Worked Up

Confucius said, "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." Such a concept might get lost in translation for these sixteen San Diego entrepreneurs, who pour their hearts into labors of love, toiling away to get to the top.

 

"Van De Vort is a clothing and lifestyle boutique in Del Mar that opened in July 2013 and an online store that was launched in January 2014. Van De Vort specializes in contemporary and bohemian style pieces from the latest designers, most of which are exclusive to San Diego. The Van De Vort look is laidback, yet polished, and all about combining edge and modern silhouettes with feminine and sexy touches. Van De Vort specializes in full styling and wardrobing, and strives to carry pieces for ladies of all ages." — Andrea Van De Vort

Andrea Van De Vort
Industry: Fashion
Age: 30
Resides: Encinitas
Company: Van De Vort and shopvandevort.com
Founded: Brick and mortar, 2013; online store, 2014
Position: Owner, buyer and creative director
Number of employees: 7

PacificSD: What drives you?
ANDREA VAN DE VORT: I've always been somewhat of an overachiever naturally, but I think I'm also driven by, one, not wanting to let my Tiger Mom down, and, two, my expensive taste. I love nice things, and nothing feels better than earning what you get.

What has been your biggest struggle?
My biggest struggle was definitely releasing some power and delegating jobs to my employees. I'm still slowly learning how to pass jobs down, but, since we're still a pretty young company, I think it's important that I still have my hands in almost everything.

What has been your greatest success?
Creating a job and community for the local girls to feel a part of and be proud of.

When I was a kid I wanted to be...
A dentist. I was always really good at science - balancing a chemistry equation was so satisfying - so I was pre-med for the first two years of college, and then had an epiphany one day and realized that I was more passionate about fashion than I was doing lab work.

On Saturdays, you'll find me...
Starting the weekend cleaning up the house first thing. As soon as the chores are done, a leisurely brunch with my husband and Cannon, then off to the beach for a few hours before nap time. 

"The LAB [short for collaboration] is a committed group of culinary professionals that work almost obsessively to provide guests with an uncompromised and unadulterated dining experience articulated through a series of 'degustation' menu experiences. Mostra Coffee is an artisan micro-roaster company that sources, roasts, brews and serves premium, fair- and direct-trade specialty coffee to wholesale, direct retail and through e-commerce." — Michael Arquines

Michael Arquines
Industry: Food & Beverage
Age: 34
Resides: Eastlake
Companies: The LAB (thelabdiningsessions.com); Mostra Coffee (mostracoffee.com)
Founded: The Lab, 2008; Mostra Coffee, 2013
Position: Chef, owner, co-founder, head roaster, head of research and development
Number of employees: The LAB, 8; Mostra Coffee, 18

PacificSD: What drives you?
MICHAEL ARQUINES: Knowing that we are positively contributing to the growth of San Diego's dining, coffee and craft beer cultures is a huge motivational catalyst.

What has been your biggest struggle?
Having to tell my mom, who was a charge registered nurse in the ER at Kaiser Oakland for 30-plus years, that I didn't want to be a nurse eight months before I was supposed to graduate. Being Filipino, your work-path is chosen for you at birth: you are either going to be in the medical field or the military.

When I was a kid I wanted to be...
A professional ninja or haunted-house designer.

On Saturdays, you'll find me...
At 'Mostra Saturday,' morning-retail day, slangin' delicious caffeinated beverages with the Mostra fam, and cooking with the LAB dining team at night. 

"Be Social is a communications agency with a fresh, savvy approach to modern media. We create digital strategies for lifestyle, beauty and fashion brands and talent." — Ali Grant

Ali Grant
Industry: Media
Age: 28
Resides: Cardiff by the Sea
Company: Be Social (besocialpr.com)
Founded: 2011
Position: Founder
Number of employees: 15

PacificSD: What drives you?
ALI GRANT: Seeing my clients' success. Knowing that our agency is an integral part of a brand or talent's growth is an exhilarating feeling. I'm passionate about the digital and blogger world, so it's rewarding to consistently be in the mix of what is new and now of marketing.

What has been your biggest struggle?
I don't love accounting, HR and all of the nuances that come with owning your own business. We're finally at a point where I have all of that in the hands of professionals, so I can focus on what I love.

What has been your greatest success?
The launch of our digital talent-management division, where we manage the careers of style and beauty bloggers, has been a key to the agency's growth. We have our pulse on all things digital, and being an integral part of the industry sets us apart.

When I was a kid I wanted to be...
A news anchor. I did our school's broadcast announcements in middle school.

On Saturdays, you'll find me...
I start the day with cold-brew iced coffee, a walk with my dog, and then I head to barre class. I am a total homebody in my free time. I like to keep it easy and relaxed since my workweek is jam-packed with events and meetings.

"Canter Companies is made up of our real estate sales division, wealth-management firm, development and capital. These four divisions under one roof allow us to provide our clients with a powerful and well-rounded approach to everything from major transactions, like purchasing a home, to major life milestones to alternative investing." — Andrew Canter

Andrew Canter
Industry: Real Estate + Finance
Age: 32
Resides: La Jolla
Company: Canter Companies (cantercompanies.com)
Founded: 2007
Position: CEO and founder
Number of employees: 75

PacificSD: What drives you?
ANDREW CANTER: The challenge. Knowing that there will be some sort of adversity that I can learn from and hopefully overcome is definitely something that gets me up in the morning.

What has been your biggest struggle?
A major struggle as of late has been trying to drive home the concept of our bringing together our real estate brokerage and wealth management. Since bringing these two industries together, we've realized how hard it is to convey the benefits of something that has never been done before. I have learned the extreme importance of conveying a concise message.

What has been your greatest success?
Creating jobs and being a part of the lives of our 75-plus team members.

When I was a kid I wanted to be...
An attorney, because I liked to argue. Then I realized there was a lot more to it than that.

On Saturdays, you'll find me...
Outside. I'm a bit of an adrenaline junky and love anything active.

"Elite Lifestyle Management is a members-only lifestyle-management and luxury-concierge firm. We provide individually tailored services ranging from travel and entertainment to family and home management, day-to-day errands and creating bespoke experiences. Whether it's for business or pleasure, our memberships are designed to help clients reclaim their most valuable asset: time." — Michelle St. Clair

Michelle St. Clair
Industry: Lifestyle
Age: 31
Resides: Kensington
Company: Elite Lifestyle Management (clubelm.com)
Founded: 2014
Position: Founder and CEO
Number of employees: 5

PacificSD: What drives you?
MICHELLE ST. CLAIR: We've seen firsthand corporate members that have enjoyed an increase in client acquisition and revenue as a direct result of the services we provide to their clients. Knowing that we are a driving force behind another business's success is hugely gratifying.

What has been your biggest struggle?
I did not have a traditional upbringing in the sense of family stability and support. I wasn't armed with many important tools a typical person would possess entering adulthood. I've learned that we are all capable of reaching our goals, regardless of privilege.

What has been your greatest success?
The introduction of a new business concept to San Diego that is advancing our city in the realm of both luxury and lifestyle services. I consider it a huge success to contribute to the continued evolution of San Diego as a metropolitan destination.

When I was a kid I wanted to be...
An interior designer. My mom would always come home to a rearranged house.

On Saturdays, you'll find me...
Never in the same place as the previous Saturday. I'm always seeking out new experiences and destinations. Knowing what's new and notable is a must in my line of work. 

"Classy is the world's first social-impact platform committed to helping organizations solve social problems more effectively and efficiently. Since launching in 2011, we've helped more than 2,500 social enterprises raise hundreds of millions of dollars. Classy also hosts the Collaborative and Classy Awards to recognize excellence in social innovation." — Pat Walsh 

Pat Walsh
Industry: Charity
Age: 36
Resides: East Village
Company: Classy (classy.org)
Founded: 2006
Position: Co-founder and chief impact officer
Number of employees: 200

PacificSD: What drives you?
PAT WALSH:
We're fortunate to support organizations doing incredible work around the world, like building schools, addressing disaster-relief efforts, tackling food scarcity and thousands of other critical issues. What drives our team is knowing that we're playing an important role in helping those organizations to succeed.

What has been your biggest struggle?
We've had to deal with pretty much every struggle imaginable since we founded the company in 2006. The constant through all of those struggles was our team's belief in what we were doing, coupled with trust in each other and a lot of grit. So, if there's a lesson to be learned there, it's believing in the value you're trying to create, trusting in the people around you and having a get-s**t-done attitude.

What has been your greatest success?
Over the years, we've had a number of defining moments for our company, most recently hosting an incredible Collaborative + Classy Awards in Boston. Our greatest success, though, has been building an amazing team and providing measurable value to some of the top nonprofits and social enterprises around the world.

When I was a kid I wanted to be...
An architect.

On Saturdays, you'll find me...
Downtown.

"Lord Wallington is a handcrafted-in-the-USA lifestyle brand for men that redefines grooming and wardrobe staples. Lord Wallington is a brand of CGO Enterprises, Inc., which is owned by my wife [Anda] and myself, which also includes House of Andaloo and CGO Private Label." — Immanuel Ontiveros

Immanuel Ontiveros

Industry: Fashion
Age: 31
Resides: Little Italy
Company: Lord Wallington (lordwallington.com)
Founded: 2012
Position: President and CEO
Number of employees: 2 

PacificSD: What drives you?
IMMANUEL ONTIVEROS: Family.

What has been your biggest struggle?
Saying 'no.' I learned that you can't always say 'yes' to people and you have to set boundaries; otherwise you're working for free all the time.

What has been your greatest success?
After two failed brand names, finally launching Lord Wallington.

When I was a kid I wanted to be...
A police officer.

On Saturdays, you'll find me...
At Fathom Crossfit.

"Zeeto is pioneering the next generation of traffic-monetization technology by enabling our clients to take large streams of visitor traffic and up-value each user via a one-to-one optimized funnel that asks smart questions and reveals valuable targeting data. The result is hyper-targeted ad inventory ready for advertisers to bid on in the Zeeto Ad Exchange." — Stephan Goss

Stephan Goss
Industry: Technology
Age: 28
Resides: Downtown
Company: Zeeto (zeeto.io)
Founded: 2010
Position: CEO
Number of employees: 75

PacificSD: What drives you?
STEPHAN GOSS:
Building cool and new technology that has an impact and changes the industry.

What has been your biggest struggle?
Hiring. When you start your own business, no one tells you how to hire and what attributes to look for in certain positions you have no experience with.

What has been your greatest success?
Being able to have consistent, month-to-month growth and not rely solely on one big win to keep the company on an upward trajectory.

When I was a kid I wanted to be...
Moving to the U.S. [from Switzerland] and becoming a businessman.

On Saturdays you'll find me...
On a horse, playing polo at the Del Mar Polo Fields.

Online Exclusive Content

"BVAccel is an agency that helps retailers and brands sell more product online and in store via data-driven design, software development and marketing programs." - Dylan Whitman

Dylan Whitman
Industry: Technology
Age: 35
Resides: East Village
Company: Brand Value Accelerator (BVAccel.com)
Founded: 2013
Position: Co-Founder and CEO
Number of employees: 44

PacificSD: What drives you?
DYLAN WHITMAN:
An obsession with improving ? doing better, pushing things further, achieving things others say can't be done.

What has been your greatest success?
BVAccel entered a space with thousands of competitors and went from zero to building the largest Shopify services agency in the world in less than three years ? my greatest success has been being able to put together a team that could accomplish that.

"Savory Made Simple is San Diego's local meal kit delivery service. We provide fresh, premium ingredients, prepped, pre-measured and packaged, delivered to your front door. Cook along with the easy-to-follow, chef-inspired recipe, so that you can enjoy stress-free cooking at home." — Katherine Humphus

Katherine Humphus
Industry: Food & Beverage
Age: 28
Resides: Bankers Hill
Company: Savory Made Simple (savorymadesimple.com)
Founded: 2015
Position: Owner
Number of employees: 3

PacificSD: What drives you?
KATHERINE HUMPHUS:
My passion for helping others is what drives me. Nothing makes me happier than hearing about how I am making someone's life easier with Savory Made Simple. Whether that means you are spending less time in the grocery store, and more time creating memories with your family, or finally learning how to cook and becoming skilled and confident in the kitchen, or you were able to get off of your diabetes medication after ordering from Savory Made Simple for only 6 month, I am always so touched to hear these stories. In addition to directly helping my clients to improve their lives, my goal of donating 20,000 meals by the end of the year to help our less fortunate community members also drives me immensely.

What has been your greatest success?
For every meal kit purchased, we donate four meals to community members in need. As of July 2016, we have already donated over 7,000 meals.

"Next Wave Commercial is a real estate brokerage that provides focused and personal approaches to servicing the needs of our clients through our expertise in site analysis, property sales, leasing, restaurant sales, and lease buyouts. We strive to be one step ahead with the pledge that our passion is your success." — Paul Ahern

Paul Ahern and Nate Benedetto
Industry: Real Estate
Age: 31; 39
Resides: East Village; Bird Rock
Position: Principal; Principal
Company: Next Wave Commercial (nextwavecommercial.com)
Founded: 2016
Number of employees: 2

PacificSD: What drives you?
PAUL AHERN:
I feel like my drive in both my personal and professional life derives from a passion of helping others, and aim not only towards being the best at what I do, but invariably striving to maintain an ethos of always leaving behind positive and lasting impressions with those whom I encounter.
NATE BENEDETTO: My dad was a basketball coach while I was growing up so it may be no coincidence that my drive in life, and in business, is similar to a locker room pep talk. I try to fully charge 100 percent, every day, and that way I never regret the outcome because I know in my heart I couldn't have done more.

What has been your greatest success?
PAUL:
Meeting my wife on Tinder.
NATE: Besides meeting my wife (I would be a mess without her), I'd have to say buying Apple stock in 2002.
 
"On paper we're a group of six companies ranging from interior design to coffee. But we consider ourselves more as a family of doers, builders, self-starters, innovators, and story makers investing in people and brands to build dreams and experiences. We're about enabling people to accomplish what they didn't think possible." — Ryan Sisson

Ryan Sisson
Industry: Lifestyle
Age: 33
Resides: Point Loma
Company: Moniker Group (monikergroup.com)
Founded: 2010
Position: Founder and CEO
Number of employees: 26

PacificSD: What drives you?
RYAN SISSON:
My faith and my passion for people.

What has been your greatest success?
To have created a thriving business that, at it's core, is about people and community. And one that our team feels like they have ownership in, a place they can use as a platform to build out their own dreams.

"For seven years, J.Dixx Photography has been my baby. My assistants and I have captured hundreds of conferences, weddings, homes and more throughout San Diego and abroad. Last year, we founded an 800-square-foot location in La Jolla Village currently photographing up to 10 photo shoots per week for numerous publications." — Jamie Dickerson

Jamie Dickerson
Industry: Media
Age: 27
Resides: La Jolla
Company: J.Dixx Photography and J.Dixx Studios La Jolla (jdixx.com)
Founded: 2009
Position: Owner, Photographer and Creative Director
Number of employees: 3 assistants that work as independent contractors.

PacificSD : What drives you?
JAMIE DICKERSON:
"Loving Each Smile" is my tagline and I live by it. I truly live vicariously through the happy faces that I capture every single day.

What has been your greatest success?
My greatest success with photography personally has been being able to carry on a passion given to me by my University of San Diego Professor Duncan McCosker, who found my talent in photography and taught me the fundamentals of film and digital photography. My greatest success with my business has been capturing an 8,000-plus women's conference for the Society of Women Engineers, with me being the official and only photographer for the entire conference. I survived!

"Traveling Stories is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that helps children fall in love with reading and develop money management skills by the fourth grade. We specialize in making reading fun and empowering children to outsmart poverty in their own communities." — Emily Moberly

Emily Moberly
Industry: Nonprofit
Age: 30
Resides: Bankers Hill
Company: Traveling Stories (travelingstories.org)
Founded: 2010
Position: Founder and Executive Director 
Number of employees: 3 (1 full time, 2 part time) employees, 85 volunteers, and 8 board members 

PacificSD: What drives you?
EMILY MOBERLY: Knowing how much God loves me and that he treasures each person in this crazy world just as much as he treasures me.

What has been your greatest success?
When kids, who were once too embarrassed to read, rush up to me to share that they've been reclassified at school as accelerated readers because of coming to our programs. When parents hug me because their children can read at grade level for the first time.

"Sara Elizabeth Skincare is an evolution of my devotion to a clean, botanical skin regimen. As an aesthetician I have been servicing clients in my Mission Hills studio for over a decade, and just last year I launched my full line of products that resulted from my years of working on various skin types." — Sara Elizabeth Tucker

Sara Elizabeth Tucker
Industry: Health & Beauty
Age: 45
Resides: Mt. Helix
Company: Sara Elizabeth Skincare (saraelizabethskincare.com)
Founded: Studio in 2003; skincare line in 2015
Position: Owner, Facialist and Director of Product Development
Number of employees: At this point, Sara Elizabeth Skincare is me. 

PacificSD : What drives you?
SARA ELIZABETH TUCKER: I love it when clients tell me how much they love my facials and that I have helped them to achieve their skincare goals. When I get an idea in my head it will often drive me until it manifests into a reality.

What has been your greatest success?
Definitely the launch of my skincare collection last year. I listened to my amazing clients and thanks to them and their skincare needs I was able to put together a line that suits the needs of so many women.

"The Boxing Club (TBC) is a high energy fitness company that brings together the best fight and fitness instructors - from Boxing, Muay Thai, Jiu Jitsu and MMA to HIIT, yoga and Pilates. In its 15,000-square-foot, well-equipped facility [in University Town Center,] TBC offers unique and exhilarating fitness programs based on martial arts and the latest fitness trends." — Artem Sharoshkin

Artem Sharoshkin
Industry: Health & Fitness
Age: 30
Resides: La Jolla
Company: California Boxing Clubs, LLC/The Boxing Club (theboxingclub.net)
Founded: Established in 1999, but Sharoshkin took over as owner in 2014
Position: Co-owner and managing director

Number of employees: 26

PacificSD : What drives you?

ARTEM SHAROSHKIN: I get inspiration from other people's actions and successes. The two people that motivate me are Elon Musk, a risk-taker, a born innovator and a business fighter. The other is a person I am lucky to call my business partner - Patrick Van Schoote. Patrick is one of most experienced businessmen I know, and one of the most loyal friends - I am fortunate to work with him side by side.

The other side of my drive comes from my fighting career. As a former professional fighter, determination and the will to put it all on the line to archive success are the biggest motivators and predictors of success. Hard work, dedication and sacrifice — what fighting taught me — help me daily in business.

Business is fighting. Obstacles are put in our way just to see if what we want is worth fighting for.

What has been your greatest success?
The Boxing Club, the place I love with all my heart and the people I call my family, was on a brink of collapse. My greatest success so far, has been bringing TBC back to life after becoming a partner in the business, revitalizing its culture and its family-like atmosphere, and turning TBC into a flourishing company.

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