SBCC Career Center Opens Job Pathways

SBCC Career Center Opens Job Pathways, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

SBCC Career Center Opens Job Pathways, originally published in Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020.

Helping Students Begin School with the End in Mind

Offering a range of services, from internships to job fairs, résumé help to interview prep, the Santa Barbara City College Career Center helps prepare students for future success in myriad ways.

“When you come into college, there are literally hundreds of majors that you could choose from and thousands of different kinds of jobs, so one of our approaches is trying to simplify that for students as much as possible,” said SBCC Career Center Director Chris Phillips, who uses the “Guided Pathways” model to clarify a career path for students. “We try to help them make good, informed choices about their direction at the college.”

To do so, the center helps students narrow down their major and then follows up with work-based learning content. “We bring employers to campus and we try to get them internships and have kind of a career awareness about what they’re going to do after their major,” he said.

With that end in mind, the center offers one-on-one academic counseling, workshops, career planning classes, and faculty collaborations. Two staff members focus on employers and one specializes in internships, even helping employers develop an
internship program if they don’t have one. There’s also an online job and internship posting system exclusively for SBCC students.

The center works closely with the Office of Equity. “We are really trying to acknowledge the populations of our students who might not be getting this information,” said Phillips. “We want to really actively reach them and try to bring some more equity to the students when it comes to finding jobs and supporting all of our students. That’s really at the front and
center of what we’re doing as a career center and as a college.”

sbcc.edu/careercenter

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

SB Independent Cover, Schools of Thought, November 19, 2020.

Originally published in the Santa Barbara Independent on November 19, 2020. To read the section as it appeared in print, please click here.

 

A Fashion Line for a Lifeline

Morgan Lexi Mitchell (top, right) donates half of the profits from her Only Kid fashions and accessories to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Looking to combine her artistic expression with suicide awareness and prevention, 17-year-old Westlake High School junior Morgan Lexi Mitchell designed the Only Kid (only-kid.com) fashion line. “I wanted to find a way to support National Suicide Prevention Lifeline,” says the Assisteens of Conejo Valley volunteer, who donates 50 percent of the profits from the sales of her colorful stickers, iPhone cases, hoodies, and beanies.

“I had been playing around with the idea of Only Kid for some time,” Mitchell says. “When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I had a lot of time on my hands, and that idea became a reality. Quarantine gave me the time I needed to develop designs and products.

“I wanted to make a difference in a way that personally relates to me,” she explains. “I have struggled with depression, and I wanted to showcase my art in a way that would raise awareness for suicide prevention, which is often a silent struggle.”

Cover of 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

Gym Handy

Originally published in the November 2020 issue of 805 Living Magazine.

There’s no need to miss a workout since DreamQuest Fitness (dreamquestfitness.com) launched its mobile gym experience.

The brainchild of fitness trainers Jose and Tiffany Fernandez, the fold-out trailer housing all the necessary equipment in a hygienic workout space comes to exercisers’ homes and offices in the Conejo Valley, Moorpark, Simi Valley, and Calabasas.

“It wasn’t until the pandemic struck that we both realized the necessity for a mobile gym,” says Tiffany. “We believe there are a vast number of people, like us, who are fitness-minded and feel uncomfortable with our new normal.”

Book a fitness assessment, a one-one-one or group personal training package, or open workout sessions (from $12 per hour) for up to 12 participants (face coverings required) via the website.

Cover of 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

A Cup of Appreciation

Vega Coffee works with rural farmers in Central and South America to produce the coffee it delivers to everyday heros here at home.

Vega Coffee works with rural farmers in Central and South America
to produce the coffee it delivers to everyday heros here at home.

Santa Barbara-based Vega Coffee (vegacoffee.com) is all about connecting people. Working with craft roasteries in Nicaragua and Colombia, cofounders Rob Terenzi, Noushin Ketabi, and Will DeLuca developed a network of seed-to-cup coffee professionals
for their import business, which focused primarily on home deliveries and college customers until the pandemic hit.

When colleges closed due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, the three partners developed the Coffee for Community Heroes Program to offer customers the option to send specially
priced coffee care packages to first responders, healthcare workers, grocery store teams,
mail carriers, and others to whom they wish to express gratitude. “Orders are going to hospitals, fire departments, nursing homes, to all of the everyday heroes who are keeping our communities safe and strong,” says Terenzi.

Employers are even getting in on the act by fueling their work-from-home teams with
special coffee deliveries. 805 Living readers who’d like to try a cup of community for themselves can use the code 805LIVING to receive 20 percent off all Vega Coffee
website purchases.

Cover of 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, November 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

2020 Best of Santa Barbara

From Santa Barbara Independent, Best Of Issue cover, October 15, 2020.

From Santa Barbara Independent, Best Of Issue cover, October 15, 2020.

I had the honor of writing the Santa Barbara Independent‘s Best of Santa Barbara winners once again this year. It was a huge, fun project, and a little easier the second time around.  Even (or maybe especially) in this weird year, people were so happy to hear from me and so excited to have won! You can read the whole thing by clicking here, or on the PDFs below.

Introduction + Eating 770 10-15-20_Part1

Eating 770 10-15-20_Part2

Eating, Drink, Out & About + Romance 770 10-15-20_Part3

Romance 770 10-15-20_Part4

Romance, Looking Good, Living Well, Sporting Life, Little Creatures, Housing + Driving 770 10-15-20_Part5

Driving + Media 770 10-15-20_Part6

Porch Swings Over to Summerland

Shop for furnishings, textiles, and the works of local artists at Porch on Summerland’s Lillie Avenue. Courtesy photo.

Shop for furnishings, textiles, and
the works of local artists at Porch
on Summerland’s Lillie Avenue. Courtesy photo.

“The building itself is an object of art. I feel like it was meant for us,” says Diana Dolan, owner of Porch (porchsb.com), about her shop’s new digs on Summerland’s Lillie Avenue. The relocation to the larger space is her dream come true for the unique home and garden store that she has operated in Carpinteria for the past 12 years.

Featuring furnishings, kitchen goods, textiles, bedding, jewelry, candles, coffee-table books, succulents, and works by local artists, such as Pedro de la Cruz, Will Pierce, Lety Garcia, Colette Cosentino, and Michael Haber, the business is known for its thoughtfully curated space and inviting indoor/outdoor vibe, and Dolan says the new location will embrace that same spirit.

“Our soul remains true to our essence,” she says. “We’re going to continue to offer beautiful home and garden furnishings inspired by nature.”

Porch and other recent newcomers to Summerland—Sweet Wheel Produce, Field+Fort, and The Well—join businesses like The Sacred Space, Botanik, Garde, and Summerland Oriental Rugs in what is fast becoming an exciting design destination. “I think shoppers are looking for a real connection to something heartfelt and soulful,” says Dolan.

805 Living Cover, October 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, October 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

Raise a Glass to a Lost Hero

Toast local fallen Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus with a beer brewed in his honor that also gives back, courtesy photo.

Toast local fallen Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus with a beer brewed in his honor that also gives back, courtesy photo.

Tarantula Hill Brewing Co. (togothillbc.com) in Thousand Oaks created its 4S3 beer to honor Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus, who was killed in the line of duty during the 2018 mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill. Brewing the blonde ale was a collaboration between the Tarantula Hill team, first responders, Helus’ wife, Karen, and son, Jordan, and other involved families, says CEO Ali Zia.

Everything about the beer, including its name, which is expressed as “four Sam three,” Helus’ radio call sign, and the ingredients, Victory malt and Warrior and Noble Saaz hops, was collaborative, says brewmaster Mike Richmond. And at least one Helus family member has helped to create the brew each time a batch is made. Jordan was even involved in designing the can, which includes the messages “where our heart lies” and “never forget.”

The special brew is available at the brewery and local liquor stores and by order for shipment. A portion of the proceeds from every 4S3 beer sold is donated to local causes.

805 Living Cover, October 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, October 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

UPcycle Chic

Designer Kate McHale Jensen in one of her creations, photo by Steven Krebs.

Designer Kate McHale Jensen in one of her creations, photo by Steven Krebs.

Everything old really is new again in the hands of fashion designer Kate McHale Jensen. Inspired by the timeless style and comfort of men’s shirts, Jensen’s KMJ (shopkmj.com) line came about after the designer, who says she “has lived and breathed fashion and clothing since I can remember,” took a shirt from her husband’s closet and remade it into something for herself.

Each one-of-a-kind women’s style is fashioned from a vintage men’s shirt and hand cut by the designer herself in her Santa Barbara studio.

So “no two are alike,” says Jensen, who suggests that their popularity may be partly due to the fact that “sustainability is so much at the forefront of fashion these days.” Her most-sold design is the Bon Voyage, a feminine twist on the classic button down, with a three-quarter-length puff sleeve.

“I get the biggest rush,” Jensen says, “from pulling the next batch of vintage shirts to offer them another life—digging through, seeing the potential of an otherwise forgotten shirt to be repurposed in the hope of making women feel empowered and alive.” She’s also excited by special commissions, when people send her sentimental favorites—such as a father’s wedding tuxedo—to be refashioned into something new.

805 Living Cover, October 2020. This story originally appeared in 805 Living Magazine, October 2020. Click here to see the section as it originally appeared in print.

Tech Talk: Special Issue

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

From Start-ups to Success Stories, an In-Depth Look at Our Vast High-Tech Industry

There’s no question that technology plays an increasingly critical role in all of our lives.

Think about what it would have been like if the global pandemic had hit in 1980 instead of 2020: no cell phones (cordless phones weren’t even mainstream yet!), no internet, and no public email, let alone video calls, instant messaging, texting, and screen-sharing. Home computers, if you even had one, were clunky and slow, and, while ubiquitous, TVs only had four channels, and the whole family would have to agree on what to watch.

Fast-forward to today. With COVID forcing us to move our lives indoors and online, everyone from toddlers to grandparents have been whiplashed into relying on devices for school and business, health and wellness, to learn, communicate, connect, and be entertained. For many of us, the classroom, home, and workplace are headquartered on a single device in a tiny corner of the house.

“Organizations are fundamentally changed now,” explains Kyle Lewis, a UCSB professor and chair of its Technology Management Program. “Working in any type of organization — especially in one that is focusing on innovation, has technology products, or uses technology to do their work — the world has completely shifted.”

The shift is happening in Santa Barbara too. As technology becomes more central to all of our lives, the region’s high-tech sector is enduring big changes and enjoying sustained growth. Once dominated by the aerospace industry, which is still a prominent player, a wave of significant, broad-ranging tech companies began in this ecosystem, including Citrix Online (formerly Expert City), Software.com, Alias Wavefront, Yardi, Lynda.com, AppFolio, and Sonos, among others. Maturing startups such as Procore and Apeel Sciences continue to grow, as do the wealth of exciting new technologies and companies.

Meanwhile, our investment community is on the rise, and the already-critical UCSB just keeps getting better and better, pumping out more and more motivated-to-stay-in-town entrepreneurial energy.

Meanwhile, some of the biggest players in tech — Google, Amazon, Zoom, Apple, Microsoft — now have a presence in Santa Barbara. And then there are the increasing numbers of tech pros who can work from anywhere and have chosen to make Santa Barbara their homes.

The last time the Santa Barbara Independent addressed the tech sector in any depth was a special section called Tech-Topia in 2015, in which author Matt Kettmann described the scene as “quietly booming.” Having talked to more than 30 executives and researched more than 100 tech companies for this issue, I can attest to how much bigger, broader, and more interesting our tech sector is today.

Like a lot of the very best people and things in Santa Barbara, many of these tech companies still operate on the down-low, not interested in tooting their own horns or bragging about their accomplishments. They’d rather just do good work than talk about it.

But success begets success. As Jason Spievak, the managing partner for Entrada Ventures, put it, “Some of the biggest names in technology are waking up to Santa Barbara and are establishing themselves here through acquisition and investment.”

Read on for a hefty helping of the Santa Barbara tech scene’s players, history, innovations, and opportunities. Once quietly booming, I’d say Santa Barbara’s tech sector is now awake, ready, and raring to go.

Here is the whole package of stories:

Tech Employers Talk Balk : Observations From Central Coast Industry Leaders

The Top Five Things Investors Want (and Need) Jason Spievak of Santa Barbara’s Entrada Ventures Offers Checklist for New Companies

Mentoring, Not Just Money, For Startups: Entrada Ventures’ Julie Henley McNamara Discusses her Firm’s Specialized Strategies

Investor Insight into Tech Trends: Santa Barbara Angel Alliance Founder John Petote Analyzes the High-Tech Marketplace

A Great Place For Entrepreneurs: Veteran Executive John Greathouse Explains What Attracts Tech Companies to Town

Shades of Silicon Valley: Q&A With Michael Pfau: “Grit & Hustle” Understanding Santa Barbara’s Tech Sector Growth

ParentSquare Makes the Grade: Santa Barbara’s Anupamu Vaid Developed School Communication Platform Now Used Nationwide

Sprigeo Says Yes to School Safety: Santa Barbara’s Joe Bruzzese Founded Service to Prevent Bullying and Increase School Safety

Saving the World, One Byte at a Time: Last Call for Food, ChowMatch, EV Match and Other Companies Using Tech for Good

Apeel’s Santa Barbara Appeal: Why This Food-Preservation Tech Company Thrives on the South Coast

Insight From HG Insights’ Elizabeth Cholawsky: CEO of the Santa Barbara Tech Intelligence Company Talks Up the Central Coast Lifestyle

Invoca Applies AI and Analytics to Phone Calls: Studying the Behavior of Customers’ Customers

The Cutting Edge of Robotic Surgery: Cottage Health and the Orthopedic Institute Perform Many Surgeries Every Week

Virtual Health Care: Right Here at Home: After Acquiring Goleta’s InTouch Health, Teledoc’s Joe DeVito Discusses the Market

Communication is Key for WELL Health: Guillaume de Zwirek Moved Patient-Provider Platform Company From Silicon Valley to Santa Barbara

Thermal Imaging: Hotspot for Seeking Heat: FLIR and Seek Thermal Make Santa Barbara a Hub for Thermal-Imaging Technology Companies

How FLIR Steals Moments in Spotlight: Goleta-Based Imaging Company Stars in Movies, TV Episodes and Even Awards Shows

TMP: Practical Education for an Evolving World: Preparation Meets Opportunity in UCSB’s Technology Management Program

UCSB Technology Management Program’s Startups: A List of More Than 30 Companies Whose Founders Participated in TMP

TIA: Where Inventions Meet Industry: Research Meets the Road in UCSB’s Office of Technology & Industry Alliances

UCSB’s Technology and Research Startups: A List of More Than 40 Companies That Began on the Santa Barbara Campus

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

 

Tech Talk Special Issue for the Santa Barbara Independent, originally published on October 1, 2020.

To read the issue as it appeared in print, please click here, Tech Talk 768_10_01_20

 

Apeel’s Santa Barbara Appeal

Apeel's Megan Opp, photo by Daniel Dreifuss for Santa Barbara Independent.

Apeel’s Megan Opp, photo by Daniel Dreifuss for Santa Barbara Independent.

In a creation story fit for a feel-good film, the food-preservation company Apeel Sciences was founded by UCSB grad student James Rogers when he heard a radio story about global hunger while driving through California’s lush farmlands. He wondered how so many could be so hungry when there was much food around.

Upon learning that the culprit is spoilage, the materials science PhD candidate developed a product—made entirely from natural things in the food we already eat—that slowed down the rotting of various fruits and vegetables. Rogers won UCSB’s New Venture Competition, and the seeds of Apeel quickly began to sprout, funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation due to the promise of fighting malnourishment around the world.

That was around 2012. Fast forward to today, and Apeel, which is headquartered in Goleta and employs nearly 200 “Apeelers,” is growing like crazy, developing products for dozens of produce categories and working with a range of partners, from small organic growers to the world’s largest food brands.

In late August, Apeel, which is currency valued at more than $1 billion, announced a partnership with the largest German retailer that will put Apeel-treated avocados and oranges in more than 11,000 EDEKA and Netto stores.

And they’re just getting started. I spoke with “Chief People Officer” Megan Opp about Apeel’s appeal.

WHY IS EVERYONE SO EXCITED ABOUT YOUR COMPANY? The technology and product are so innovative and world-changing. We are thankful for UCSB for providing a strong pipeline of incredible talent, which of course includes our founders. People have the opportunity to positively change how the world accesses and enjoys fresh produce. What’s exciting is that it all started in this beautiful community of S.B. and has grown very quickly into a global company.

Most of our R&D happens right here at headquarters, but innovations can come from any part of the world. You can be based in Santa Barbara but also have opportunities to travel and work in new places. This is one of the most globally mobile companies I’ve seen, where we’ll give these opportunities as a way of sharing our company values and culture in different locations and also as a way to grow in one’s career and skills and global mindset.

WHAT ARE SOME HIGH AND LOW POINTS OF BEING A BIG EMPLOYER HERE? We’re extremely fortunate to have great access to top tech talent who have chosen to study and live in the Santa Barbara area. We’ve also been able to attract talent from surrounding metro areas, including L.A. and the Bay Area. We always notice an uptick in applications from the East Coast and Midwest during winter months! Like any region for tech talent, Santa Barbara isn’t without its challenges. Santa Barbara’s cost of living and housing availability is one.

WHAT ARE SOME CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN SANTA BARBARA COMPARED TO OTHER TECH HUBS? Our employees are very philanthropic, connected with nature, and embrace all of the outdoor adventures and amenities this area has to offer.

DOES BEING A HUMANITARIAN-FOCUSED COMPANY LEAD TO A CERTAIN TYPE OF EMPLOYEE? We are a global company that hires talent based not only abilities but the aligned belief in our mission—enabling a world that works with nature; we use food to protect food—and wanting to be part of something that will change the world. We hire and reward people with strong alignment with our values, which include humility and teamwork. We support each other and want to see us all succeed so that Apeel produce will be available throughout the world.

HOW ARE YOU HANDLING HIRING DURING COVID? Food waste is a global crisis, and we are continuing to aggressively staff up to be able to tackle this issue head-on. Even through this challenging time of COVID, we’ve come up with creative ways to create a welcoming virtual environment for candidates and new hires. We always put people first and have created additional programs to support our working parents and caregivers and all of our employees during these challenging times.

We feel so fortunate to be based in the Santa Barbara area with so many benefits within our reach!    apeelsciences.com

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

Tech Talk Special Issue for Santa Barbara Independent, published October 1, 2020.

 

Tech Talk Special Issue for the Santa Barbara Independent, originally published on October 1, 2020.

To read the issue as it appeared in print, please click here, Tech Talk 768_10_01_20