APRIL 2021 • 1
kristen sells kristen sells Throughout Alexandria, Kristen is known as a real estate expert. Her knowledge the local Throughout Alexandria, Kristen of is known as market, a real coupled with her keen understanding of her clients' estate expert. Her knowledge of the local market, needs allows Kristen provide exceptional, tailored coupled with her keentounderstanding of her clients' service. If you are looking to move or have questions needs allows Kristen to provide exceptional, tailored about Ifthe real or estate service. youever-changing are looking to move have market questionsin Alexandria, give Kristen a call. about the ever-changing real estate market in Alexandria, give Kristen a call.
SOLD | 815 Water Pl SOLD | 815 Water Pl
SOLD | 42 Alexander St SOLD | 42 Alexander St
ALEXANDRIA SPECIALIST | $33M+ SALES IN 2020 Best AWashingtonian's LEXANDRIA S PReal E CEstate I A L I SAgent T | $2018-2020 33M+ SALES IN 2020
RealTrends Top 1.5% in USA & #24 Individual Agent in VA Washingtonian's Best Agents Real Estate Agent 2018-2020 703.851.2556 | kristenjones.com | email@example.com | Licensed in VA RealTrends Top 1.5% Agents in USA & #24 Individual Agent in VA 703.851.2556 | kristenjones.com 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314| firstname.lastname@example.org | Equal Housing Opportunity | Licensed in VA 109 S. Pitt Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 | Equal Housing Opportunity
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SOLD | 401 S Union St SOLD | 401 S Union St
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FROM THE PUBLISHER When I launched VIP Alexandria Magazine in August 2019, I knew that I was in for a chaotic and dangerous ride, but I never in a thousand years imagined that it would be a worldwide pandemic that brought me to my knees. After all, what does an events coverage magazine do when all of the events are canceled? I wasn't the only small business had a unique set of questions to answer and obstacles to overcome. So how did we all emerge intact on the other side? We learned to pivot. We flipped our business models upside down, dug deep for as much empathy as we could spare, clung to those around us for support, hustled like we never had before and remembered that it was ok to shed a few tears along the way. The past year has been an earth-shattering experience for us all. Yet, here we are. It has been one year since COVID-19 busted down our doors and, though it is important to remember the loss and hardships that followed the pandemic's arrival, I think it is time to celebrate the resiliency of our community. What better way to do this than through the eyes of our small business owners. That is why VIP provided complimentary space to sixteen local, small businesses to share their COVID-19 success stories in this issue. Do me a favor and support these businesses in any way that you can, even if it's just a quick comment on social media. It's not the beautiful homes, cobblestone streets, waterfront parks or even the history that makes Alexandria such a special place -- it's the people. If we all remember this, it won't be long until we're thriving together once more!
KELLIE GUNDERMAN P U B L I S H E R , V I P A L E X A N D R I A M AG A Z I N E
FLIP • CLICK • TAP
W H E R E P R I N T + D I G I TA L C O L L I D E
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O N T H E C OV E R :
BETSY WEISSMAN, SCULP'D
APRIL 2021 • 5
PUBLISHER KELLIE GUNDERMAN AC C O U N T E X E C U T I V E S R AC H E L G R G U R I C M A RY H E R B E RT J O R G E M A RT I N E Z E D I TO R A N D R E W G AT E S P H OTO G R A P H E R J O N AT H A N T H O R P E CONTRIBUTING WRITERS K AT YA A N A N I E VA
D R E W E VA N S
A N D R A DA F LO R E S C U
G I N A B R OW N
A LYC I A B U R A N T
C H E F L E O N A R D H O LTO N
C A R M E L I TA C AU D L E
D R . S A R A H K E N N E A LY
K R I S T I N C OWA N
L I E S E L S C H M I DT
J O N S C H OT T
C O N T R I B U T I N G P H OTO G R A P H E R S J D WAT K I N S I G DA WA R N E R S C OT T H A I L S TO N E C H R I S T I N A M AYO H O L LY R E Y N O L D S
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Take advantage of my Certified International Property Specialist Designation! Let’s find your dream home anwwhere in the world!
ACCEPTANCE IS THE ROAD TO ALL CHANGE. Our diverse and accepting team is here to support you through these stressful times.
IT PAYS TO KNOW YOUR ABCS!
Tune in to “Real Estate ABC’s” on YouTube: https://bit.ly/2I6ggj5
Maureen Clyne (c) 703.967.8884 • (o) 703.518.8300 (e) email@example.com 310 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY WE LOVE ON APRIL 28 Start giving today! Visit www.Spring2ACTion.org for a complete list of participating nonprofits.
APRIL 2021 • 7
CONTENTS FEATURES 12
C H A M B E R F E AT U R E : L I L L I A N C H AO - Q U I N L A N
B O U N C I N G B AC K : 5 WAYS TO F O S T E R R E S I L I E N CY + W E L L B E I N G BY D E L R AY P S YC H & W E L L N E S S
M OT H E R ' S DAY G I F T G U I D E P R E S E N T E D BY T H E
O L D TOW N B O U T I Q U E D I S T R I C T 48
P E O P L E YO U S H O U L D K N OW : C H E F B RYA N T HAREN OF BARCA PIER + WINE BAR
N AT U R A L WAYS TO D E F E AT S P R I N G A L L E R G I E S
V I P M A N C AV E : T H E N A K U M AYO S TO RY
RESILIENCY STORIES 23
THE PEOPLE'S DRUG + KING'S RANSOM
SA LO N D E Z E N
N OT H I N G B U N DT C A K E S
A F F I N I TAS
H E A LT H Y M I N D S T H E R A P Y
M AG N O L I A' S O N K I N G
B E L L E H AV E N FA M I LY D E N T I S T RY
W I N K L AS H A R T
HOPS N SHINE
F E R N W E H F I L M C O.
K E L L I E SA N S O N E C R E AT E S
O L D TOW N C H A R I T Y C H I L I S H OW D OW N
ALEXANDRIA CARS + COFFEE
T H E A N N UA L C H E R RY B LO S S O M S H O P + S I P
D E L R AY V I N TAG E + F L E A M A R K E T
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VOT ED SINGLE BEST O UT DO O R RESTAURA NT IN VIRGINIA ! cafe44.com
571.344.9100 APRIL 2021 • 9
O L D TOW N C H A R I T Y C H I L I S H OW D OW N P H OTO G R A P H Y BY I G DA WA R N E R
Augie's Mussel House recently hosted the Old Town Charity Chili Showdown in their openair beer garden, where masks were required. Competing for the trophy (and bragging rights, of course) were none other than local chefs Noe Landini of Landini Brothers, Chad Sparrow of Common Plate Hospitality, Melvin Urrutia of The Handover. They were joined by contestant Jimmy Lee of Feed It Forward DC. Each contestant prepared his creative idea of 'Alexandria's Best Chili' to be served to a panel of guest judges which consisted of Allison Goodhart DuShuttle, Jason Yates, Brittany Patterson, Edward Byers and Eileen Vaughn. Local celebrity, Chick Hernandez, made an appearance on the panel as well. All ticket proceeds were donated to Feed It Forward DC, a non-profit organization on a mission to promote social responsibility within the community with a special focus on youth and the homeless. Ticket purchases included tastings of each competing chili, Cray Cray Cran Cocktails, Irish Mule, classic mussels, pretzels & beer cheese sauce and wings. For more information on Feed It Forward DC, please visit www.feeditforwarddc.org
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Alexandria 301 S. Washington St 571.312.4705
APRIL 2021 • 11
"EVERY MOUNTAIN TOP IS WITHIN REACH IF WE JUST KEEP ON CLIMBING." - BARRY FINLAY
1212••VIP VIPALEXANDRIA ALEXANDRIAMAGAZINE MAGAZINE
S TO RY BY K E L L I E G U N D E R M A N P H OTO G R A P H Y BY S C OT T H A I L S TO N E
illian Chao-Quinlan, President of Sportrock Climbing Centers, has been an avid climber for over two decades. She is a firm believer in the power of climbing, and not just for our physical well-being. It has been her experience that this sport can also have a powerful effect on emotional, mental, social and spiritual wellness. Simply put, climbing changes lives, which is why Lillian has dedicated her professional career to rock climbing and creating a space that all people can explore their own potential in a supportive community.
"The fun of climbing is not that it's easy, it's that it's hard." - Lillian Chao-Quinlan
After teaching elementary school for ten years, Lillian sustained a running injury that lifted her off of the pavement and into a harness at Sportrock. "My husband recommended climbing to me so that I could remain active while I was recovering and unable to run," Lillian explained. "As soon as I got off of the ground, everything about it spoke to me. The movement. The experience. It was unlike anything I'd ever known." It did not take long for Lillian to realize that Sportrock was so much more than a climbing gym; it was a family. The instructors and members all come from various walks of life and enjoy sharing their passion for climbing with one another and the members. Lillian was not only falling in love with this new sport but also the community she had come to know and care for.
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In 2005, Lillian became the President of Sportrock and did not waste any time in creating new programs to benefit the community. Over the next several years, Lillian began to lead Sportock to offer dedicated climbing nights for women, wounded warriors, the LGBTQ+ community, and at-risk youth, to name a few. "When these kids finish their climb, they return to the ground with confidence, joy and excitement, and that is something they can walk out the door with and incorporate into other aspects of their lives." Lillian and the Sportrock team are doing some amazing things for their members, but the most inspiring and innovative program they have come to offer is adaptive climbing for those suffering from Parkinson's Disease, led by Director of Programs and Events, Molly Donelan. "We partnered with George Washington University to become one of the first climbing gyms in the country to study the impacts of climbing for Parkinson's patients. Walking into the gym can be difficult for these climbers, but they are like ballerinas once they get off the ground."
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This group meets every Friday morning, and is proof that consistent climbing helps Parkinson's patients improve balance, strength, and most importantly, confidence. On March 17, 2021, like so many other business owners across the country, Lillian was forced to close Sportrock's doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The gym, which so many depended on for so many reasons was about to "go dark" for 90 straight days. "After we closed, the day-to-day discussions were difficult because we are such a unique business. We didn't have a model to follow so we leaned on our community for support, began collaborating with other businesses, worked to stay connected with our members and diligently mapped out a safe re-opening plan. We began offering virtual classes and launched an online apparel shop. I am amazed at what my team was able to accomplish despite the challenges we faced." Though Lillian decided to discontinue charging Sportrock clients for their memberships during its closure, many loyal climbers refused the kind gesture. "They wanted to stand by us and ensure that we would still be around when this was over. The community was the fuel that allowed us to keep going and their financial support allowed me to continue to pay all of our employees throughout." Another factor that contributed to Sportrock's recovery was The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, which Lillian joined last November. "The opportunity to join The
"Joining The Chamber came at a pivotol time. It was such an isolating experience as a business owner... Being able to feel more connected... has been so comforting. - Lillian Chao-Quinlan
Chamber came at a pivotal time. It was such an isolating experience as a business owner, being the only climbing gym in the area. Being able to feel more connected to other business owners has been so comforting. The connections I have made through The Chamber have allowed me to collaborate with other small business
owners on finances, people and processes throughout the pandemic. It was great to finally not feel like I was alone." Sportrock has reopened for business and is currently offering top-roping, bouldering, lead climbing, classes, camps, and private instruction as well as virtual fitness classes. Members have access to a twostory cardio and fitness area, complete with cardio equipment, weights, yoga studio and plenty of space for functional exercise. There is even a public workspace to check emails or take a Zoom call in between workouts. With amenities such as these, it's a wonder why anyone ever goes home. "Our members spend an average of 2-3 hours per visit. Sportrock is not just a business. It's a place to grow and be part of a community." Sportrock is always researching and implementing risk mitigation measures, in collaboration with medical professionals, public health experts, and their colleagues in the climbing industry. The safety of all employees, members and guests is an absolute priority.
SPORTROCK CLIMBING CENTERS • 5308 EISENHOWER AVE, ALEXANDRIA, VA 22304 (703) 212-7625 • WWW.SPORTROCK.COM
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Story by Andrada Florescu of Del Ray Psych & Wellness
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PURPOSE, OR THE ABILITY TO LEARN AND GROW FROM OUR PAST EXPE R I E N C E S , CO N T I N UA L LY R E AC H I N G FOR OUR GOALS DESPITE CHALLENGES, IS ESSENTIAL TO BUILDING RESILIENCY.
Psychologists define resilience as the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress—such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems, or workplace and financial stressors. Research states that resiliency provides us with the ability to recover quickly from change, hardship, or misfortune. Resilient people, therefore, demonstrate flexibility, optimism, and openness to learning. However, being resilient doesn’t mean that a person won’t experience difficulty or hardship. The road to resilience is likely to involve considerable emotional distress. Below are 5 ways to foster resiliency and wellbeing:
1. Finding purpose Purpose, or the ability to learn and grow from our past experiences, continually reaching for our goals despite challenges, is essential to building resiliency. Research studies indicate that if we live with purpose, we’re also apt to live longer, have better health, and make better lifestyle choices. As we start living with purpose, it becomes easier to find meaning and learn from life’s experiences, offering us a psychological buffer against future obstacles. People who have a clear purpose and direction for their lives, find it much simpler to get back up, dust themselves off and keep moving forward.
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2. Becoming comfortable with change Change is inevitable. We experience transitions in work and relationships, changes in our physical and mental health, and new events in our local communities and our world every day. A great percentage of people spend a significant amount of time and energy trying to avoid change. However, if we can learn to cope with change, the risk for anxiety and depression will lower, our relationships will flourish, and our bodies will feel healthier. On the flip side, if we can’t cope with change, only a minor amount of stress can make you feel overwhelmed by life.
3. Developing meaningful connections Now more than ever, we should counter the lack of faceto-face interactions, by working to make our connections richer and more meaningful. Dr. McGonical, bestselling author of ‘’The upside of stress’’ highlights that our bodies have built-in mechanisms to cope with stress through human connection. “Stress gives us access to our hearts – the compassionate heart that finds joy and
meaning in connecting with others.” Stress responses turn us outward to make connections, we’re saying that we can trust ourselves to handle life’s challenges, and we’re remembering that we don’t have to face them alone. When we reach out to others under stress either to seek support or to help someone else, we release stress hormones, our response becomes healthier, and we recover faster from distress.
4. Prioritizing self-care “Taking care of yourself,” writes the American Psychological Association “helps to keep your mind and body primed to deal with situations that require resilience.”. Research further says that if we are physically fit, getting enough sleep and eating well, we are not as likely to fall into unhealthy patterns when faced with everyday challenges and changes. As we start to realize that taking care of ourselves is not selfish, is also important to remember that our physical and emotional resilience are interconnected. If we address both, we can enhance our productivity, get more fulfillment out of work, connect with our creative energy and enrich the relationships with the people around us.
5. Practicing Mindfulness Dr. Chaskalson, founder of Mindfulness Works and a pioneer in the application of Mindfulness, indicates that mindful people can cope better with difficult thoughts and emotions without becoming overwhelmed or shutting down emotionally. Pausing and observing the mind may help us resist getting drawn into wallowing in a setback. Mindfulness meditation is a great way to become more resilient. By turning towards the mind in meditation you begin to notice thought processes as they happen. In that way unhelpful patterns of thinking can be seen for what they are – just thoughts. Resilience is an important ability and something that we can get better at with time. Start by practicing the 5 resilience-building skills above in your daily life. Building meaningful lives, strong connections, learning to cherish our minds and bodies while remaining flexible are active steps that we can take towards becoming more resilient in the face of life’s challenges. Meet Andrada Florescu of Del Ray Psych & Wellness
Andrada Florescu is a Graduate Counseling Intern at Del Ray Psych & Wellness, LLC. She believes in meeting the client where they are and being a companion in their journey towards personal growth. She values the therapeutic relationship, working on creating a safe place for the clients to express themselves while achieving
their personal goals. Andrada uses an eclectic approach, yet tailors it for each client’s need. She integrates couple and family therapy, emotionfocused, CBT interventions, along with breathwork techniques in her practice. She enjoys working with adults, adolescents, couples, and families. Furthermore, Andrada helps clients overcame a variety of concerns such as transitional challenges, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, low self-esteem, couples or relationship issues. Issues of racial, gender, cultural identity are close to her heart, and she is fluent in English, Spanish and Romanian. In her free time, Andrada loves hiking with her two huskies, trying new restaurants with her husband, as well as traveling. To learn more about fostering resiliency and wellbeing or to schedule your appointment with Andrada, please visit www.delraypsych.com
SPRING INTO WELLNESS!
MINDFULNESS MEDITATION CLASSES USE CODE #VIP FOR 20% OFF
DEL RAY PSYCH 1900 MOUNT VERNON AVE. (571) 281-0338
WWW.DELRAYPSYCH.COM APRIL 2021 • 19
ALEXANDRIA CARS + COFFEE P H OTO G R A P H Y BY J D WAT K I N S
Alexandria Cars and Coffee recently gathered to showcase a number of old and new school vehicles. Hosted by Warren and his wife Georgia, they make it very clear the goal is to bring friendly car people together. “It doesn’t need to be perfect. Projects and trailer queens are welcomed equally. If you think it's cool, I'm sure we will, too." From Mini Coopers to GTRs there was no shortage of cool cars to snap a selfie in front of. Alexandria Cars and Coffee meets twice a month on Sunday Morning at Hollin Hall Shopping Center between 8:30- 11 AM.
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APRIL 2021 • 21
THE RESILIENCY ISSUE
"It may take more work than the other insects to get off the ground, but the resilience of the bumblebee knows no bounds. It never gives up and teaches itself to fly."
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PURRNON By Kristin Cowan, Owner
hen we decided to open a cat café in Old Town, we expected there would be challenges. Since our business is a nuanced concept, there aren’t any specific guidelines for cat café permits and requirements. For two years, we worked on raising money, developing a business plan, finding the perfect location (that was zoned correctly and would allow a startup with 20 cats), and getting special permits from the city and state. We could never have predicted that a worldwide pandemic would occur and make everything significantly more difficult. We had originally planned to open in March 2020, but obviously with the world the way it was, that was not an option. When we finally opened on August 1, 2020, we did so with limited capacity, limited food and drink options, and fewer funds (we still had to pay rent while the opening was delayed and Old Town rent is not cheap). As a business that depends on people coming in the door, guidelines encouraging people to NOT gather indoors have kept business slower than anticipated. Additionally, we have not been eligible to receive any federal assistance including PPP as we opened after the pandemic began (obviously not by choice!).
Through all of the struggle, we have remained dedicated to our mission: saving cats and making people happy. Through all of the struggle, we have remained dedicated to our mission: saving cats and making people happy. To date, we have adopted out 128 cats and saved twice as many from euthanasia. We have seen so many animals come from horrible situations, some of whom had never felt love or had a gentle pet from a human.
We have seen shy cats turn to social, lap cats. We have seen senior cats have a second chance at life. Even if we never reach the level of business that we hoped for prepandemic, we are happy that we have made a difference in the lives of animals and the humans that visit them or adopt. We hope that we can push to the other side of the pandemic and continue with our mission.
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THE RESILIENCY ISSUE
THE PEOPLE'S DRUG +
KING'S RANSOM By Jon Schott, Managing Partner
we tried to do at both places is – our businesses were not set up for to-go or carryout at all, but we had to adjust to make sure that we could do carryout and reset the restaurant. After doing two business plans, now learning to reopen as a to-go place was a much steeper learning curve.
y name is Jon Schott. I am the managing partner and beverage director at the People’s Drug and at the King’s Ransom and the Handover. Before COVID, things were going great. We were coming up on two years of being open at the People’s Drug and we had a great team, great people, great staff. Meanwhile we’d just spent the last six months working to open the King’s Ransom and the Handover. We opened those places on February, 18th. We had a large sushi bar downstairs and a cocktail bar we were able to design and put upstairs. But we were only open for four weeks before we closed. On March 18th, we closed both restaurants. Imagine how that felt. One business, the People’s Drug, took two years to get going. Meanwhile we just put in all this effort to open King’s Ransom and the Handover and it all went away in the blink of an eye. These businesses are places I love. It was crazy to see it taken away and it was crazy to think about the entire staff out of work. But we didn’t get deterred. The tenacity and resilience of the staff was what supported us. It was blood, sweat, and tears. Food and beverage is an industry where we are very creative people and this really put it to the test and what
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At the People’s Drug, we learned about doing to-go cocktails, frozen drinks, spirits packages, or whatever we could think of to make it exciting for people to be at home. We were trying to think of how we can give these people this special feeling they would get in a restaurant at home. The other thing was trying to connect with our guests by engaging with people in any way possible. At King’s Ransom and Handover, it was really difficult because we had to change the style of sushi we were serving because it was only meant to be served inhouse. It was harder because people didn’t even know what the restaurant was. Then we came up with the idea of cocktail classes. Once we reopened the Handover, we held these cocktail classes at night. The goal was to introduce people to the restaurant one or two at a time. I planned to do it for a short one or two-month period, but I ended up running those cocktail classes for ten months. That helped us stay relevant. We didn’t stop there. We continued to try new ideas. Every Thursday we would do an interview with someone interesting in the industry like a brand ambassador or a brewer or a distiller. It’s still really difficult now, but we’re almost there, which is really exciting. All in all, it’s been a year of pushing ourselves and seeing how much we can do.
RESERVE YOUR SPACE TODAY IN
VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE’S 2021
Destination Downtown FEATURE A SPECIAL SECTION OF THE JUNE/JULY 2021 ISSUE
TOURISTS WILL BE FLOCKING BACK TO OLD TOWN THIS SUMMER. DON’T MISS YOUR CHANCE TO REACH YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE! EMAIL HELLO@VIPALEXANDRIAMAG.COM FOR MORE INFORMATION
APRIL 2021 • 25
THE RESILIENCY ISSUE
FLEURELITY FLORAL DESIGN STUDIO By Michaela Gosar, Owner
’m one of the lucky ones. While many florists suffered from lockdown of their shops, cancellations of events like weddings and large-scale celebrations, and the furloughing of employees, my single person business has continued to grow. Operating from my home studio, I have been primarily serving private residences by making flower arrangements to celebrate their everyday occasions and special moments in their lives. I was already offering my flowers through my online shop before COVID but during pandemic my sales have increased. My customers - new and old – just want to “say it with flowers” even more so than before. And, since more people are working from home, some are buying arrangements to beautify their homes and spending more than usual. They’ve been faithful and I’m grateful. Neighbors are helping neighbors and people are trying to support small and local businesses as much as they can. I do my part, too. I now rely more on local suppliers and flower farms than before COVID. I’m very eco conscious. I don't currently have a cooler so I get fresh flowers twice a week to meet daily orders. I make the arrangement, take a picture, personally
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deliver the flowers, and post the picture on social media. If I end up with leftovers at the end of the week, I don’t discard them. I create an arrangement for a friend, neighbor or someone I know is going through a rough time. I limit the use of floral foam which is harmful for the environment and for that reason has been banned from the world’s top floral show in the UK, Instead, I use other eco-friendly replacements like the floraGUPPY. It looks like a plastic ball with 58 holes of varying sizes for the stems and is recyclable and reusable. Before COVID, I was already very active on the internet, sharing my floral creations with my fans. I know they love my work and enjoy my daily posts on Instagram and Facebook. It gives them joy. With COVID I’ve become even more present on social media and active in my community. Offering a floral hug virtually through my posts, donating flowers to the heroes at the frontline, or surprising teachers with flowers are just a few examples of what I can do as a florist. As owner of a small home-based business, helping out others and supporting other local businesses through my purchases and connecting with my followers on social media have kept my business going. I have two young children and work around their schedules. It’s a juggling act, which is not for everybody, but it works for me. I love living in America and was excited to open my floral business in 2014. My floral arranging style reflects who I am and where it all started – in Europe, in my mom’s garden in Prague. Happy to see it’s caught the eyes of my customers.
UNIQUE By Katya Ananieva, Owner
In 2012, my mother, Sibila, and I took over She’s Unique, a jewelry boutique in Old Town. Being co-owners of a brick-and-mortar store, we were obviously worried about what affect COVID would have on our business. We knew we had to pivot, but we never expected that our pivot would not only allow our business to survive, but to thrive. When COVID began ramping, we closed our doors on March 16th, before we were even mandated to do so. We’re small – around 600 square feet. It was the right thing to do. I just remember my mom in a total panic. She could not wrap her head around being closed. I said, “This will be short, it’s just temporary. We will be ok.” Only two weeks to flatten the curve, remember?
closed. I talked about everything from jewelry, to what was trending, to applying for emergency loans. I even took strolls down King Street to show everyone how empty Old Town really was. This reached people on a very personal level. It was a little escape for everyone who was indoors, quarantining during an uncertain and scary time.
Of course, two weeks turned into almost three months. During that very first month, I decided to focus hard on the online store because we didn’t have any other options. We started the transition by photographing every piece because you have to photograph the product to put it online. We went from 30% - 40% of our inventory online to 90% in a matter of a month.
Shortly thereafter, we began receiving quite a few local sales and then we began receiving orders from all over the country. I never thought, in a million years, that we would turn our business into a successful online shop, but we did... and it was incredible.
Aside from ensuring our online shop was fully stocked, I thought about how we could promote sales. We needed to be more proactive - more dramatic. The day after we closed, I jumped on Instagram stories and announced a 20% off sale, free shipping and local pick up. It resonated with people that if a small business is willing to take a hit, we can all do our part.
As for the future, the store, our brick-and-mortar location, isn't going away anytime soon. It's like my baby. I also just launched my own 14k gold line! I love being part of the design and production process. It's proof that the past year pushed me to do something I had been dreaming of for a long time but never had the time for. I’m so excited about this next step in my journey.
I began publishing camera-facing stories every day. I felt like I needed to interact with people and tell them what was happening – show my face and tell them what was going on from our perspective; the perspective of a small business that was now
I think the biggest lesson for me is when you have a big idea, don’t sleep on it! Don’t wait for a global pandemic to reimagine your business or pivot to something better. Take the risks, act on your creative ideas. The payoff is worth it!
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fortune favors the bold HOW NASA + A LEAP OF FAITH SAVED BY BUSINESS S TO RY BY B E T S Y W E I S S M A N , OW N E R O F S C U L P ' D P H OTO G R A P H Y BY J O N AT H A N T H O R P E
BUSTLING BEGINNINGS We opened the doors of sculp’d, offering high-impact pilates reformer workouts, in May 2017. At the time, we were connected to a restrictive franchise and I did not have too many opportunities to get creative. Simply put: I had to follow the rules and that has never been a strength of mine. Two years later I made my first bold decision and left the franchise. It was going to be a new beginning for sculp’d — one that I was excited to build alongside my staff and members. I won’t lie -- it was ALOT of work, but once we found our footing, we really started to cruise. Business was bustling! We had two full studios running at all times. At full capacity, we were offering ten classes per day, all day, every day, from 5 am until 8 pm. People were constantly coming and going. We were genuinely busting at the seams with wonderful energy! And then COVID hit.
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN? March 16, 2020, is one of those dates that will be etched into my memory for a long time. Everything happened so quickly. I made the decision to close my doors and, unlike other gyms, I paused every membership. I naively believed that our studio would be dark for two weeks,
tops! So that is how we planned to make our decisions. We were going to reevaluate the situation every two weeks until we could reopen. Unfortunately, every two weeks turned into every 30 days and then every 30 days turned into every three months. Now a year later, almost to the day, we’re still here. How did this happen? I do feel grateful that out of 16 instructors and five front desk staff members, we lost only one along the way. Everyone else? The sculp’d family rallied, unlike anything I’d ever seen or could have possibly imagined. It was truly inspiring.
“ T H E I N S T R U C TO R S W H O F I L M E D OUR ON-DEMAND CLASSES WERE ALL VO LU N T E E R S . I T WA S H E A RT WA R M I N G . I ’ V E H E A R D A LOT O F P E O P L E T H R O U G H O U T T H E PA N D E M I C U S E T H E P H R A S E , ' W E ’ R E I N T H I S TO G E T H E R ,' B U T M Y T E A M R E A L LY M E A N T I T.” APRIL 2021 • 29
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A LOT O F B U S I N E S S E S H AV E L E A R N E D H OW TO P I VOT A N D I B E L I E V E T H AT A S S M A L L B U S I N E S S OW N E R S , W E A R E A L L S T R O N G E R B E C AU S E O F I T.
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We reopened in a minimal manner in June. We were (and still are) only able to accommodate nine students at a time, each spaced ten feet apart. If you’re wondering, this is only 30% capacity. By September, things were still looking gloomy and our members were simply not going to risk themselves and their families to leave their homes, especially to go to a gym. And so, we began thinking about how to support everyone’s athome workout. I’m a creative person and I felt invigorated by the challenge of it all. Our virtual classes were doing well, but those alone would not sustain us for long. The decision to begin researching at-home reformers seemed like a no-brainer. (If you don’t know what a reformer is: it’s like a sled on wheels. The springs on each end create tension as you move the sled, providing you with a full-body, low-impact workout.) Our members love our reformer machines and I was confident that they would invest in a similar piece of equipment to continue their fitness regimen at home.
THE LONG ROAD In those first two weeks, my instructors volunteered to film 25 on-demand fitness videos. Had it not been for COVID-19 forcing us to close, we could have never built the type of virtual platform we did, as quickly as we did. By April 1, 2020, sculp’d @ home was streaming four live workouts into the homes of our members each day (for a less expensive membership, of course). Everyone had been hanging tough and now had the opportunity to dive back into their fitness routine from the safety of their own living rooms. Our members sent us messages of support, hope and love. They told us that they were here for us… at first. No one expected the pandemic to last this long and, like with everything else, people get bored. When I realized we were in this for the long haul, exploring ways to keep our members engaged became my top priority.
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Fast forward thirty days later, sculp’d became the top distributor - outside of Europe and Asia - of the at-home reformer from Balanced Body. (Did I mention that when I decide to do something, I do it quickly?) New classes were added to the lineup to incorporate the new reformers and all was well! If I could just get us to December, we would be saved! December and January are always our most successful months. Some years, the revenue we make during and immediately after the holidays can sustain a fitness business all year long. Just a few more weeks and COVID-19 would be nothing but a distant memory. Right? Wrong.
EMBRACING TECHNOLOGY The holidays came and went and our memberships and sales were down. Way down. I began making peace with the fact that closing sculp’d forever was inevitable, but at the same time, I didn’t want to give up. I couldn’t let COVID win. I’d always dreamt of having the opportunity to
try something new; to make sculp’d the ultimate wellness destination of Alexandria. It was a business model that my initial franchise had prevented me from creating. But now the time had come and I was not only being given an opportunity to try something new… I was going to have to try something new, and it needed to be dramatic! I embraced my love of technology and, with the help of my husband, founder of a technology start-up here in Alexandria, I began researching a company that defines innovation. BTL is a pioneer in the aesthetics and physiotherapy segments. They specialize in physical therapy and uses cutting-edge, electromagnetic technologies that are safe, non-invasive and comfortable. Shortly after familiarizing myself with BTL, my social media manager began talking about a machine that had been trending online. It was EMSCULPT®, the first device with the ability to build muscle and sculp’d (pun intended) your body. EMSCULPT® really appealed to me because the science seemed so amazing! I had to know: Does it really work?
BASED ON SCIENCE Twelve years ago, NASA approached BTL because our astronauts were returning home and suffering from muscle atrophy and osteoporosis. They wanted to know if anything could be done to help them rebuild muscle faster than your typical exercise. Shortly thereafter, EMSCULPT® version 1.0 (that’s what I call it, anyhow) was born… and it worked! It worked so well, in fact, that BTL saw an opportunity to share the technology and scale beyond the astronauts. They began packaging it and selling it to med spas, rehabilitation centers, and ultimately to sculp’d, its first fitness studio. What I love most about EMSCULPT® is that everything is based on science… and it works! The machine builds muscle, so there is obviously a vanity component to taking advantage of the machine, but it goes so far beyond physical appearance. I’m a firm believer that strong is the new skinny. Blasting fat is amazing, but it also builds muscle in a safe and effective
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way which is beneficial for weight control by increasing your metabolic rate among many other benefits. Having just turned 50 myself, I know personally how hard it is to gain and keep muscle as you age. This device is a game-changer. Consider this: On your best day at the gym, you are only capable of working 40% of your muscles. EMSCULPT® overrides your brain and through supramaximal contractions, your muscles will work at 100% capacity. It appeared to be the ultimate compliment to any fitness routine.
FORTUNE FAVORS THE BOLD Despite my optimism and excitement, I continued to do my homework. I spoke to BTL, discussed the science with local doctors and even read over 300 peer studies and 7 clinical studies. It was clear to me that this technology was the ultimate bio-hack I’d been searching for. EMSCULPT® had the ability to not only save my small business but change countless lives here in Alexandria. Even so, I was still on the fence about making such a huge investment. It was my husband, John, who finally encouraged me to take a leap of faith. Fortune favors the bold, right? Once the decision was made, everything moved very quickly. We chose to invest in the latest version of the machine — the EMSCULPT® NEO™, which is 25% more powerful than the original. It can build muscle, burn fat and tighten skin all at once. The trifecta of wellness! We
are currently the only EMSCULPT® NEO™ location in Alexandria and one of only several on the east coast. It has been a few weeks since the machine arrived at sculp’d and we’re already fully booked. Everyone wants to prep their summer bodies and now is the best time to begin the process! Each part of your body requires four sessions, and you will see the full results 90 days following the final treatment. But the EMSCULPT® NEO™ is about so much more than vanity; although you can achieve a thinner, more muscular core, arms and glutes in a short 90 days. I have tried it myself and I am so fascinated by what it can do for pain; how it has helped my lower back already. I’m thrilled that we are able to provide this service to clients who are rehabbing and unable to exercise as well as those clients just getting back into exercise after taking a long break during COVID. Our machine can help clients build new muscle so they feel confident getting back into the game as well as get them stronger than they ever could on their own.
THE FUTURE OF SCULP’D COVID-19 forced me to dig deep and find more resiliency than I knew I had. It encouraged me to be creative and branch out. A lot of businesses have learned how to pivot and I believe that as small business owners, we are all stronger because of it. I am excited to see what the future holds for sculp’d and what innovative bio-hacks I can bring to Alexandria next!
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DEZEN By Maria Elizabeth, Owner
When Salon deZEN received the order to close our doors, we immediately went into COVID creative mode. I urgently began to re-think the salon’s layout and how we could resume safe services once the order was lifted. Plexiglass was ordered along with colorful acrylic pieces to frame the safety shields that would be artfully suspended from the ceiling to create a safe yet welcome and playful environment.
had worked hard to create a safe, yet relaxing environment for all of our guests by keeping our occupancy lower than required, doubling up on masks and providing complimentary masks to our clients.
Instantly, my stylists and support staff were collaborating to develop a plan to continue to meet the needs of our clients. Without missing a beat, ZOOM classes on makeup and hair were scheduled. True to this unprecedented time, we even offered a lighting class on how to best represent yourself on camera with pro hair and makeup tips.
COVID has certainly created challenging times for us at Salon deZEN, but my team never shies away from a challenge. I am so proud of the resilience of the Salon deZEN team. Despite mask-wearing, social distancing, and plexiglass nooks, ZEN remains to create a feeling of “peaceful and calm” as the name implies.
We also didn’t want our loyal clients going without their beloved products so we began to offer online ordering with curbside pickup or delivery. Although this time felt very gray and sometimes bleak, we didn’t want our clients' roots showing that same gray so we created “Color In Place” kits with a tutorial of how to properly apply. Salon deZEN is part of the service industry and we were determined to continue to serve our ZEN family.
Through all of the changes, ZEN has remained true to our mission statement which is to make every client feel safe, valued, and appreciated while celebrating their individualism.
When we were allowed to reopen our doors, we were beyond prepared and excited. We
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NOTHING BUNDT CAKES By Gina Brown, Co-Owner
"I would encourage others to persevere regardless of obstacles and to cheer each other on."
e recently opened Nothing Bundt Cakes in Alexandria on Duke Street - five friends coming together to realize a shared dream. The concept combines the warmth of nostalgia with a fresh, modern approach. Our delicious cakes are baked in-house and are made with the finest ingredients, including real eggs, butter and cream cheese. We offer bundt cakes in 40 unique designs, 10 delicious flavors and a variety of sizes, including bite-sized Bundtinis®, miniature Bundtlets and 8- and 10-inch cakes. We also offer beautiful decorations and gift options for all occasions. Despite the pandemic, we love that we get to share the joy of these amazing cakes with the community while celebrating all the important moments in life, big and small. To say this year has been interesting is an understatement, but we will not forget the many lessons learned. This bakery is the realization of our collective desire to partner together in a new venture. We have been friends for about 25 years and knew we wanted to share a journey together when we found this opportunity with Nothing Bundt Cakes. It was early in 2020, and we were just about to sign our lease for our space when COVID-19 hit. With the many restrictions in place, we were in a holding pattern for about a year but we all hung onto our dream
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and were thrilled when we learned that this location was still available. This pandemic has taught us to persevere and hang onto hope – things may not look the way we thought they would, but a little creativity, positivity and support for each other can go a long way. Some days I felt like it was one step forward and two steps back, but eventually, I could see the progress we'd made. COVID clarified what is important to me. As business owners, we tend to get caught up in working long hours and managing all the day-to-day details. The lockdown, though, gave me a chance to reconnect with friends and family (virtually, of course) and I realized that when things went back to “normal,” I would need to make sure the people in my life were the priority. We are excited to continue to grow this amazing business and have our sights set on a location in Richmond. As we look to a bright (and sweet) future, I would encourage others to persevere regardless of obstacles and to cheer each other on. This life is not about individuals owning a business, selling products, or going through the day-today details for personal gain. It is about relationships… celebrating each other’s successes, supporting those who are down and picking them back up and persevering TOGETHER through it all.
A F F I N I TA S By Carmelita Caudle + Michael Chichester, Co-Owners
ffinitas LLC provides staffing, logistics, and janitorial services. Just months before the pandemic, we finally had momentum with staffing. We were excited to have placed eight temporary hires with a company offering consistent hours. With a bit of luck and strategic networking, we provided janitorial services for the same warehouse that our temporary staff worked. It was a slow but consistent start. But then, business, of course, dried up as the pandemic shut everything down. We were concerned because we had a great core group of employees that we wanted to keep employed. Luckily, we were fortunate to utilize help from the government relief programs (PPP, EDIL) to pay for services to use our employees in a new way.
"Be courageous and never be afraid to ask for what you want. "
To survive COVID, we retooled our services. We previously offered janitorial services, but we pivoted to offer COVID disinfecting services and cleaning in addition to the janitorial services we offered for our residential and commercial locations. We trained and equipped our staff according to the CDC standards on proper COVID disinfecting procedures. We used our team to promote our new services. The team did great! They networked and landed Affinitas contracts with FedEx and Fresh Direct.
The advice we would offer to others going through hard times is to look into government funding and utilize SBA resources. There is a wide range of loan options and grants available that may be used to assist small businesses. Also, look to partnering with other companies or even participate in a mentor program. Here you would gain valuable knowledge and experience that could catapult your business to the next level. Our final and most important advice is to be courageous and never be afraid to ask for what you want. At Affinitas, we have lived by this and often carry the mindset, "Let's just see what happens." We have been blessed with many opportunities by continuing our path even after being told no.
Moving into the future, we are continuing with COVID disinfecting and janitorial services. Our success in this area has allowed us to hire a full-time Business Development and Recruiting Manager to grow our staffing department. We have a combination of over 26 years in logistical services through UPS and FedEx. Affinitas has expanded its logistical footprint through tractor-trailers. Look for the Affinitas logo on 495!
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H E A LT H Y MINDS THERAPY, PLLC By Alycia Burant, MA, LPC, NCC
to figure out how to pivot and provide new services to our community in transition and shock. We began to offer a new service, called “Virtual Vent Sessions” offering acute support to our community. These sessions were offered at an affordable rate, with all proceeds going directly to my team. We wanted to wrap our arms around our community like a warm, cozy blanket. We knew that people still needed us, in whatever way that looked like. Just because a global pandemic ensued, that did not mean that people’s mental and emotional challenges suddenly stopped. No, in fact, this meant they were just about to ramp up.
These Virtual Vent sessions are still being offered today. We continue to have diversified services to include webinars, Instagram lives, and groups to ensure an expanded reach during this uneasy time. In the past year, our practice has grown to serve over 400 clients a week and has added 8 new team members. We are not bouncing back; we are bouncing forward. We are in the business of resiliency.
I am the founder, owner, and therapist at Healthy Minds Therapy, an outpatient mental health group practice, providing specialized services for emotional health and wellbeing. Before the pandemic, we comfortably served our community via three brick and mortar offices in Northern Virginia, sporadically using telehealth services for inclement weather days or remote clients. On March 11, 2020, the world collectively experienced a stressful event, forever changing us. Within one week, our team successfully converted all three brick and mortar offices and 279 patients to an online platform to seamlessly provide quality mental health care to our patients without a lapse in services. Our team quickly jumped into action
We are just coming out of one of the toughest years in modern history. We were pushed to our limits, reached our breaking points, but we pushed through to limitless bounds of gratitude and found ways to keep from breaking down and falling apart. The human spirit is remarkable and has an incredible ability to rebound and recover. This has been the most challenging time ever in my career. I have learned to support and care for my community, all while learning to navigate and heal myself through the same painful events. I may have days when I am down, but do not ever count me out. This is a therapist’s Super Bowl, if you will. We champion each other for this. Nothing makes me more encouraged than to see the success and healing of those we serve.
he official definition of trauma is a deeply devastating or disturbing event or emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury, which may be associated with physical shock and sometimes leads to long-term neurosis. The words “trauma” and “resiliency” are in my everyday vernacular as a trauma therapist.
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ON KING By Chef Leonard Holton, Co-Owner
"Now that the world is opening back up, we are so excited to see more familiar faces, to be back open serving the community."
n February of 2020, I had a team of 17 employees and we experienced our best month to date. In March of 2020, when the pandemic closures began, I went from 17 employees to two. Like other restaurants and businesses, the pandemic has been a real challenge for Magnolia’s On King. As a restaurant owner, my main goal is to be able to serve the community and provide jobs, while keeping the business running for as long as possible. The pandemic created new obstacles I wasn’t prepared for. Due to limited staffing, in April, we temporarily suspended in house dining and only offered curbside pick up and delivery via UberEats & GrubHub. I worked many months as the only person in the restaurant cooking and fulfilling orders. Through many Facebook groups and loyal regulars, we were able to get by and I was able to slowly add employees back to the schedule. In January of 2021, after adhering to all CDC recommendations, four of my employees (including myself) tested positive for COVID-19. We closed for a month to ensure we wouldn’t continue spreading the virus. We opened back
up after all my employees were healthy and weren’t experiencing any symptoms. Since reopening, I now have six employees helping out and we are slowly returning back to normal. Our regulars that have supported us throughout this crazy year, I thank you tremendously. We wouldn’t be here without our loyal guests. Now my staff is vaccinated and we are ready to welcome everyone back to Magnolia’s On King. We will still provide contactless menus, ordering and payment. Beginning this summer, we are offering a new summer tasting menu. It’s five courses Chef’s choice with optional wine parings. The menu is created by me with influences from around the world. It’ll be available Tuesday Friday evenings. Also, we are now offering grabn-go items available Tuesday - Friday from 11-6. Burgers, sandwiches, small plates and salads. Now that the world is opening back up, we are so excited to see more familiar faces and to be back open serving the community. We hope to continue to be able to provide quality southern comfort cuisine for many more years to come.
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BELLE H AV E N FA M I LY D E N T I S T R Y By Dr. Sarah Kennealy, DDS
"It has been a rough ride, but we are changing and adapting and making it through."
y name is Dr. Sarah Kennealy and I am the owner and sole practitioner of Belle Haven Family Dentistry. Whether it’s your baby’s first dental visit or grandma’s annual cleaning, we provide dental care for your whole family. When the bank gave me the green light to start building my practice in February of 2020, I was filled with excitement and joy. Then, one month later, the world shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. The construction on the office kept rolling, thankfully, but dentistry ground to a halt. There were so many unknowns, and the safety of a dental office was among the many question marks. In mid-May, construction was completed on my office and it was ready to go — a moment that was supposed to bring so much excitement — was one of the scariest moments of my life. How could I open a dental office in the middle of a pandemic, when everyone was quarantined? So I waited. I started organizing, marketing, and planning and on July 23, 2020, we opened our doors to patients. It wasn’t exactly the grand opening I had envisioned. There was no big party or fanfare, and we had to start slowly, only seeing patients a few days a week and following revised protocols to keep people safe
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while they were at the office. But it was wonderful to be there doing what I love and building a place for my practice in the same community in which I grew up. My hope for the future is continued growth for the practice. It is my dream to become a community cornerstone. I would like to support the schools, youth sports, and local businesses of my community. I want to build Belle Haven Family Dentistry so it is not just some dental office, but rather the dental office of our community. That was also one of the reasons I put “family dentistry” in our name. I wanted people to think of us as the practice that can meet all of your family’s dental needs for as long as you need them. The kind of place where people look forward to coming to — yes, look forward to a visit to the dentist — because we are like an extended family. My advice for other small business owners is to keep hanging in there. I have been in awe of how resilient, determined and innovative we all are. It has been a rough ride, but we are changing and adapting and making it through. I am proud of our community and encourage all to support the small businesses that make it so great.
LASH ART By Bianca Briscan, Owner
something to offer; the ability to provide a small slice of normalcy to the steadfast working men and women, independent moms and strong, beautiful young women who had come to rely on us for a confidence boost. We knew had to do something.
opened Wink Lash Art two years ago in March 2019, just one year after moving to the United States with my active duty Air Force husband. You could say that becoming an entrepreneur was my way of chasing The American Dream. Wink Lash Art, which focuses on natural beauty through eyelash extensions, lash lifts and natural brow styling for men and women, was brought to its knees by COVID-19. The mandate to close all salons forced us to halt all growth and development. Shock, fear and desperation entered our hearts. While under closure, we realized early that we needed to rely on the support of our local community more than ever. With the long-term needs of our clients in mind, we began the near-impossible search for PPE and effective disinfectants and quickly began developing beauty packages as the waiting game continued. The safety of our clients and ourselves remained our top priority. As the pandemic raged on, we were fortunate to be a part of a business community that was so eager to share resources and advice on best practices. But in May 2020 when we reopened with new deep cleaning processes, a surplus of disposable products, newly installed air purifiers and so much more, our service margins were still too low. We knew that we had
With the help of local, social media influencers and digital ads, we launched a promotional campaign that brought new and established clients back into our salon sanctuary. If the pandemic and mask mandate have taught us anything, it is that our eyes say everything. When we are well-groomed, we feel better and healthier. Once we showed the community that Wink could be a safe and relaxing place to regain their pre-COVID sense of confidence, things began to change for the better. There were times during the pandemic when we thought that growth was out of the question. We were simply trying to survive. But today, our team consists of three full-time stylists and we are seeking a fourth. In the coming year, we are making plans to expand even more; seeking a larger space and adding to the team.
"Fear can be paralyzing, even for the best entrepreneurs, but now is the time to act. Critical times are opportunities for those who are brave enough to take calculated chances." APRIL 2021 • 41
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SHINE By CJ Cross, Owner
n a thriving community a ‘Third Place’ is that social space separate from home (first place) and work (second place). The place you meet up with your friends, family, and co-workers away from the stresses of the home and workplace. Covid-19 not only took away a lot of people’s workplaces, but it took away almost all of our third places as well. Hops N Shine, like many restaurants in our community, was to many people their go-to third place before the pandemic. Many of our Del Ray and Arlandria neighbors would walk here after getting home from work to meet up with other neighbors and friends, luckily for us they still do. Within the first weeks of the pandemic, we were determined to give people that feeling of a third place, even if they couldn’t dine in at Hops N Shine. We started doing family meals and seeing families share them in their front yards. We held virtual beer tastings with local breweries and were amazed to see people stay on the Zoom calls for hours after the official tasting ended just sharing in the community. And we provided meals to those in our industry who were out of work, as a thirdplace is as much a place to gather as it is to seek support from others.
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Now, as things begin to open up, we’re bringing back the in-person community building. Just last weekend we held our first in-person Yappy Hour with Project Second Chance. Starting in May we’re bringing back trivia, arts and crafts like sip and paint, and we’re planning our first in-person backyard beer festival to celebrate our 2 ½ year anniversary in June. I would like to invite everyone to come and experience what we love about being a part of the vibrant neighborhood of Del Ray and the city of Alexandria. During Covid, these communities jumped to action and the drive to share their meals and activities on social media.
"Now that vaccines are in arms and cases are falling it’s time to not just show up and support local restaurants and businesses, but to share those experiences with others." Take the time to write about them in your Yelp, Google, and Facebook reviews. Reach out to friends and have them join you on a trip to visit your third place and introduce them to the new places you discovered during 2020. I’ll be right there with you, and thank you to everyone for your support over the past year. Without you, I wouldn’t have been able to make my second place your third place.
U R BA N REDEUX
By Willow Wright, Owner
“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” This quote by Louisa May Alcott has always been a favorite and 2020 was the storm of my life. As if owning a small business isn’t hard enough already, try operating as a solo entrepreneur during a global pandemic. Boy did I have a lot to learn.
customers. Our shop also has a wonderful and engaging following on social media and, in addition to items available online, I continued to post new arrivals on the shop's Instagram and Facebook pages. Curbside pickup and local delivery would become the new norm.
I’m Willow Wright, owner of Urban Redeux, a vintage & antique shop curated with an eye for unique and one-of-a-kind items in the Mount Vernon area. We opened our doors in September of 2018 and had been seeing a steady increase in business until March 2020.
Getting creative in marketing helped frame our products in a way that would keep our relevance. From offering goods that would solve work from home struggles to new barware for driveway and Zoom cocktail hours and outdoor entertaining, the hope was to share items that could solve problems or bring a small bit of joy to an otherwise abysmal time.
There were many questions going forward from there. How long will this last? How will I pay the bills? What am I going to do? But the most important ones were “what do I have control of and how can I continue to be relevant in this new time?” That’s when the pivoting began.
While I wouldn’t categorize 2020 as a year of thriving, we definitely survived with the help of our very loyal customers and managed to gain a ton of momentum going into the second quarter of 2021.
First I began working on the things that I could control….We would close our doors for an extended length of time, cut all possible expenses, request relief from payment processors and vendors, and apply for the PPP and EIDL Programs.
Our doors are now open back full-time, customers are coming back into the shop and we hope to get back to hosting small events and workshops later on in the year. I am eternally grateful for every single sale, online review liked and shared social media post and referral of friends. It has meant the difference between keeping the door open or closing for good.
Many shopping platforms were offering free or heavily discounted costs for small businesses that were looking to move into the online space. I was then able to offer online shopping to my
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FILM CO. By Drew Evans, Owner
y name is Drew Evans. I am the owner of Fernweh Film Co. I went to New York Film Academy after high school and have spent the last 4 years filming weddings, music videos, and small business promos. I absolutely love being a part of weddings. Being able to capture such an exciting and happy day almost every weekend is a blessing that I will always cherish. 2020 proved to be the hardest year of my life, and I’m sure it also was for so many others. My fiancé and I had been planning to renovate a school bus to live out of and take on the road. I had saved up and finally bought the bus in March of 2020. Perfect timing right? As everything shut down, we had to put that dream on hold. Weddings were postponed, rescheduled, and cancelled. But I had to adapt, and I knew I couldn’t just pause everything in life. I switched focus and began
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"... this world can be wildly unpredictable, so walk everyday with intention and grace. We could all use some extra grace."
filming online content for my local church, which proved to be a rewarding experience for me. I focused on my relationships with my fiancé and my family, and tried to examine all of the parts of me that I needed to work on. As the year progressed, I began planning more for the future, and I realized that no matter what was going to happen, I had to keep my priorities on the people in my life, and I’ve made sure to remind myself of that daily. I’ve began working on renovating the bus again and as weddings are picking back up, I’ve found myself cherishing them even more. My advice for everyone right now is to love the people in your life with maximum effort. As we’ve all seen, this world can be wildly unpredictable, so walk everyday with intention and grace. We could all use some extra grace.
"To me, art is more than just a profession; it is something that saved me." After leaving my job as an event planner to care for my oldest child and my grandmother, I became lost. I no longer knew who I was as a person, and was sucked into a world where I only felt like a caretaker. I became depressed. I realized that I spent my entire life being a people-pleaser. I gave up my dreams of pursuing art because other people wanted me to be something else.
with it. Only a handful of people came, understandably. Two days later, everything shut down. My paintings were hung with no one to see them. Classes came to a screeching halt.
Once I had my second child, and the depression took a greater hold, my husband suggested I do something with art again. I started doing some things here and there just for fun, and in late 2016, I started thinking about making it a business.
I was terrified. The classes and the paintings were my only source of income. I had no idea what to do. My kids started virtual learning, which gave me an idea: I could offer my classes virtually!
My business is called Kellie Sansone Creates. When it started, I sold paintings and taught classes. Today I offer commissioned artwork, private paint parties for children and adults, and both virtual and in-person paint and sips. I also offer a membership that includes weekly video tutorials, access to my public classes, and more.
Prior to the shutdown, my only classes were in person at the winery. My website was meager. I only had a landing page back then. But I overhauled everything! I turned the website into a full store and a place to register for my classes. In January, I added the membership option to really give in-depth instruction. I honestly didn't have time to stress. My virtual class idea was unexpectedly popular. I was thrust into an all of a sudden full-time business of packing kits for my classes and teaching sometimes multiple classes per week.
The decision to start Kellie Sansone Creates turned out to be for the best! In starting this business, I realized that what made my business unique is me. Finally, I felt like myself again! In 2019, I started building momentum. I began teaching classes once a month at Woodlawn Press Winery, built a following there and started to sell more paintings. I was preparing for an art show in March 2020. Things were looking up.
It wasn’t until May that I realized my business would survive. Each month is getting busier! I love it! I had my busiest, and most profitable month in March of 2021. Here’s my advice: Don't give up! Keep pushing, and don't hesitate to ask for help if you need it, even if it is just to hear some encouraging words from a friend. Asking for help is not shameful. Everyone needs help. We are all better together, in more ways than one.
The week before my art show, cases started building. RSVPs started dropping left and right, but I put so much money into the show, we decided to continue
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PEOPLE YOU SHOULD KNOW
Story by Andrew Gates | Photography Courtesy of Alexandria Restaurant Partners (ARP)
Chef Bryant Haren, the Executive Chef at BARCA Pier & Wine Bar, has always enjoyed cooking since he was a child. “I became a chef because I find the science of food to be riveting. Food for me has always been an expression of oneself through craft,” he says.
While he found it challenging to be in New York so far from his family, Chef Haren believes the skills, networking, and mentorship he gained were worth it. Among those mentors was Chef Anita Eisenhauer, who he says was one of his most influential mentors.
Originally from Carson, California, Chef Haren left California to study at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York. “I was fortunate enough to go to school out of state, so it allowed me to fully immerse myself in not only my academics but my environment outside of school.” It was here that he began to build his network while working as a freelance caterer with local catering companies in the region.
In 2019, Chef Haren moved to the DC region. It was here that he found yet another mentor in Chef Brinn Sinnott of Fabio Trabocchi Restaurants. Always setting his eyes on bigger and better things, Chef Haren would not stop there. After several interviews, he was eventually asked to perform a tasting for the upper management of Alexandria Restaurant Partners (ARP), before finally landing the role of Executive Chef at BARCA Pier & Wine Bar.
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To create the new menu, Chef Haren worked with Corporate Chef Brandon Whitestone and pulled heavily from Spanish and Mediterranean recipes. The exciting menu includes tapas, sandwiches, queso y embutidos, and of course, wine. Nearly every dish can be adjusted to be gluten-free or low sodium. Chef Haren is inspired by visits to local farms and traveling to other cities. “We use only the highest of ingredients. Meaning if the best jamon comes from Spain, we get it from Spain. If a local farmer has the best mushrooms, we will use them for mushrooms. It all depends on the product itself. The thing that is guaranteed is we do not falter on quality of product and guest experience.” His favorite dish on the menu is the calamari. “The calamari is a balanced dish that takes you on an interesting journey. One gets the clean taste of the calamari, followed by the umami bomb from the chorizo, which gets balanced by the acidity of the gremolata. I love dishes that hit different notes all in one, that type of food interests me.” Today, Chef Haren oversees 35 people and maintains a nononsense management style in the kitchen. “Everyone at all times knows where they stand with me. I believe that transparency and respect is the key to a successful and happy work environment.” This work environment allows them to get the job done while still having fun. “This keeps not only the situation light but makes you want to come to work because it's enjoyable to be around good people.”
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NAT U R A L WAYS TO D E F EAT
SP R I NG A L L E RG I E S Brought to you by Your CBD Store - Alexandria
Happy Cherry Blossom (aka allergy) season! If you are experiencing itchy eyes, a runny nose and consistently sneezing, then you may be suffering from spring allergies. This year's pollen season has been off to a slow start but it's progressing as temperatures warm up and the recent tree pollen count here in the DMV has been higher than usual. The good news is: there are plenty of ways to fight back against spring allergens! Use more garlic. Garlic is an effective way to cure seasonal allergies naturally. Garlic decreases redness and swelling, preventing blockage of our respiratory tracts and reducing the severity of our symptoms. Drink green tea. Green tea contains antioxidants that prevent our bodies from reacting to a wide array of allergens, including pollen. It also helps alleviate allergy symptoms such as runny noses, sneezing and itchy eyes. Wash your hands. It seems like a simple rule to follow, but it is an effective one. Anytime you return indoors from being outside, the best way to get rid of excess pollen is to wash your hands and face. This prevents allergens from accumulating on your body. Use a humidifier. Spring allergies can result in dry nasal passages which lead to difficulty breathing and chest congestion. Running a humidifier, especially while you sleep, adds moisture to the surrounding air and lessens allergy symptoms. Try CBD. Like many other natural remedies, CBD is a low-risk allergy treatment. CBD products, such as Sunmed® Strawberry Lime Full Spectrum Water Soluble from Your CBD Store - Alexandria, contain antimicrobial properties that alleviate the effects of seasonal allergies. CBD opens up sinuses and relieves pressure and congestion. Studies have also shown that CBD products play a role in regulating our immune systems and prevent our cells from releasing histamines.
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The Stackable Teapot & Mug set is the perfect gift for the tea lover in your life! Each piece is handcrafted by artisans working with Sana Hastakala in Nepal.
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C H E R RY B LO S S O M S H O P + S I P P H OTO G R A P H Y BY K E L L I E G U N D E R M A N
The Old Town Boutique District recently hosted the annual Cherry Blossom Shop & Sip. Tickets were available on Eventbrite for $10, which provided access to 10% off at all OTBD stores. Participants shopped til' they dropped before heading to Fontaine for a complimentary Cherry Blossom-themed cocktail or mocktail which was included with the purchase of their ticket. To learn more about The Old Town Boutique District, visit them online at www.oldtownboutiquedistrict.com.
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VIP MAN CAVE IS PRESENTED BY
THE NAKU MAYO STORY S TO RY BY E B R O C KY M C K N I G H T O F W H I S K E Y & K I C K S P H OTO G R A P H Y BY C H R I S T I N A M AYO
mo·ment 1. a very brief period of time. A moment is defined as “a very brief period of time”. A moment can be a matter of seconds, maybe 5 minutes or even 8 months. Because, “brief” is relative right? So, in the grand scheme of things, 8 months is a very brief period of time. But I digress. Enter, Naku Mayo. Father. Husband. Lover of all things Whiskey related. And Master Photographer. His job, and he is damn good at it, is to capture a moment in time and make it live forever. Let that breathe for a moment. See what I did there? Naku is a Brooklyn born, DC raised Army Vet, “shout out to the US Army. #1. Strong. Let’s Go.” Yeah, yeah Naku. Air Force Vet here but I think we can still get along. A brother to 3 siblings and a father of 3 children of his own, Naku receives most of his inspiration from family. And that especially includes his extremely talented business partner, best friend and wife of 25 years, Christina. “It’s one of those things where I really want to be a great example for them…..to never quit and to always give it your all no matter what you’re doing.” A man of vision and dignity, I respect it.
As a young, impressionable child, Nako received his first Kodak camera at the tender age of 13. He started snapping. In fact, he pretty much carried a camera everywhere he went. Capturing moment after moment after moment and so on. Fast forward to the Army where he also carried his camera wherever he went. More snapping. More moments. Fast forward to about 2008, he and his wife bought their first digital camera at a pawn shop and as they say, the game changed. Years later, he attended a class of his mentor and learned more about the business side of things. Are you following me? So much time invested to be amazing at capturing moments. Oh nevermind me, I tend to see these intricacies in everyday scenarios. We all remember learning how to use a camera. Right? You picked it up, you found the button that makes it capture. The first photo was usually of the floor, with your shoe partially showing. And then you figured out how to get the camera to the point where you could take the next photo. GO TIME! But we took it for granted. We still do. Those are moments. They all are. Moments in time that will never happen again. And I am here to tell
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@mayo2media @mayo2media.portraits you, if you want those moments captured so you can never take them for granted again, Naky Mayo is your guy. But you better catch him before he fulfills his dream shoot, “A dream shoot for me would be in Italy, shooting something for Campari. Or doing a fashion shoot….. probably Florence. Or maybe chartering a G5 and doing a shoot inside of it. That would be hot.”
Who am I kidding? This gentleman probably loves whiskey just as much as I do. I met him at a cocktail event that highlighted African American Bartenders in DC. I was there, drinking. He was there, capturing moments. And eventually, drinking too. If you check his portfolio, you will notice that he has a keen eye for photographing cocktails, bottles of amazing spirits and the like.
Brother, you can have multiple keys to the Man Cave if you include me in that G5 shoot!
Sign me up! Meet in the Man Cave. That’s it. Quick. Push the button and it’s done. I didn’t want this piece to be long. I wanted it to be a moment. Brief. Captured. Like a lens and a flash. Like Naku would do it. I appreciate your art my friend, you have a true gift and I hope I captured the essence of it. One thing for sure though, this snapshot will live on in infamy. Cheers sir!
E. BROCKY MCKNIGHT Brocky founded Whiskey & Kicks in 2017 in Washington, DC… over a glass of brown water. Whiskey & Kicks is a Show about Booze and Shoes! Brocky joined the VIP team in 2020 on a mission to bring stories of interesting and inspiring local men to readers, while celebrating the diversity of the DMV. Keep an eye out for Brocky's VIP Man Cave feature in every issue and check out The Whiskey & Kicks Show at www.whiskeyandkicks.com
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D E L R AY V I N TAG E + F L E A M A R K E T P H OTO G R A P H Y BY J D WAT K I N S
The Del Ray Vintage & Flea Market, affectionately known as DC Metro’s "Hottest New Outdoor Market," did not disappoint when they recently hosted another remarkable event in the great city of Alexandria. Eager customers flooded Mount Vernon Ave. to view vintage items from rotary dial phones to antique jewelry. The Market was started by Dr. Lauren Fisher and Amy Eggers, businesswomen, junk lovers and friends. The Del Ray Vintage & Flea Market is held on the second Saturday of each month between April-December from 9am until 1pm. For more information, please visit www.delrayvintageflea.com
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115 King Street • Alexandria, VA 22314 • 703.836.8404 • www.landinibrothers.com 60 • VIP ALEXANDRIA MAGAZINE