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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.

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