May 23, 2024
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Charting Her Course

Host Veronica Kusmuk and her featured guests give an inside look at women who own and run small businesses on California’s Central Coast. Be sure to rate us, subscribe to the podcast and follow us on Instagram: @chartinghercourse.

Martha Cantos is the owner of Ecugreen, a Ventura-based retail store that sells artisan, handmade goods. 

Martha began her career in early childhood education, and soon transferred her passion for community and service when she decided to start her own business. Now, Martha runs two physical locations in Downtown Ventura, each filled with quality, purposeful products with a story. 

Listen to hear Martha talk about the importance of resiliency as a small business owner, how to build meaningful relationships with artisans, and why it’s important to always have a support system. 

Please enjoy this talk with Martha Cantos. 

Renee Grubb is the owner of Village Properties, a locally owned and operated real estate brokerage based in Santa Barbara. 

Renee began her career flipping homes and soon worked her way to upper management. But once she saw an opportunity to start and run her own company, she took it. 

Listen to Renee talk about what makes a good realtor, how to thrive in the competitive real estate industry, and how mentorship is key to standing out. 

Please enjoy this talk with Renee Grubb. 

Laura Fullilove is the founder and CEO of the Salt Ranch, a Ventura-based brand that specializes in apparel inspired by the old west, especially custom-made hats! 

If you’re from Ventura, you’ve probably seen Laura’s hats worn by everyone, everywhere. But what most don’t know is that her business started after recovering from a traumatic brain injury. After realizing that there would be no second chance to pursue her passion, Laura fully committed to forming a business that gave her joy and paid an homage to her roots. 

Listen to Laura’s path to becoming one of Ventura’s most beloved small businesses, and the journey it took to get there. 

Please enjoy this talk with Laura Fullilove

Kelley Scanlin is the Founder and CEO of Pure Simple Foods, a natural food manufacturing company based in Ojai with brands like Lark Ellen Farm, Banner Road Baking and Purely Sprouted under their belt. 

Kelley used her experience building teams for global companies to scale her own business. From a pitched tent at the Ojai farmer’s market to competing with bigger brands in grocery store aisles, Pure Simple Foods is quickly turning into a fan favorite.

Listen to Kelley talk about why sticking to your values is key to leading a successful business, how to find funding when your business isn’t profitable yet and how to compete with bigger competitors when you’re just starting out. 

Please enjoy this talk with Kelley Scanlin. 

Melissa Hanson is the CEO and Co-Founder of Kelpful, a wild-harvest seaweed company based in San Luis Obispo. 

Melissa has always been passionate about social change and environmental impact, so when the opportunity to wild harvest seaweed cropped up, she and her team took the chance to share it with others. 

Now, Kelpful is a growing worker-owned business with a mission to help others acquire seaweed and learn more about its benefits. 

Listen to Melissa talk about how wild harvesting seaweed can help mitigate climate change and what you need to hear before starting your mission-driven company. 

Please enjoy this talk with Melissa Hanson. 

Bridget Foreman is a Partner at Barlett, Pringle & Wolf, an accounting firm based in Santa Barbara, California. 

In the beginning of her career, Bridget was a new and expecting mother who knew she wanted to be a successful accountant and a primary parent to her two children. Flash forward to current day, and not only did Bridget achieve those two goals, but she is currently one of five female partners at BPW. 

Listen to discover how Bridget built the life she’s always wanted, the ins and outs of choosing public accounting as a career, and why it’s always a good idea to ask for what you want – even when the odds could be against you. 

Please enjoy this talk with Bridget Foreman. 

Rori Trovato is the Founder of Rori’s Artisanal Creamery, a beloved ice cream shop and brand with 5 stores and counting on the Central Coast. 

Rori started out with a degree in math and a love for food. After going to culinary school, developing recipes for Martha Stewart, publishing a book and becoming a mother, Rori sought out to start her own business. 

From hands-on ice cream flavor production to optimizing business strategies, Rori has achieved a feat many business owners dream of: a solid fan base and a stable business model powered by passion and customer service. 

Listen to hear how Rori did it. Please enjoy this talk with Rori Trovato. 

Dr. Janis Shinkawa and Dr. Jill Muraoka Lim are Founding Partners of Ohana Pet Hospital, a full-service veterinary hospital based in Ventura, California.  With backgrounds in business and veterinary medicine, Janis and Jill started Ohana Pet Hospital to not only take care of animals, but to foster a healthy work environment for staff. Hear about how they prevent staff burnout by creating sustainable work practices, support their profession by partnering with educational institutions, and how their company culture prioritizes self-care without sacrificing performance.  Please enjoy this talk with Dr. Janis Shinkawa and Dr. Jill Muraoka Lim.

Maritza Flores is the cofounder of Mujeres Makers Market, a Santa Barbara-based community market that highlights small businesses from women of color. Maritza and cofounders Daniela Aguirre, Elysia Guillen, Lili Munoz, and Leah Ortega started Mujeres Makers Market when they saw the need for a supportive platform and collective space for women of color to showcase their businesses. Now, they can showcase over 80 businesses in one event, and are expanding with growth workshops to help more women succeed in the business world. Hear Maritza talk about the importance of creating a platform for women-led businesses, the work it takes to start a community-based initiative and what keeps Mujeres Makers Market going. 

Christine Brown is the founder and CEO of Kind Cup, a menstrual cup startup based in Carpinteria. Kind Cup has since sold out twice, garnering rave customer reviews for its accessibility and ergonomic design. Through their partnership with Direct Relief, Kind Cup has donated hundreds of menstrual cups to underserved communities across the nation — and that’s just the beginning. Listen to Christine give real advice about bootstrapping a business that sets new industry standards driven by high-quality materials, sustainable practices and social impact. Please enjoy this talk with Christine Brown.

Iris Rideau is the owner and founder of Rideau Vineyard, an award-winning winery based in the Santa Ynez valley. Iris is the first black woman to own and operate a winery in the United States. She began her journey in New Orleans and eventually made her way to California to start a career in the insurance industry. After a notable career in insurance, finance and politics, Iris decided to venture into winemaking. Fueled by her Creole roots, rock-hard determination and soul, Rideau Vineyards skyrocketed as one of the valley’s most renowned wineries. Listen to Iris talk about her challenging upbringing in the Jim Crow era, career advice that actually works, and her new memoir: “From White to Black: One Life Between Two Worlds.” This episode is one of our best yet. Please enjoy this talk with Iris Rideau.

LaVada English is the Founder and CEO of Bright Places, a business consulting firm dedicated to embedding trust, inclusion and belonging within corporate leadership and development. LaVada began her career in corporate talent consulting and took the leap into entrepreneurship in 2018 – a role she always knew she would end up in. Now, LaVada is the president-elect of NAWBO Ventura County, and her company, Bright Places, is reshaping how businesses think and act. Listen to LaVada talk about her journey, inclusion, and the importance of women claiming their economic power. Please enjoy this talk with LaVada English.

Hannah Bangs is the Founder and Owner of Idyll Mercantile, a plant, art and home goods store based in Santa Barbara, California. After working in the coffee industry for 10 years, Hannah took the leap and established her small business during the pandemic. Since then, Idyll Mercantile has grown to be a community-driven space where people can admire art, other local products and most of all – plants. Listen to hear Hannah talk about her entrepreneurship journey, why putting yourself on payroll is the smartest step a new business owner can make, and other important financial (and personal) advice. If you’re planning to start a small business and don’t know where to start, this one’s for you.

Gretchen Lieff is the Founder and President of La Lieff, a winery and tasting room opening soon in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone. Gretchen began her journey in broadcast journalism and has embarked on many different career paths. Over the years, she’s been an executive producer for an award-winning documentary, and has served on boards that champion animal advocacy and sustainability. Now, Gretchen is making her own mark in the wine business. Listen as she talks about how it all came together and what it takes to move forward.

GetHooked Seafood is a Santa Barbara-based seafood subscription company and Community Supported Fishery (CSF*) founded by Kim Selkoe and Victoria Voss. Before founding GetHooked, Kim and Victoria both had deep roots in fishing and marine life. Now, they’re looking to uplift communities though making wild and sustainable seafood more accessible. Listen to Kim and Victoria talk about their journey to entrepreneurship, being a woman in the fishing industry and the importance of community.

Rachel Sears-Casanta is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of HyperCat Cycleworks and HyperCat Racing, a brick-and-mortar bicycle shop and endurance sports training program based in Ventura, California. Rachel started her career as a radio host, and has even competed as a professional triathlete for twelve years. Since then, Rachel and her husband set down roots in Ventura, where the HyperCat brand has grown into a Central Coast community staple for professional and recreational cyclists. Rachel’s entrepreneurial journey is unlike anything we’ve ever heard before. Her story hits close to our hearts at Charting Her Course, and we’re so happy that you can tune in.

Rita Mounir is the Co-Founder and COO of Allthenticate, a cyber security startup based in Goleta, California. Rita began her startup journey in her home country of Morocco, where she implemented one of the nation’s first SAT preparation programs. During undergrad at UCSB, Rita developed Allthenticate along with Co-Founders, Chad Spensky and Evan Blasband. Now, Allthenticate is a fast-growing startup with six employees and numerous mentions on national publications. Listen to Rita talk about what it takes to build a startup, the positive benefits of having multiple mentors, and much more.

Jill Agonias is the Founder and CEO of SolSeek Yoga, a yoga studio based in Santa Barbara, California. Jill started her career in nonprofit marketing, and eventually quit to travel the world for a year and a half. When she returned to Santa Barbara, Jill decided to buy Divinitree yoga, and in 2021, has completed a successful rebranding. Listen to Jill talk about how to rebrand a business logistically and spiritually, what it takes to own your own business, and how to find the fullest version of yourself.

Allison Costa is the Founder and CEO of Ventura Food Tours, a food walking tour servicing Ventura, Ojai and Santa Barbara. Allison started Ventura Food Tours by herself in 2011, and has since grown her company to 5 tour guides and a vast list of restaurant partners. Listen to Allison talk about how to start a customer service-based business, how to face finances as a small business owner, and how to structure your own small business from scratch. Allison also recommends some great local dining later on in the episode, so tune in!

Gayle Lassen is the Managing Partner of Lassen’s Natural Foods & Vitamins, a health food store with locations all over California. Gayle began her career as an English teacher and eventually pivoted careers to focus more on the family business. Listen to Gayle tell the story of her mother-in-law, Oda Lassen, who founded Lassen’s when she was 52-years-old. Oda created the much-loved Central Coast health food store after living through World War II, and seeing how important it was for communities to have access to higher-quality nutrients.

Jennifer Peck-Wheir is the Co-Founder of Beacon Coffee, a coffee shop and roaster with locations in Ventura and Ojai. Jennifer began her career in food service and started Beacon Coffee in 2010 with her partner, John, after realizing the lack of connection between grower and consumer. Since then, Jennifer and John have scaled their small business to be an iconic Central Coast experience, sourcing from family-owned farms around the world. Listen to Jennifer talk about building a business model based off transparency and education, being a woman in the coffee industry, and maintaining an honest work-life balance.

Michelle Richardson is the Founder and Owner of Sugar, a natural hair-removal salon and boutique based in Santa Barbara, California. Michelle began her business journey as an aesthetician out of high school, and slowly worked her way through Los Angeles, which led her to founding her own brick-and-mortar in Santa Barbara. Listen to Michelle talk about running a business as a single mother, the importance of creating strong relationships with employees, and how learning from your mistakes can often lead you to the right place.

Maya Schoop-Rutten is the Founder and Owner of Chocolate Maya, an artisan chocolate store and kitchen based in Santa Barbara, CA. Originally from Switzerland, Maya began her career working on boats in Greece and eventually found her way to California. After a successful career owning her own restaurant, Maya decided to open a chocolate shop similar to the ones she grew up with in Switzerland. 13 years later, Chocolate Maya is thriving. Listen to Maya talk about the necessity of passion in the business world, advice for those who want to start their own business, and the importance of believing in yourself.

Em Johnson is the Executive Director of the Blue Sky Center, a community-driven, place-based nonprofit in New Cuyama, California. Em started her business journey learning about yoga principles in India, and eventually made her way to Santa Barbara, where she earned her MBA in social entrepreneurship. Listen to Em talk about the Blue Sky Center’s commitment to economic development, inclusiveness and how living in a thriving rural area taught her independence.

Helen McGrath is a fifth-generation Owner and Farm Coordinator of B&T McGrath/Flying M Ranch, a Ventura-County based family-owned farm. Helen always knew she wanted to go into agriculture, and after graduating college, Helen eventually returned to her family’s farming business to re-establish her roots. Listen to Helen talk about her experience as a woman in agriculture, the importance of transparency within farming and how to become more proactive to make the industry more inclusive for all.

Malory Taylor is the Founder & CEO of Ojai Lingerie, a sustainable, body-positive, lingerie and loungewear boutique based in Ojai, California. Malory started her career as a UC Santa Barbara grad in the nonprofit industry. After having a daughter, she then decided to start her own business after realizing that she wanted to create a world where her daughter grew up with confidence and self-acceptance. In the summer of 2019, Ojai Lingerie was born. Listen to Malory talk about raising a daughter with radical self-love, running a business by herself, and the importance of supporting black-owned businesses on the Central Coast.

Gaby Moes is the Founder & President of Seasons’ Catering, a highly-successful Ventura County-based catering company. When Seasons’ Catering lost most of their revenue during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Gaby pivoted the company to reflect community-based needs. In April of 2020, Season’s Catering successfully launched Good2Go, chef-made, farm-to-table meals available for curbside pickup and delivery. Now, Seasons Catering is expanding this effort to further serve the community well into 2021 and beyond. Listen to Gaby talk about what it takes to own a business, finding a career that you love, and how balance can look different for everyone.

Jeanne David is the Founder & CEO of Outer Aisle, a keto-friendly and low-carb cauliflower bread that’s sweeping grocery stores across the nation. Since its founding in 2013, Outer Aisle has now been featured in outlets like The Food Network and Forbes, as well as Pacific Coast Business Times’ #1 Fastest Growing Company in 2020. Listen as Jeanne talks about launching a company ahead of its trend, working with family, and how she practices gratitude in the midst of an expanding business.

Rashi Bahri Chitnis is the Founder and CEO of Shoonya, a children’s language app thoughtfully designed to foster the next generation of global citizens. Shoonya’s mission is to teach children different languages while integrating different forms of cultural diversity. Listen to how Rashi transitioned from a successful career in Hollywood to changing the game in the tech industry.

Lori Volk is the Founder and CEO of Lori’s Original Lemonade, an organic local lemonade line based in Ventura, California. Listen to how Lori started her business as a way to pay off her kids’ college debt, and her journey to becoming a Central Coast staple. Please enjoy this talk with Lori Volk.

Cynthia Torres is the Founder & CEO of New Dawn Counseling & Consulting Inc., a mental health service space based in Oxnard. Originally from Colombia, Cynthia is a licensed family & marriage counselor with deep entrepreneurial roots. Now, New Dawn has 20 employees with more than 1500 individual clients and counting. Keep listening to find out more about Cynthia’s business journey and how being an entrepreneur has become the biggest adventure of her life.

Jamika Martin is the Founder & CEO of ROSEN Skincare, a Paso Robles-based skincare brand designed to treat acne with clean ingredients.
Jamika started ROSEN as an undergrad at UCLA in 2017, and has since quadrupled its sales as of July 2020. Now, ROSEN is available online and at Urban Outfitters.
Listen as she talks about growing a bootstrap startup, navigating entrepreneurship and scaling quickly due to popular demand in 2020.

Ashe Brown is the owner of Pura Luna Apothecary in Santa Barbara, California, which she runs with her wife, Cristin Brown. Pura Luna Apothecary is an earth-based wellness space for women, and the sister company of Luna Bella Make Up and Hair. Listen as she talks about building a brand and business as a queer black woman in a predominantly white space, using herbal medicine as the tools for personal healing, and what it means to be an ally to small businesses.

Reyna Chavez is the founder and CEO of Scrubs on the Run, a medical retail store with three locations throughout Ventura County. Listen in as she talks about her business journey to success and how she navigates being at the forefront of COVID-19.

Nicki Parr is the Associate Director of Strategic Initiatives at Women’s Economic Ventures (WEV). She joined WEV in April 2018 to jumpstart business recovery and resiliency programs following the Thomas Fire and Montecito Debris Flow. Listen as she talks about what small businesses can do to stay afloat during COVID.

Zhena Muzyka is the founder and owner of Club Magic Hour, a monthly subscription box with a mission to connect the world through tea ceremony. Based in Ojai, Zhena started her career by founding Zhena’s Gypsy Tea, a journey that turned 6 dollars into 12 million dollars, which became a pioneer in fair trade advocacy.
Since then, Zhena has become an author and publisher at Simon & Schuster, as well as an executive coach amongst other occupations. Listen as she talks about the power of self-trust, leading by example, and the importance of how business can change the world through a sustainable mindset.

Sarah McCarthy Garcia is the Vice President of McCarthy Companies, a family-run real estate development and construction company based in Ventura. After graduating from UC Santa Barbara, Sarah got into the family business and is now one of four principals who direct the company’s expansion into even more upscale projects. Listen as she talks about being a woman in a male dominated industry, what it’s like working with family, and navigating new motherhood. She has deep roots in the Central Coast community and also happens to be a great friend of mine.

Sumita Pennathur is the founder and CEO of LAXMI Therapeutics and a mechanical engineering professor at UC Santa Barbara. Sumita has two degrees in aerospace engineering from MIT and a mechanical engineering PhD from Stanford. Some of her accomplishments include creating an improved breastpumping device, as well as developing groundbreaking research for type 1 diabetes. Listen as she talks about finding confidence with her identity, her experiences as a woman in science and engineering, and finding motivation from motherhood.

Caleigh Hernandez is the founder & CEO of RoHo Goods. RoHo works with local artisans across Kenya to produce ethically-sourced products such as sandals, handbags and jewelry. RoHo’s mission is to create opportunities for their artisans through providing jobs that pay well above industry standards and ensuring that their children have access to quality education. Listen as Caleigh talks about how a trip to a local market led her to start her own business, and how working closely with women artisans shaped RoHo’s commitment to female economic development.

Hayley Pavone (right) is the CEO/Founder of Pashion Footwear, the world’s first fully convertible high heels. Haley got the idea for Pashion in college, and now, three years later, Pashion has been featured on publications like Forbes and Inc., with patents pending in multiple countries. Listen as she talks about her experience as a young female entrepreneur, the process of creating new fashion technology and what it was like pitching to investors.

Sherry Villanueva (left) is the owner/managing partner of ACME Hospitality in Santa Barbara which operates seven restaurant concepts in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone. Chances are if you’ve spent time there, you’ve visited some of their places (The Lark! Lucky Penny! Loquita!). We talk about how Sherry pivoted from marketing to restaurant business, her advice for getting started in a new career and how taking a leap of faith can pay off when paired with a detailed plan. Sherry’s wealth of knowledge is inspiring on so many levels. Learn more about ACME Hospitality at: Please enjoy!

Briana Garcia (right) is the owner of Tiki Girl Boutique in downtown Ventura, CA. We talk about the steps she took in buying and managing Tiki Girl, as well as her insights on social media and running a small retail business. Tiki Girl Boutique’s website is: and they can also be found on instagram @shoptikigirl