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Food, Technology
When contemplating a skincare conundrum — Does collagen powder do anything? How much exfoliating is too much exfoliating? Is coffee bad for your skin? — I know exactly where to turn for clarity: science, of course. But in the case of that last question, science is sadly no help at all. There’s evidence that a morning cuppa can cause acne… but there’s also evidence it can soothe rosacea. It may constrict blood vessels and thus, impede the flow of nutrients to the skin… but it’s also packed with potent antioxidants. Confused? Yeah, experts are, too.

“There’s wide variation in terms of how people are affected by caffeine,” Dr. Aanand Geria, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist with Geria Dermatology, tells The Zoe Report. Besides the aforementioned downsides, coffee drinking has been linked to an increase in cortisol production — and cortisol, “the stress hormone,” is associated with a host of skin issues, from premature aging to dehydration. On the other hand: “A study last year showed that women who drank four or more cups of coffee a day had a 23 percent lower chance of developing rosacea,” Dr. Geria says. (I mean… impressive, sure, but that’s a jitter-inducing amount of java.) “This benefit can be attributed to not only the caffeine, but also the high amount of polyphenols in coffee, which function as antioxidants,” the dermatologist explains. Antioxidants, as a refresher, help defend against premature aging and environmental aggressors. Most likely, these negatives and positives cancel each other out, and coffee has a net zero impact on skin health. “When caffeine is consumed in moderation there really should be no adverse effect to the skin,” Dr. Geria confirms. That being said, every body is different, and some may be more susceptible to the not-so-great side effects of a large soy latte than others.

Starting to suspect your cold brew’s been messing with your complexion? Ahead, five coffee alternatives that only have upsides.

Matcha Tea

“We’re definitely a very coffee-centric society, and people are right to start questioning the overall benefits and risks,” Sarah Koszyk, M.A., R.D.N., a registered dietitian and founder of MIJA Naturals, tells TZR. “Drinking too much coffee can result in increased anxiety and decreased sleep quality” — both of which impact your skin, by the way. Her suggestion? Say good morning to matcha.

“There is a rare class of amino acids in matcha, L-theanine, that works with the caffeine to release a ‘calm focus’ that aficionados describe as a high, that unwinds stress, enhances focus, and promotes creativity,” she says. Which is precisely why ceremonial-grade, organic matcha is the base of her daily supplement, the Superstar. “Beyond this, so many of our ingredients such as goldenberries, camu camu, lucuma, cacao, avocado, turmeric, hemp seeds, chlorella, and nutritional yeast also provide comprehensive, anti-aging, health-optimizing benefits — from fortifying the immune system to optimizing skin health for glowing beauty from within,” Koszyk says. Simply mix a tablespoon or two with hot water (it’s very tasty) and enjoy.


Body Buliding, Technology

In the past week alone, every single human in the U.S. has gotten a pimple, according to very scientific data I just made up. But seriously, if I’m basing this solely off a dozen frantic, late-night text messages from friends and coworkers, then yeah, virtually everyone I know—including yours truly—has been inducted into the Big-Ass Breakout Club this summer, and we’re all asking the same thing: What the f*ck is happening right now?? Are we under attack? Is this the second (puberty) coming? WILL WE EVER BE OKAY?!

So, with a ZitSticka patch covering the throbbing cystic zit on my jaw and salicylic acid globbed onto the mysterious little whiteheads sprinkling my nose, I begged for answers from dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor at Yale University and OG calmer of my skin anxieties. And according to Dr. Gohara, there very much is a reason why you’re breaking out right now. Actually, there are three:

It’s this g’damn stupid heat wave.

Right now, around the country (and even in Europe), record-high temperatures are basically signaling the apocalypse. I mean, the freaking Washington Post is calling it “the hottest month that humans have ever recorded,” and guess what? None of this bodes well for your skin (or for the planet, but more on civilization-ending global warming later).

“When it’s really hot, people tend to sweat significantly more,” says Dr. Gohara. “That sweat then sits on your face, mixing with all the sticky gunk and grime and pollution in the air to create the perfect environment for pores to clog and acne-causing bacteria to grow.” Yay! I love summer!

But the heat and humidity are only half of the problem. You’re the other half. “When we notice, Holy shit, my face is a Crisco pad, we tend to touch our skin more—blotting with shirts or towels or sheets, wiping or fixing makeup with fingers, dusting on more powder to mattify the shine, and feeling for new or growing zits,” says Dr. Gohara. “So not only are you introducing new bacteria and oils to your face, but you’re also irritating your skin barrier with all the wiping and touching.” And an irritated barrier is an angry barrier—one that’ll start breaking out even harder from the disruption.


Hands. Off. Your. Face. Seriously—get your hands off your skin, stop rubbing at it, don’t triple-cleanse during the day, don’t pack on the makeup to cover the grease. Instead, gently soak up the shine once or twice a day with fragrance-free oil blotting sheets (my favorite: Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets), wash your face once or twice a day with a creamy, non-foaming cleanser (see below), and keep your makeup to a minimum on the areas where you tend to break out most. And maybe move to Alaska.

You’re blasting the A/C.

This goes hand in hand with the hellacious heat wave (is it fall yet?), but if you’ve been sitting in front of your air conditioner for three weeks or blasting your car’s A/C or existing only in frigid coffee shops, classrooms, planes, or offices, it could actually be breaking you out.

“Air-conditioning usually removes moisture from the air, making it incredibly drying, especially if it’s blasting you right in the face,” says Dr. Gohara. “So it ends up sucking the moisture from your face, which causes your skin to overproduce oil to compensate for the dryness.”

The result? Extra-oily skin (yup, even if your skin looks matte and dry; your pores produce oil from within, and too much too quickly can clog the pore before it reaches the surface). So while the A/C is kicking your oil production into overdrive, the heat wave is cranking out the sweat and the humidity is mixing it all together and sticking it to your skin.


Adopt an electricity-free life—maybe move to a remote shack on the beaches of Bali? Just kidding. There’s not much you can do when A/C is virtually everywhere in the summer, except try to redirect the air from blowing on your face as much as possible. If you’re traveling, push the air vents in your car away from your face or twist the airplane’s vent above your seat closed. And try adding a portable humidifier (the Hey Dewy Portable Facial Humidifier is honestly great) to your life—keep it on your desk, in the cupholder in your car, wherever. That bit of moisture can help offset some of the A/C’s drying effects.

You’re going crazy trying to fix your zits.

So you got a few zits (and then a few more), and you went bat-shit nuclear on your skin, trying to fix it fast. I get it—the panic is realBut changing up your entire routine, or even adding one new acne-fighting formula, can break the space-time continuum/your face.

“When people break out, they start reaching for more heavy-duty, acid-filled formulas, over-exfoliating their face, loading on the retinol and spot treatments, and basically flip to the extremes in the course of a week or a few days,” says Dr. Gohara. “And all that change creates a disruption in your skin’s equilibrium, causing it to freak out, dry out, and break out.” Think of your skin like a temperamental toddler—change its nap schedule and, IDK, dump some salicylic acid on it, and it’s going to be very pissed.

Also, if you do what I did—which was slather an acne-fighting serum all over my T-zone in a ~genius~ attempt at preventing more breakouts—you could inadvertently be causing the worst freaking breakout of your life: purging. “Purging is definitely a real thing,” says Dr. Gohara. “It’s when skin-resurfacing products, like retinoids and acids, bring your future zits to the surface of your skin all at once.”

It isn’t a surefire thing (you’re more likely to purge if you’re already acne prone or if you’re using a way stronger formula than usual), but it’s something to be aware of and ideally avoid. I knew all these things and yet I, the local idiot, still forged ahead, slapping acids on my face and waking up to whiteheads 48 hours later.


Just…wait. Do nothing. I know, this sounds absolutely insane, but trying to radically alter your routine will bring you nothing but skin sadness. “Resist the compulsion to do anything differently, and try to avoid disrupting your skin as much as possible,” says Dr. Gohara.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use a gentle spot treatment on the zits you already have (try a salicylic-based spot treatment—I’ve been using Murad Rapid Relief Spot Treatment—for red, inflamed bumps or a gentle benzoyl peroxide spot treatment, like Neutrogena On-The-Spot Acne Spot Treatment, for whiteheads), but make sure to apply sparingly just once a day.

The Takeaway

Ultimately, your skin is under Mother Nature’s cruel, cruel thumb, so know that there’s only so much you can do this summer. Just be cognizant of not deviating from what you normally do and also resist the compulsion to wipe, scrub, or touch your skin more than normal this summer,” says Dr. Gohara. Yeah, it sucks, but hey—fall is just a few weeks away, and if you’re really concerned (like you need that cystic zit gone now), you can head to your dermatologist for a cortisone injection or an extraction.

So next time (tonight) you’re staring at your new crop of zits in the mirror, take a few deep breaths, remember that breakouts are totally normal, and they’ll probs die a quick, painless death in a few weeks anyway.


Champions, Technology
LOS ANGELESJuly 30, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Bev, the mission-driven, digital-first and community-centric brand that is redefining the landscape within male dominated spaces, announces Tara Hannaford has been appointed President. As one of the few female industry executives and as a future key player in Bev’s growth, Hannaford will apply her proficiency and knowledge of beverage distribution and innovation to develop strategies for new key markets as well as assist in expanding the brand’s product portfolio.

With more than 10 years of industry experience, Hannaford comes to Bev from Casamigos where she was the Vice President of Sales and played a pivotal role in the company’s exit for $1 billion. Hannaford has helped businesses successfully launch products in major U.S. markets, expand distribution, develop tailored sales programs as well as help build and grow talented teams. Beyond Casamigos, she brings experience across the spirits category, including positions with Stoli Group, DeLeon Tequila, Peligroso Spirits and Hawaii Sea Spirits.

“Bev is what I’ve been waiting for,” said Tara Hannaford, President of Bev. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to affect change in an industry that has often been insulated from it and to do things better than they’ve been done before, all while inspiring and elevating female leadership and community in wine and spirits. It is an honor to work alongside Bev’s Founder, weaving Bev’s core mission with an effective commercial strategy for authentic brand affinity and long-term growth.”

“Tara is a dream hire for a company at any stage, her track record speaks for itself,” said Alix Peabody, CEO and Founder of Bev. “The fact that she’s joined us speaks volumes not only about the culture and community we are building, but also how important our mission is for the industry as a whole.”

For more information on Bev, please visit

About Bev
Founded by Alix Peabody in May 2017Bev is a beverage company out of Venice, California.  They are breaking the glass by challenging male-dominated industries and building a more inclusive, respectful drinking culture. Bev wants to create a mission-driven community that encourages everyone to experience fun on their own terms. Their first product is the refreshingly crisp and dry, canned California rosé wine made with the highest quality grapes from the central coast of California. This proprietary blend has bright aromatics of strawberry, raspberry, white peach and watermelon. Made specifically for a can, every can of Bev has 11.9% ABV, 0 grams of sugar, and 3 grams of carbs. Bev is currently available in California and Nashville as well as available online nationwide. For more information about Bev, please visit 



Photography, Technology

Fresh off his flight from Los Angeles to Singapore, celebrity photographer Emanuele D’Angelo (a.k.a. LIVINCOOL) came over to our sunny shores to celebrate the pop-up of his clothing line at Surrender, a luxury streetwear boutique that carries the hottest drops from Adidas to Palm Angels.

Known for photographing Emily Ratajkowski in her itty bitty Inamorata bikinis to The Weeknd riding in an ATV, the Rome-born D’Angelo makes you feel like you want to be his travel buddy. In spite of 218K Instagram followers and a super awesome moniker, he is more than just the man who’s livin’ cool.

Behind the camera, he is a smart and savvy businessman who knows how to build a brand out of his Instagram feed. Bearing the LIVINCOOL logo on oversized tees to bikinis, every single garment exudes a carefree IDGAF vibe that translates well in photographs and IRL.

We catch up with D’Angelo about the origins of his photography career, why he doesn’t see his brand as a streetwear label, hanging out with The Weeknd and Bella Hadid at Universal Studios and the one K-pop girl group he’d love to shoot with.

What is Livin Cool about and how does it fit into the current landscape of street style?

Well, Livin Cool started as a blog I started with two friends of mine in Rome in back in 2009 because I graduated in communication[s] and I wanted to work in a communication agency. I did the interview with the guy that was interviewing me asked if me I had something online to show to him.

A few months later, I moved to London and I started to take photos of people at Fashion Week [and] parties. I’ll give away my business card and people would go in to see the website. I have a lot of friends that have fashion brands, so I started to start design. I knew all these celebrities, [and] models and [so, I] worked with them. I started the idea to have a merch clothing line in December 2017 and everyone started to wear it.

What is streetwear to you?

Honestly, I want to put my brand. I mean, t-shirts, hoodies and hats can be seen as streetwear brand, but my brand is mostly like a lifestyle brand. The strategy behind it is not really getting the attention or hype like the Hypebeast. They kind of get the concept of Livin Cool.


You’ve shot so many celebrities from Travis Scott to Bella Hadid. Which star did you love working with most and why?

Emily Ratajkowski, Bella Hadid and The Weeknd, those are my main three that I prefer to work with. But, I also enjoyed working with Dwyane Wade. I’m really close to him and he’s a great guy – we’ve always clicked since the beginning.

You have mentioned Emily Ratajkowski as your muse before. Has it changed? Why?

Well, I mean, she was my muse because she’s the person I work with most in the past year and a half [to] two years. I love taking photos of her and she loves my photos. I always look for new faces as well. Another girl I really enjoying working with is Adwoa Aboah. I loved working with Imaan Hammam – she’s nice and beautiful. We shot a bunch of things. Laura Harrier, too. She’s really great as well.

Have you ever shot a K-pop artist? If no, who would you like to shoot most?

No, but I would love to. I have my friend Soon Ho in Korea and he’s part of the management of Blackpink. We were in LA recently for Coachella, but I don’t think I have time.

I don’t know too many K-pop artists. Even with them, I don’t know most of them so well. It’s not something I know about, but [BLACKPINK] will be the one.

I understand that this isn’t your first time in Singapore. What was your fondest memories?

Yeah, I was here on tour with the Weeknd and one day, we spent one day in Universal Studios and it was super hot. We were with the team and Bella was here, too. We had some people showing us around.

Would Livin Cool be exploring celebrity collaborations in the future? Which celebrity would you like to most collaborate with?

I would explore this kind of aspect and work with one of those people I work with. But, I would love to work more with the artist as well – either graphic designers, illustrators or other photographers, too.



…while I was running Techweek that I came up with the idea to launch Codeverse. The idea came from a documentary I saw, called “Code: Debugging the Gender Gap”, which focuses on the lack of women and minorities in STEM fields. After viewing the documentary, Craig and I did a ton of research, over the course of two years, on the various camps, schools, tools, apps, games and resources that exist today to teach young children how to code. In July 2017, we officially opened the doors to our beautiful, state-of-the-art coding studio in Chicago!

I had the pleasure to interview Katy Lynch. Katy is the Co-Founder of Codeverse, the world’s first fully interactive coding school and educational tech platform that teaches kids to code. Codeverse is built with intuitive tools to make learning code approachable and fun, and most of all, rewarding. The self-guided curriculum is designed for learners as young as 6 and introduces all the foundations of computer programming while incorporating common core subjects including art, history, science, and math. Their mission: Teach a billion kids to code.

Thank you so much for joining us Katy! What is your backstory?

I moved to Chicago from the U.K ten years ago. In 2008, I landed my first startup gig, working for Facebook’s largest travel application, called Where I’ve Been (which was founded by my now husband, Craig Ulliott.) For two years, I single handedly managed their online community, helping them grow from zero to almost 10 million active members. Where I’ve Been eventually sold to Tripadvisor in 2010, and I decided that I wanted to help other startups, like WIB, with their social media strategy full time. So, I spun off and started SocialKaty, a full service social media marketing agency in August 2010. I ran SocialKaty for 4 years until it was acquired by Manifest in July 2014 — exactly a week before my 30th birthday! After the acquisition, I left Manifest to become the CEO of Techweek, the nation’s largest traveling technology festival. Interestingly, it was while I was running Techweek that I came up with the idea to launch Codeverse. The idea came from a documentary I saw, called “Code: Debugging the Gender Gap”, which focuses on the lack of women and minorities in STEM fields. After viewing the documentary, Craig and I did a ton of research, over the course of two years, on the various camps, schools, tools, apps, games and resources that exist today to teach young children how to code. In July 2017, we officially opened the doors to our beautiful, state-of-the-art coding studio in Chicago!

Which person or which company do you most admire and why?

Elon Musk. He is an inspiration to me for various reasons. He’s a self-made billionaire, intellectually curious, a huge risk-taker, and a total badass! What he has done with PayPal, SpaceX, The Boring Company, SolarCity, and Tesla is absolute genius. He is disrupting multiple industries at once with his innovative ideas, and truly is a great role model for any aspiring or serial entrepreneur.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I’ve been in the tech community for almost 10 years, and everything I have done has led to Codeverse. This is mine and Craig’s legacy company. Our mission is to “teach a billion kids to code”, and we’re making sure that we bring the Codeverse experience to kids in underrepresented communities. In fact, we’re actively working with AfterSchool AllStars Chicago, Boys & Girls Clubs Chicago, Little Village Academy, and other organizations to make sure that all kids are equipped with the 21st century skills they need to succeed in this digital day and age.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started?

You’ll fail a lot, and that’s OK — You’ll constantly make mistakes as a startup founder. What determines your fate is how you handle these mistakes. My biggest advice is to learn from your mistakes, pick yourself back up, and swiftly move on.

Ultimately, it takes passion, perseverance, and a willingness to work really hard every day to be successful.

It’ll change your life — The media glamorizes entrepreneurship, making it sound easy, sexy, and fun. But, it’s actually quite the opposite. Entrepreneurship is extremely difficult and rips you out of your comfort zone. It challenges you, and forces you to make hard, life-altering decisions. You will experience the highest highs (as you become successful and celebrate “wins” with your team) and the lowest lows (as you make countless mistakes) and you will quickly learn to adapt to the good and bad situations that happen on a daily basis.

Take risks and trust your gut — This is so important, When you are young, you can afford to take a lot of risks. When I was much younger, I used to double-guess myself, or take too much time making decisions. I’d say “no” to great opportunities because I felt that I wasn’t qualified enough to do the job. I lacked confidence.

Say yes to interesting opportunities. Be inquisitive and open-minded. Challenge people and ideas.

Stop thinking about what you wantto do. Take action and actually do it!

Your biggest champions will be other entrepreneurs — When you become an entrepreneur, you experience a shift in your mindset. You will only want to surround yourself with positive people who understand you, your profession, and the trials and tribulations of what it means to be a business owner.

As you become more successful as a startup founder, it becomes harder to relate to those who are not business owners. This is a tough pill to swallow initially (because you want your friends and family to be as passionate as you are about your business!), but the reality is that you will receive more support, guidance, and feedback from individuals who are on the same startup journey as you.

Learn every aspect of your business — You don’t have to be an expert, but you do need to have a general understanding of what is happening in each department. Learn about the technology you use, your product, the financials, your marketing strategy, your PR efforts, and sales.


Los Angeles – Stay Boutique Live – THE TRIFECTA 2019 proved to be the ultimate authority on all things boutique at its annual conference held at Magic Box@TheReef in downtown Los Angeles on February 11-13th attended by more than 290. The thought-provoking two and a half-day conference brought out the biggest movers and shakers in the flourishing community that continues to break barriers in the most inclusive industry of our time, the boutique industry, announced June 2018 by BLLA.

Frances Kiradjian and Ariela Kiradjian, the powerhouse mother-daughter team behind Stay Boutique Live 2019 welcomed an impressive line-up of speakers for its Leadership Edition, followed by its riveting Female Empowerment Edition. “Providing a safe haven for boutique thinkers is what Stay Boutique is all about,” says founder Frances Kiradjian who created its parent company BLLA, Boutique & Lifestyle Leadership Association, in 2009. “This is our 10th year anniversary. I started this in a down economy when nobody believed in boutique, they said it was going away.” Not only did Frances prove them wrong, her vision and tenacity has brought boutique leaders together from all over the world and continues to do so with the passion and creativity that the mother-daughter duo delivers on a daily basis.

Participants carried the themes thoughtfully and purposely throughout the 2-1/2 days of being un-apologetic for being boutique, deviating from the norm and creating experiences throughout their brands to connect directly with customers. Both hoteliers and boutique businesses participated in the themes with enthusiasm and joy. They also expressed their personal thoughts about “being boutique.”

Keynote speaker and veteran hospitality guru Larry Korman, President of AKA Serviced Residences, was interviewed by Frances Kiradjian on the importance of having the community that Stay Boutique and BLLA created and continues to nurture. “We are all thinking outside the box and it’s nice to know that there are other like-minded people…I think we inspire each other to go further. If we start doubting ourselves, there are other people who encourage us; we all propel each other to that next step as well as support and give each other constructive criticism. It’s in the spirit of wanting to help. We are blazing new trails – together.”

Korman who credits his family for encouraging him to take chances, was able to find a niche for his luxury extended-stay residences in major urban cities like Manhattan, when the economy was at an all-time low. “The fortune 500 companies we had worked with were gone, they weren’t traveling at this point, and that’s when I discovered the film industry. They loved that we were a residence, and not a hotel room. So, I partnered with the film community and we had directors, actors, producers all staying with us.” AKA is now a global company with properties in Los Angeles, London, New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

Korman now incorporates his forefathers’ philosophy of giving back to the community, by adding a new concept to his properties called voluntourism. “We invite our guests to help us feed the homeless during the holidays. Many of our guests are alone during this time. These residents start the day feeling blue because they are not with their families, but by the end of the day they feel great because they have done something so meaningful. We share this family passion with our residents.”

Passion is a central theme in the world of boutique, just ask Benjamin Edgar Gott, who founded Boxed Water, Th-oughts & Benjamin Edgar Object Design, and is the Co-Founder of The Brilliance. “I love being around really passionate people! The boutique is the anti-mediocrity,” says Gott who created Boxed Water with a philanthropic spin.

While all the speakers had different stories to tell, the recurring themes were that of community and experience. “At the end of the day, it’s all about experience,” says keynote speaker Avi Brosh, CEO of Paligroup, who has gone on to create a society known as Palisociety compromised of like-minded, creative people. “Boutique is inclusive. It’s about having a really independent spirit and of course creating a community.”

Wilhelm Oehl, CXO, Eight Inc,, had some powerful words to say about succeeding in the boutique business. “Trust your gut feeling. You have to trust yourself and you have to be willing to try as well. Stay human, stay connected and don’t be afraid to fail.” Often described as Apple’s best kept secret, Oehl (and his company Eight, Inc.), is the mastermind of the design concepts behind the computer giant’s famous storefronts worldwide.

Other inspirational speakers included Stay Boutique Live’s very own Ariela Kiradjian who shared memories of her mother, Frances Kiradjian, and her journey to creating the very first boutique community despite naysayers who claimed boutique was just a fad. “The community that my mom brought together ten years ago through BLLA has evolved so much so that it has given way to an entirely new movement in just a decade,” said Ariela. “Something that is also really important to us is creating a new home for boutique hotels and concepts that is more supportive than ever, a home that values innovation and inclusivity.”

Kicking off the Female Empowerment Edition was the personable Kim Malek who founded the famous Salt & Straw artisan ice cream shop. “Upon moving to Portland, there was a story in the newspaper about a boutique ice cream shop that had just opened in San Francisco and I thought to myself, with fists in the air, ‘That was my idea’! Someone else is doing it!” Kim continues, “This is one thing that I found in hindsight that’s kind of a female thing to do, in politics, in business – the list goes on and on. There are all these studies and reports that show that guys will tend to wake up in the morning and say I just had the greatest idea and the world has to hear this, and women will be like I just had an idea, I am going to work on it for fifteen years until it’s perfect and then I might whisper it to someone when I see someone else doing it because that maybe then validates that maybe it is a good idea, so that’s something we need to talk about and maybe work on.”

Malek recalls bringing her business plan to several banks to get funding for her ice cream. “I didn’t have any money and of course the banks wanted to lend money in 2010 during the recession to an ice cream shop (she laughs).” Unable to get a loan, Malek cashed in her 401K, sold her house, had a garage sale and cobbled together all the money she could find.

Fast forward, Salt & Straw is one of the most popular and profitable boutique ice cream shops in the country, with nearly 20 shops and more to come. Malek attributes her success to being true to herself and focusing on community. “Those connections are everything in a business within the company and with the customers. People are really craving connection and if we can help with loneliness, we are on the right track. Kindness is what it’s all about.”

Lisa Odenweller, Founder, Beaming & Kroma Superfoods was interviewed by Frances Kiradjian who knows a thing or two about empowering women. Lisa shared her powerful story of how she started her Beaming food business after a personal mission to take charge of her own health and the health of her family, particularly her then 9-year-old daughter who had struggled with ADD. After eliminating the trigger foods, gluten, sugar, dairy, wheat and processed foods from her daughter’s diet, the results were remarkable. “In just a few weeks she was off her medication, she was in honors classes, and she’s never been back on the meds. I get emotional about it because I realize how we have to put health into our own hands.” From there, Beaming was born and became the most successful superfood bars in the country with multiple locations.

Lisa went on to share her struggles with the business that she loved and created. “I made some mistakes, primarily choosing the wrong people to go into business with and bringing people on board who didn’t have the same vision. I was naive, and as a result I sold the company. I didn’t want to, but I felt it was necessary.” The entrepreneur has now launched a new company called Kroma Superfoods and takes her lessons with her, advising the crowd, “Make sure you are in alignment with the people you bring on board. …don’t let anyone make you doubt yourself and most importantly stay in your power and trust yourself.”

Trusting herself is exactly what April Brown did when she transformed a gritty little motel into one of the most sought-after boutique motels in Canada. The June Motel located in Prince Edward County, wine country, is one of the most instagrammable motels on social media. In fact, The June Motel took home the top prize as Stay Boutique’s Best Boutique Instagrammer Award of 2019. “Boutique to me is having a really unique experience. I had absolutely no experience before starting on this adventure. I asked myself, with my partner, what do I want my life to look like. We followed our passion to create something fun for ourselves and for our guests, and we have been booked ever since.”

Speaker Evelyn Rusli, Co-Founder & President of Yumi, shared her journey into creating a boutique baby food line that is delivered straight to your doorstep. “We are a generation that doesn’t want something that has a million carbon copies. People don’t want something that is just cookie cutter, this to me is what boutique means. It’s thinking about those moments that just spark magic.”

Prior to introducing keynote speaker Melissa Biggs Bradley, Founder of Indagare, Frances Kiradjian reminded us all, “Without a travel agent, you are on your own and that’s so true. Who do you call? You call Ghostbusters!” Bradley says the magic of travel allows us to shift our perspective. The former Town & Country writer now runs Indagare, a boutique travel agency that offers its members a modern advisor as well as complete immersion within exotic spaces. “I noticed that there had been this sort of gap because so many traditional travel agents had been disrupted by the online travel companies and this concept of you should really be able to do this by yourself, and what I found was that there was so much information that it was impossible to figure it out on your own.”

“I’m really proud to be part of the inspiring boutique community that both Frances and her daughter Ariela have created,” remarked Nicole Centeno, Founder & CEO of Splendid Spoon. “I hope we can all continue to grow together.” The three day experience of boutique culture provided an abundance of inspiration and conversation regarding the expanding boutique community. The variety of boutique visionaries in attendance of Stay Boutique Live, the Trifecta returned to their respective industries interconnected, and with refreshed perceptions of boutique: the developing community of accomplished individuals driven by passion, intention, principle and innovation. All in all, speakers, sponsors, members and guests were left feeling inspired and connected to this rapidly growing community which promises to keep thriving in the coming years. Boutique is truly here to stay!

Additional speakers participating in The Leadership Edition & The Female Empowerment Edition included: Lynn Easton & Dean Porter Andrews – Founders of Easton Porter Group, Kyle Glanville and Charles Babinski – Founders, G & B Coffee and Go Get ‘Em Tiger, Damon Lawrence & Marcus Carey – Founders, Homage Hospitality, Aishwarya Iyer – Founder, Brightland, Gulla Jonsdottir – Architecture & Design, Christine Magrann – COO Makeready, Rami Zeidan – Co-Founder & CEO, Life House, Joey Gonzalez – CEO, Barry’s Bootcamp, April Uchitel – CEO, Violet Grey, Carly Stein – Founder, Beekeepers Naturals, Nicole Centeno – Founder & CEO, Splendid Spoon, Coly Den Haan – Founder, Vinovore, Jash Mehta – Co-Founder, Fashion Mamas, Katharine Polk – Founder, KRP Creative & Houghton NYC, Chelsea Nassib – Founder, Tappen, and Ara Katz – Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Seed.

Thank you to the event’s wonderful supporters and sponsors! Headline Sponsors: Atomic Design, AKA Serviced Residences, Enseo, Greenberg Traurig, Luxe Collection, Rainmaker, Suitelife by Venture, Tempur Sealy, The Gettys Group as well as Boutique/Lifestyle/Supporting/Press & F&B Sponsors: Allbridge, Beyond TV, Eight Inc, Hotel Emporium, LATHER, Mill + Thread, simplehuman, Westminster Teak, Eugene Stoltzfus Furniture Design, Stoned Fox, Barrineau, Bravo Your City, Catherine Fulmer, Devall Design Home, Easton Porter, Harry Roa Studio, High & Dry, itouches, Love + Destroy, MAKEREADY, MCOMS, Meier Lake, R + E, Summerland, Tonic, Wanderfuel, Boutique Design, Canadian Lodging News, Digital Travel, eHotelier, Hospitality Design, Hospitality Net, Hotel Business, Hotel Executive, Hotel Management, Hotel News Now, Hotel Online, Lodging Magazine, NEWH, Today’s Hotelier, AAHOA, CCMI, CLR Home Staging, HOTEC, Hotpoint, itm Mobile, Lodging Conference, One Stone, The Agency, The Line, Colors Collective, The Bosco, 88 Acres, Boxed Water, COOLA, DIRTY LEMON, Four Sigmatic, Good Day Chocolate, Icelandic Glacial, JUST Water, Nuun, Pop & Bottle, Public Goods, Simply Gum, Skinny Dipped Almonds, SMASHMALLOW, SuperGoop!, The Mochi Ice Cream Co, Topo Chico, Aperol, Art of Tea, Aurora Elixirs, Beekeeper’s Naturals, Black Bow Sweets, Canyon Coffee, Gem & Bolt, La Colombe Coffee Roasters, Raw Juicery, Rise Brewing Co., Splendid Spoon.


About Stay Boutique™

Affiliate of the established BLLA (Boutique & Lifestyle Leaders Association), Stay Boutique™ is a media platform dedicated to the advancement of the boutique hospitality and concept communities and cultures. We believe that the term “boutique” applies to any brand whose products or services are centralized around experience and cultural development. Stay Boutique™ offers a space in which experience and lifestyle creators can converse, collaborate, learn, acquire investment, teach, inspire, and more; all within an environment that emulates the boutique structure.

About the Boutique & Lifestyle Leaders Association (BLLA)

BLLA is the world’s most innovative and progressive organization dedicated to the luxury independent boutique lifestyle industries. The association connects the world’s most dynamic executives with cutting edge business and operational insight. BLLA’s membership benefits allow access to the world’s leading minds in the space through events, research and education. Our mission is to provide leadership and opportunities for global recognition and connections to the world’s best companies, investors and developers. All resulting in strategic interactions and access to information that helps people and organizations thrive. Join the movement that BLLA gave birth to in 2009 and become a part of something that is truly unique, exciting and inspirational.



Seventy feet from Nat King Cole’s piano, with Frank Sinatra’s microphones nearby, in Capitol Records’ historic Hollywood recording studios, a lanky guy with spiky aqua hair plays the world’s most popular video game alongside a string of musicians.

It’s a decided change from the usual reasons people load thousands of dollars worth of expensive gear into Studio A, where countless musical stars have recorded hit records for decades. This Sunday night, it’s about Capitol, a division of Universal Music Group, trying to remake itself for a tech-driven future, and about the world’s best-known gamer getting himself a new side gig as a musical tastemaker.

Just outside the building, teams of code writers are presenting projects they built over the previous 36 hours as part of a hackathon at Capitol’s Hollywood offices. The hackathon – run in concert with Spotify, Amazon-owned streaming site Twitch, Red Bull Esports and Verizon – is part of Capitol’s efforts to make sure it doesn’t get blindsided by another tech revolution like the one that has savaged the music business the last 20 years.


Inside, the gamer Ninja, real name Tyler Blevins, is a 27-year-old savant of both video games and of talking about video games while playing online before tens of thousands of fans on Twitch. A former esports athlete, Blevins crossed over to broader pop culture last spring when he played Fortnite with music superstar Drake, and more than 600,000 people watched simultaneously, a Twitch record.

Blevins is also huge on YouTube, where he has 20.1 million subscribers, and Instagram, where he has 11.7 million more. YouTube’s release this week of the site’s most popular 2018 videos gave the top two slots for gaming to Ninja: 32 Kill Solo Squads!! Fortnite Battle Royale Gameplay (37.7 million views) and Fortnite with Ninja | Overtime 3 |Dude Perfect (34.5 million views). Suffice it to say, he’s an online power.

Blevins came to Studio A to help launch Ninjawerks Vol. 1, an album released on Capitol’s Astralwerks label that features 13 tracks of electronic dance music curated by Ninja. Several tracks have already been released, but the full album hits Dec. 14. The songs are all electronic music or EDM, and help boost Blevins when he’s gaming. But he insists music is much more than gaming atmosphere. It’s really a set of soundtracks to parts of his life.

“When I travel and do amazing events, I usually pick bands and just listen to that album,” Blevins said. “I can listen to an album and it takes me back to that time.  That’s the power of music.”

The project started in June, a product of a college friendship between an Astralwerks employee and one of Blevins’ management team at Loaded. Those conversations quickly turned into a Blevins wishlist of electronic and EDM artists, then the label thinned that list to a group of interested musicians willing to join the project.

“When they came back with the list of musicians that I wanted and who wanted to be on the record, I couldn’t believe it,” said Blevins, who actually contributed to one of the first tracks released, 3LAU’s Game Time.

Tycho, whose Jetty contribution to the album is one of his typically glistening, upbeat instrumentals,  is among the day’s attendees. Like many of the album’s musicians, Tycho is a long-time gamer and a Ninja fan, though recently, he said he’s been playing on a virtual-reality rig instead of a PC or console. But getting the chance to be on the Ninjawerks album was something Tycho said he couldn’t resist.

“It was a huge honor to be asked to take part, this idea of having music cross over into gaming,” Tycho said. “Games were the backdrop to my childhood really. Then they became an escape when I was working really hard (on a song). They were really kind of a cure of relaxation.”

Another game-playing musician at Blevins’ side for the day is rapper Lil Yachty, who also popped up at last summer’s giant E3 games conference, playing Fortnite with notables such as Los Angeles Lakers guard Josh Hart at the booth for Subnation, a company that connects brands to the music, street art, fashion, sneakers and other subcultures around gaming.
The relationship between music and games is long and sometimes close. One early PlayStation game, N2O: Nitrous Oxide, featured an album’s worth of music (the disc was even playable as a CD) by electronic duo The Crystal Method. Tommy Tallarico has made a career composing orchestral soundtracks for notable titles such as Mortal Kombat and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, then playing those themes live on tour. There’s even an entire genre of electronic music called 8-bit, inspired by the blip-and-bloop sounds of early games.

In this iteration of music and games, Astralwerks and Loaded had to quickly hammer out a number of important deal points, then the label set to assembling the  compilation and building a global marketing plan. The label even commissioned an artist to create characters inspired by Ninja and the 13 musicians, said Astralwerks General Manager Toby Andrews. Those images will be turned into collectable items, another way to drive engagement and fan anticipation as some tracks dribble out ahead of the full release.

The result has been a formidable project that occupied not just the Astralwerks staff but Universal Music sales and marketing teams around the globe, said Andrews. And when it’s come to marketing, Blevins and his team have worked closely with the label to get the word out. 

“To my knowledge, we’ve never seen anything as in-depth as this,” said Andrews. “I’ve seen people involved in the theme tune to a game. There are some games that have a music component. But I’ve never seen anyone of Tyler’s status and popularity who’s ever been up to create such an all-immersive musical experience.”
The crossover project was Andrews’ first big venture after becoming head of Astralwerks in May. More importantly, it represents a chance to connect musicians to new audiences in ways that labels really haven’t done in the past.
“Obviously, the main opportunity is to expose a new group of artists and a new group of music to audiences,” Andrews said. “We’re working them through radio, we’re working them through channels as we normally would. But we’re also able to throw one-off activations that feel unique. With Tyler’s involvement, we can do a lot of things first.”
The album is more than a vanity project. One pragmatic payoff: Blevins alone will be licensed to use the 13 tracks as backdrop for his YouTube videos, simplifying the huge headache of music licensing that dogs many online creators.
“That was something that was really important to Tyler from the beginning,” said Andrews. “He wanted to make sure the project could help backdrop the things he does every day.”
The project is already a hit online. The first three tracks – from Tycho, Alesso and 3LAU – generated 3 million streams combined, including 2 million YouTube views, and 2,000 posts on social media, within just a few days of release, according to Astralwerks. Blevins flexed his own social-media muscle, playing Fortnite on Twitch with all three musicians the night the first tracks were released. The webcast drew a steady audience of about 50,000 fans. He also helped drive 5,500 follows of a Spotify playlist in the first 24 hours, an extremely high number, the label said.
“It’s very interesting stuff but not surprising at all,” said Michelle Merino of Trending All Day, an influencer-marketing consultancy and news site. “It was only a matter of time before the music business would want to connect with these social-media icons. We see more and more cross-promotional and cross-platform ventures that leverage an influencer’s online popularity and connected fan base.”
Merino said the deal was reminiscent of efforts by film and TV studios to use YouTube stars to entice younger audiences to watch their movies and TV shows. The difference here is that younger audiences still listen to lots of music, including the electronic and EDM artists on Ninjawerks. Another area of opportunity will be podcasts, such as the Ear Biscuits show from YouTube stalwarts Rhett & Link.
“As the platforms change and audiences grow, the partnership opportunities to work with creators are endless,” Merino said.


In what turned out to be a very busy week for local tech companies, seven startups brought in more than $300 million in fresh funding.

That’s just $74 million short of what LA tech collectively raised in the entire month of May. These are the teams with some celebrating to do.


Cylance, an Irvine-based cybersecurity startup, officially closed $120 million Series E this week, bringing the company’s total fundraising to $297 million. Blackstone Tactical Opportunities led the round. Founded in 2012, the company is a member of the Southern California tech unicorn club

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Scopely, a mobile game developer responsible for some of the most popular games in the App Store, finalized a $100 million investment this week, after closing a $60 million Series C almost exactly a year ago. Headquartered in Culver City, the company has raised $258 million to date.

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PatSnap, an analytics company that made Los Angeles its U.S. headquarters last year, closed a $38 million Series D to open a new office in Toronto and support its growing customer base. The round was led by Sequoia Capital and Shunwei Capital, which also led the company’s Series C in 2016.

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Pasadena-based Embodied, which uses AI and robots for health and wellness, closed a $22 million Series A on Monday morning. Founded by former iRobot CTO Paolo Pirjanian and Maja Matarić, a professor of computer science, neuroscience and pediatrics at USC, the company launched just over a year ago. The round was led by Calibrate Ventures and included participation from JAZZ Venture Partners, as well as existing investors Osage University Partners, Intel Capital, Grishin Robotics and others.

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Beverly Hills-based influencer marketing startup Influential announced a $12 million Series B to take its AI platform to market. WME, a talent agency also headquartered in Beverly Hills, led the round, which saw participation from existing investors Capital Zed, ECA Ventures, Paradigm Talent Agency, ROAR and Tech Coast Angels. Additionally, WME entered into a marketing partnership with the startup. 

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Tech-powered real estate startup TenantBase successfully closed a $10.7 million round of funding to onboard engineers and expand to new markets. Stonecutter Investors LLC led the round, which included contributions coming from existing investors.

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Scratchpay, a fintech company that partners with veterinarians to offer pet owners flexible payment options, closed a $6.4 million Series A this week to help the company continue its domestic growth and expand internationally. Pet-focused Companion Fund led the round, which also included participation from TTV Capital, Struck Capital and SWS Venture Capital.