitable type of real estate investment currently available in Los Angeles.

At the Jenny Morant Group, we are betting on single-family homes as investments that offer less risk with the potential for big gains. Wall Street hedge fund managers and investors agree with our prediction. In this post-pandemic market, the lack of housing supply and endless high demand by buyers

who value square footage and a yard create a steady market for an investor. The lack of inventory means homes are still in high demand, selling in multiple offers and over asking price—despite the historic rise of mortgage rates. Regardless of the prospects of recession and the possible future impact on housing prices, we remain optimistic about the potential for single-family homes.

PHOTOGRAPHED BY STEVE GAFFNEY 26 |

THREE RULES OF REAL ESTATE INVESTMENT

The three rules of real estate investment are location, location, location. The South Bay is a unique market due to its location and amenities. However, the biggest benefit is its proximity to Los Angeles, which boasts one of the most impressive, diverse economies in the United States. This helps insulate the South Bay from being overly impacted by any single major market sector shock, which makes our area one of the most resilient real estate markets in the United States.

Median home prices have steadily increased in each of the Beach Cities since 2004, as you can see in Fig. 1. Over these

18 years, the average annualized growth in median sales prices in most of the Beach Cities has seen steady increases in both bull and bear markets (see Fig. 2). Our community has also experienced steady growth in the median sales price during the periods leading up to and following the Great Recession (see Fig. 2).

PUT YOUR MONEY TO WORK

One of the hardest pills to swallow when buying a home is that it is an illiquid, capital-intensive asset compared to stocks and bonds. Fig. 2 shows that the S&P 500 has significantly higher historical returns than the median home in the South Bay, so

sitting on a ton of equity in your home and not putting it to work in another asset class may be disconcerting to you. Despite that fact, the South Bay housing market generally performs better during those times that the S&P 500 is down. This is why leveraging your home (getting a mortgage) can create a great opportunity to put your money to work without having to put too much into your purchase and create future opportunities for liquidity.

Leveraging your home is a great way to reduce your risk and utilize less of your own cash when purchasing your home. Since the South Bay housing market is a lower risk market that experiences regular increases in

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION AGENT SPOTLIGHT | 27

the median sales price, you might consider taking advantage of a shorter-term, interestonly mortgage instead of a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. A 30-year fixed rate mortgage is generally more expensive than an interest-only mortgage because you will be paying down the principal of your mortgage in addition to the interest. That means you will have a higher monthly housing cost than you would with an interest-only loan.

You may want to bet that you will gain additional equity in your home just by virtue of the natural market forces, as evidenced by the average annualized growth of prices of South Bay housing prices in Fig. 1. Why pay cash to gain equity when you can let the market do it for you? You can always refi the property before the mortgage matures. Another way to put your money to work is to take advantage of cash-out refis

whenever interest rates drop and/or prices go up. This is a good way to create liquidity without incurring the significant costs associated with selling your home. You can always use the proceeds of the cash-out refi to purchase another local property as an investment property, which is what we prefer to do ourselves.

PLAN YOUR FUTURE

It is best to plan in advance how long you plan to live in your home and what you plan to do when you move (e.g., rent it, sell it, leave it to your children). That will help you make the most out of your investment. There are multiple ways to best leverage even your own primary residence as an investment. Contact us for a personalized analysis of your own real estate portfolio (current or future).

JENNYMORANT.COM @JENNY_MORANT

DRE # 01874517 (JENNY), 02155473 (TYLER)

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JENNY MORANT & TYLER MORANT
1221 HERMOSA AVE. #210, HERMOSA BEACH 424-409-8976
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Jenny Morant, Tyler Morant & Devon Stull
310.640.2025 www.HutchinsonDDS.com 512 Main St., #4 | El Segundo general dentistry cosmetic dentistry implants sleep apnea

Clean Conscience

SOUTH BAY BUSINESS PARTNERS BRING GWYNETH PALTROW’S GOOP KITCHEN HOME.

I was counting down the days for goop Kitchen to open in the South Bay. A renowned lifestyle brand, goop achieved global success thanks to the ubiquitous influence of its founder: actress, businesswoman and aspirational wellness guru Gwyneth Paltrow. With millions of social media fans, her brand enjoys an almost biblical following.

South Bay residents Nathan Tan and Tony Owen of the venture studio DOM Food Group partnered with goop to help operate the business side of goop Kitchen. At its El Segundo outpost, the pair shared the food origins of Gwyneth’s business.

“It goes back to 2008 when Gwyneth was living in London,” says Nathan. “It started as just an email of recommendations to her friends. The very first email was food-centric—it was sharing her dad’s turkey Bolognese recipe. From its inception, food has been a core tenet of what goop stands for. It’s this connection between happiness and food. Over time that email grew into a blog, and that grew into an e-commerce site.”

As the popularity of the brand and site increased, goop transitioned from featuring outside products to showcasing its own branded merchandise. With the transition, goop introduced four key content pillars: fashion, beauty, wellness and food. From the apparel/fashion pillar, they launched the fashion line G. Label. They created clean cosmetics for the beauty pillar and a line of supplements and nutritional powders for the health/wellness pillar.

DOM Food Group—which brings together four partners: Tony, Nathan, Mario Del Pero (founder of Mendocino Farms) and Donald Moore (former chief culinary officer of The Cheesecake Factory)—stepped in

to help incubate the business side of the food pillar. The joint venture with goop started gaining traction when the pandemic hit.

“It was one of those moments of clarity that we were seeing around the food space,” Nathan explains. “We noticed the trends of off-premises and delivery, which got accelerated in a massive way because of COVID-19.” The group recently celebrated the two-year anniversary of the first goop Kitchen location in Santa Monica, and business is booming.

Recognizing that the clean food movement was already gaining momentum, goop sought to accelerate that growth by promoting delicious, satisfying and fulfilling clean eating. “‘Clean’ is one of those terms that, generally speaking, doesn’t have a common definition in the market,” notes Nathan. “It’s one of those throw-in lines like, ‘It’s healthy.’ We thought there was a real need in the market for someone to clearly define what clean means. So we’ve developed the goop Certified Clean standard.”

The definition of goop Certified Clean, derived from Gwyneth’s cookbook The Clean Plate, is no refined sugars, processed foods, gluten, dairy, peanuts or preservatives. “She walks the talk 100%,” says Nathan of Gwyneth. “And obviously she’s got exquisite taste. She is very involved in the look, feel and aesthetic of the brand. It truly is a partnership.”

Within two years, goop Kitchen has opened four Southern California locations, the most recent in Beverly Hills. El Segundo launched in November 2022 and far exceeded the team’s expectations.

“The initial reaction in the South Bay has been tremendous,” says Tony. “I think what we’re seeing

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here is a slightly different format where it’s a little bit more pickup-friendly, which enables us to have a bit more interaction with our guests. We are hearing that feedback firsthand.”

When selecting the head of culinary for this venture, the team sought someone who was not only talented, experienced and passionate but also understood the brand. Chef Kim Floresca, who worked in several Michelin-starred restaurants and brings a certain elevation of flavors to the menu, excels in the job. “It’s been fun to see her translate that experience into more of a delivery, fast-casual model,” says Nathan.

the

quality of what’s being delivered.

Return customers can make use of the loyalty program. For example, one of the top tiers of that program provides members an opportunity to connect directly with the brand and provide feedback. It’s a great way for goop Kitchen to connect with their customers and maintain their customer service satisfaction.

Even though they are a digital brand, the group has made a point to do a lot of community-building with the local schools and sports teams, and Nathan and Tony feel completely embraced by the South Bay. In fact, their highest sales day so far coincided with a

The South Bay location was thoughtfully selected for its adjacency to wellness-focused businesses. Sitting alongside StretchLab, Hot 8 Yoga, Whole Foods and The NOW Massage, goop Kitchen fits right in. There is ample parking for customers and delivery drivers, as well as close proximity to South Bay neighborhoods. Throw in some limited outdoor seats for dining, and it all made sense.

The business sees packaging as an important part of the product, and it has to work with the way the food is going to be consumed. “On average, people aren’t eating the food immediately. They are consuming it 45 minutes later,” says Nathan. “Therefore, the packaging and even the design of the menu are based on this. When we launched goop Superfina—our pizza and pasta menu—we needed to make sure the optimal amount of sauce gets put into the dish for later consumption, because some of the sauce always gets absorbed.” They believe it’s these small details that make a difference in

school PTA fundraiser.

Since 2008, goop has grown into a lifestyle brand that appeals to a broad population. They have a clear understanding of who they are and who they (literally) cater to. Built on that same platform, goop Kitchen taps into people’s desire to have easy access to clean food. Bridging the gap between fast, healthy and delicious food might have seemed impossible, but goop Kitchen has stylishly blended those ingredients into a winning recipe.

Gwyneth’s involvement in building the business has been key. As Nathan adds, “I think what separates her from some other celebrities who build businesses is that for a lot of people, it’s not their day job. CEO of goop is her day job. I mean, she’s really running that business. And so she’s very involved in what we’ve been doing, particularly on the culinary side of product development—doing multiple rounds of tastings of everything on the menu. She has a real point of view on what the menu should be.” ■

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“FROM ITS INCEPTION, FOOD HAS BEEN A CORE TENET OF WHAT GOOP STANDS FOR. IT’S THIS CONNECTION BETWEEN HAPPINESS AND FOOD.”
See yourself at Vistamar @vistamarschool 4-YEAR COLLEGE PLANNING PROCESS 20 ATHLETIC TEAMS IN 13 SPORTS Strong, supportive community OVER 30 CLUBS AND ACTIVITIES SMALL CLASSES TEACHERS REALLY KNOW THEIR STUDENTS There’s a better way to do high school. Vistamar is a private independent high school in the South Bay. Join us on May 17 for a 7th grade admissions event or come for a tour. Learn more at vistamarschool.org/admissions

Little Bear

BEN LIWNICZ REMEMBERS TWO LOST TO CANCER WHEN HE RIDES AT THIS YEAR’S TOUR DE PIER.

Ben Liwnicz lost his father, Boleslaw, to pancreatic cancer in 2003. Although the disease caused him to age physically, the diagnosis never dampened his spirit. He continued to take vacations with Ben’s mother, traveling to new places and spending more time on hobbies and interests outside work.

A neuropathologist who specialized in diseases of the brain, Boleslaw said, “It is not a matter of if but when we will beat pancreatic and brain cancers. We just need the research to continue advancing.”

A few short years after Boleslaw’s passing, Ben’s friend and college roommate, Zane Melmed, was diagnosed with glioblastoma—a deadly brain cancer. The loss of both his father and his “brotherly” friend inspired Ben to learn more about the Tour de Pier, an annual stationary cycling event on the Manhattan Beach Pier that raises funds for cancer research.

Although I didn’t know him then, Heath Gregory (the event cofounder) and I went to the same high school. The little sister of his high school best friend is a dear friend of mine. “She talked about the event with me one year, and the charities it supported,” shares Ben. “It went right to my core, and I immediately wanted to join her team.”

He began riding on the Uncle Kory family bike, then graduated to his own team bike, Team Little Bear, with which he has fundraised tens of thousands of dollars. “Little Bear has two meanings,” explains Ben. “First, it’s my mom’s nickname for my dad (‘misiu’ in Polish means ‘little bear’ or ‘teddy bear’). Second, the golden bear is Cal’s mascot, where Zane and I met as freshman roommates in the dorms.”

The fact that the Tour de Pier benefits nonprofit organizations such as the Hirshberg Foundation and the

Uncle Kory Foundation, which are dedicated to advancing research and finding a cure for pancreatic cancer and brain cancer, respectively, was all the incentive Ben needed to engage.

“I love so many parts of the event because the energy and enthusiasm are infectious,” he adds. “What pumps me up most is that I get into a bit of a transcendental state when I ride. I think back to a lot of happy memories with my dad and with Zane. I feel like they’re there with me. I cry. And then I snap back into it for the second half of the ride to enjoy all the music and fun.”

The 11th annual Skechers Tour de Pier will take place on Sunday, May 21 at the Manhattan Beach Pier. To sign up or make a donation to a rider, visit tourdepier.com. ■

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“WHAT PUMPS ME UP MOST IS THAT I GET INTO A BIT OF A TRANSCENDENTAL STATE WHEN I RIDE.
I THINK BACK TO A LOT OF HAPPY MEMORIES WITH MY DAD AND WITH ZANE. I FEEL LIKE THEY’RE THERE WITH ME.”

Tropical Hideaway

AT THE ALOHA BUNGALOW, THE HAWAIIAN SPIRIT FINDS A HOME IN REDONDO BEACH.

On the corner of Catalina Avenue and Vista Del Mar stands a cute little shack that has been a fixture of the community for decades. Originally built in 1966 as an information booth for Redondo Beach to promote the Hollywood Riviera, later the city didn’t know what to do with the structure. It sat vacant for nearly 30 years— too beautiful to be torn down—before its rebirth as a flower shop.

After the owners of the flower shop relocated, South Bay natives Emily and Brian Poage saw it as the ideal place to launch The Aloha Bungalow. A perfect fit, it’s difficult to imagine the building ever had another name.

The Aloha Bungalow has a simple mission: spread love. Inspired by the Hawaiian aloha spirit—the act of sending and receiving positive energy, living in harmony, and treating others with love and respect—Brian and Emily set about capturing that energy in their brand. “We want to spread the idea of love, compassion and kindness that aloha embodies while supporting local and smaller businesses within our community,” says Brian.

The Aloha Bungalow sells products made right here in the South Bay, supporting creative friends and members of the couple’s amazing community. The nearly 60-year-old building bursts with beautifully curated local art, books, candles, jewelry, plants and so much more—reflecting the wide-ranging tastes and talents of the area.

Both Brian and Emily have deep roots in the South Bay. Brian was born in Redondo Beach and Emily in Palos Verdes. Ironically, they met in 2014 at the Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco, where

Emily was finishing her senior year at San Francisco State University.

For Brian, it was love at first sight. They exchanged numbers, and although he was living in San Diego, he was not dissuaded. He smiles, “I was in love with her the second I met her, and I said, ‘What are you doing next weekend?’ She said she didn’t have any plans, and I texted her back with my flight information.”

They did the long-distance thing for a year, and then Emily was offered a job for Free People in the Los Angeles showroom. The very next day, Brian, who worked in the construction industry, was asked to work on the Wilshire Grand Center in L.A. They could finally live together in the same place, so they moved to Hermosa Beach.

After some time working in their respective industries, Brian and Emily decided it would be fun to start a business together. They began by sourcing shirts that were made from handwoven fabric in Guatemala, Nepal or Hawaii. They designed Hawaiian-style shirts from these three regions with the idea of giving back with every purchase. They called it Aloha for People, and the aloha spirit was included in their venture from the start.

“We either provided a child in Guatemala or Nepal with clean water access for a year or helped Surfrider Foundation provide clean ocean water. We launched a Kickstarter, which raised $25,000,” says Brian. “We made our shirts and had this business going for two years. And then we expanded the product line to include T-shirts, surf fins and scarves. We visited all the places we were sourcing from, doing ‘giving trips’ where we’d

36 |

take our friends out and take the filters for the water. It was really fun.”

Emily’s cousin owned the business that occupied the bungalow at the time and was already selling the Aloha for People shirts. When she decided to relocate to Paso Robles, she floated the idea of Brian and Emily taking over the space. It was a wonderful opportunity.

Emily had grown tired of working in the fashion industry, and the timing seemed perfect to pivot and do something different. They jumped on the opportunity to create an iconic concept store, and The Aloha Bungalow was born.

They wanted to fill their little beachside store with more than their own products, so they began to source from within the community. The business quickly grew organically by word of mouth as they focused on supporting local artists, creatives and brands in the area. The result was a unique shop with products that embody the essence and culture of the South Bay.

At The Aloha Bungalow, dogs are given treats, children are welcomed and most customers are known by name. Emily and Brian think of their customers as ohana or family, and Emily’s mom, Vickie, also works at the shop. Emily calls her the mayor of Redondo Beach—a frequent village patron since she was a young kid.

“She even remembers when the bungalow was just

an information booth,” says Emily. The next generation is getting an aloha education as well—occasionally Riley, the couple’s adorable, towheaded, 18-month-old son, spends time with them all in the store.

The Poages love hosting community events. They produce an aloha yoga session every summer and collaborate on pop-ups and installations with other brands and local businesses throughout the year.

However, The Aloha Bungalow is first and foremost a treasure trove of beachy, bohemian home decor and gifts. Some top sellers include scented candles by Trapp, as well as beautiful succulent arrangements homegrown in a greenhouse by Jean Timberlake, a local Palos Verdes girl who also makes the vases they come in.

Another favorite is Jessica Dickerson’s Esplanade Brand hats, clothing, sweatshirts, T-shirts and baby clothes. They sell coffee mugs and blankets from their friends’ coffee company, Sundream, which fit perfectly next to local girl Amy Boeger’s ocean-themed resin art, cutting boards and bottle openers under the label Seas the Day.

From a booth to blooms and a bungalow packed with products, this little place has been filled with so much over the years. But the best thing you’ll find at this Redondo destination is the love and aloha Emily and Brian pour into all they do. ■

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ABOUT THE LITTLE EINSTEINS PROGRAM

The Lundquist Little Einsteins program seeks to foster an interest in science in elementary aged children through a series of workshops. Each workshop is taught by our PhD students and focuses on a specific topic of science, which is presented by short lectures, model activities, microscope slides, worksheets, and much more! Through hands-on activities, students will learn about various scientific disciplines. We hope that by engaging children in the scientific world this will help develop key life skills and nurture an interest in science.

Program Eligibility: Elementary children ages 8-10 | Contact: Education@lundquist.org

1124 West Carson Street Torrance, CA 90502 Produced by the Office of Public Affairs

nautical by nature

WE’RE ON BOARD WITH THESE FRESH SPRING AND SUMMER LOOKS FROM SOUTH BAY BOUTIQUES.

Photographed by Shane O’Donnell | Styled by Tanya Monaghan | Hair & makeup by Jenny Karl One-piece swimsuit by Ziah, $289, black sunglasses by Lu Goldie, $159, and gold studded earrings by Cult Gaia, $138; BLVD in Manhattan Beach. Skinny Hennie necklace, $80, Riley thick link chain, $140, both by Society Nautique, 18k Luna moonstone necklace by Chan Luu, $215; all at Gum Tree in Manhattan Beach. Black leather studded cuff bracelet, $119; The Dark, thedarkusa.com.

right

Alina one-piece black with cutouts by Maygel Cornel, $360; Wright’s in Manhattan Beach. Black and gold hoops, $50; J.Crew at Del Amo Fashion Center. Skinny Hennie necklace, $80, Riley thick link chain $140, both by Society Nautique, 18k Luna moonstone necklace by Chan Luu, $215, 14k Oasis ring with pearl, $850, horn ring, $130, and Euphoria mother-of-pearl ring, $76; all at Gum Tree in Manhattan Beach. Boho stretchy bracelet set, $99; The Dark, thedarkusa.com.

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Striped crop top by COS, $99; Nordstrom at Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance. Ivory bottom by Mikoh, $104; The Beehive in Manhattan Beach. Gold hoop earrings by Society Nautique, $90; Gum Tree in Manhattan Beach. Domino black leather bracelet, $119, and shiny double wrap bracelet, $119; The Dark, thedarkusa.com.

White sunglasses by Lu Goldie, $159, and leather woven basket handbag by Hereu, $360; BLVD in Manhattan Beach. Gold hoop earrings by Society Nautique, $90, 14k Oasis ring with pearl, $850, horn ring, $130, Euphoria mother-of-pearl ring, $76, 18k labradorite ring, $158; all at Gum Tree in Manhattan Beach. Gold beaded necklace, $40; J Crew at Del Amo Fashion Center. Black bikini bottoms by Maygel Coronel (sold as set), $330, and silk patterned blouse by La Prestic Ouiston, $690; Wright’s in Manhattan Beach. Golden parallel leather cuff, $119; The Dark, thedarkusa.com.

right

Cashmere bomber sweater by Maiami, $1,740; Wright’s in Manhattan Beach. White top, $228, and white pants $538, both by Anna Quan; gold squiggly hoops by Cult Gaia, $138; BLVD in Manhattan Beach. Raffia heeled sandals by Dolce Vita, $100; The Beehive in Manhattan Beach. Gold starburst necklace by Satya, $99; Gum Tree in Manhattan Beach.

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Red dress by Staud, $396; Beehive in Manhattan Beach. Gold starburst necklace by Satya, $99; Gumtree in Manhattan Beach.

Gold studded earrings by Cult Gaia, $138; BLVD in Manhattan Beach. Seashell vintage necklace, $26, and canvas and leather visor, $88; Right Tribe in Manhattan Beach. Resin-handled wicker handbag by Serpui, $458; Wright’s in Manhattan Beach. Knit crop capped sleeve top, $69; J.Crew at Del Amo Fashion Center. Brown bikini bottom by Hunza G (sold as set), $216; Beehive in Manhattan Beach.

right Micro tube top by SPRWMN, $226; Wright’s in Manhattan Beach. Gold studded earrings by Cult Gaia, $138; BLVD in Manhattan Beach. Vintage scarf, $12; Right Tribe in Manhattan Beach. Navy trousers with gold buttons by Veronica Beard, $395; Nordstrom at Del Amo Fashion Center. Horn ring, $130; Gumtree in Manhattan Beach. Slim zipper leather cuff, $99; The Dark, thedarkusa.com.

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SOUTH BAY STYLE

Spring has sprung in the South Bay, and it’s time for a style refresh. Our annual spring guide highlights the latest trends in fashion, jewelry and home goods, all available at local retailers. Don’t let the season’s best and brightest pass you by!

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION
52 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION south bay style Maison Luxe 138 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach 310-372-5552 maisonluxehome.com IG: @maisonluxehb FB: @maisonluxe 2 4 5 1 3
SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION | 53 south bay style
1. Del Mar sandal, $40 2. Ivy sunglasses, $40 3. Faux grass in Mediterranean pot, $387 4. Cannes demi link bracelet in 24k gold plate, $285 5. Market basket with leather handles, $78 6. At Home in Joshua Tree coffee table book, $27 7. Maye lamp in whitewash cane rattan, 12” x 12” x 20”, $363 8. Pendant wicker chandelier with 6’ natural rope cord, 21” x 20”, $372 9. Aubrey rug, shown in 5’ x 7’, $188 Available in all sizes
10 8 7 9 6
10. Luanne pillow with down insert, 22” x 22”, $360
54 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION south bay style Bespoke by Chase 1100 Manhattan Ave., Suite 104 503-358-0332 bespokebychase.com @bespoke_by_chase 2 4 5 1 3
SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION | 55 south bay style
1. L.B.M. blush pink sport coat, Italianmade, $1,095 2. Tramarossa five-pocket pants in butter, $375 3. Navy suede loafers, Italian-made by Di Bianco, $795 4. Short-sleeve piqué linen/cotton polo, made in Italy by Fedeli, $275 5. Marco Pescarolo five-pocket wool pants, made in Italy, $595 6. Laceless suede sneakers in caramel, Italian-made, $595 7. PT Torino light stressed denim, $495 8. Ravazzolo sport coat, Loro Piana fabric, Italian-made, $3,750 9. Leather loafers in dark bark color, Italian-made by Di Bianco, $795
6 10 8 7 9
10. Blue plaid sport shirt, $298
56 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION south bay style Manhattan Denim 920 Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach 310-798-5326 manhattan-denim.com @manhattandenim 2 4 5 1 3
SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION | 57 south bay style
1. Handcrafted linen and silk sport coat, $895 2. Printed sport shirt by Sands, $225 3. The perfect fit dress shirt from Sweden, $298 4. Men’s technical fabric travel jacket, $998 5. Men’s blush nylon jacket, $498 6. Luxe Pima polo by Georg Roth, $148 7. Chino shorts in ocean, $135 8. Tiki Italy swimwear, $150 9. Women’s Italian leather jacket, $1,295
6 10 8 7 9
10. Women’s limited-edition, patchwork, wide-leg denim, $349
58 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION south bay style
The Point 830 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Suite 114 El Segundo 424-277-3700 kendrascott.com @kendrascott
Kendra Scott
1. Alex gold stainless steel 35mm watch in light iridescent sunray, $268 2. Elisa gold pendant necklace in iridescent drusy, $70 3. Mama script bracelet in gold, $60 4. Davie 18k gold vermeil birthstone pendant necklace in chrysoprase (May), $120
2 4 1 3 5
5. Lee 14k yellow gold open-frame earrings in white diamond, $1,000
SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION | 59 south bay style Tabula Rasa Essentials 919A Manhattan Ave., Manhattan Beach 310-318-3385 tabularasaessentials.com @tabularasamb 2 5 1 3
1. Eco-friendly bamboo serving bowls, assorted colors, $50 2. Sweet Dots 18” waterproof, gold-filled chain necklace, assorted colors, $40 3. Aperol Spritz 250ml room diffuser, $70 4. Poolboy body glow oil, $36
4
5. Uber chic Turkish beach or bath towel, $42
60 | SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION south bay style
238 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach 310-376-8744 324 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach 310-318-2990 gumtreela.com IG: @gumtree_la | FB: @gumtreela
Gum Tree
1. Gray Malin Beach Club puzzle, $25 2. Amano Studio femme earrings, $42 3. Sunshine Tienda sun hat, $129 4. Kollab waterproof packable beach bag, $37
2 4 5 1 3
5. Chan Luu sunstone necklace, $195
SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION | 61 south bay style Michael Stars michaelstars.com IG: @michaelstarsinc 1.
Pilar linen shirt dress in white, $178 2. Daisy gauze dress in azalea, $158 3. Norah shine polo in white, $88 4. Jean linen jacket in pomodoro, $178
2 4 5 1 3
5. Susie gauze pant in admiral, $148

a little world

WITH LE BIEN-VIVANT, ANTOINETTE LOUPE OFFERS A TASTE OF FRANCE BLENDED WITH YEARS OF MARKETING AND DESIGN PROWESS.

Antoinette Loupe is a serial entrepreneur, design aficionado, Francophile and tastemaker. Her charming little shop, Le Bien-Vivant in Downtown Manhattan Beach, is equally a delight. A bright orange bike stands guard at the alley lined with wine bottles, and French flags hover overhead. The shop is filled with decor and treasures crafted by both French and American artisans, as well as various other treats to charm visitors to this experiential design shop.

Antoinette describes her venue as a mélange of vibrant, soulful coastal living with design influences from Harlem to Hermosa. The bathtub that she artfully placed in the middle of the room is an immediate conversation starter, and students of the French cooking classes and wine tastings she hosts in the shop’s kitchen are invariably drawn to investigate it. The bathtub is just one of many unique pieces Antoinette carries. Each one tells fascinating stories and makes you curious to explore.

The kitchen is truly the centerpiece of the experience, with home-brewed tea and fresh croissants to entice guests. Even the kitchen counter, treated with a wood-burning technique called shou-sugi-ban, is a work of art.

“I’ve always wanted to try this technique in the kitchen. If you put it on the outside of your house, it can clearly work in the kitchen,” she says. “So that’s why I have it in this wet area with a sink. It’s very clean. It’s not cold, it’s not precious, but it’s special.”

Explore deeper and you’ll find another little room—a

music-listening experiential space—where you can hide away from the world, put something on the record player and snuggle into a blanket of sound.

Sipping tea by the kitchen counter, Antoinette shares her story. She was born in Hermosa Beach, an only child. Her parents divorced while she was young, and Antoinette spent her formative years moving from place to place in Los Angeles.

“It was a very different time,” she explains. “Being an only child, plus not necessarily being able to form a firm root of friends at a young age, I found myself being in my own little world.” She was interested in creating beautiful spaces wherever she moved. Her dream was to be an architect.

Her father, Stan (aka Stan the Man), was an avid surfer. She has early childhood memories of her dad plopping her down on the beach in Hermosa while he surfed. She would amuse herself by drawing in the sand and picking up tiny crabs and shells.

At age 14 Antoinette moved in with her grandparents. Already an independent teenager, she was ready to fly a couple years later. She was accepted at Louisiana State University to pursue her goal of becoming an architect, but after 18 months she wasn’t loving it. She also had respiratory issues that turned out to be walking pneumonia.

Her grandmother encouraged her to return home. She moved back to Los Angeles and attended UCLA briefly before finishing her education in marketing at Cal State LA.

Unsure of what career path to take, Antoinette worked with a temp agency and gained exposure and experience in many different fields. One assignment placed her at a new production company as an assistant for Brian Grazer and Ron Howard of Imagine Entertainment.

She went on to work at Capitol Records, followed by Interscope Records where she stayed for a long period. She worked with many of the renowned bands of the

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’90s, including Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Bush and No Doubt.

Then came the Dr. Dre album drop. She was hanging out with the likes of Snoop Dogg, 2Pac and several kings of rap as well as touring with Marilyn Manson.

She smiles nostalgically, “I couldn’t say that I had real direction, but that was the best time ever.”

Although Antoinette was a music lover, she got bored easily and sought fresh ways to expand her horizons. With experience in film, television and art directing, she accepted an offer to create the production design for a new play. The play turned out to be a Snoop Dogg production, so Antoinette found herself touring with Snoop on both coasts.

In New York, she moved to a job in marketing in the fashion industry for Liz Claiborne and then for Dana Buchman, falling in love with fabric and textiles. After designing Dana Buchman’s office and their first store opening on Fifth Avenue, things started clicking for Antoinette. She loved working with the architect and designer, and because of her early college education, she had a good foundation and sensibility for designing to scale.

While living in Brooklyn, she took her interest further by signing up to be a full-time student through an extension program at the renowned Pratt Institute. Through her vast network, she started doing commercial jobs and designing for restaurants.

In 2008 Antoinette was offered an incredible opportunity to design at the Pasadena Showcase House, where her work was published in several magazines. After the financial crash that same year, Antoinette returned to New York to become a project manager for design-build projects. She chose everything from the paint color to the baseboards, windows, doors and light fixtures—up-leveling the finishes and earning the contractors more money through the higher rents they were able to charge.

This New York stint turned into a 12-year stay. During the pandemic Antoinette decided to return to her L.A. roots. She found a home in South Redondo with a little bit of land where she dreams of one day cultivating wine.

Antoinette’s vast experience in different industries

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“I’M HERE FOR SOMEBODY WHO WANTS TO TRAVEL DOWN A LITTLE PATH AND SEEK ME OUT.
WHEN I SET THE STORE UP, I MADE IT VERY PERSONAL. IT’S ABOUT ME; IT’S ABOUT MY FAMILY. IT’S A PLACE OF CURIOSITY. EVERYTHING HAS A STORY. AND THAT’S THE DRAW. I SOURCE VERY SPECIFIC THINGS. I’M A SOURCE-ERESS.”

has helped hone her design sensibility. Her approach is rooted in the architectural philosophy of thinking through how people feel in the space. She explains that anybody can be a decorator, but having a fundamental understanding of how a building is supposed to make somebody feel is the starting block.

“I don’t want to impose my own style on someone,” she says. “I want to create a space based on the essence of my client.”

In October 2021 Antoinette combined her design skills, experience and know-how and opened Le BienVivant. When she first saw the space, it was love at first sight. She even enjoyed the mystique of an alley location and not having an obvious storefront.

“I’m not here to be popular,” she says. “I’m here for somebody who wants to travel down a little path and seek me out. When I set the store up, I made it very personal. It’s about me; it’s about my family. It’s a place of curiosity. Everything has a story. And that’s the draw. I source very specific things. I’m a source-eress.”

The store name Le Bien-Vivant holds great sentiment for Antoinette. It translates to “good living” in French, but the meaning goes far deeper. It is an ode to her mother, Vivian, combining both their first names. Vivian, who passed away five years ago, always spoke of living your best life.

“My mom was beautiful, even through her pain,” Antoinette shares. “It’s about me and my mom. It’s about my black surfer dad plopping me on the sand here as a child. It’s about the passions for all these different things that bring it all together.”

Antoinette offers project management and design services to clients worldwide, often drawing inspiration through soulful Afro-French influences. Her gift to her clients is her incredible experience and taste, along with the ability to connect deeply with them. “I like to make sure that people understand I’m only a conduit. I don’t want to come in and tell you what you need. I want to be part of the journey with you.” ■

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Romance Revived

A HISTORIC SANTA BARBARA HOTEL CONNECTS THE MODERN TRAVELER WITH AN ENCHANTING PAST.

If you were curious what Santa Barbara looked like nearly 100 years ago, just stroll the hallways of Mar Monte Hotel. Framed black-and-white photographs show the lovely Spanish Colonial Revival structure surrounded by ocean, trees and a charming city center.

The gateway to the “American Riviera,” Santa Barbara attracted celebrities and adventurous Angelenos, who sought out this Mediterranean-inspired retreat in the shadows of the Santa Ynez Mountains. In 1930, when hotelier Frederick A. Bartholomew announced his plans for a new oceanfront hotel in town, he declared, “There will be nothing finer on the coast.”

Like the landscape surrounding his dream hotel, the Vista Mar Monte—its original name—transformed over the coming decades, taking on different names and brands to suit the times. It was only recently that the property was revived in the glorious spirit of its first incarnation and rechristened the Mar Monte. Now new generations of Santa Barbara visitors can experience a piece of hospitality history with nods to a glamourous past.

Lovingly restored with features closely matched to its 1930s design, the 200-room resort expands on the original footprint while preserving the integrity of the main structure. Part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt, the hotel features reimagined guest rooms, two new food and beverage concepts, and programming reflecting the local culture and community.

Connected by outdoor spaces with ocean views,

the two dining options offer fresh local fare in stylish settings. The poolside Café Lido is your best bet for a casual breakfast or lunch, served in a bright and welcoming space.

Next door at costa Kitchen & Bar, sample old-world coastal Italian cuisine infused with Middle Eastern influences and a killer list of Santa Barbara wine, craft beer and cocktails. Be sure to finish your meal with the California olive oil cake with caramelized white chocolate, basil-infused caramel and seasonal fruit.

While Mar Monte would love to keep you on property for your entire stay, the hotel is a huge community supporter and encourages guests to explore the nearby boutiques and tasting rooms of the Funk Zone—Santa Barbara’s bustling arts, culture, business and industrial district. Sip rosé all day at Paradise Springs Winery or cruise up the coast to majestic Montecito for antiques and artisanal goods.

The weeklong Taste of Santa Barbara will celebrate the bounty of local farms, ranches, vineyards and fisheries starting May 15. Stick around May 27–29 for the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival, when artists transform the Old Mission plaza using pastels on pavement to create 150 vibrant and colorful large-scale images. Santa Barbara is the first to bring this romantic festival to the Western Hemisphere from its sister festival in Grazie di Curtatone, Italy.

For more on local events, visit santabarbaraca.com. ■

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gorgeous greens

BRIGHTEN YOUR SPRING TABLE WITH THESE VIBRANT AND DELICIOUS SALAD RECIPES.

Produced & photographed by Kara Mickelson at Styled Delicious

MEDITERRANEAN TUNA “TEASER”

Serves 2

Imagine a decadent French pan bagnat sandwich coupled with a modern take on a Caesar salad. This beautiful, delicious salad pairs two classics to delight your taste buds. Gourmet tuna, Persian cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, radishes, romaine lettuce and fresh dill are topped with briny olives, capers and Parmesan for a Caesar-like dressing with a EuroMediterranean twist.

2 romaine lettuce hearts, washed and trimmed, divided

3 radishes, thinly sliced

¼ cup diced Persian cucumber

¼ small red onion, thinly sliced handful cherry tomatoes, halved

1 jar high-quality tuna packed in oil, drained

2 hard-boiled eggs, halved or quartered

2 tablespoons roasted, salted pumpkin seeds

kosher salt, to finish fresh ground pepper, to taste

Divide lettuce on two large plates or one large platter. Top with equal amounts sliced radish, cucumber, onion, tomatoes, tuna, eggs and pumpkin seeds. Spoon dressing (recipe at right) onto salad. Finish with a sprinkle of salt and fresh ground pepper; garnish with dill sprigs. Add a slice of warm Parmesan toast (recipe above, right) to each plate and serve immediately.

Toasted Parmesan Bread

2 slices French baguette, sliced diagonally olive oil

Parmesan

Drizzle bread with olive oil and top with Parmesan. Toast until light golden brown.

Dressing

¼ cup mild olive oil (or half olive oil/half avocado oil)

1 medium lemon, juiced and seeded

2 ounces Castelvetrano olives, pitted

2 medium garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon capers, drained

2½ ounces Parmesan, finely grated, divided

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

⅛ teaspoon ground white pepper

freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon fresh dill, minced (plus dill sprigs for garnish)

In a small bowl, slowly stream olive oil into lemon juice while whisking. Mince olives, garlic and capers together, creating a fine paste, and add to olive oil/ lemon base. Stir in 2 ounces Parmesan, salt, white and black pepper, and dill. Adjust seasoning as needed. Cover and refrigerate. Can be made one day in advance; let dressing come to room temp before serving.

SOUTHEAST ASIAN MANGO CHICKEN SALAD

Serves 2 to 4

Fresh herbs like mint and basil add an extra layer of spring deliciousness to this salad. Crunchy and hearty cabbage and bok choy are so satisfying as an alternate salad base to lettuce. Topped with shredded, poached chicken breast, sliced onion, carrots and a sprinkle of peanuts and sesame seeds, this salad is terrific as an entrée for lunch or dinner.

2 star anise

1-inch piece cinnamon stick

3 whole cloves

2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds

1 boneless chicken breast

½ cup snow peas

¼ medium white onion, sliced thin (soak in cold water 5 minutes)

1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced into 1-inch matchsticks

3 cups shredded Napa or Savoy cabbage (1 small)

1 to 2 baby bok choy, sliced thin (stem and leaves)

1 small head radicchio, trimmed

2 scallions, sliced thin diagonally

1 mango, peeled, seeded and sliced into ¼-inch strips

perilla (sesame) leaves, optional for garnish

fresh Thai green and purple basil

fresh mint

¼ cup micro or regular cilantro

¼ cup skinless raw peanuts, halved or crushed

1 tablespoon raw sesame seeds

lime wedges

Place spices in a medium saucepot that will hold a steamer basket. Heat spices over medium heat until aromatic. Add approximately 2 inches water to pot (or

until it reaches bottom of steamer). Bring water and spices to a boil and lower heat to simmer. Place chicken in steamer, cover and cook 12 minutes or until internal temperature is 170º

Remove chicken and add snow peas. Cook covered for 40 seconds or until bright green. Remove snow peas and place in a bowl of cold water to stop cooking process, then drain. Let chicken cool before shredding with a fork.

In a medium bowl combine onion, carrot, cabbage, bok choy, radicchio and scallions. Add chicken, mango and enough vinaigrette (recipe below) to lightly coat salad. Toss to combine.

Arrange the sesame leaves, if using, on individual plates or a platter, then place salad on top. Wash and trim herbs by removing stems and tearing any large leaves. Garnish salad with herbs, peanuts, sesame seeds and lime wedges. Serve immediately.

Vinaigrette

4 limes (4 tablespoons juice, plus garnish)

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon real maple syrup

2 tablespoons water

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

½ teaspoon red Thai, serrano or jalapeño chili, seeded and diced

Juice 3 limes and whisk with sesame oil, fish sauce, maple syrup and water. Stir in garlic and chili. More chilies can be added, so err on the side of less. Taste vinaigrette with a piece of cabbage. Adjust taste as needed, adding more lime, fish sauce, water or oil.

WINE COUNTRY ESCAROLE WITH MELON & PROSCIUTTO

Serves 2 to 4

A refreshing yet hearty salad of slightly bitter escarole, manchego, goat cheese, prosciutto, French melon and marcona almonds is the perfect mix of salty and sweet. Easy to assemble and with a “wow” presentation, this delicious dish takes almost no time to whip up and is the perfect spring salad for dining alfresco.

1 mini Charentais melon

1 medium escarole head, washed, trimmed

1 small red-leaf lettuce, washed, trimmed

¼ medium red onion, sliced thin

¼ cup mild goat cheese

1 ounce manchego or Parmesan cheese

4 slices prosciutto or serrano ham

¼ cup marcona almonds

olive oil

salt & pepper

fresh tarragon sprigs

grissini (breadsticks) for garnish

Slice melon in half horizontally. Remove seeds and cut one half into ¼-inch thick crescent-moons before removing the rind.

Hand-tear escarole and lettuce into bite-size pieces. Arrange on individual plates or a large platter and layer melon, onion and pieces of goat cheese on top. Use a sharp knife or vegetable peeler to cut manchego cheese into shavings. Tear prosciutto into 3-inch pieces. Just before serving, artfully arrange prosciutto, cheese

shavings and almonds on the salad. Drizzle with vinaigrette (recipe below) and olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh tarragon leaves and grissini. Serve immediately.

Sherry Citrus Vinaigrette

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon mild honey

1 small mandarin or clementine, seeded and juiced

¼ cup mild olive oil, plus more as needed

1 small shallot, minced

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

pinch ground white pepper

fresh ground pepper

Whisk together vinegar, honey, mandarin juice and olive oil. Whisk in shallots, salt and pepper. Store refrigerated in a covered container for up to 3 days.

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A WINNING GAME PLAN

Financial advisor Tania Kvakic helps her clients achieve new heights.

No matter your age or profession, understanding your finances so you can achieve your goals is truly the definition of success. If you happen to work as a professional athlete or entertainer—or you’re classified as “high net worth”—the stakes are elevated when it comes to creating your wealth and legacy game plan.

A rapid accumulation of wealth, while thrilling, must be leveraged with super smart choices. Selecting an accomplished, proactive support team can help you plan for the future while you’re still in the spotlight. And that includes all aspects of your life—not just your money.

“Being a financial advisor is much more than managing money,” says Tania Kvakic, who has 16 years of industry experience on her side. “Athletes in particular are the CEOs of themselves and their brand. Whether they’re signing a playing contract, moving in with a significant other or starting a new venture, their business is their life. And we’re there every step of the way.”

LEARNING THE ROPES

Tania is the head of RBC Sports Professionals Leadership Council at RBC Wealth Management, a global investment advisory firm that has served clients for more than a century. Before joining RBC in 2006, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in international business management and a Master of Science degree in personal financial planning. She holds several industry certifications and has been named to Forbes’

lists of Top Next-Gen Wealth Advisors, Bestin-State Wealth Advisors and Top Women Wealth Advisors for several years.

Education is instrumental in developing a solid financial future, and Tania arms clients with fiscal know-how pertaining to their unique circumstances and the decisions they must make. “The industry is always advancing, and the key is to keep educating yourself and setting goals for your entire life—not just during your playing career.”

TEAM EFFORT

Tania takes an approach that is centered on building trust and communication within

families and managing clients’ comprehensive needs—including income, investments, retirement, tax considerations, insurance and estate planning services. She works hand in hand with clients’ tax professionals, attorneys and other support specialists. High net worth individuals and families face distinct financial challenges, including complex taxation issues and often an income that is seasonal. With the backing of RBC Wealth Management’s global resources, Tania supports clients even when they leave the stage, the field, the movie set or the sports court.

“I am an extension of our clients’ families,” she shares. “We value the time we spend with

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT
“I AM AN EXTENSION OF OUR CLIENTS’ FAMILIES.”
PHOTOGRAPHED BY SUZIE DOVER (LEFT) & SHANE O’DONNELL (RIGHT)

them, listening and adapting our approach to each person and family. They all have different goals, objectives and ideas of how they want their future to unfold. I take time to understand my clients and offer wealth solutions to take their vision to new heights.”

Financial well-being offers a sense of security and peace of mind. Tania helps establish this for her clients by addressing all areas that affect their wealth, including asset accumulation, income, protection, preservation, distribution, succession and legacy. “I provide a high level of service and industry expertise that meets and often exceeds your expectations,” she says. “I view the responsibility of handling your money as seriously as handling my own.”

OFF THE CLOCK

Outside the office, Tania volunteers for various organizations that support children. She serves as a board member for the Arizona Coyotes Foundation and volunteers with Naples Children & Education Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Boys & Girls Clubs and Make-A-Wish.

Her own child—“my whole heart,” she smiles—is Bentley, a Bernedoodle who frequently walks with Tania on The Strand or accompanies her on adventures. “He has a very kind personality. Many people have said that he is even healing.”

Tania values spending time with her loved ones, attending live music events and going to the beach. She enjoys traveling to see the

world and experience new cultures. “I love to cook, so I always take a cooking lesson in a different country,” she says. “It allows me to integrate and learn more.”

For someone so immersed in life’s important decisions at work, enjoying the simple things after hours is what keeps Tania balanced. She can then bring her A game to each client interaction, helping you build the foundation for a truly successful life.

MANAGEMENT
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TANIA KVAKIC RBC WEALTH
602-381-5308 RBCWMFA.COM/TANIA.KVAKIC

A LEGACY OF CARE

Our lives are defined in many ways, some which reflect the level of our accomplishments. But for those with a deeper interest, few qualities endure longer than the expression of our love—whether it’s aimed toward our family, our community or the thousands of lives we help transform along the way.

Your support and contributions, of any amount, help expert community care thrive for years to come.

Learn more about starting your own legacy at TMLegacy.org

in the mix

A CHILDHOOD CONNECTION LEADS TO A PROJECT FOR A FAMILY OF FIVE IN MANHATTAN BEACH, AWASH IN AN ARTFUL MASH-UP OF PERSONAL STYLES.

Photographed by Lauren

Written

Manhattan Beach residents Mariya and Matt Levy initially found their current home in the Tree Section by chance. “We stumbled upon the house when we weren’t even ready to buy. Like most couples our age, attending open houses was a regular weekend activity,” explains Mariya. “We were living in Brentwood at the time and were looking to settle long-term in a place with a true neighborhood feel. A big part of that was finding a location where we could send our kids to public schools from elementary to high school. We didn’t want a house that felt too ‘new construction,’ but we knew we couldn’t handle a bunch of projects either.”

The 3,819-square-foot, five-bedroom, five-bath home, built by local firm StyleQ Construction, had just the right amount of charm and space for their growing family with three children and dog Messier. But they wanted to add their own touch with the color, artwork and accessories. Thanks to Matt’s childhood friend (also named Matt), they knew the first person to call for interior design help: his wife, Laurie Scovotti, who owns an eponymous design firm in Larchmont, New York.

“Matt and Laurie’s husband, Matt, grew up together in Westchester, New York, and have been friends since they were kids,” says Mariya. “Once Matt and I were married, we all became instant friends. Laurie’s style is very sophisticated, and I had no doubt she would do an amazing job. She also has three young kids and a similar sensibility. I lean toward a traditional style with

a more modern edge to it, and that matched up well.”

Designed completely sight unseen from her New York office, Laurie relied on photos, FaceTime and careful, precise room measurements for the project, which took approximately three months. “I had them stand in every corner of each of the rooms and take photos,” recalls Laurie. “It was my first solo project on the West Coast, and everything was brand new and done from scratch, which was really fun.”

Mariya played a big part in the design and collaborated closely with Laurie. “I didn’t want the house to be washed out in only neutral tones with beige everything,” says Mariya. “I embrace color and a mix of styles, and Laurie did a great job incorporating both. Most importantly, I wanted the interior design to add as much character as possible to counteract some of that ‘newness.’”

Using Mariya’s affinity for blue and white as a jumping-off point, along with hints of green and caramel and organic materials such as rattan, Laurie also took into consideration the architectural style of the home and Mariya’s aesthetic. “The house itself gives you a beachy vibe, and we wanted to incorporate those elements and make them a little more traditional while still feeling at home in Manhattan Beach,” adds Laurie. “Mariya’s style and how she dresses is a mash-up of bohemian cool meets English country, and we wanted to translate that into the house itself.”

In the entry, Laurie chose a bleached mahogany Chateau sofa table with turned legs by Noir, a Vivienne black-and-ivory bone inlay mirror from Butler Specialty Company, and a pair of Montreuil small wall sconces by Aerin for Visual Comfort. “To me, it’s a mix that feels natural, but it’s not an expected combination,” says Laurie. “I like the details on the legs, and it’s a more formal shape done in a casual way. Bone inlay just looks good anywhere and adds this graphic punch. The sconces are kind of French 1940s, and I like the curvature of the arms and how it relates to the

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console. They have that grand feeling in the entry, and it sets that tone.”

Just off the entry is an open-concept living room appointed with a blue diamond-patterned rug from Serena & Lily; woven Fiji/Golden shades by Smith+Noble; a Midnight Flower ceramic garden patio stool by Safavieh; and a Willoughby sofa by Anthropologie. Adjacent to the living room, the more formal family room is anchored by a cozy fireplace and contains a tortoise pen shell coffee table from Williams-Sonoma Home and a kelly green Glenlee chair from Anthropologie in Montauk performance linen topped with a tiger-printed pillow by The House of Scalamandré for a touch of glam.

Minor changes were made in the kitchen including swapping out existing pendants for Camden lanterns by Regina Andrew and adding navy chevron-patterned

counter stools by Serena & Lily to complement the existing blue island.

Upstairs in the primary bedroom, Laurie brought in more bohemian and natural-inspired accents with a Harbour Cane bed from Serena & Lily and a Frenchinspired Malone settee from Ballard Designs in a natural flaxen linen fabric. Mariya selected a painting of a floating woman entitled Still Waters by T.S. Harris from One Kings Lane. “Accessories are my favorite,” she says. “I just love the vibrant colors of this painting and the relaxing feeling it provokes.”

The modern-meets-English-country feel continues in the backyard replete with a Nantucket sofa from RH and a pair of whimsical blue-and-white striped Kit bamboo chairs and sunny lemon-printed ottomans by Celerie Kemble for One Kings Lane. “I wanted it to

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be cheerful and playful and work well for the family hanging out here but also for entertaining—ready for guests,” says Laurie. “The bamboo frame furniture and lemon prints are more Palm Beach than Manhattan Beach, but it plays into the traditionalmeets-modern mix we had in mind with the wholehouse design.”

When Laurie was finally able to visit post-installation day, she had a huge sense of accomplishment. “It felt so big and airy when I walked in,” she says. “It was such a relief and sense of joy. I love the mix of layers and colors. It feels like what they wanted, and I feel like they love the house. That makes me love it too.” ■

Frame of Mind

WITH THE HELP OF MEDITATION AND A RENEWED PERSPECTIVE, PHOTOGRAPHER BROOKE WILEN PURSUES THE LIFE OF AN INDEPENDENT ARTIST.

The opening of Brooke Wilen Fine Art, a studio/gallery in Downtown Manhattan Beach, marked the realization of a dream. Owner Brooke Wilen follows a philosophy of being present and open, which proved instrumental in helping her find and transform a studio space from an alley into a pristine gallery to showcase her bright, colorful work.

Though raised in Beverly Hills, Brooke found the history, art and grit of Los Feliz more appealing. While selling her art in a few furniture stores there, she decided it would be beneficial to have another space to display art and take meetings with prospective buyers.

Through a friend, Brooke found the opportunity to share a space in Manhattan Beach with designer Nancy Russert, owner of Les Beaux Interiors. At the very least, Brooke would have a private room by the beach for the summer, which was especially appealing as the pandemic was in full effect. She extended the initial trial run several times, and when Nancy announced she was moving to a bigger space after 20 years, Brooke was ready to have the place all to herself.

Her path to a photography career was a circuitous one. She started college in Santa Barbara but transferred back to Los Angeles, where she graduated from the University of Southern California. She initially wanted to work in the movie industry, getting a start at the ICM agency and then at Fox.

She was an avid knitter, and some of the costume designers on set commissioned her to make pieces for them. Brooke realized that she wanted to try something different, and her side hustle turned into a hand-knit clothing line. It was all going well until the financial

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crisis of 2007 resulted in some big stores canceling their orders.

This left Brooke with extra stock, but she turned what seemed like a desperate situation into an opportunity. Online shopping was in its infancy, but she decided to take photos of her products and create a website to sell them. Brooke started with a 50-person mailing list and a goal to simply clear her stock and make her money back. She ended up selling hundreds of units overnight.

A natural entrepreneur, Brooke realized that other designer friends were likely also sitting on stock, so she created an online sample sale website named Bad Joan. She hustled to get about 100 designers represented. It was gaining momentum, but managing, executing and marketing it all on her own was proving to be too difficult.

Brooke turned to blogging—a new trend at the time— to drive more business. Although she ultimately closed the website, she found that blogging and creating a social media presence for her designers was a profitable business. She started in the clothing industry and then branched out to other businesses. Eventually she acquired some big accounts such as Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, Saban Films and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

Business was booming. As the desire for more content grew, she started posting pictures and looking at the world through new eyes. When documenting the construction phase of the Waldorf, she noticed the light perfectly hitting a collection of nails on the ground and had to capture it. Someone asked for a print of the image, and that’s when she realized she had found her passion as well as a way to make it a career.

She started slowly, grew her knowledge of making fine art prints and began selling some pieces. Momentum grew after a few art shows, but then COVID-19 hit. The retail businesses she worked for began struggling, and almost overnight she lost her key sources of income. Brooke took this as a sign to follow her heart and be intentional about being an artist.

She attributes her positivity and bravery during this unstable time to meditation, which she learned through Rewired—a video series led by doctor, author and lecturer Joe Dispenza. This course helped Brooke create her path without fear. Almost on cue, the world opened up to support her work as a full-time artist.

Brooke believes that magic happens in the “now,” so she decided to shoot all her images with her iPhone— super convenient and featuring technology that

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“WHAT CREATES ANXIETY IS THAT YOU’RE NOT FOCUSED IN THE NOW; YOU’RE FOCUSED ON SOMETHING THAT YOU DON’T HAVE OR SOMETHING IN THE PAST YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING ABOUT. BUT WHEN I BECOME HYPERFOCUSED ON THE NOW, LIKE WHEN I TAKE A PICTURE, MAGIC HAPPENS. THINGS BECO ME SO INTERESTING, AND I BECOME SO MUCH CALMER.”

produces high-quality work. Using the iPhone enables her to capture moments as they happen—in the now— without having to give up the freedom and spontaneity that makes her work so special.

Brooke mastered the technical aspects of printing large-scale images from an iPhone photo because clients were requesting bigger and bigger pictures. She produces them on high-quality, fade-proof paper, creating a limited run of each piece. Everything is signed and numbered, and has a certificate of authenticity to make the work personal. Unlike some photographers who offer limited editions numbering in the thousands, she may make only three prints.

Taking photos has become a form of meditation and focus for Brooke, and through her art she has become more introspective. As a young child and through

early adulthood, she suffered from anxiety and terrible panic attacks.

“What creates anxiety is that you’re not focused in the now; you’re focused on something that you don’t have or something in the past you can’t do anything about,” she shares. “But when I become hyper-focused on the now, like when I take a picture, magic happens. Things become so interesting, and I become so much calmer.”

Brooke takes a glass-half-full view of the world around her. “I enjoy simple pleasures—the joy and beauty in everyday life. I like to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary, find the magic in the mundane.”

She hopes that through her art she can help people enjoy these things a little more. Maybe others too can find what they need in the now—a moment of happiness, joy or peace. ■

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FRIENDS & FAMILY

Realtor® Jen Caskey shares her expertise and passion for living, working and playing in her hometown community.

Jennifer Caskey always knew she wanted to work in real estate. Raised in Manhattan Beach and growing up with her mom working as a Realtor®, Jen got a feel for the business at an early age. She moved back to Manhattan Beach after graduating from USC to start her career in real estate and raise her three boys.

Jen is a hometown girl through and through and has excelled in the business she began almost three decades ago, right in her backyard. As a “South Bay expert,” she has seen it all and loves showing people around— helping them find their perfect home. There’s no better resource for all things local: restaurants, schools, charities, local events. This is where Jen enjoys spending her free time with

friends and family, or going on walks with her dog, Winnie.

“I absolutely love working in my hometown, educating newcomers as well as longtime friends about the growing market in the South Bay,” she says. “I’ve seen a lot of changes over the years and enjoy the challenges and successes that arise in our unique marketplace. I firmly believe that the Beach Cities are the best communities in Los Angeles County, and I’m so grateful to live and work here.”

In January 2022, Jen gathered a talented group of agents and started the Jen Caskey Group at Compass. The firm’s tagline says it all: “Luxury Boutique. Global Reach.” The Jen Caskey Group is a savvy, boutique-style

luxury real estate business with the international presence of Compass, a company that prides itself on its modern, technologydriven platform.

“Our team’s goal is to provide distinctive services to each of our clients while offering them extensive resources through Compass,” Jen explains. “I honestly believe that our experience and attention to detail—combined with Compass’ network—uniquely positions us to offer the best real estate services in the South Bay.”

Working with family is of paramount importance to Jen. She feels lucky to have her sister Stacia and future daughter-in-law Avery on her team. Creating and preserving a family business in her beloved community

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION AGENT SPOTLIGHT
Jen’s sons Chris, Shane and Kyle with Winnie PHOTOGRAPHED BY KELLY FAJACK

was one of her original goals for moving home after college, and she plans to keep the tradition going. Jen has worked with some clients repeatedly for many years, and many of them have become dear friends who feel like family—a staple of her success.

One of the most crucial aspects of Jen’s business is philanthropy. Supporting local organizations has always been a priority for her and her colleagues. Jen has passed on this quality to her boys as well, and it is truly a “family affair” when they participate in the Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk, volunteer for the Richstone Family Center or

support local schools and sports teams.

“Part of living and working in our community is giving back, and we are so proud to support many local organizations. It’s truly the backbone of who we are, and we wouldn’t have it any other way,” Jen says. She is creating a lasting legacy that goes beyond helping clients buy and sell homes here in the South Bay.

Jen brings 30 years of real estate experience to the table, combined with strong family values, a philanthropic heart and pride in her hometown. These qualities have made her one of the most beloved agents in

this area. She looks forward to leading the talented team members of the Jen Caskey Group as they help individuals and families with their real estate goals for many years to come.

THE JEN CASKEY GROUP AT COMPASS

805 MANHATTAN AVE., SUITE 201, MANHATTAN BEACH 310-200-5900

JENCASKEYGROUP.COM

@JENCASKEYGROUP

DRE #01075946

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L to R, back: Avery Hazelrigg, Stacia Janus, Ali Snider, Eric Fonoimoana Front: Patrice Radden, Jen Caskey, Starr Dill
DESIGNED WITH YOU IN MIND. 516 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Manhattan Beach (310) 970-4485 | www.ounceofsaltjewelry.com

Getting Rooted

KAZAKHSTAN NATIVE DASHA SIMPSON BRIDGES TWO HOMES WITH BESPOKE ARRANGEMENTS AND HANDMADE CERAMICS.

Born in the foothills of the majestic mountains near Almaty in Kazakhstan, Dasha Simpson grew up surrounded by natural beauty. This setting would become both the source and product of her art and creativity.

Kazakhstan endured a tragic history in the 20th century, especially during Soviet occupation following World War II. Despite the horrors of war, Kazakhstan became a melting pot for Germans, Jews and Koreans seeking refuge. Almaty benefited from this mix of cultures and became a cosmopolitan, hip destination.

Dasha thrived in her hometown, first with a career

in advertising before taking a surprising turn to pursue floristry. As part of her training, Dasha completed floral design programs in London, Paris and New York. The design studio and flower shop she cofounded in Almaty has been in operation for over a decade. There she styled flowers and composed installations for Louis Vuitton, Van Cleef & Arpels and Saks Fifth Avenue, among other notable clients. Inspired by the history and landscape of Central Asia, Dasha’s artisanal practice is deeply connected to the earth.

It was also in Almaty that Dasha met her husband,

Tommy Simpson, a musician and South Bay native who was visiting the area while en route to a show in Iceland. Taken by Dasha’s exquisite beauty and charm, Tommy returned to Almaty eight times before finally moving there.

Together they expanded Dasha’s flower store to include records and books. They were married in a small fairytale wedding with just a few friends and family members, high up in the majestic mountains of Kazakhstan overlooking a pristine glacier. The newlyweds lived in Almaty for a few years among an amazing community of artistic friends.

“It was a special time for us to do our little project together and for Thomas to be involved in some really cool art projects too, including making music for an experiential theatre,” shares Dasha. The Almaty phase came to an end when they made the bold move to Los Angeles to be part of the music industry and return to Tommy’s roots.

The couple settled in Manhattan Beach, and Dasha soon became pregnant with daughter Alma. When the pandemic hit, the new family cocooned themselves at home, complete with a music studio where Thomas could compose and a ceramics studio where Dasha could fine-tune her newfound art form. She had picked up ceramics as a creative outlet, fell in love with it and joined a community of beautiful souls. Her art became a refuge from the challenges of being a new mom in a

new country.

For Dasha, ceramics and flowers made perfect sense together—the clay being from the earth created a perfect home for her incredible arrangements. Inspired further by fine art, fashion, architecture and design, Dasha founded Umay, a brand that produces floral compositions and ceramic vases made in-house and in collaboration with artists and designers. She partnered with Yana Lee, who brought her experience in global event management to help run the business side of the brand.

The Umay studio is based in a historical part of Downtown L.A., just a few steps from the flower district. This was key in helping them optimize daily access to the best and freshest flowers.

Dasha loves working in the quiet of her home studio as well as in the hustle and bustle of Downtown L.A. “I get the best of both worlds,” she says. “I love being in this peaceful, perfect heaven where everything is safe and nice and beautiful at home. And then going downtown feels almost like you are going into New York.”

In Turkic and Mongolian mythology, Umay is the Earth Mother—the oldest deity of fertility, the protector of women and children. “One can feel her love and presence all around as she watches over and supports communities,” Dasha explains. “We preserve her spirit and materialize it in our work with the utmost care and sensitivity. Through our floral compositions, we aim to provide a story and sense of home.” ■

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Wellness Within

When the Manhattan Beach Unified School District (MBUSD) began planning its second annual Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Week, which took place in March, plenty of ideas crossed the minds of not just those who work for the district but parents as well. The first SEL Week, in 2022, was such a success that this time the excitement within the community—especially from parents—was incredible.

Planning for this year began back in October. Between 10 and 25 volunteers helped at each of the eight schools for the 2023 event.

“All of the school sites make sure the kids have a trusted adult they can go to if they have a problem or are upset. For one child it could be anyone from the custodian or groundskeeper. It is all about who makes the children feel safe. For so many of the kids, it’s seeing that smiling face and then modeling those behaviors,” says Kerry Augero, director of student services for the district. “We are so blessed with so many who offer support. That giving nature makes such an impact. It continues to build up our students.”

District SEL cochair Wimberly Meyer saw firsthand the effect the COVID-19 pandemic had on children, and

IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD, MANHATTAN BEACH PUBLIC SCHOOL STAFF AND PARENTS FIND NEW WAYS TO FOSTER SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING AMONG STUDENTS.
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she wanted to do something to help. A mother of two kids who are in elementary school, Wimberly noticed how their social interactions changed.

“Seeing how they were affected really had an impact on me. Just like you want to eat well, get a good night’s sleep and brush your teeth, you also want to have good mental hygiene,” says Wimberly. “If you can incorporate this into the kids’ lives—even if it is just for 30 seconds or calming the mind for five minutes—it makes a difference. The other pieces and parts of your life will be affected by that.”

SEL reflects the critical role of positive relationships and emotional connections in the learning process and helps students develop a range of skills they need for school and life—all in the name of creating a culture of care. At the elementary schools, some of the activities included writing in a gratitude journal, painting river rocks with kindness messages and images, and heart face paintings.

At Manhattan Beach Middle School, students participated in yoga, listened to speakers who have dealt with adversity and had a scavenger hunt. At Mira Costa High School, students took a “No Place for Hate” pledge,

listened to a cyber safety speaker and had Fun Friday Music in Mustang Mall. People at all schools wore green on March 10 for Mental Health Awareness month.

“For the elementary school kids, we want to give them the right words and traits. Then as they get older, we will begin to see that growth even more. We are all eager to see that change and are already finding great success,” says Kerry.

She says the high school has many activities, and the clubs are student-driven. “Students are having their voices heard, and it’s what they need and want. That’s the same thing with the middle school. They create that safe space at lunch.”

While not much time has passed since SEL Week, Kerry is already thinking about ideas for SEL Week 2024. She continually considers the students and how MBUSD can support them for the long haul.

“It is always about reflection. Plenty of things work, but it’s all about adjusting and how we can make things even better next year,” says Kerry. “We’ll bring the committee back together, collaborate to make sure the week is age-appropriate and consider how we can make SEL Week feel even more like a community activity.” ■

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In every issue, we share one story across our network that explores topics beyond the limits of the South Bay. These California stories speak to the meaningful impact our state and its residents are making on the global stage. To learn more about Golden State and discover more stories like this, visit goldenstate.is.

electric company

STYLISH AND EFFICIENT, RIVIAN’S ELECTRIC VEHICLES SHOW GREAT PROMISE AS CALIFORNIA PUSHES TOWARD A CARBON-NEUTRAL FUTURE. BUT CAN THE EMERGING COMPANY OVERCOME ITS GROWING PAINS?

as seen in

As the world’s fourth largest economy, California leads and the rest of the United States tends to follow— such that our state’s commitment to cleaner air may also presage a national shift. The key provision of the new rule is the statewide ban on the sale of greenhouse gas-producing vehicles by 2035—a short 12 years into the future.

Additional benchmarks along the way will include interim targets like a requirement that 35% of new passenger vehicles sold by 2026 must be net zero emissions. That percentage rises to a remarkable 68% of new vehicles sold as soon as 2030. Governor Gavin Newsom describes the new regulations as “one of the most significant steps to the elimination of the tailpipe as we know it.” He notes, “Our kids are going to act like it’s a rotary phone or changing the channel on a television.”

But while California’s bold action is good news for the environment, it creates both opportunities and challenges for the automakers tasked with producing these vehicles. If timing is everything, then it’s a good time to be electric vehicle start-up Rivian.

As antipathy for Tesla’s Elon Musk grows, many consumers are exploring alternatives. Well-funded Rivian may be poised to pick up the Teslarati looking to spend elsewhere. While just a few of Rivian’s signature trucks and even fewer of its SUVs can be currently seen on California’s highways, they’re coming—just a little later than frustrated consumers expected.

According to data reported in October 2022, Rivian produced 7,363 vehicles at its Illinois manufacturing

location in the third quarter, which was a substantial increase from Q2—nearly 67% more. The company reported that 6,584 vehicles (a sum of all three models produced: the R1T truck, the R1S SUV and its electric van made for investor Amazon) were delivered in Q3. It announced optimistically that subsequent production in Q4 would reach the targeted annual goal of 25,000 total vehicles produced.

In actuality, the company manufactured 24,337 total vehicles in 2022. While close to its announced annual goal, nevertheless this made investors nervous. Q4 deliveries also lagged, angering impatient would-be owners who had been promised delivery in 2022. Challenges cited include supply line snags and parts delays.

But it wasn’t just the extended delivery delays that created frustration in 2022. In an ill-advised move that created considerable backlash, Rivian raised its prices substantially on preordered vehicles in March 2022. The company announced increases of 17% for the truck and 20% for the SUV, based on a shortage of semiconductors in the market and higher wholesale costs for other critical parts.

If you’ve been waiting a long time for your new fancy EV and then are told you’re going to have to pay substantially more for it while you continue to wait, you may just cancel your order and shop elsewhere—which is what many buyers did. Rivian later rescinded the retroactive price increases for consumers with purchase reservations made prior to March 1, but the price increases held for new reservations made subsequently in 2022.

For many, the sticker shock now outweighs Rivian’s feel-good climate consciousness and sleek design. Just how much a Californian is willing to pay for an eco-luxury vehicle is a question that rival carmakers Tesla, Lucid and Polestar also continue to test. None of these cars are remotely affordable when compared to Chevy’s Volt and other competitors at the value end of the category.

Manufacturing and scalability questions aside, there is much to recommend about Rivian. With California ushering in a new era of state-mandated EV sales, the

Sometimes revolutions start noisily, and sometimes they start quietly— like the announcement made by the California Air Resources Board in August 2022. For all intents and purposes, this may well have marked the death knell of internal combustion engines.
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market remains ripe here if Rivian can satisfy existing orders while ramping up. SoCal consumers can check out Rivian’s Venice Hub to experience in person all that the brand hopes to condense: climate consciousness and community, packaged up in a car.

The Hub is a neighborhood hangout, open to all, with no obnoxious car salesmen or bait-and-switch pricing. It’s the polar opposite of a shiny showroom and those dealer lots filled with gleaming rows of new cars. Rather, it’s a green space filled with bespoke coffee, gardens, books and just two floor models at which to marvel. And yes, you can crawl up in the R1T’s super cool truck bed camping tent and take that beautiful R1S out for a spin.

Another attractive selling point is Rivian’s commitment to environmental partners like the National Park Service (NPS) and select state park systems. Rivian claims to be on “a mission to keep the world adventurous forever,” and its vehicles are definitely designed for off-roading and outdoor exploration.

Working with nonprofit Adopt a Charger and the NPS, Rivian is building out the Waypoint public charging network in many scenic if remote locations where EV charging has previously been nonexistent. Rivian’s Waypoint chargers are 100% powered by sustainable energy sources. These specialized charging locations are currently free to consumers and are not specific to Rivian, unlike rival Tesla’s proprietary charging stations. (Rivian’s proprietary Adventure Network is free only to owners for the first year.)

And in related good news, Rivian just announced a bellwether partnership with Apex Clean Energy in December 2022. Rivian aims to power up to 75% of the hourly energy needs at its Illinois plant with Apex’s

Goose Creek Wind farm.

Vehicles that are 100% zero emission and manufactured primarily with renewable wind power? Now that’s a two-for-one benefit that helps take the sting out of that price tag for the environmentally minded consumer. Virtue at the point of purchase and no pain at the pump make for a very compelling combination.

The general feeling is that Rivian sincerely supports sustainability while struggling to sustain investors’ support. Rivian’s IPO and early trading in November 2021 clocked shares at a breathtaking high of $179.47 on November 16. Today they’re hovering around just $17.50, and Rivian is routinely cited as one of the most underperforming stocks of 2022.

Troubling news includes its recent breakup with Ford and the scrapping of its European expansion plans with Mercedes-Benz. It’s also weathered a painful round of layoffs at its Irvine headquarters.

All big launches have growing pains, but it’s whether Rivian can outgrow them that is key. The vehicles themselves are an absolute joy to drive, and the company’s core ethos may yet bring it to a place where doing good for the environment is complementary—not counterproductive—to a company’s growth.

A documentary made in 2006 called Who Killed the Electric Car was followed by a sequel in 2011 called Revenge of the Electric Car in which a younger, less cocky guy named Musk details his similar launch travails. Rivian’s rise and California’s newest regulations might well equal a trilogy in which zero-emission vehicles do finally triumph. Let’s all hope so, on behalf of our great Golden State and the air that our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be breathing here someday. ■

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HOME Release Party at Gallery 208

Southbay HOME celebrated its spring issue with a private art showing at Gallery 208 in Manhattan Beach. Guests enjoyed food by Esperanza, wine from Barsha and amazing work by local artists.

SEEN 106 |
PHOTOGRAPHED BY SHANE O’DONNELL

Recognizing the Graduating Seniors of 2023

Congratulations to the 19 graduating high school seniors from the Novas of Torrance Memorial Medical Center. Collectively they contributed over 7,800 service hours to support patients and staff—particularly through the pandemic. Since September 2020 they have treated health care workers to thousands of baked good items along with care packages for staff and patients.

SEEN | 107
PHOTOGRAPHED BY DEBORAH LEM
L to R, back: Gregory Monzon, Griffin Hur, Omar Eltawil, Kyle Shigekawa, Josh Chen, Josh Ikegami, Ryan Pang Middle: Emi Kobayashi, Kayla Mar, Jenna Chow, Charlotte Chiang, Jadyn Lee, Abigail Nho, Vivian Chan Front: Meghan Ke

“We have a diverse client base, but many are successful professionals who have worked hard and saved well. Our clients tend to live an active, fulfilling lifestyle, and our goal is to help them sleep well at night so that they can simply focus on enjoying the finer things they have worked so hard to achieve.”

– SIGNATURE ESTATE & INVESTMENT ADVISORS, LLC

L to R: Eric C. Pritz, CFP®, CMFC®, Senior Partner; Len Hirsh, MBA, CFP®, AIF®, Financial Advisor; Vince A. DiLeva, MS, CFP®, AIF®, Managing Senior Partner
PHOTOGRAPHED
SHANE O'DONNELL
BY

FINANCIAL SERVICES

Peace of mind is something money can’t buy. But one way to keep anxiety at bay is to be smart with your money—with the help of a solid team of financial experts. The local wealth management professionals on the following pages can help you conquer today’s financial challenges and make smart decisions to meet your life goals.

WRITTEN BY LAURA L. WATTS SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION 110 SIGNATURE ESTATE & INVESTMENT ADVISORS 112 GUZMAN LAW GROUP DENISE M. GUZMAN 114 NAVIGOE WEALTH MANAGEMENT SCOTT LEONARD 116 WOMEN OF NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL MANHATTAN BEACH 118 KINECTA WEALTH MANAGEMENT

SIGNATURE ESTATE & INVESTMENT ADVISORS, LLC

Signature Estate & Investment Advisors, LLC® (SEIA) is an independent Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firm offering wealth management and financial planning services to affluent individuals, families and business owners. SEIA manages more than $16.9 billion as of March 31, 2023, and is proud to have been recognized by many well-respected financial publications including Barron’s Top 100 RIA Firms, Financial Times’ Top 300 Registered Investment Advisors, RIA Channel’s Top 100 Wealth Managers and LA Business Journal’s 100 Largest Money Managers.

With a combined 50 years of wealth management experience and multiple advanced degrees and financial designations, Vince DiLeva, Eric Pritz and Len Hirsh are proud residents and supporters of the South Bay community. They work in a fiduciary capacity, delivering comprehensive and unbiased investment advice and employing a team approach with an open-door policy so clients can always reach someone at the firm with any question. As personal financial concierges, the SEIA team helps with investment management, retirement planning, estate and legacy planning, tax planning, philanthropic and family foundation management, college savings, and insurance.

HOW IS SEIA DIFFERENT?

SEIA was established in 1997 with the goal of only doing what’s best for our clients. We have guided generations of families through numerous market and economic cycles and various life changes. Accordingly, we understand priorities shift, goals evolve and unexpected needs arise, and we know that cookie-cutter investment solutions rarely get the job done. So we incorporate a range of strategies, and we maintain flexibility to tactically address new market challenges and opportunities as they arise. SEIA offers customizable and personally crafted portfolios that incorporate our investment committee’s extensive research and thoughtful market analysis. We even offer a unique ‘nondiscretionary’ approach where clients retain final decision-making authority on investment strategies, specific holdings and

trade timing. It’s a great stepping-stone solution for those accustomed to managing their own portfolio, who are thereby hesitant to "turn over the reins."

WHAT ARE SOME UNIQUE STRATEGIES SEIA HAS ACCESS TO?

Clients need advisors with the tools to address not only their unique life circumstances but also a range of market conditions. With equity valuations feeling swollen and fixed income interest rates at historic lows, we’re looking to optimize the constituent pieces of clients’ portfolios.

In a typical 60/40 (equity/bond) portfolio, we’ll seek to improve yield (and bring down market correlation) on the 40% in bonds by partially pivoting into things like middlemarket lending, private credit, private real estate and/or insurance-linked securities (ILS). With the 60% in equities, we can swap in some noncorrelated, small-cap growth exposure through private equity funds that invested early in companies like SpaceX, Palantir and Chargepoint. Or we can offer downside protection via a cap-and-cushion hedging approach using things like defined-outcome ETFs (exchange-traded funds), structured notes or option overlays. It all depends on a client’s goals and needs.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST BENEFIT YOUR CLIENTS GAIN FROM WORKING WITH SEIA?

Novice investors might evaluate an advisor’s worth by simply comparing portfolio performance to that of a market index. Our clients, on the other hand, have learned that successful advisors can add three to four percentage points (known as advisor alpha) over time—and especially in moments of crisis—through thoughtful advice on asset allocation, portfolio-rebalancing, spending/ withdrawal strategies, product cost-cutting and behavioral coaching around investors’ emotional tendencies.

WHAT HAS BEEN A SURPRISING SOURCE OF NEW BUSINESS?

We’re now considered experts in managing highly appreciated, concentrated stock

positions, which seem commonplace after this bull market run. We have a range of solutions based on tax appetite, including completion portfolios (a multiyear process of methodically triggering capital gains while actively tax-loss harvesting and diversifying into a customizable and complementary portfolio), exchange funds (diversification into broad market exposure without triggering capital gains), qualified opportunity zone funds (investing in a community-development program while delaying taxes on realized gains) and options-hedging strategies (covered calls or costless collars) that keep low-basis shares from getting called away.

DO YOU HAVE RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHER PROFESSIONALS THAT BENEFIT YOUR CLIENTS?

As longtime South Bay residents and business owners, we have worked with many local professionals. When it comes to managing clients’ wealth, we regularly function as the quarterback among a collaborative team of CPAs, attorneys, Realtors® and other trusted advisors.

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the authors’ and do not necessarily represent the opinions of SEIA. Third-party rankings or recognition from rating services or publications are no guarantee of future investment success. These ratings should not be construed as an endorsement of the Advisor by any client, nor are they representative of any one client’s evaluation or experience. Additional important information for awards and accolades and details on any professional designations displayed herein, including descriptions, minimum requirements and ongoing education requirements, can be found at seia.com/ disclosures. SEIA is an SEC-registered investment adviser; however, such registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training and no inference to the contrary should be made. Securities offered through Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. (RAA) member FINRA/ SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through SEIA, 2121 Avenue of the Stars, Suite 1600, Los Angeles, CA 90067, 310-712-2323. RAA is separately owned and other entities and/or marketing names, products or services referenced here are independent of RAA. (CA Insurance License: Len Hirsh #0L46886, Vince DiLeva #0B84300 and Eric C. Pritz #0E55966).

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION 110 | FINANCIAL SERVICES 1848 S. ELENA AVE., SUITE 100, REDONDO BEACH | 310-712-2320 | SEIA.COM
PHOTOGRAPHED BY SHANE O'DONNELL L to R: Len Hirsh, Stephanie Chow, Kyle Demshki, Tamara Patterson, Jeff Zuanich, Chelsea Traub, Eric Pritz, Sara Hendrix, Vince DiLeva

GUZMAN LAW GROUP, PC

Manhattan Beach-based legal firm Guzman Law Group has been advocating for the South Bay community for over 30 years. Their clients represent the diverse industries that define the vibrancy and innovation of the South Bay. The firm provides high-caliber legal services in business and finance transactions, trust and civil litigation, estate planning, and trust administration. With its close proximity to Hollywood, Guzman Law Group also focuses on entertainment law and celebrity estates. The firm is certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

WHAT SERVICES DOES GUZMAN LAW GROUP OFFER?

Edward Powell, Corporate, Securities, & Finance Attorney: We help business owners when they want to buy or sell a business, finance a business, or bring in investors or partners. We can provide every service needed from formation and initial capital raising rounds to structuring and documenting relationships with institutional investors, succession planning and other exit strategies. The business lawyers at Guzman Law Group work closely with our estate planning colleagues to ensure our business owners have wide-ranging guidance to protect their personal wealth and provide for their families while continuing to operate and grow successful family businesses.

HOW DOES GUZMAN LAW GROUP PROVIDE A COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE TO CLIENTS?

Drew Hallett, Business and Trust Litigation

Attorney: The Guzman Law Group provides its clients with a competitive advantage because we offer big law services right here in the South Bay. Guzman Law Group provides a variety of legal services under one roof—a critical benefit for clients because an issue that arises in one area of law can impact a legal issue in another area. We

develop a strategy that addresses a client’s entire situation and circumstances. With our open and collaborative culture, we work as a team to provide the best legal services we can for our clients. And because we are a boutique firm, we do so with a personal touch.

HOW DO WE APPROACH WEALTH PRESERVATION FOR OUR CLIENTS?

Jane S. Lee, Estate Planning Attorney: We use various strategies tailored to each client’s circumstances including their specific long-term and short-term goals. We create a comprehensive estate plan that includes the trust, wills and powers of attorney to ensure their assets are distributed according to their wishes and that they have designated individuals who will make decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated or unable to manage their finances. We also work with the client’s CPA and financial advisors to ensure their objectives and goals are aligned with their estate plan.

IN WHAT WAYS DO YOU ENSURE YOUR BUSINESS STANDS OUT IN THE MARKETPLACE?

Edward Powell: The last few years have seen an increase in the private mergers and acquisitions market for the best and most prepared companies. This is primarily through strategic acquisitions but also with family-owned businesses seeking to implement their succession planning with a sale or transfer of part or all of their business. Our firm has the sophisticated experience to deal with even the most aggressive private equity firms that may demand highly complex deal structures when investing in a South Bay industry. We can adapt this expertise to family-owned businesses that need similarly creative solutions. We guide clients to ensure they understand each step and can make the most informed decisions.

WHAT DO YOU WISH ALL CLIENTS WOULD DO?

Marcus Chang, Business and Estate Planning Attorney: Checking in before or after making a major decision concerning their assets could save the client time and money in the future. One common mistake I have seen is when an individual takes their residence out of their trust to refinance their residence but fails to transfer it back into the trust once the refinance is concluded.

WHAT FULFILLS YOU IN YOUR CAREER?

Denise M. Guzman, Business and Estate Planning Attorney: I am a people person. I enjoy meeting the vast array of people that live in our community. Having someone entrust me with their thoughts and wishes is truly a gift. You have to take the time to really listen to another person’s needs, whether it be preparing an estate plan or selling a client’s business. In the end, you have provided peace of mind for someone— and that is a great feeling.

Drew Hallett: Our clients’ satisfaction. When a client retains our firm, they usually have a legal issue of a serious nature that is extremely important to them and/or their loved ones. Our clients put their trust in us to serve them and put them in the best position to address these legal issues. That is why we work so diligently, thoroughly and effectively for our clients. There is no greater feeling than helping our clients achieve the results they expect and desire.

Marcus Chang: The most fulfilling part of my career is when clients tell me how much they appreciate the work we have done for them. The process of administering a probate estate or trust can be complicated, and it makes me happy when I am able to guide them through the complicated process to a satisfactory conclusion.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION 112 | FINANCIAL SERVICES 1230 ROSECRANS AVE., SUITE 650, MANHATTAN BEACH | 310-321-6640 | GUZMANLG.COM
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MARISA GUZMÁN-ALOIA
L to R: Attorneys Alisha R. Swain-Fall, Carol T. Contes, Drew C. Hallett, Edward Powell, Denise M. Guzman, Charles Shelton, Marcus Chang, Maaha Khan, Jane S. Lee, Charles Scheurich

NAVIGOE WEALTH MANAGEMENT

Navigoe is a South Bay fee-only financial fiduciary that works with families, business owners and executives concerned with maintaining and growing their financial prosperity. Owner and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional Scott Leonard has more than 30 years of experience in financial planning and wealth management. For the past four years, Navigoe has been selected as one of the Best Financial Advisors & Wealth Management Firms in Los Angeles by AdvisoryHQ.

IS THERE AN OVERRIDING CONCEPT THAT BEST DESCRIBES NAVIGOE’S SERVICES?

We call it Family Wealth Preservation. Our clients have worked hard, made sacrifices and saved to achieve or get on the path toward financial independence. They are looking to generate a steady income stream in retirement for themselves while still preserving their financial legacy for subsequent generations.

HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE DIFFICULT TASK OF WEALTH PRESERVATION?

Our entire service model is set up to design, implement and oversee a custom financial strategy that integrates all the aspects of family wealth preservation: investment management, tax mitigation, estate planning, retirement income, wealth transfer, charitable giving and asset protection.

WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT NAVIGOE’S FAMILY WEALTH PRESERVATION VERSUS OTHER TRADITIONAL WEALTH MANAGEMENT SERVICES?

What is unique is the focus on both preservation and income. There are many different factors that can impact a family’s financial health. Most firms primarily focus on investments. However, other elements such as taxes, expenses and complexity are much greater forces affecting the long-term

value of capital and its ability to generate spendable income. We use a holistic approach to the preservation of capital— always seeking to determine if it can be accomplished for less money, less complexity, less risk and lower taxes.

WHAT TYPES OF CLIENTS ARE BEST SUITED FOR NAVIGOE’S WEALTH PRESERVATION SERVICE?

Family Wealth Preservation is best suited for families that have already accumulated a seven-figure net worth. However, it is extremely beneficial for those who are still in the accumulation—or saving—phase of their lives. Since taxes are one of the biggest expenses for most people, doing proper multiyear tax planning early is critical to minimize the effects of taxation later in life. Planning earlier for financial independence and family wealth preservation leads to a higher probability of achieving these goals.

WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO HELP YOUR CLIENTS THROUGH THIS TIME OF UNPRECEDENTED UNCERTAINTY?

A unique feature of our investment approach is that it does not require us—or anyone else— to forecast what is going to happen. I know that we cannot predict the future, but we can plan for it. This allows our clients to have peace of mind that the strategies put in place for them to fulfill their goals are not disrupted by these difficult and tragic times.

I liken this approach to planning for an earthquake. In this analogy, most wealth management firms spend their effort trying to predict when and where the next earthquake may strike. At Navigoe, we focus on being ready for “the big one.” If it never occurs in our lifetime, excellent. If it does happen, we are prepared to minimize the after-effects and move on with our lives as smoothly as possible.

NAVIGOE IS AN INTERESTING NAME; WHAT DOES IT MEAN?

“Navigo” is Latin for “navigate” or “to sail.” The translation may specifically be “to navigate a sailboat across oceans.” At Navigoe we believe that we serve as our clients’ financial navigators, helping them achieve their goals and doing so in a secure and enjoyable manner.

YOU PERSONALLY KNOW SOMETHING ABOUT NAVIGATING

OCEANS.

Yes, in 2011 my family and I departed on a 2½-year sailing trip through the Caribbean Sea and the South Pacific. I worked remotely on the boat with periodic trips back to the South Bay for meetings. In the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression, I literally sailed off into the sunset ... and we did not lose a single client as a result of the trip. I attribute that to the incredible staff of Navigoe, our commitment to service, and the peace of mind we provided to our clients during the Great Recession and market crash.

WHAT IS THE PROCESS TO BEGIN WORKING WITH NAVIGOE?

At Navigoe, we are seeking lifelong relationships with our clients—to be a partner in helping them achieve all that matters to them in their financial lives. To play off the theme of being our clients’ financial navigator, we do not just hand our clients a chart and push them off the dock. Rather, we board their boat and assist in navigating through their financial lives.

For families looking for an ongoing relationship with an experienced financial services firm, the first step would be to contact us and schedule an introductory meeting. The purpose is for you to learn more about Navigoe and our bespoke approach to wealth management and for us to learn about your unique financial situation and to explore whether working together would be beneficial.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION 114 | FINANCIAL SERVICES 417 BERYL ST., REDONDO BEACH | 310-697-0400 | NAVIGOE.COM
PHOTOGRAPHED BY SIRI BERTING L to R: Eric Toya, Heather Johnson, Jennifer Okamura-Albert, Diana Bouch, Scott Leonard and Roxie

WOMEN OF NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL MANHATTAN BEACH

Northwestern Mutual is a Fortune 500 company that provides a wide range of financial services to more than 4.6 million people nationwide. The advisors at the Manhattan Beach location help clients at different life stages, in different career fields and with different financial goals. Their services include wealth management, retirement planning, life insurance, estate analysis, investment strategies, education funding, disability insurance and group employee benefits.

WOULD YOU SAY WOMEN HAVE SIGNIFICANT FINANCIAL POWER IN 2023?

Without a doubt, and increasingly so. Recent studies have shown that a staggering 90% of women will eventually take charge of their family’s wealth, and 44% of United States ultra-high-net-worth individuals are women. Currently, 40% of women make more money than their spouse.

WHAT DO YOU THINK MORE ADVISORS SHOULD BE AWARE OF?

More advisors should keep an eye on not only women, but on our younger generations. Gen Z is less intimidated about starting financial planning than previous generations. While other generations held false beliefs that they were starting too soon or had to accumulate a certain amount of wealth before meeting with a financial advisor, Gen Z has no such qualms. Women under 35 opened a retirement account (average age 20) and an investment account (average age 21) almost a decade earlier than women over 35 did.

DOES BIAS STILL EXIST TOWARD WOMEN IN THIS SPACE?

Yes, and it can be hard even for women themselves to shake. A 2022 eye-tracking study revealed that both male and female financial advisors give over 60% of their focal time to men when meeting with male/female couples. This means that some advisors miss important body language cues and can sometimes discount women decision-makers.

WHAT STEPS DO YOU TAKE TO ENCOURAGE INCLUSIVITY?

As an all-woman team in a traditionally male-dominated industry, we encourage inclusivity through leading by example. Beyond that, we create channels to support unique needs around training, connection and family support for our fellow women team members, advisors and clients.

IN WHAT WAYS DO WOMEN RELATE DIFFERENTLY TO YOU THAN DO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS?

Women often perceive that the financial services industry was built by men, for men. In many ways, they are correct. When meeting with a financial advisor, women tend to prepare, study and research in advance of the meeting much more often than their male counterparts. Interestingly, when women meet with female financial advisors, they feel less pressure to do this same level of preparation, allowing for a more comfortable, collaborative experience.

WHAT’S A COMMON THEME IN YOUR CONVERSATIONS WITH WOMEN CLIENTS?

Women have a lifestyle—not a dollar amount—they want. If our only concern is relaying the exact dollar amount a woman can expect to have when she retires, we miss out on what is most important to her. Also, women tend to be more concerned about the important people in their lives. Will her parents and children be taken care of? We try to hit on every facet of this conversation to ensure each client’s plan is reflective of their values and lifestyle.

HOW DO YOU BUILD, MAINTAIN AND GROW CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS?

Trust, authenticity and a foundation of genuine connection. We actively seek natural connections with clients for whom we can create value and impact. People can sense that we have their best interests at heart. When they get that feeling, the relationship lasts and they want to tell other people about us.

WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR WORK?

Women are not only more involved in financial services than ever before, but as a whole we’re moving into more leadership positions and higher-caliber teams. This is important as we work to support the growing number of women in control of our country’s wealth. According to a 2020 study conducted by McKinsey & Co., “By 2030 American women are expected to control much of the $30 trillion in financial assets that baby boomers will possess—a potential wealth transfer of such magnitude that it approaches the annual GDP of the United States.”

HOW IS YOUR WORK MEANINGFUL?

The landscape of wealth in our country is changing to include more women, both in the industry itself and as controllers of said wealth. We’re happy to be on the forefront, challenging women to step into their power and become the authors of their own financial journey.

Disclaimer: Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM) and its subsidiaries, including Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS) (investment brokerage services), a registered investment adviser, broker-dealer, and member of FINRA (finra.org) and SIPC (sipc.org), and Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company® (NMWMC) (investment advisory and trust services), a federal savings bank. NM and its subsidiaries are in Milwaukee, WI. Heather Quinn, Kelly Heinen, and Juanita De Castro are Insurance Agents of NM. Heather Quinn and Kelly Heinen are Registered Representatives of NMIS. Autumn Katz is employed by the General Agent and associated with the local office listed. Recruiters are not licensed insurance agents, registered representatives of a brokerdealer, investment adviser representatives of a registered investment adviser, or representatives of a federal savings bank.

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION 116 | FINANCIAL SERVICES 1230 ROSECRANS AVE., SUITE 100, MANHATTAN BEACH | 310-460-7136 | MANHATTANBEACH.NM.COM
PHOTOGRAPHED BY SHANE O’DONNELL L to R: Juanita De Castro, Talia Cheatham, Hollon Hursh, Kelly Heinen, Heather Quinn, Autumn Katz, Helen Duros, Nina Flores, Lourdes Parra

KINECTA WEALTH MANAGEMENT

Headquartered in Manhattan Beach, Kinecta has provided financial guidance for credit union members in the South Bay for more than 80 years. The Kinecta Wealth Management team consists of professionals who each have more than 20 years of experience in the financial industry: Laura Tompkins, private client services manager and and LPL registered representative; Farhang “Frank” Azizi, LPL financial advisor; Justin Fleming, LPL financial advisor; Whitney Bullock, LPL financial planner and Certified Wealth Strategist®; and Paul Smith, insurance specialist.

SHARE SOME OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS.

Kinecta Wealth Management has been recognized in the top five credit unions with LPL Financial for the last 15 years. Kinecta Wealth Management was honored to be chosen in 2021 as the South Bay’s Best Financial Planning Company in the Daily Breeze and Beach Reporter Readers' Choice awards.

DO YOU PARTICIPATE IN PHILANTHROPY?

As a subsidiary of Kinecta Federal Credit Union, we are proud to contribute to and participate

in many activities supported by the Kinecta Community Foundation. Together with the credit union, in 2022 we donated more than $1.2 million to charitable causes, volunteered over 6,300 hours and participated in more than 200 community events.

TELL US ABOUT CHANGES YOU HAVE MADE IN YOUR BUSINESS.

As client needs become more complex, it is essential to have experts for each facet of their financial life. In 2019 we added a financial planning division and have since led our client interactions with a planning-first approach. Planning led to the need for an insurance specialist who is capable of addressing the most complicated needs for asset protection. In 2021 Kinecta Wealth Management introduced our private client services. We recognized the need for a single point of contact who is always available and can facilitate important conversations with experts on the team. This year, we will add a property and casualty insurance agent to our team so we can ensure the assets of our clients have the appropriate protection.

Disclaimer: Securities and advisory services are offered through LPL Financial (LPL), a registered investment advisor and broker-dealer (member FINRA/SIPC). Insurance products are offered through LPL or its licensed affiliates. Kinecta Federal Credit Union and Kinecta Wealth Management are not registered as a broker-dealer or investment advisor. Registered representatives of LPL offer products and services using Kinecta Wealth Management and are employees of Kinecta Federal Credit Union. These products and services are being offered through LPL or its affiliates, which are separate entities from, and not affiliates of, Kinecta Federal Credit Union or Kinecta Wealth Management. Certain fixed insurance products may also be offered through Kinecta Financial & Insurance Services, a subsidiary of Kinecta Federal Credit Union. Securities and insurance offered through LPL or its affiliates and fixed insurance products offered through Kinecta Financial & Insurance Services are:

SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION 118 | 1440 ROSECRANS AVE. & 1120 N. SEPULVEDA BLVD., MANHATTAN BEACH | 1767 S. ELENA AVE., REDONDO BEACH 310-643-2791 | KINECTAWEALTH.ORG | IG: @KINECTAWEALTH
Not Insured by NCUA or Any Other Government Agency Not Credit Union Guaranteed Not Credit Union Deposits or Obligations May Lose Value FINANCIAL SERVICES
L to R: Laura Tompkins, Paul Smith, Frank Azizi, Justin Fleming, Whitney Bullock PHOTOGRAPHED BY SHANE
O’DONNELL
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Each office is independently owned and operated. our neighborhood, your home DARIN DERENZIS 310.418.6210 | DRE# 01760239 MEREDITH JOHNSON DERENZIS 310.600.7973 | DRE# 01907722 ROB MCGARRY 310.463.8488 | DRE #01356525 1636 Espinosa Circle, Palos Verdes Estates Offered at $1,900,000

3,395 square feet

$3,799,000

One of the original 1920s Spanish-style homes built on the Peninsula, this Palos Verdes Estates location has unobstructed ocean, coastline and city light views. This home marries charming, original design elements with thoughtful improvements that make it ready for modern living.

310-938-9167 | cariandbritt.com Britt: DRE 01799654 | Cari: DRE 00850678
STRANDHILL.COM HOME TO THE FINEST COLLECTION OF REAL ESTATE EXPERTS IN THE SOUTH BAY. STRAND HILL CHRISTIE’S INTERNATIONAL REAL ESTATE LICENSE #01968431. THE INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THIS DOCUMENT, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, SQUARE FOOTAGE AND/OR ACREAGE, HAS BEEN PROVIDED BY VARIOUS SOURCES WHICH MAY INCLUDE THE SELLER, PUBLIC RECORDS, THE MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE OR OTHER SOURCES. BROKER HAS NOT AND WILL NOT INVESTIGATE OR VERIFY THE ACCURACY OF THIS INFORMATION. LILY LIANG +1 310 373 3333 | 310 902 7799 Text lily@lilyliang.com | www.lilyliang.com 716 Yarmouth #202, Palos Verdes Estates, CA 90274 BRE# 00837794 STRANDHILL.COM STRANDHILL CHRISTIE’SINTERNATIONALREALESTATELICENSE#01968431.THEINFORMATIONCONTAINEDINTHISDOCUMENT,INCLUDING,BUTNOTLIMITEDTO,SQUAREFOOTAGEAND/ORACREAGE,HASBEENPROVIDEDBYVARIOUS SOURCES WHICH MAY INCLUDE THE SELLER, PUBLIC RECORDS, THE MULTIPLE LISTING SERVICE OR OTHER SOURCES. BROKER HAS NOT AND WILL NOT INVESTIGATE OR VERIFY THE ACCURACY OF THIS INFORMATION. HOME TO THE FINEST COLLECTION OF REAL ESTATE EXPERTS IN THE SOUTH BAY. 629 Via Horquilla, Palos Verdes Estates | $8,900,000 and also for lease for $23,000/month | www.629viahorquilla.com 7 Bd | 10 Ba | 7,464 sq.ft. | 26,494 sq.ft. lot | 4 Car Garage 30533 Camino Porvenir, Rancho Palos Verdes | $2,998,000 www.30533caminoporvenir.com 5 Bd | 4 Ba | 3,530 sq.ft. | 11,158 sq.ft. lot | 3 Car Garage FORSALE &FORLEASE 5 Santa Rosa, Rolling Hills Estates | $4,998,000 www.5santarosa.com 5 Bd | 7 Ba | 5,772 sq.ft. | 22,709 sq.ft. lot | 4 Car Garage 605 Paseo Del Mar, Palos Verdes Estates For Lease for $28,000/month 6 Bd | 7 Ba | 6,872 sq.ft. | 32,943 sq.ft. lot | 3 Car Garage FORLEASE NEW LISTING
Compass is a real estate broker licensed by the State of California and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. License Number 01991628. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only and is compiled from sources deemed reliable but has not been verified. Changes in price, condition, sale or withdrawal may be made without notice. No statement is made as to accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footage are approximate. 709 ESPLANADE Nestled on the pristine shores of Redondo Beach lies a magnificent oceanfront property of unparalleled grandeur. This luxurious retreat offers the ultimate coastal living experience, boasting a mesmerizing fusion of exceptional craftsmanship, breathtaking panoramic views & modern sophistication. Cindy Ambuehl Principal/Luxury Estate Director DRE# 01821934 cindyambuehl@compass.com M: 818.489.0282 Taya DiCarlo Realtor® DRE# 01751317 taya.dicarlo@compass.com M: 310.4318.251 6 BED 6 BATH 8-CAR GARAGE 8,944 SQ FT $11,250,000

Susan + Alli.

It is with great pleasure that we highly recommend Susan and Alli as exceptional real estate agents. They recently assisted our family in selling a property in Hermosa Beach, and we cannot praise their professionalism, dedication, and expertise highly enough. From the outset, Susan and Alli impressed us with their knowledge of the local market and meticulous attention to detail. They took the time to understand our unique situation and circumstances, and throughout the entire process, they were always available and went above and beyond to ensure that every aspect of the sale was taken care of.

Their exceptional communication skills kept us informed every step of the way, and they promptly responded to any questions or concerns that arose. Additionally, they even came up with the innovative idea of creating renderings of the property, which enabled prospective buyers to visualize the full potential of the home. What truly stood out to us was the level of care and compassion that Susan and Alli showed toward our family. They recognized that selling a property can be a stressful and emotional experience and did everything in their power to alleviate our challenges and make the process as easy as possible.

We highly recommend Susan and Alli to anyone looking to buy or sell a property.

310.804.2203 @ALLIB_BEACHRE ALLI@PACIFICAPG.COM DRE: 01481125 Alli
310.251.2404 SUSAN@SUSAN-JENSEN.COM DRE: 00689950
Baldocchi
Susan Jensen
Compass is a real estate broker licensed by the State of California and abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. License Number 01991628. All material presented herein is intended for informational purposes only and is compiled from sources deemed reliable but has not been verified. Changes in price, condition, sale or withdrawal may be made without notice. No statement is made as to accuracy of any description. All measurements and square footage are approximate. Who you work with matters, even more so in a changing real estate market. Contact the Jenny Morant Group today to speak with our team of realtors with the breadth of experience, data based market knowledge and negotiation expertise to help you navigate your next purchase or sale in the new real estate market. JENNY MORANT & TYLER MORANT, ESQ. Jenny Morant Group O: 424.409.8976 hello@jennymorant.com @jenny_morant | jennymorant.com DRE 01874517

Life, Love, Cactus

WHILE SOME MAY VIEW CACTUS AS OFF-PUTTING, ONE WRITER LEARNED TO LOVE THE THORNY SUCCULENTS—PRICKLES AND ALL.

I was never a cactus fan. When I moved from Boston to Los Angeles, my idea of nature’s splendor was still the autumn colors found on a walk through a New England park. But now, after all my years in Southern California, I’ve developed a deep appreciation for cactus—not only because of its riveting shapes and textures, but because it’s become my go-to comparison when discussing life or love.

Take for example a conversation I had years ago with a therapist. He was explaining why my then-current relationship was doomed. He likened it to a cactus plant that thrives in the Palm Spring hills, but only at a certain elevation. Move it too far up or down and it dies.

When it came to love, he believed, I was like that cactus species—rooted in the wrong place. His point proved accurate when months later the relationship fell apart, ending my summer of love and delusion.

Fast-forward a few years later to a different cactus analogy. At one of my girls-night dinners, my friends lightheartedly rated where we each fell on the relationship maintenance spectrum. The question was this: When it comes to romantic entanglements, were we high- or low-maintenance? Or worse, high-maintenance pretending to be lowmaintenance? My reply: I was not as high-maintenance as a hothouse orchid but not as low-maintenance as a cactus.

The cactus has also become a boon to my storytelling. Looking for a metaphor for the word “reliable”? A cactus

is a reliable mainstay—one that can be counted on to stick around long after a rose has lost its petals.

If I want to make the point that you don’t have to look alike to be alike, I might mention the prickly pear cactus— tall and scary-looking, yet in the same plant family as some floral succulents suitable for a table centerpiece.

A couple years ago while visiting a friend, I noticed a cactus-like plant that had a long stalk growing out of it. I had never paid attention to it before. In the following weeks the stalk reached fairy-tale proportions. Turns out this cactus—agave, actually—is known as the century plant, so named because it was once thought to wait 100 years before blooming. In truth, it blooms every few decades.

But still, who knows? I thought I might be witnessing its 21st-century debut. I love that this plant can hang around for so long before it dazzles. Talk about playing the long game. Talk about saving the best for last. Talk about aging being a plus, not a diminishment.

There’s no denying that the changing colors of a New England sugar maple is one of nature’s masterpieces. However, the California cactus has slowly but surely found a prominent place in my L.A. stories—and my heart. ■

LAST WORD 130 |
Carol Wolper is a screenwriter and novelist. She is currently writing a memoir about her experiences working in Hollywood.

Explore the new side of a California Classic

Come experience the newly refreshed Portofino Hotel & Marina, your premier local destination for oceanfront staycations, watersport adventures and ingredient-driven dining. Join us this fall at BALEENkitchen for fresh flavors and new twists on classic dishes. Offering marina front views, locally-sourced ingredients, distinctive craft cocktails and warm, attentive service; your unforgettable South Bay experience awaits.

HOTELPORTOFINO.COM | 260 PORTOFINO WAY, REDONDO BEACH, CA | 310.372.1202
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