Over the course of more than two decades, Dana Michell has constructed a flourishing, illustrious career by capturing the beauty of everyday life and sharing that magic with consumers around the world. Armed with more than 15 years of experience in television production, Michell’s natural aptitude for identifying noteworthy narratives that highlight the compelling stories of average but extraordinary people has led lead her to develop Salt & Lime Media, a worldwide enterprise that specializes in casting, content creation, and talent management. As the agency’s CEO, Account Director and Executive Producer, she works with international clients including Facebook, Instagram and production companies producing popular shows on Fox, ABC, CBS, NBC, E and Netflix to make their trendsetting products both appealing and accessible to the 21st century consumer. Her innovative approach to turning life’s defining moments into marketing & memorable gold remains timeless and has shaped Salt & Lime Media into one of the most unique and globally successful companies operating in this space today.
We love featuring exciting innovators. Can you share what Salt & Lime does with our readers?
Salt & Lime is a real people casting and content curation agency.
We are all ex-TV Producers, Reality Directors, Journalists and Researchers who swapped the typical travel-for-work life for work-from-home to source, pitch & present to the rest of the world all sorts of amazing stories featuring everyday folks doing unique, inspiring and interesting things.
We celebrate authentic characters. We nurture the special ones that could never be scripted and we don’t care if they come with no prior on camera experience. We know how to treat people right. We train them, interview them, direct them and for the most part nowadays, help ensure they can make their own selfie style content for use in some of the biggest media productions in the world.
We put these stories front and center of big brands and show business types making content for networks like Facebook, Instagram, Fox, Netflix, Youtube, Disney etc. We pitch them, book them and most importantly, compensate them for their involvement in anything and everything from an Oprah Special to a Superbowl commercial.
What we dig the most is that we have built a company that values treating real people cast with respect from first contact, through filming and way beyond the broadcast. We consider our cast our new friends and want them to think “Heck Yeah! Salt & Lime is a good time!”
Why did you start Salt & Lime? Do you have teams in Los Angeles working on content?
I started Salt & Lime with an old Marketing girlfriend of mine back in 2017. I was working on a Netflix Reality Competition Show in Los Angeles and she had just moved to Napa to work for wine brands. We were both moonlighting between freelance gigs casting for social media campaigns. I could see that the time had come where TV, marketing and tech media worlds had collided when it came to casting. We were all wanting the same thing: impactful stories told by the real people behind them. Audiences were now embracing brands and platforms where genuine users could speak for themselves. Representing your own community and sharing your own experiences became relatable. No actor or model can beat authenticity anymore. Viewers can see straight through it or even worse, these days, scroll right past it.
What is your background?
Over the last 20 years I have worked in business marketing, media, TV production and even corporate tech PR. I have lived & worked in Australia, Fiji, Indonesia, Thailand, UK, Europe, Canada, the US and Latin America. Living the freelancer life has given me so many rich experiences, but it also allowed me to build an incredible network of friends and colleagues around the world.. I feel these experiences and contacts transcend borders both geographically and professionally, and have naturally led me to this latest evolution of running my own global casting and content curation agency.
What kind of campaigns does Salt & Lime create?
Since COVID, most of our campaigns have been centered around how we can all survive lockdown or show support for our fellow communities in need. Most of the media campaigns we have had the good fortune to work on globally, have been about showing solidarity for minorities or supporting small businesses and for the most part ensuring that we protect our most vulnerable.
In such an uncertain world for all of us, it’s actually been really encouraging to see a lot of brands and creative agencies caring so deeply about finding the right real cast and using their authentic content to shape these messages. It’s been more about substance than style in these times.
Who are your clients?
We work with all sorts of brands and networks but also like to take on indy unpaid projects. Most well known would definitely be for big networks like Facebook, Netflix, Fox, etc. For these bigger brands, we work with their incredible creative teams right around the world on sometimes up to 20 active campaigns a week! The work they do is always so beautiful. I honestly get excited every single time we get the call to start the next one. The creative teams care so much about their work and message; and everything they put out is top notch.
We have also worked for most of the big networks in town via their production companies who put out programs on their platform like “Dancing with the Stars”, “The Voice”, “Big Brother” – the list goes on! Most recently I was the Supervising Producer on a show called “Ultimate Tag” on Fox, produced by Znak & Co and hosted by NFL’s the Watts Brothers. That was an absolute hoot working from the world famous WB Burbank lot. And then COVID came along..
We are also enjoying doing little development deals with independent producers on the side – up and coming talents that we think are doing incredible things. I’m loving one of our Latin American ideas we are finessing – it features one very famous and fabulous drag queen. That’s all I can say for now!
Which campaign are you most proud of?
I am proud of all the campaigns we do so the latest one is always the most memorable when you see it go to air. We recently worked on a campaign around Asian American Heritage Month. We spoke to so many incredible API cast and it was so tough for the Director to pick a top ten. Creating content for Pride is also going to be impressive. Our diverse producers find so much gold out there at the end of the casting rainbow!
How do you put together your team when you create campaigns?
When it comes to marketing and media productions, I think diversity is KEY if you want to attract the biggest audience! And to find the best stories, then representation on my story team is KEY! I think the special sauce that makes Salt & Lime so damn tasty is that I always make sure that every campaign has the most relatable, relevant and really good crew I can find working on it. If the team feels invested in what they are making beyond just a paycheck, the results will always surpass expectations.
What about SoCal inspires you be it landmarks, food, music etc.?
I have been coming and going from SoCal for 20 years and you know what brings me back every time? Diversity! Nowhere celebrates diversity like SoCal. Everywhere you look there’s something unique to see or do. Whether it’s in the landscape, the music, the food, the art, the fashion, design, SoCal has something for everyone. I also think that only in California can you go from zero to hero in the space of a few short years. You can be unique and be embraced for it. You can be a trailblazer and feel confident about rocking it. You can be from somewhere else and totally fit in on your own. I have seen this happen time and time again for friends and colleagues – everyone’s got the side hustle going on here. Fingers in many pies to see what sticks and I love it.
Anything else you want our readers to know about your plans for Salt & Lime? What’s next?
I’d like readers to know that Salt & Lime prides itself on being a good time. Whether you work for us or partner with us on productions, we value being reliable and relatable. Next up for me personally is the Olympics. I’ve done a few as a freelancer but now with cabin fever after 18 months of COVID, I’m going to base myself in Bali for a bit and do some good old fashioned athlete storytelling, albeit on a much better time zone for my clients. But I’ll be back in SoCal for the winter – if you can call it that. How GOOD is a SoCal winter!?
Salt & Lime Media is a global partner agency of Facebook’s providing their marketing and social creative teams worldwide with real people stories & their self made content. Salt & Lime media specializes in casting real people, producing real people and creating and managing content on a worldwide scale that is viewed by millions of consumers daily.
Dana Michell founded Salt & Lime in Los Angeles, California in 2017 and expanded to Miami in 2020. She now has teams globally working across 8 countries and various time zones (UK, Europe, Brazil, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand and the US.) She makes hiring a diverse team to help showcase a variety of stories the agency’s top priority.
Dana’s background as a TV reporter in Australia, then reality show producer in AU, Asia, UK & US is what gave her the initial love of sharing universal stories featuring real people.
Founder & CEO of Kurvana, Mehran Moghaddam, has more than twenty years of combined experience in biotech, life sciences, and nutraceuticals, focusing on his longstanding passion for health and wellness. Mehran holds a B.S. in Biochemistry and Exercise Science, as well as an MBA, from the University of California, Davis.
Mehran founded Kurvana in 2014 to address the urgent need for professional operators to bring higher quality and safety standards to the research, development, and manufacturing of cannabis and hemp product. Under Mehran’s leadership, Kurvana has established its reputation as a pioneer in the vape space.
Furthermore, Mehran is an advocate in the broader cannabis community. He is an active member on the Advisory Board for the University of California, Irvine’s Center for the Study of Cannabis, which is one of the first multi-disciplinary centers for Cannabis studies. He also maintains active memberships with the National Cannabis Industry Association, the California Cannabis Industry Association, the American Chemical Society, and the American Society for Testing and Materials.
We love featuring brands here in SoCal. Can you share what makes Kurvana special with our readers?
Kurvana is the nation’s leading premium vape pen and cannabis lifestyle brand. Our focus is to deliver a high-end, quality product to cannabis consumers. We are the leader in high-potency, pure cannabis, and at Kurvana, we define quality as everyone’s responsibility in order to deliver the most natural and safe products that exceed regulatory standards and consumer expectations.
2.Why did you get involved in the cannabis industry?
I have been involved in the industry for over 15 years. I founded Kurvana in 2014.
When I got started in the industry, I realized that it had an urgent need for professional biotech operators to bring higher quality safety standards to the research, development, and manufacturing of medical cannabis, so I decided to make my own brand.
I made it my mission to bring transparency, accountability, and professionalism to the cannabis industry.
3. What is your background?
I come from a background in science and business. I have a B.S. in Biochemistry and Exercise Science as well as an MBA. My passions have always been health, wellness, and science, and I love combining them in the work I do with Kurvana.
4.What kind of products does Kurvana offer?
We remain authentic to being known as a premium vape brand. We currently offer four distinct THC and cannabinoid vape lines, a tincture line, and an assortment of custom vape batteries and hardware.
ASCND is our high-cannabinoid, full-spectrum, single-origin extract line and is available in 16 different strains. These strains are available in half-gram cartridges, full-gram cartridges, and our brand-new All-in-One ready to use devices.
We just launched our terpene and cannaflavin rich Originals line, which includes 7 classic OG strains. These are available in half-gram cartridges, full-gram cartridges, and All-in-One ready to use devices.
Kurvana also has revamped our CBD vape collection, which includes 3 strains with natural botanical ingredients paired with various cannabinoids such as CBD and CBG for the ultimate wellness and therapeutic benefits. These are currently available in our All-in-One ready to use devices; our 510 cartridges will be launched this summer.
Carbon21 is Kurvana’s pinnacle vape line and has carefully curated raw concentrates in our latest vape hardware. We currently offer these small batch creations in 3 strains, available in half-gram cartridges, full-gram cartridges and our All-in-One ready to use devices.
Our Botanicals Tinctures Collection features 4 unique tinctures, utilizing 100% full-spectrum cannabis oils pairing key nootropics, adaptogens, and cannabinoids. Each tincture has specific wellness benefits and may be applied topically or ingested.
To go with our premium vape cartridges, Kurvana also carries custom button and buttonless batteries in a variety of beautiful metallic and soft-touch finishes.
5.What are the benefits of CBD?
Through the vast endocannabinoid system, CBD has many different benefits to suit a variety of consumer needs. It can be used to help with sleep, reduces pain and inflammation, alleviates anxiety, elevates mood and energy levels, and may even help with appetite stimulation. It has also been found to support the body’s immunity and natural defenses. The way I see it, there’s really something for everyone to be found in CBD.
6.Why did you choose to start your brand in Los Angeles?
I started the brand in Orange County where a lot of great original brands started. The area has a lot of cannabis startups and emerging brands so it is an inspirational area to be in as an entrepreneur. Overall, California was the natural choice since it has the best quality of cannabis in the world.
7.Are your products available in other states?
Our THC products may be purchased through licensed retail stores in California, but we do sell our hemp (non-THC products) online to markets that allow it. Those can be purchased at KurvanaCBD.com, as well as select retailers throughout the country. Those locations can also be found on our website.
8. What about SoCal inspires you be it landmarks, food, music etc.?
I think SoCal has an energy about it that’s unlike any other place that I’ve ever been. Especially in the cannabis industry, it’s really become a space of open-mindedness and innovation, and arguably some of the worlds best cannabis. I’m definitely inspired by the creativity I have experienced here as well as the comradery I have found with other leaders in the industry here. It’s an amazing community, and I feel very fortunate to be a part of it.
9. Anything else you want our readers to know about your plans for Kurvana in SoCal? What’s next?
Kurvana is always at the forefront of innovation, and we are constantly striving to find the next best thing for cannabis, hemp, and other natural products. We are currently working on expanding our vape line using the latest in technology, genetics, and the introduction of novel ingredients spanning from mushrooms and adaptogens to many other medicinal plant ingredients.
Kurvana is the nation’s leading premium vape pen and cannabis lifestyle brand. Kurvana continually transforms the industry with innovative, high quality products.
Founded in 2014 by Mehran Moghaddam, who has over twenty years of combined experience in biotech, life sciences, and nutraceuticals, focusing on health and wellness. Under Mehran’s leadership, Kurvana has established its reputation as a pioneer in the vape space. Mehran is the rare executive in the cannabis space who has a background in business as well as biochemistry, making him an expert on the science behind the cannabis plant and a thought leader in the industry.
Our/Los Angeles vodka, led by distiller Anton Van DerWoude and located in the arts district of downtown Los Angeles, recently partnered with artist Ruben Rojas best known for his “love” artwork to spread the message of “Live Through Love”. This collaboration saw the creation of a custom designed label on its 750ml bottle and retails at $20.99.
The collaboration also includes a street mural by Ruben in downtown Los Angeles with a donation made to benefit Beautify Earth, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and international movement that creates impactful murals in neglected areas by engaging with brands, cities, developers, small businesses, neighborhood organizations, schools, and individuals. This will be the second initiative as a part of Our/Los Angeles’ LA Spotlight campaign partnering with different Angelenos each month for social good.
You can purchase the first edition Ruben Rojas x Our/Los Angeles collaboration bottle at Simon’s Provisions (Venice Beach) and Flask (Highland Park).
Downtown Santa Monica, Inc. (DTSM), has embarked on a process to develop a comprehensive private space plan to revitalize Third Street Promenade. The Third Street Promenade Stabilization and Economic Vitality Plan (Vitality Plan) will endeavor to build upon the Promenade’s legacy as an enthralling, dynamic and inclusive city center by focusing on the use of private properties and the development of new zoning elements that will create opportunities for modern and attractive uses like experiential retail, live entertainment, nightlife, museums, small scale manufacturing, and more.
“The last year brought unprecedented challenges to our community and business owners and while there are still difficult days ahead, we stand at the precipice of reinvention today,” said DTSM, Inc. CEO Kathleen Rawson. “The pandemic only exacerbated the impacts of online shopping on brick and mortar retail, we have been working on how to best counteract these effects for some time now. This new Vitality Plan concentrates primarily on private uses and creative zoning that will spark the change we need.”
DTSM has enlisted the help of world-renowned experts in public space environments and retail strategy from MIG and Streetsense to work with the City of Santa Monica, private stakeholders and a Project Advisory Committee, composed of longtime property owners and professionals in the fields of architecture/urban design, marketing and hospitality.
Over the next three months, the partners will be meeting with stakeholder focus groups, and the Santa Monica City Council to develop the Vitality Plan. The first City Council study session is scheduled for Tuesday, February 9. A draft plan of action is expected to be delivered in March with final adoption by the DTSM board of directors in April of 2021.
Even with a backyard full of adventure, Southern California has been significantly affected by strict lockdown guidelines due to the overwhelming rise of Covid-19. The overall impact of the virus has severely limited the types of socially distant activities we can partake in – and while we encourage everyone to remain at home and limit interaction with outside members of your household, we thought we’d share at least one excellent option of escape during this time.
If there is nothing truer about Southern California and its great weather, is that SoCal has a landscape of beauty that can truly be appreciated in a variety of ways, especially “off-road”. Yes, that’s right, imagine yourself on an off-road adventure on the most top of the line all-terrain vehicles available, cruising through an incredible desert and mountain trail. That’s exactly the type of experience Polaris Adventures offers with the Glamis North Hot Springs Resort.
Located in Glamis, CA, Glamis North Hot Springs Resort has been able to create one of the most effective, minimum to no-contact experiences in the region by providing a completely contact-less booking and check-in procedure to one of their many themed lodges and cabins. Booking was easy, and the digital door check-in makes the process so convenient. It’s what helped make SoCal Mag’s experience even more reassuring in the first place.*
(*Establishment note: Keeping riders and customers safe is our top priority. Each of our individually operated Outfitter locations adheres to local and state laws. Glamis North Hot Springs is currently open for business with outdoor activities such as off-roading, while all food and beverage services are closed. Our business is strictly following social distancing, mask-wearing, sanitizing and keeping up with all California health and safety regulations.)
Our team at SoCal had the chance to embark on the full experience first hand from lodging to off-road adventure. We knew we were in store for something different and exciting, but we had no clue that the entire experience would highly exceed our expectations.
We checked into what they call the “Route 66 Motor Lodge” with an interior completely decorated in homage to the iconic highway accented with Americana styling and road paraphernalia. The walls are lined with license plates from all over the country and the living room is even decorated with an impressive and very real motorcycle as one of the standout pieces in the room. Each lodge includes a full kitchen with utensils and kitchenware, along with furnished rooms and bathrooms. You only have to provide your own bedding and towels.
Now, the most exciting part of the entire experience was of course the RZR Rentals for our off-road excursion. RZR’s are top of the line all-terrain vehicles that were designed to navigate all kinds of environments – and the self-guided tours and trails at Glamis North offer it all.
You can choose between either a 2-seater or 4-seater RZR so that you can share the experience with others. Each rental includes a self-guided trip with built-in GPS navigation system for easy traveling. To note, the driver must be 18+ and show a driver’s license when retrieving the vehicle. Once all of that is squared away, it’s just you and the land ahead. The views throughout the Red Canyon, Chiriaco Summit, Bat Caves, Bradshaw Trail, and Hotel California were stunning. The only real way to experience that type of terrain is through these vehicles. The guided GPS makes exploration secure and safe, while still feeling the rush and excitement of discovery in this environment.
After the excursion, guests can enjoy the more relaxing experience Glamis North has to offer through its all natural hot spring pools and tubs. This water is naturally composed of minerals with a variety of healing benefits. Coming out at searing 160 degrees, the healing waters are cooled just enough before entering one of two therapeutic pools and an additional 14 individual hot tubs to choose from. Keep in mind, there are no chemicals in this water, so you can allow yourself to simply bask in its essence without heavy chlorine or sulfur smells. There’s nothing like it, really, and it certainly made us feel relaxed after our riding day.
Overall, Glamis North Hot Springs Resort is a great escape during these times. We’ve never experienced anything like it and hope our readers get a chance to experience it as well. The ability to explore the vast trails in this way was incredible. Imagine, these all-terrain RZR’s were designed to maneuver all types of ground. The way you can travel on these vehicles can’t ever compare to something you’d experience in your own car. It’s the opportunity to really explore the lay of the land and unite yourself with this environment that really makes it the exciting experience that it is.
With production at a halt during COVID-19, we’re running out of Netflix content to binge! The good news? There has been a ton of great new digital content in the form of podcasts, IG Lives, made for Youtube series and more! One such show produced by SoCal natives is “Major Minors.” The streaming series stars internationally famed, award-winning dance music artist, BP Major, as he mentors youth talent Gia Pater and Danika Hemmer. Think “Dance Moms” meets modern day “Mickey Mouse Club!” Speaking of, “Dance Moms” star Melissa Gisoni is actually a special guest co-host for several episodes in Season 1.
The first half of the season focuses on Gia Pater, a 10-year old diamond in the rough starlet with a great big voice! It’s BP’s job to create just the right conditions to help her shine. Her first music video, a cover of Aretha Franklin’s Respect, garnered 1.6M views in its first two weeks! Danika Hemmer joins the cast in Episode 7 and BP mentors her to become the next big Youtube star. Viewers take a peek inside Danika’s Dreamhouse- a life size doll house- which features videos in every room including cooking, science, comedy and more!
Season 1 also includes special guest appearances from BP’s closest celebrity friends who surprise the youth talent at rehearsals and teach them the skills they need to become a star from performing, to makeup and wardrobe, to how to walk the catwalk or red carpet with confidence!
What makes Major Minors such a special show and why is now the right time for a Youtube original series like this?
Major Minors is special because it’s something the whole family can watch together. It’s inspirational to watch the growth and development of a young person’s life, personality and career. I’m tough but I prefer to inspire my kids to be the best they can be through encouragement, lot’s of hard work, discipline, dedication and a lot of fun training techniques. Whilst a lot of the entertainment industry is shut down from production right now, I have been able to create and share an alternative to perhaps your usual streaming content as I have been filming my content over a long period of time and before the isolation rules came into effect.
Both youth stars are CA locals. What makes California such a special place for talent?
California is such a wonderful place to create content in as we have such a diverse group of talented people from all over the world. Because of the geography here, it’s possible to discover and develop strong local talent literally in your backyard! My backyard just happens to be Hollywood. There’s also a wonderfully unique energy here in California with a feel of “anything is possible.” This creates an environment of people open to growth and development.
You’ve brought on a lot of celebrity mentors to help coach these two young girls. Tell us what peaked their interest to support the show and share a bit about these special guests?
We’ve had so many talented celebrity guest mentors. Melissa Gisoni from “Dance Moms;” International recording artist and Judge on shows like “America’s Got Talent,” “The Masked Singer,” and “X Factor” Dannii Minogue; Miss J from “America’s Next Top Model;” Celebrity Red Carpet host, Dean McCarthy; Brian Justin Crum from “America’s Got Talent;” Professional dancer, Sage Rosen; Brandi Glanville from the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and more. All the guests were so incredibly generous and supportive but also loads of fun. I had a huge laugh when Brandi Glanville told the girls to “learn from her mistakes.”.Brandi is very honest and open about her career highs and lows and having the girls hear from model-turned- reality star on what NOT to do on camera was priceless! Miss J from “America’s Next Top Model” asked
Gia if she knew how to “walk” and Gia said “yes.” I near belly laughed as clearly J meant walk like a model, and innocent Gia thought he just meant walk. She now knows how to “walk.”
We heard that Gia did a collaboration with Drag Celebrity Minnie Cooper that launched during PRIDE. How did this come about and why is it important or significant?
I treat my kids as if they were my own kids, and as such, I want them to understand all cultures and appreciate and understand the importance of inclusion. I teach my kids to be accepting and knowledgeable. We discuss so many different topics – but now as it’s Pride month Gia teamed up with Australia’s celebrity Drag Queen Minnie Cooper to do a duet. It’s fabulous on so many levels. I was impressed and surprised to discover the girls know more about drag culture than I expected; they love hair and make up and what girl wouldn’t want to do a duet with Drag Queen! I think Gia may be the first 10 year old to do a duet with a Drag Queen. This was extra special as the duet was a tribute to Australian star sisters and Major Minors mentor Dannii Minogue & Kylie Minogue. The Minogue’s did this duet back in the 80’s on Dannii’s TV show “Young Talent Time” which I grew up watching. Originally the song was recorded by Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox. So I have Gia learning about the history of music, social movements and Drag Culture, all while doing what she loves most.
Gia’s first music video had over 1M views in a week. What can you tell us about that and what’s next?
Yes, we are so overwhelmed with the response to Gia’s cover of Aretha Franklin’s “Respect.” The follow up single is also another Aretha Franklin cover of “Think.” It is just as adorable! Gia plays 6 different characters in 6 different colors. 2 of which pay tribute to the movie “The Blues Brothers” as well as Aretha Franklin. I creatively direct all of Gia’s work but also encourage her to work with me in creating the overall aesthetic of her work. I’m teaching her to use her imagination and inspirations to create her work. It’s obviously important that I take the lead, but I want to raise kids that know how to “Think” for themselves and also have the tools to do so.
Danika Hemmer recently joined the cast. What can we expect to see as her talent develops?
Danika is so adorable, I literally cannot cope! She is so incredibly energetic and intelligent. I have her playing the piano and singing. She is also discovering the things she really loves to do and is passionate about, and creating organic and fantastic content around that. So, I’ve given her something I think all little girls might dream about, it’s a life size doll house called “Danika’s Dream House.” Inside Danika’s Dream House she will create nursery rhymes, science projects, arts and crafts, and more. She’ll hold a book club from her library and unbox her toys and play with her wigs in her closet. It’s been an undertaking that’s for sure. We are creating all this in her home and will film between “Major Minors” studio and her home in Temecula. On “Major Minors,” we will see her development and growth from an energetic yet shy little girl into a very confident, humble and talented all round performer.
What is your goal or hope with the show?
With my kids, I strive to create an environment where I can make their dreams come true. “Major Minors” is not about finding the best singers or dancers, it’s about discovering what it is inside you that you are truly passionate about. It is about working on those skills and bringing out the absolute best in my kids while keeping them humble, creative, expressive and aware.
My main hope with the show is to express how important it is to nurture, inspire and teach our youth. Yes, I would love “Major Minors” to be globally successful but not for my ego, but because it would mean that the message of bringing out the best in people and raising our youth correctly would be getting out there. We are going through incredibly uncertain times right now, and we need to keep our kids aware and also on point with a clear guide towards creating a healthy future for themselves. I grew up without any real role models or specific direction. I had to learn everything about the industry on my own and was lucky enough to have parents that were supportive and protective, even though none of us had any idea as to what we were doing in the entertainment industry.
I’d love “Major Minors” to become so big that I could just focus on inspiring and training my kids, as right now it’s literally just us and a few iPhones making things happen!
When the pandemic began, VAST, an LA-based surf and lifestyle brand, knew they wanted to make a difference in the Los Angeles community. That is why Founder, Sam Yang, set out to create a product that would be beneficial for Angelenos and the environment. Knowing that one-time use masks, would eventually pile up on the beaches of SoCal, he began looking into creating a mask that is durable, water repellant and made with antibacterial fabrics and ways to partner with local hospitals to help frontline workers. The Vast FM and cozy clothes program is what emerged! We sat down with Yang to learn more about the brand’s mission and what’s next.
We love featuring brands here in SoCal. Can you share what makes VAST special with our readers?
We speak to a wide range of topics while surfing serves as the connective tissue to these different interests. Over the years, we’ve created friendships with car builders, music producers, artists, and chefs through surfing. We blend different perspectives and topics to surfing which is refreshingly different.
What are some of your best sellers to date and what sets VAST apart from other surf options?
We have a few baseball jerseys that are selling, our Primary Tye Dye tee is doing well, and so are the VAST FaceMasks. I’d say our aesthetic and items we offer would be the biggest difference. Aesthetically, we lean towards streetwear/sportswear, positioning ourselves as a surf/lifestyle brand based in the concrete jungle of LA.
What are the environmental impacts to SoCal beaches of the recent use of one time masks and how is VAST trying to combat this?
Not only in Southern California, but ocean conservation agencies around the world, have been discovering an alarming amount of face masks in the ocean. Single use masks are made of polypropylene which is a type of plastic with a lifespan of approximately 450 years. The harmful impact that this could have on the marine ecosystem here in SoCal is scary. At that point, it was a no brainer to us, we need to make an effective mask to keep people and the ocean safer.
What makes the VAST masks a good option for both personal protection and eco-concerns?
The exterior shell of our mask is highly water repellent, which is optimal for blocking contagious moisture droplets. We used AquaTerra for the inside liner, its non-clinging and antimicrobial properties, made from hundreds of deconstructed Vast surf tees. There are 2 straps for a comfortable and secure fit. We also used leather stoppers versus plastic ones for its decompositional properties. Finally, the mask fits securely around your nose and mouth, minimizing entry points. All of the above makes this mask really effective. Not only that, the mask is reusable, so please wash, and reuse.
Is there a charity component with VAST during the pandemic or as part of the brand ethos?
We are going to be supporting the essential staff at various LA hospitals. For every item purchased online, we will donate a cozy item to the essential staff of various hospitals in LA. To encourage donations, the site will also be 40% off. We believe being comfortable is key to resting and recovering after a long shift. (Cozy items: sweatpants, sweat shorts, tees, tanks, long sleeves, socks) So far we’ve donated 300 units to Martin Luther King Hospital in Los Angeles and we look forward to doing more.
What are your personal fav surf spots in SoCal?
I enjoy surfing at El Porto in LA, Huntington Beach Pier in OC, and Trestles in San Clemente. Each zone has a different energy, and the waves are fun.
Outside of the waves, what about SoCal inspires you be it landmarks, food, music etc.?
I often find myself inspired by people and the environment. The variety of everything in LA. It’s Vast. Hahaha. LA is such a melting pot culture, and it’s represented through fashion, food, music, art, and sports. It’s never a dull moment in the city.
Can you tell us about what to expect from your upcoming Winter line?
For this collection, Vast is utilizing red and yellow as it symbolizes good fortune and wealth. The line takes on classic cuts with modern tweaks, featuring key pieces like the signature Block Crewneck Sweater, Puffy Sherpa Jacket, 2-Button Pullover Hoodie, and No Collar Jacket. These intricately designed pieces will keep all men covered this winter. You can find Vast “elements logos” embedded into the red paisley print anywhere it shows up in the line, as well as find “Yogi” the chill spirit mascot on Vast’s cotton tees. With prices ranging from $28-$135, the Vast collection with prominent red pieces is perfect for celebrating the New Year and upcoming holidays including Chinese New Year (Feb. 12th) and Valentine’s Day (Feb 14th.)
Anything else you want our readers to know about VAST’s plans in SoCal? What’s next?
We’re working with key retailers to bring VAST products to SoCal stores. We’re proud about the pieces we design and develop. The hand feel, quality, and tech we’ve implemented is a thoughtful design difference you’ll notice. We’re also looking to develop more community programs including surfing classes for hospital and essential workers to help with mental stress and physical exercise. Stay tuned for more on that!
VAST FM masks for the public currently available online ($30 in Khaki with Black, Coral, Teal,
or Navy trim.)
On Saturday, September 26, premium vodka brand Kástra Elión will welcome guests to a virtual event hosted by acclaimed actress Stephanie Beatriz. Guests are invited to tune in online to experience a full evening of fun, including a cocktail demonstration from Matthew Biancaniello of Eat Your Drink, a three course paired meal by celebrated caterer Jennifer Naylor, a sip and chat with the Kástra Elión founders, and a performance by alternative rock band Kongos. The special evening is presented in celebration of Kástra Elión’s launch of their new premium sipping vodka distilled from Greek olives
Family-owned, artisan crafted in Greece, and three generations in the making, Kástra Elión combines tradition, innovation, and a love for the flavors and heritage of the Mediterranean. While most vodkas are made with just grain, Kástra Elión is distilled from the finest hand-picked olives found in the Nafpaktos region of Greece, creating a profile with subtle notes of ripe olives refined with peppery undertones and a soft, battery finish.
Along with host Stephanie Beatriz and Kástra Elión founders Mike Camello and Brandon Cohen, guests will experience a cocktail demonstration on how to make the perfect cocktail using Kástra Elión. Chef partner Jennifer Naylor will also provide a walkthrough of her curated Meditteranean meal that includes a mezze platter, Greek salad, grilled marinated chicken and vegetables, plum and nectarine crisp, and much more for guests to enjoy pairing with the vodka. At the end of the presentation, the founders will open up the discussion for attendees to ask questions, engage, interact, and learn more about the brand. The evening will conclude with a special performance by Kongos.
Having launched just prior to the global pandemic, Kástra Elión understands the value of engaging and giving back to the community. Proceeds from ticket sales for this event will be donated to The Art of Elysium – a nonprofit artist organization built on the idea that through service, art becomes a catalyst for social change. Philanthropic efforts, especially during this time, are deeply rooted in Kástra Elión’s brand DNA, and they believe that we are stronger when we work together to make a difference.
Premium tickets purchased for the virtual event will include two meals prepared by Jennifer Naylor, a cocktail kit for two featuring Kástra Elión, and access to Kongo’s performance.
It would be deemed appropriate for a powerhouse digital lifestyle brand such as POPSUGAR to offer women an experience that would maximize their best selves in celebration of International Women’s Day. Coming off the huge success of their Play/Ground Festival series, POPSUGAR has now added “Grounded” to the fold, which targets Los Angeles’ sector of health-conscious and fitness focused women. Details on this full day of programming below after the jump:
The “Grounded” Fitness event will be held on Saturday, March 7 at Goya Studios in Los Angeles to kick off International Woman’s Day. The day will have two sessions with tickets priced at $25 for either the morning or afternoon session, or $40 for the entire day.
Filled with positivity, Grounded serves as a place to steer yourself to center and recharge both mentally and physically to power yourself forward toward your goals. “Our audience is eager to learn everything they can about the latest fitness trends and how to live a well-balanced life. We saw their passion and enthusiasm at our Play/Ground festival, particularly within our dedicated fitness and wellness villages.” Said Lisa Sugar. “In expanding the success of Play/Ground, we wanted to break out those villages and create a dedicated event that was laser focused on getting women the tools they need to live the healthiest and happiest lives possible – from the inside out.”
Curated wellness activities throughout the day such as electric workouts, self-care workshops and inspirational panels will reinvigorate guests and get them primed to tackle any obstacle and reach any goal. The powerhouse duo of “Tone It Up” Karena Dawn and Katrina Scott will serve as headliners for Grounded’s Body Garage, a fitness studio offering back to back, heart-pumping classes from today’s top influencers, athletes and studios. Other fitness experts confirmed to lead workout sessions include: Koya Webb, LIT Method with Taylor and Justin Norris, Deja Riley, and Jake Dupree.
Core Hydration, Natural Vitality CALM, U by Kotex, Nature’s Way Alive! join POPSUGAR’s Grounded as the event sponsors given their shared desire to celebrate female empowerment and provide the tools that help ensure women’s mental and physical health.
Grounded’s main offerings will include:
The Body Garage: Where you can gear up your body and mind with electric workouts led by top instructors.
The Rest Stop: A soul space for spirit-expanding moments, centering spaces, self-care workshops, and inspirational panels.
The PS Mini Mart: A chic convenience store where you can shop exclusive POPSUGAR merch and a collection of our Must Have favorites.
Fuel Station: A healthy pit stop serving up snacks and refreshments for purchase all day long.
Exclusive, always-on access to healing rituals, beauty consultations, self-love practices, and more to unwind, recharge, and reconnect.
Calling all B.B.s! MGA Entertainment has officially launched its new interactive experience, the L.O.L. Surprise!® LA Pop Up in Chatsworth, CA. Open for a limited time, the stand-alone brand experience is designed to ‘surprise and delight’ fans during the holidays, making them feel like they truly stepped into the L.O.L. Surprise!™ world.
Every visitor will have an immersive and photo-friendly experience as they walk through the seven interactive surprise installations featuring games, photo moments, fashion walks, product and more, including the ultimate Winter Disco experience room! Guests can also head to the incredible MGA gift shop after the tour for a true holiday treat as fans will also have a chance to purchase limited-edition L.O.L. Surprise! product, including exclusive apparel, merchandise and keepsakes.
Tickets for the L.O.L. Surprise! ® LA Pop UpSM are available at www.lolsurpriselapopup.com for $28 per person. A select number of VIBB (Very Important B.B.) experience tickets are also available for $55 each.
“We are bringing to life the ultimate holiday experience for L.O.L. Surprise! fans,” said Isaac Larian, CEO and Founder of MGA Entertainment “The temporary Pop Up has been created for the fans and we have worked diligently to ensure that it opens in time for the holiday season! We can’t wait to welcome all L.O.L. Surprise fans!”
The L.O.L. Surprise!® LA Pop Up is only here for a limited run so don’t miss out — tickets are available now!
Bring your camera for lots of fun photo fun, and don’t forget to tag us @lolsurprise
#lolsurprise #lolsurpriselapopup #collectlol #letsbefriends! The L.O.L. Surprise!® LA Pop Up is located at 9220 Winnetka Ave. Chatsworth, CA 91311.
Social Media is at a point of evolution where the current heavy hitters are creating new and innovative ways to experience their platforms. When you take the premise of social media and flip its purpose to create initiatives that can drive socially positive impact around the world, you have Duuple. App developer and Entrepreneur, Abby Frimpong, wanted to change the game on how society uses social media by not only making it a fun user experience, but designing the app’s use to drive socially conscious movements for its users. Abby spoke with us to dive into Duuple’s purpose and why she was inspired to create this wonderful app.
Tell us about yourself and why you decided to create Duuple.
Duuple was first designed and later launched in 2018 to encourage change in the world. Personally, Duuple has a special place in my heart. Having worked as a fundraiser in the nonprofit world, I consistently saw the gap between the haves and the have- nots. There was always another brilliant kid in need of a scholarship, another cancer patient to get to or another deadly accident caused by a forgotten landmine. Duuple to me was a way to bridge the gap- how can we give back, how can we empower people to leave a mark and to inspire change in a fun and meaningful way! At the heart of Duuple are millions of people who are looking to make a difference in the world around them, inspiring community action for users to participate in exciting challenges, donate to causes and advocate for issues that matter.
What is one piece of advice you have for others wanting to take the entrepreneurial leap in Los Angeles?
My one piece of advice is “Do it and do your best.” You have nothing to lose. Worse comes to worst, you are where you are now, which is not bad. You will always have a job. Someone will hire you. The last thing you want is years from now that you regret you didn’t try.
Do you have any local Los Angeles or Southern Calfornia spots that inspire you?
Local Spots I find inspiring are The Getty Museum and Villa, Griffith Observatory but also just catching a sunset on any given day. California has many awe-inspiring spots.
How does Duuple work?
It’s simple. First, take a photo or video, upload it to the Duuple app and select the duration of the challenge. Next, decide the giveaway which could be a badge, prize or cash. Save the challenge and share it with your network and the Duuple community.
Want your friends to try to repeat that crazy tongue twister that only you think you can do? Challenge them on Duuple!
If you work with a brand or NGO that’s looking to connect with consumers on driving awareness to a new cause or new product? Create a challenge on Duuple.
New artists with a fun new way to debut their music? Create a challenge on Duuple.
These user-created challenges provide discoverability and virality –with immediate calls-to-action for fun and/or social good among friends. Whether it is just friends competing amongst each other or a charity raising funds, Duuple is a fun and interactive way to challenge your network and share hilarious and engaging content.
Anyone can launch a challenge with the charities we partner with. We have over 400 charities currently working with Duuple.
What do you see Duuple tackling next?
Now that we have Duuple active as one of the most entertaining mobile apps being used in the US and Korea, we would like to introduce it to the rest of the world. We have the Duuple Ambassadors program coming up which will allow Duuple to create its’ own influencers. Also, we have the Augmented Reality feature which is almost ready to be released which will take Duuple’s engagement to the next level. There is a lot happening for me and Duuple. I am constantly traveling to new countries to inspire the adoption of Duuple overseas. I will continue leading Duuple to become one of the most successful apps in its genre. Duuple will continue spearheading social good through social media.
Anything else you want our audience to know about Duuple?
When people come together, change happens and social media is a powerful tool for this to happen. If you’re reading this I’d like to challenge you to sign up for Duuple and use social media to help create that change in the world.
Duuple is available in the Apple Store HERE, and is available on Google Play HERE
There is absolutely no shortage of brunch spots in Los Angeles, and why would there be? We’re offered the best setting in the country to be able to enjoy this special weekend meal year-round. In the iconic beach neighborhood that is Venice, CA, we have the eclectic Abbott Kinney district, home to various restaurants, shops, bars and the like all encompassing L.A.’s unique experience. The pleasantly nestled Neighbor LA made sure to hold its own in the brunch offerings of L.A. by introducing a new menu that is sure to please foodies and weekend lush aficionados like myself well into the rest of the summer.
Neighbor is a cozy garden bistro and cocktail bar nestled on one of LA’s busiest streets, Abbot Kinney Blvd. Fashioned from an old house on Venice Beach’s main drag, Neighbor is a fresh and charming social space, featuring a best in class coffee bar, cocktail program and a market fresh menu by Chef Joshua Luce.
Stepping into the warm and welcoming front lounge from the small brick stoop, guests are invited to choose their own adventure: settle in with a coffee, pull up one of the 20 seats at the marble cocktail bar, lean back in the garden lounge, or sit for a romantic dinner in the open air, backyard bistro. Neighbor’s pastel walls and eclectic furnishings invite guests to enjoy good company in a cozy and cheerful atmosphere.
The new menu includes items like “Uncle J’s Fried Chicken” with cornbread, honey, & jalapeno or the California Avocado with seeded toast, pistachio, lime, radish, & chive blossom. Drink items include the Strawberry Rosemary Margarita made with tequila, lime, & agave, and The Baja made with tequila, stone fruit, basil, lime, & chili.
Make sure to check out these and all of the other brunch items at Neighbor LA at 1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA, now serving Brunch, Lunch, Dinner, and Happy Hour.