Carlsbad is an idyllic coastal city and home to more than 7,000 companies, including tourism, lifestyle, life sciences, medical devices, and technologies. Women owned businesses are also thriving here. Below, we take a look at three women who have carved their own business niche in Carlsbad.
Bringing Fresh Flavor to San Diego
When Chrissy Weir graduated from UCSD in 2010, the job market was flat and she struggled to find her career path. She scrambled together work in an office and as a food blogger. As the food blog grew, so did her passion to be in the food industry. Soon she began working at Carlsbad-based start-up Food Made Fresh. It was there that she found her passion to cook and create fresh whole-food recipes translated really well. When the owner of the company offered to sell the business to Weir, she jumped on the opportunity and has grown the business ever since.
Food Made Fresh offers customers home delivery meals with healthy, garden-fresh foods, and real ingredients. Weekly menus offer a fresh spin on flavors with both rotating staples and seasonal favorites such as, hearty fall squash and pumpkin flavored dishes.
“What’s truly at the heart of our meals is what we put into creating the menus. We make superfood-enriched, nutrient-dense meals,” Weir said. As a result, they are packed with flavor and quickly become customers’ comfort food.
She calls her service, “a craft style food delivery service.” Customers can order breakfast, lunch, or dinner as well as snacks, protein bars, baked goods, and detox drinks. Whenever possible Weir sources her ingredients locally, creates specialty menus for people with food allergies such as gluten-free or nut-free, and can put sauces on the side for picky eaters and children.
In addition to being a chef, Weir is a holistic nutritionist and uses these skills to help customers order their weekly meals based on their diet needs. Her specialty is hormonal health and she says she loves helping women become aware of their bodies and how food helps them balance their hormones. She also believes diet needs should be seen from a bio-individual perspective and offers health coaching on the side.
“Nutrition is infused in every step of the process,” she said. “Everything from handling the food to preparing it and packaging is done with care.”
Her staff is predominantly female and everyone comes from healthy food backgrounds so the focus of each meal and offering is quality, flavor, and nutrition.
Unlike other meal delivery services, Food Made Fresh does not require membership. Menus are posted weekly and orders must be placed by Friday for delivery the following week. There is a $35 weekly minimum and portion sizes come in small (single serving) or large (2-3 servings).
“Clients love to tell me that the portions are really good-sized,” Weir said.
She wants everyone to know that her product is unique because, “We are providing not only quality service but quality ingredients, and that is the real value.”
Running a Business on Her Own Terms
Rebecca Traverso has never done things the traditional way. When she started her career as an elementary school teacher in the Poway School District, she knew even the flexibility of teaching wasn’t what she wanted. After she started her family, she looked for ways to shift out of the daily grind and increase her income. She found this in an unexpected place – skincare.
“Skincare wasn’t my passion, but it was my vehicle to build my business,” said Traverso, who. now runs her own virtual, home-based business in Carlsbad through the umbrella company of one of the largest premium skincare brands in the United States.
Operating as an independent consultant, Traverso leads a large local team in the San Diego area and has team members throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, and next year she is traveling to Japan to train new members in the Asian market.
She is excited about this expansion because as a teacher at heart, she feels she can use her skills to help women around the world empower themselves to be leaders and wage earners on their own.
“When I started in January 2014, I was able to grow on a local and national standpoint. We are now moving into Asia which historically has been the largest skincare business in the world. There are huge opportunities for women there who hadn’t had these opportunities before,” she said.
Another thing that drew Traverso to this business was the fact that it is a company founded by women and continues to be run by women. Traverso knows this makes a difference. “Women today are close to 50% of the workforce but are still subject to wage discrimination. Our added responsibilities at home still make it hard to succeed. Women have the burdens of childcare and traditional roles that keep us looking through the glass ceiling. We need an avenue to thrive and have something for ourselves. This type of work gives us these possibilities that corporate careers don’t.”
While she does most of her work from her cell phone, keeping a profile on social media helps Traverso expand her market and bring awareness to other women looking to move forward in their personal finances or change careers. She finds this a useful tool to share advice and product information. She has found that many of the women she works with are professionals in other industries also working in this business as a means of additional income and use her social media platform to for additional information.“Giving women opportunities to reach their goals and financial dreams is a dream come true. I’m fiercely passionate about it and here to show anyone how they can do it,” she said.
Overall, Traverso knows that this career shift is what she was looking for all along. She summed it up by saying, “This company has given me a voice and I naturally have become a leader and am creating a brand online. I feel that I’m helping enrich the lives of women around me who are looking for something more, I love that.”
She Saw an Opportunity for Her Own Business
Shannon Williams started her career straight out of college as an auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the Big Four audit and professional service firms. After that, she worked in various internal audit roles for publicly traded companies including a large debt purchaser who’s network was under scrutiny by a newly created federal bureau. She found that audits were becoming so frequent and increasing in size, and she realized that these businesses did not have the capacity or organization to handle all of these requirements. Williams saw this as an opportunity and created TheControList to help businesses outline their requirements, trust their staff to complete them, and reduce the amount of time spent on audits.
“Auditing is a way of life for many businesses, whether they are being audited because they are publicly traded, obtaining a certification, or as a requirement of their clients,” Williams said. “Even though information for audits that must be completed on a regular basis by the business is known, the audit process can be incredibly stressful and time consuming. Substantial amounts of money is spent on audit resources. Yet, businesses continue to fail audits which may result in sizable fines, loss of clients and reputation, and large internal costs.”
Starting her own business, Williams faced some challenges, “Making updates to the software was our biggest challenge. We did not have a great change management process in place at the start of the software being pushed to production. After putting in some time to develop great processes in addition to hiring strong individuals, we now do not run into those types of issues anymore, which has made our business very strong.”
Being a woman in this industry has also had its benefits. Williams states, “There are many women who are auditors and compliance managers in the industry that I currently work in, however the majority of business owners are male. The balance between these two roles are beneficial in that they are both part of the sales and onboarding process for TheControList. The auditors and compliance managers have the need to utilize the product and the business owners are the decision makers to execute the agreement. Being able to interact and make the connection with both the female and male audience is a value to us.”
What makes TheControList stand out, she said, is that its SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) based compliance reduces the amount of time and money that is spent on audit preparation and gives the business confidence that they are ready for an audit at any point in time. TheControList assigns and tracks all of the known documentation that must be prepared on a regular basis throughout the year for an audit. Business leaders have real-time assurance that their staff are doing what needs to be done. When it is time to prepare for an audit, employees no longer need to send numerous emails back and forth to staff to gather disjointed documentation. TheControList is an organized repository to control and store all of the completed audit items.
When asked if this task can be performed with a simple app, Williams replied, “There are compliance software platforms that focus on internal audits and task management, but none have complete concentration on business’s external audits.”
TheControList is useful for businesses of all sizes that go through repeating audits and/or client-driven requirements. However, non-auditable businesses have also implemented TheControList because they have recurring things that they need to prove that their staff is completing and know where the information is saved. TheControList has become a tool to give all types of businesses confidence in their operations as well as to reduce the amount of time and frustration spent on audits.
It’s relatively simple for any business to get started. Because TheControList is SaaS-based there is no hefty implementation cost and it’s charged month-to-month. Williams believes, “there is little to no risk for a business to try us out.”
Williams chose Carlsbad to base her business because, “Carlsbad has so much to offer with regards to resources for the business and talent to hire from. The economy of North County San Diego is continuing to grow and I enjoy being a part of that expansion.”
About Working in Carlsbad
All three women bring something unique and useful to the Carlsbad community. When asked what makes Carlsbad such a great place to do business, here’s what they had to say:
Q: What are some qualities about the Carlsbad community that you feel help your business succeed?
Shannon Williams: Carlsbad is such a unique community that offers large city businesses and amenities with a small town network and feel. We are fortunate to be the home of sizable companies like TaylorMade and ViaSat that encourage enthusiasm for success. Business leaders in Carlsbad and North County San Diego are approachable and the network is tight and supportive of other businesses. It is easy to build a group of intelligent thriving individuals who want to help and support you in your businesses’ journey.
Rebecca Traverso: My business has been built more than anything by referrals and word-of-mouth. Living in such an active and community-centered town, the networking opportunities are plentiful, allowing many opportunities to connect with others. I also feel like while Carlsbad tends to have more affordable housing than in some neighboring communities, the cost of living is still quite high, and many people are looking for ways to bring in additional streams of income. My business tends to appeal to people like myself that see their financial picture comprised of many sources of income, including real estate and traditional investment opportunities. We think of it as anything from a “what-if _____ (insert your car needs like new tires, the A/C breaks, we want to redo the backyard, we want to take the family to Hawaii, etc…) fund” to those like myself who desired a way out of a career that I felt restricted in, and everything in-between.
Q: How does your business help the community of Carlsbad and neighboring communities?
Shannon Williams: We are in the startup phase with TheControList and are involved with attending networking and other community building events. Through networking, we have not only been connected with resources that may help our business but have also been able to offer guidance and direction to others. Since we are a SaaS based audit and compliance software that reduces the amount of time spent on audit preparation and repeating deliverable, our business model is applicable to a large number of businesses (if not every business). Obtaining feedback from others as well as being able to provide our opinion to other businesses in the community is very important, especially for startups like ourselves.
Rebecca Traverso: I’m fueled by seeing how so many busy women (and men) on my team have been able to improve their lives through being a part of my team. I’m reminded on a daily basis of how lucky I am to be surrounded by such an incredible team of like-minded people, and seeing them make choices in their lives that would not be possible otherwise makes me work even harder to help them achieve all of their dreams. My mind goes straight to a young first-time mom in Vista who recently was able to leave her television meteorology career to be home with her young daughter, to a director in the biotech industry and a mom of two teenage boys from Encinitas who is using her side income for her boys’ college savings, to a nurse turned stay-at-home mom in Cardiff who tucks away some of her earnings each month to fly her large family to visit family on the East Coast.
Since my job includes both mentoring others and selling premium skincare, I’m also able to help erase the damage that our culture of sun exposure has caused on our skin, educate the community – including children – on sun safety, and to offer the best sun protection and skincare products, dermacosmetics, and pro skincare tools on the market. Living in a health-conscious area, it’s also extremely important to me that our products are not only effective, but are tested and exceed the highest standards for both for efficacy and safety.
Chrissy Weir: Carlsbad is home to a variety of businesses, large and small. Operating Food Made Fresh in a business-driven community allows me to serve healthy, nourishing food to those who are living and working in the area. Prepared meals utilizing healthy ingredients are an obvious house-hold necessity for working and entrepreneurial individuals, so we are poised in the perfect location to easily accommodate this need for the Carlsbad community. We fuel our neighboring families and businesses so they can thrive in their daily lives.
Q: What makes Carlsbad the ideal place for a woman to run a business?
Shannon Williams: When you are able to see other women-run businesses succeed, it gives you inspiration to reach for the stars. There are many women owned businesses here as well as women leaders in top executive positions. I am seeing that promoting diversity among management and executives is becoming more and more important for businesses not because they are required to but because they are seeing positive results. Women owned businesses and business leaders just want to be viewed equally as others and not as a lesser attribute or different. Our Carlsbad community is promoting the right individuals in positions and businesses and I am excited to see the continued growth naturally progress as time goes on.
Rebecca Traverso: The social nature of our community makes Carlsbad a perfect place for a business like mine. With so many events and activities, and such a close nature between residents, I find that any time I’m out and about I’m likely to run into people I know which can be the perfect avenue to connect with prospective customers and team members. The high rate of people that have either grown up in the area, attended a local university such as SDSU, or have been longtime residents makes networking so fruitful too!
Chrissy Weir: There are a lot of different industries within Carlsbad, many of which are women owned. It was a welcomed transition from central San Diego to Carlsbad a couple of years ago, as I was able to easily connect with other female business owners right from the start. Since then I have noticed that Carlsbad business owners love to refer and help small start-ups thrive.
Q: What are some advantages to being a woman in your industry?
Shannon Williams: The women leaders in the accounts receivable industry tend to work together across business lines as well as companies. We recognize that we are a minority and because of this have created this culture to support each other the best we can. I have created a web community to meet regularly for us all to bring light of new issues that we are experiencing to share best practices and help out those that may not have found a solution. At conferences we attend women lead discussion groups to identify industry trends and stay ahead of the curve for each of our businesses. We genuinely support each other and the industry as a whole is behind supporting us.
Rebecca Traverso: My industry is primarily made of women which puts me in excellent company. With so many women either hitting their heads on the glass ceiling, or working at a “lower level” than they’re qualified for because they don’t want to work the long hours or travel schedule another job might include, I’ve been able to partner with some truly exceptional women that share my vision. There are also many women that have chosen to leave careers to raise a family in our community and they are looking for ways to enter the workforce without sacrificing any time with their families, or recent college grads looking for a “side-gig” to supplement the high costs associated with living in our community. The stories and situations are endless.
Chrissy Weir: As a female owner and chef, I stand out in my field. Most kitchens are male run. I believe this gives me a different perspective and edge, and inspires me to train and support aspiring female chefs. Because of this, the Food Made Fresh Team is mostly a female-run company, which gives way to one of a kind community and mentoring opportunities.
Q: Is there a sense of sisterhood with other women-owned businesses in Carlsbad?
Shannon Williams: Absolutely. We have such an advantage to be in a place that fosters and promotes success among other women. Women I meet through networking events, through my business, and even on the street are inspiring. The more we inspire each other, the more confident we all become and are not afraid to push our own success in our business. Also, meeting other successful women owned businesses encourages a healthy competition to push us even harder.
Rebecca Traverso: I jump at the chance to support another locally-owned business, and my business-owner friends can attest to me always suggesting ways they can grow their business in our community too. I love helping other women in my community succeed! My barre studio, Align Fitness and Barre, is owned by a local single mom and I’m definitely one of her biggest supporters and always try to be a referral source for her. My hair salon, Bryll, is also owned by a local mom and employs many members of our community, and again, I’d choose to go there than anywhere else because I believe that my spending dollars go farther when I can directly see who they’re helping.
Chrissy Weir: Yes, some of my closest friends are female entrepreneurs in Carlsbad and North County. Not only do we love to support each other’s businesses and promote each other, we love to take the time to share ideas, industry challenges, and aspirations with one another for accountability and encouragement. It’s a really supportive environment.
Q: Why is it important to support other businesses in your community?
Shannon Williams: The success of other businesses in my community will lead to a higher success rate of my own business and family strength. Local businesses are more likely to utilize other local businesses which improves the local economy. We are able to know the people behind the product and believe in them and receive better customer and personalized service. As more jobs are offered, the community continues to grow in a positive direction. The community becomes family to you and you want to see them succeed.
Rebecca Traverso: I’m a huge proponent of shopping local whenever possible. Since I’m a business owner myself, I understand the entrepreneurial desire, and it feels good to support someone else out there chasing their dreams. I would always hope that when my friends and colleagues are looking for skincare or a side-gig of their own, they would rather show their support of me – a trusted friend – than a major retailer. I love that whatever I need can be found in what seems to be right around the corner, and I know my support is keeping these businesses thriving in our community.
Chrissy Weir: It makes our unique community thrive. By supporting other businesses in the community, it continues to create an authentic marketplace, and allows room for each business venture to take root and have a chance to flourish.