Working from their sole location at 149 Madison Avenue and unaffiliated with any other laser center or beauty lounge, owners Kimberly Schanzer and Michelle Moyer and their team of technicians have earned a top spot on Yelp's Best of list for hair removal in New York, and they've even been cited as experts on YouBeauty, a website co-founded by TV's Dr. Oz. The beauty experts are not only licensed aestheticians and certified cosmetic laser technicians, but also certified laser-safety officers. Coming from a variety of backgrounds, the women utilize their wide range of skills to make each client's visit to the boutique-style space personal and comfortable. The team has chosen some of the most advanced laser hair-removal technology available—Candela's GentleLASE, GentleLASE Pro, and GentleYAG lasers—which they can use on light or dark skin. They also diminish acne and deep wrinkles with Candela's Smoothbeam laser.
Editor of American Spa Magazine Heather Mikesell tried out the center's Candela GentleLASE procedure. She said, "Although I’ve had my share of laser hair-removal sessions, I have to say this was one of the most hassle-free." Mikesell appreciated the system's ability to treat a large body area and its patented cooling mechanism, which relieves discomfort better than a blanket sewn from strings of frozen peas. Pulse Laser and Skincare Center has also received accolades from a variety of other press.
When Cliff Hodges, the founder and CEO of Adventure Out, graduated from MIT with a degree in electrical engineering, he knew a traditional desk job wasn't for him. According to Technology Review, he quickly gave up his engineering career for the wireless world of the great outdoors, where he began to hike, climb, and surf his way around the world, always staying true to his philosophy of environmental respect and protection.
His travels and business accomplishments have gained some measure of notoriety; he's coached on MTV's Made, consulted for ABC News, and was selected as one of four winners of the 2011 Santa Cruz County Civic Service Award: The Nextie. Adventure Out was also identified for meeting survival skills training standards by The New York Times best-selling author Tim Ferriss in The 4-Hour Chef.
Today, he and his program consultant Tom McElroy lead excursions into the California wilderness to teach backpacking and survival skills, including the tracking of animals and wild ice-cream trucks, and they also guide novices through surfing, rock-climbing, and mountain-biking sojourns. Through fundraising, Adventure Out has helped save Castle Rock State Park from closure and a portion of their proceeds is put directly back into the park.
At Formwell, owners Rami and Heather Odeh and Andy Berman keep their mission focused on personal training by seeking out credentialed trainers—including elite trainers who have worked at Formwell for at least five years and who possess a combination of a master’s degree in exercise science and advanced training certification. Throughout the indoor and outdoor facilities, they lead clients through tailored workouts that may incorporate traditional fitness equipment, such as free weights and cardio machines. They may also draw upon alternative exercises, such as lifts on Olympic rings, kettlebell swings, and tug-o-war with a horse.
Beyond personal training, Formwell’s team leads partner training and small-group classes, such as CrossFit, plus a weight-loss program that extends to nutritional education. Tiled bathrooms with showers let guests transition between work and the gym, and a children’s room entertains young ones with a television, DVD player, and video games.
In 1976, two UC Davis graduate students bought 20 acres of land in the highly arable Capay Valley. One of the students, Kathleen Barsotti, was working toward her master's degree in ecology and was determined to grow vegetables and fruits in an eco-friendly way: organically. The organic-food movement hadn't yet entered the public consciousness, and Kathleen worked overtime to convince restaurants, stores, and consumers of the taste-able merits of her process. Over time, given the possible health and environmental benefits of certified organic food, she succeeded. The farm sprouted to 300 acres to accommodate the increased demand. Today, a second generation runs the farm as well as a shop inside San Francisco's Ferry Building. Dubbed Farm Fresh To You, the store furnishes customers' bags or portable cornucopia horns with all sorts of soil-sprouted goods, including heirloom tomatoes, sweet peas, and fresh asparagus. The farm also teams up with fellow Yolo County and Pacific Northwest farms to deliver boxes of seasonal produce to area homes.
Cofounders Jill Tomich and Peter Lavelle had both been active in the fitness world before they opened Ultimate Bootcamp in 2004. Jill threw her energies into boxing, ballet, yoga, and blogging for a wedding diet-and-fitness website, and Peter, a native Irishman, was a triathlete. In all his pursuits, Peter adhered to the motto "We're not here for a long time?we're here for a good time."
This credo infuses all of the boot-camp programs. Campers from all across the fitness spectrum find accommodation as the workouts meet them close to home. Trainers never push too far, but always challenge. An energetic mix of outdoor-resistance and interval training layers patrons in svelte muscle, builds strength, and burns calories to promote weight loss more effectively than a rice cake's PR agent. Far from the stereotypical idea of a boot camp, encouragement and support roll in from instructors who foster cooperation and camaraderie between fellow boot campers.
Lisa Brighton baked her first treat—a peach cobbler—when she was just 4 years old. She had some help, of course, from her great-grandmother, Hazel, who taught her which spices to use and which spices to throw over her shoulder. Hazel also handed down several generations of family recipes and a passion for baking that’s been in the family genes for more than 100 years. Lisa puts it to good use at Starz Cupcakes, which she co-owns with her daughter Connie.
Lisa and Connie estimate that they make 220 different kinds of cupcakes, including 17 velvets—a new take on the classic red velvet—in ultra-bright colors such as coral, teal, and purple. They also bake gluten-free cupcakes for customers with gluten allergies, and sugar-free versions for sweets lovers on low-sugar diets. And the tiny cakes are as beautiful as they are delicious; each one is topped with a dollop of frosting and decorative trimmings such as sprinkles, chocolate chips, or coconut flakes.