Gwen Willhite founded Cookies by Design in 1983, when an unsatisfying brainstorming session about gift ideas led her to ponder one exciting question: why should flowers and sweets remain separate? Her solution was to design the cookie bouquet, where custom hand-decorated cookies are displayed on sticks and arranged like flowers in gift baskets. Her invention quickly became a popular gift among locals, particularly those allergic to real blooms or too bashful to look at naked cookies.
Twenty-five years later, there are roughly 90 Cookies by Design locations across the country. Each shop's team of bakers creates cookie baskets with a degree of care that matches Willhite's original vision, decorating and arranging sweet shapes for birthdays, holidays, and any other special occasion.
On the sun-dappled streets of Long Beach, the broad glass windows of 2nd Street Beauty Boutique’s flagship store sparkle just as brightly as the rows of cosmetics that rest behind them. Inside each 2nd Street Beauty outpost, sleek white beauty stations hoist Stila blushes and rows of Smashbox lipsticks that stand in perfectly straight lines like soldiers at attention or British people queuing for the bus. With an elixir, serum, or solution for every hair, skin, and nail concern imaginable, the staff at 2nd Street Beauty guides guests through dozens of high-end products, and even performs facials and hair services in the adjacent salon.
First-time campers kick off with a comprehensive, one-on-one consultation with a certified fitness consultant. Then, during each session, boot-bodies can expect varied total-body workouts heightened by exercise formats such as resistance training, jump roping, kickboxing, Pilates, partner drills, short-distance running, and encyclopedia ripping-in-half. At the end of four weeks, goals are assessed and firm, silent, head nods of confidence are exchanged. Long Beach Boot Camp requires that all campers bring the following equipment to each session: exercise mat, set of hand weights, resistance band, and water bottle.
GO-FAME Youth Theatre Company started as a means of transporting children to another world. Its first production, Alice in Wonderland, taught 60 students at Minnie Gant Elementary School how to travel down the rabbit hole while providing them with an expressive outlet. With their newfound skills, that cast of first through fifth graders performed for full audiences at the University Theater at CSULB in October 2005.
Since then, GO-FAME has expanded into a theatre program for all youth in the community, but its mission remains the same: to encourage youth to explore the arts and expand their skills. When they walk out on stage, students leave behind their old selves and step into the role of performers, and GO-FAME teaches them how. Several weeks of acting lessons and rehearsals preempt annual productions for friends and family. Past performances have included Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, Dear Edwina, and The Paper Bag Bandit.
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From 18 studios scattered around Los Angeles, Lori Moran Music Studios’ armada of instructors offers all-ages voice, piano, guitar, violin, and composition classes. With teachers who have worked on films such as Dreamgirls and Dance Flick, world-touring operatic productions, and Grammy-nominated choral CDs, the school can cater to virtually every musical taste—from classical to jazz to pop. Students choose the emphasis of their lessons, whether they want to work on their public performance skills, write their own songs, sight-read scores, or simply be able to play musical chairs during a power outage. Many will also get the chance to show off in recitals, concerts, and showcases.
Leah Marsh discovered Pilates in college, but she never though it's where her career path would end up. After working at a luxury magazine and then for an eco-fashion designer, however, she found her way back to Pilates and opened a studio in her hometown of Long Beach. Marsh now operates two Pilates X studios, each of which hosts a diverse array of Pilates, yoga, and cardio classes. For all of their differences, these classes share an emphasis on toning muscles with Pilates techniques. Marsh has even put to use her background in eco-conscious fashion, stocking her studios with boutique sportswear and encouraging her students to only deadlift renewable trees.