In the late 1920s, the Great Depression was rendering most Americans professionally and financially paralyzed. But in a small California kitchen, Merle Norman was putting a plan in motion to formulate her own skincare products and share them with family and friends. She truly believed in her formulas, knowing that by getting them on as many faces as possible, she would develop a following of customers. She was right—within a few years she and her nephew were opening their first studio in Santa Monica, and they eventually unveiled a series of independently operated stores that enabled women to take ownership during a time of gender-based limitations such as men-only restrooms.
Today, in approximately 2,000 stores across three countries, the three basic principles of Merle's original vision still apply. Each studio is independently owned and fosters an in-depth knowledge of the company's own line of makeup and skincare products. Just as Merle shared her creations with close friends and sallow mannequins more than 80 years ago, today's aestheticians embody the business's "try before you buy" philosophy. A menu of complimentary studio services—from foundation checks to express facials—allows patrons to sample the lauded brand before committing to the purchase of products or full spa treatments.
Though board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Thomas Jeneby specializes in transforming patients' appearances, his own face may look very familiar. The diplomate of the American Board of Plastic Surgery has shared his extensive knowledge of both adult and pediatric plastic-surgery procedures with stations such as ABC News and KENS 5, and he was named one of the best area plastic surgeons by S.A. Scene. Dr. Jeneby also offers expertise as a national trainer on topics such as Lipotherme, SmartLipo body sculpting, and DOT therapy laser skin resurfacing.
At the equally acclaimed Plastic & Cosmetic Center, Dr. Jeneby and his staff perform surgical and noninvasive procedures ranging from rhinoplasties to SmoothShapes laser cellulite treatments. The facility houses a convenient onsite lab for blood draws and a concierge room where family members can watch television or their own DVDs from home. Clients can head upstairs to Spa Black to be treated with lasers that remove unwanted hair, banish pigmented lesions, or read barcode versions of Shakespeare.
Painted with numbers and flanked by windows with blue shutters, the doors that line the interior of Mykonos Taverna resemble a charming view that one might stumble upon while visiting the restaurant’s eponymous Greek island. Owner and chef Christos Poulias wanted to give his guests an authentic experience, so he designed the interior of his restaurant to resemble an actual street in Mykonos. The effort to re-create the atmosphere of the island was so earnest that most of the decorations were packed up and, with Poseidon’s consent, shipped over from Mykonos itself.
The decor is not the only thing imported from Greece; a trunk of ancient family recipes made its way into Mykonos Taverna’s kitchen, and the chefs promptly revamped each dish to suit the restaurant’s modern, upscale feel. Among these are chicken souvlaki, gyros, spanakopita, and a recipe for lamb shanks directly from Athens. On Friday and Saturday nights, professional belly dancers complete the experience as they swivel their torsos, pop their hips left and right, and flash their legs through skirts made of warm pita.
Buckeye Kettlebells’ owner and chief trainer, Dave Clancy, believes that training is about pushing his clients past their perceived physical limits, showing them what they're truly capable of. He shares that spirit with a crew of 10 Russian Kettlebell Challenge certified trainers, one of the largest such teams in the country. They lead their charges in a host of kettlebell classes, in which they heave the spherical burdens toward total-body fitness in addition to facing off against their body weight in exercises including pull-ups, push-ups, and squats. Clancy is also a certified strength and conditioning specialist, who uses that knowledge to motivate clients to build muscle, flexibility, and range of motion.
In another sense, however, Clancy teaches the power of believing in yourself. He inspires patrons to tap into hidden stores of self-confidence to overcome physical and accompanying mental challenges—a skill that is useful in all of life's arenas, especially the local coliseum.
At Vision Professionals, Drs. Chris Smiley, Jaclyn Paskiet, and Valerie Gardner combine their areas of expertise to provide patients with comprehensive ocular care. As director of the on-site specialty contact-lens clinic, Dr. Smiley specializes in difficult-fit contacts for patients with rare eye diseases or complex prescriptions. He also provides vision rehabilitation for conditions such as keratoconus and severe dry eye. In the on-site pediatric and binocular-vision clinic, Dr. Paskiet performs infant exams and works with pint-sized patients to help make picture books less blurry but just as edible. Dr. Gardner welcomes patients of all ages, and boasts experience in the treatment of glaucoma and other retinal diseases, as well as comanagement of laser vision-correction and cataract surgery. After the vision specialists decipher prescriptions, their optical-boutique team helps patients select fashionable frames by designers including Burberry, Tag Heuer, Tommy Hilfiger, and Nike.
Craig and Laura Decker seem to have a difficult time making up their minds. They also seem to have a knack for turning this indecisiveness into an advantage at every turn. When it came to opening their new business, for example, they briefly wondered whether it should feature a wine shop, a wine bar, or a gourmet bistro. Their solution? All three.
This spirit of inclusivity pervades The Wine Guy Bistro, where the Deckers pair seasonal wine varietals with globally inspired cuisine. Rather than choose between European elegance and New-American pizzazz, they settled on a compromise they describe as “Old World chic.” This label suits a menu that features small plates of housemade meatballs and bruschetta alongside assorted cheeses from around the world. The focus on small plates is in keeping with the Deckers’ have-it-all mentality and gives diners the option to sample several dishes without having to barter with adjacent tables.