Los Angeles, East Side vs West Side

Los Angeles can be talked about in the simple terms of east side vs west side. Getting back and forth can be torture depending on the time of day. It could take you an hour to get to Koreatown from Venice to have dinner but 20 minutes to get back. I wish I could figure out how to get in a car for dinner, take a nap to ignore the traffic, and show up at the many restaurants on the east side. We have found the west side to be a bit challenging on the food situ.

Last Friday night we went to Here’s Looking at You in Koreatown. The food was really good, the menu changes daily, the vibe was great, and it bummed me out it took an hour to get there.

Starting off with a martini seems to be the call these days. I really loved how they serve the martini’s in different glasses with a small pitcher on ice of the excess vodka on the side.

The chicory salad mixed with ricotta, candied walnuts, persimmons and a cured egg was absolutely delicious. The combination of tart, sweet, and a hint of an asian dressing was pretty perfect.

Winter citrus, fennel, pistachio, champagne vinegar and pink pepper was refreshing, simple and delicious too.

Really browned crispy shishito peppers covered in tonnato and huamei. I couldn’t get enough of these.

Thin slices of yellowtail sitting in a soup of coconut milk, fresno chili, basil, shallots and arare.

We had beef tartare, Tandoori sea bream and Manila clams but the star is the Yellow corn ribs with poblano, cotija and lime. Corn that had been roasted, cut into quarters and then cut again, marinated in a lime and peppers then sprinkled with cheese. I could have eaten bowls of this. I am dedicated to figuring out how to make this over the summer.

Frog’s legs which might not be everyone’s cup of tea but c’mon it takes like chicken. Delicious charred legs with salsa negra, scallions, lime and salt and pepper. I loved these.

The 32 oz beef rib chop with porcini sauce, enokis and for me they put the garlic butter on the side was beyond flavorful.

Dessert was another winner. Roasted chestnut mochi with coconut, muscovado and thin slices of halvah.

Why can’t there be more places like this on the west side??

Fashion Wakes Up

I have been a magazine junky for decades. Vogue, Elle, New Yorker, New York Magazine, Elle Decor, Vanity Fair, Monocle, and others. I have watched them all evolve over the years with new editors, new lay-outs, new writers and new ideas. The ads can be as interesting as the content.

This past month, in Vogue magazine, Dolce and Gabbana, took a 12-page spread in the front of the magazine. The tag line was not only Dolce and Gabbana, but clearly almost as large as the brand name, is shop at Dolce and Gabanna.com

I have followed the new brands that have been built over the last decade from Warby Parker, Parachute, Casper, Glossier and others. All those founders understand the opportunity to build a new brand that resonate with a next generation of consumers. They all got direct to consumer and built their models on that premise.

It has taken some time for household fashion brands to make that shift. We have seen the massive shift in commerce as department stores have struggled. Brands have built stand-alone stores but how many are actually profitable is questionable or perhaps they are merely making marketing plays. They have all relied heavily on department stores over the years but that has waned.

Fashion is a global business. Seeing those 12 pages obviously promoting their online store in a gorgeous spread of models and clothing that are on brand made me think that the fashion houses are beginning to really wake up.

Debt Funding

Debt funding has probably existed since the beginning of time. Shoe Dog, the memoir of Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, essentially debt funded his business with the banker down the street. As the business grew, it needed more and more debt. The banker was sweating and probably not sleeping and Phil Knight wanted more and more debt so the business could grow. In the end, going public was the only option.

A lot has changed since Knight funded Nike. Equity financing is for the early stages of consumer product businesses but at one point you need debt financing to fund the products not the organization. It is not easy to find anything over $15m in debt funding even if you have orders.

In the garment center, we used factors who would give you the OK on an order and by doing that ensure that you got your payment within 30 days or if the companies stiffed you, the factor would pay you the amount because they have validated the paper. Of course they took a cut of each order so the odds were in their favor.

States and cities are beginning to invest in start-ups along side of venture groups that meet their criteria from the vertical to female-founded companies. I get it but I am not convinced it makes any sense because the chances of the city or state getting into a good deal and actually seeing large returns or any at all seem slim.

Why couldn’t the city or states become debt funders of growing companies with big orders?. Let’s say a CPG company that just got into all of Walmart and needs to make the products could go to the city or state for debt loans. The FDIC gives it the sign-off and the city or state makes 3% on the transaction. That is clearly a way to put money into the city/state vs. just taxes.

It becomes a win-win for everyone. Businesses grow, they don’t give up equity to build products, they can hire more people and feed the economy and the city/state took part in making that happen while making some money at the same time just by loaning capital.

Talent is Democratic

I went to the Upfront conference this past week in the hills of Malibu. I always enjoy the event and truly everyone in the start-up industry should be thankful that Upfront puts this event on. It is an opportunity to see people that you never see or people that you are in cap tables with, and be able to have some really interesting conversations about the latest and greatest.

I was talking with a female investor about the interesting companies being built in secondary cities. It is more affordable to live in those locations and the valuations of those companies are more in line with what they should be. It is the true long tail of how technology has propelled the next generations of businesses to move us forward. It has now seeped into every community for change. As she put it, “talent is democratic.”

Not only is talent democratic, it breaks all barriers. As I looked around the event at Upfront, it was clear to me the change in the rooms from other events 10 years ago. The room clearly has more females but it used to feel as there was this very small wall that didn’t allow that camaraderie with the men in the room seem as fluid as it is today. Supporting women, getting a female partner, investing and knowing the top women founders and female-driven start-ups is at the top of everyone’s minds. We still have a long way to go on diversity past just being men and women but a myriad of faces yet things are changing, and it is happening on all sides, and that makes me feel very good about the future.

Do You Want to Be a Best, or a Favorite? Linda Derschang, The Derschang Group, Podcast #90

https://soundcloud.com/positivelygothamgal/episode-90-do-you-want-to-be-a-best-or-a-favorite-linda-derschang-the-derschang-group

Linda Derschang is the founder and CEO of The Derschang Group, a mix of restaurants, cafes, and bars in Seattle, Washington. Linda joined me to talk about the journey from opening a punk clothing store in Denver to the massive group of bars and restaurants in Seattle today

You can listen to the podcast on iTunes here.

10 Years of Hot Bread Kitchen

The last few months I have seen so many films, read so many articles and heard so many stories around immigration, migration and refugees. Many of these stories are heartbreaking. The challenges that so many people across the globe face right now are vast. I can’t help but wonder how I would deal in any of their circumstances. The human will to survive is powerful.

I was the first Chairperson of Hot Bread Kitchen. An organization near and dear to my heart. The women who have gone through the program, bake the breads for the organization have all come from other countries. They are immigrants and their children are first generation Americans.

There is a strong community of people at HBK. Many of these women would not have the opportunity to work in the countries that they came from. But at HBK they not only bake, work, learn English and business skills, they are role models for their children who have come to the US for a better life. Those kids look up to their mother’s who go to work every day, bake bread and bring home income.

Although the products are delicious, it is the long tail impact of these women’s families and the neighborhoods they go back to that inspire me.
I am delighted to Chair this 10 year Anniversary with Diana Taylor, the second board chair. I know both Diana and I care deeply about making a difference in people’s lives. We have both been insanely fortunate and giving back is something we both believe is essential with the hope that we can make a difference in all of these women’s lives.

If you are inspired, feel free to donate, come to the event, buy a table or just buy some bread. The event is on April 30th and tickets go on sale later this month.

Building the Bridge in Medical Care

I was on a good run in the kitchen. After all these years, I had never injured myself so bad that it required stitches. The odds that nothing was ever going to happen was too good to be true. I sliced open my finger on a recently sharpened knife while cutting an onion. It was a nice slit and the bleeding did not cease so I finally made my way over to the Insta-Care Facility in Park City.

I am a huge fan of these businesses. They are a bridge between your regular doctor and the emergency room. I have found them to be efficient (been to others for different reasons) and in general they work. I was in an out of this one in less than an hour with four stitches in my finger.

The most interesting part of the visit was my conversation with the doctor. He was from the Newport News area of Virginia. 26 years ago, with two other emergency room doctors he had worked with, they started an Insta-Care type storefront. Their thesis was to treat emergency room patients. They had prices for each procedure, it was a for-profit business, they charged everyone the same amount regardless of insurance or not (that is an entirely different conversation). Everyone in the medical community told them that the thesis wouldn’t work that they would have to provide annual patient care. They shrugged their shoulders and buil the business.

Fast forward they had six of these facilities, had been in the business for 18 years and was doing quite well. A bill is passed in Virginia that hospitals must add certain facilities to their institutions and Insta-Care was part of it.

The local hospital knocked on their door. They gave the hospital the price they believed the business was worth based on profitability, annual revenues, etc. The hospital gasped. That was way out of what they thought the price would be. The founders/doctors shrugged their shoulders again and returned to business as usual. Six months later the hospital returned and bought the business for the price they wanted. They stayed 5 years which is much longer than the norm for vesting but the hospital made it well worth their while to stay. They also loved what they were doing and essentially ran the business separate from the hospital.

After 5 years the hospital took over and asked my doctor if he would continue to stay on and work HR for the units. He knew that the hospital would not pay the workers what his partners did and they would not treat them in the way that they were used to and more than probably run on less capital with less people so he left. Unfortunate but hospitals have totally different ways of running which is why the bridge of the Insta-Care type facilities have been so successful.

He passed on the HR opportunity and left, moved to Park City with his wife, and took a job at the facility I went to for my finger. He said the first two years were extremely hard because he wanted to fix everything in the system yet he held back putting his entrepreneurial instincts in check, working 3 days a week and enjoying his next stage of life instead.

I so loved his story. Entrepreneurs are in every field and as a doctor, he saw a void and filled it. We are seeing more of these such as Ask Tia, who was on the podcast this week. The medical world is going to look significantly different in the next decade and these type of facilities will continue to grow as they fill a void in the market of patient care.

Vaccinations

I believe in vaccinations. They have eradicated diseases. Medicine will become even more advanced in the next decade with perhaps a better balance with health and wellness becoming front and center.

There has been a measles outbreak in Washington State, one of the most infectuous diseases. One in ten children had not been vaccinated for measles because those parents refuse to vaccinate their child. It is ignorant and utterly ridiculous.

I remember when the chicken pox vaccination came out. Our kids were all under 5. After all, chicken pox is not a horrific virus although it can be when you are an adult. I took the kids over to homes where one of the kids we knew had chicken pox hoping that our kids would get it and it would run through their system. It is one of those strange viruses that if you get it once you rarely get it again. Unfortunately they didn’t get it so I opted for the vaccination because the more kids that get vaccinated the less kids get chicken pox and if you don’t get it, you can get it as an adult and that isn’t good.

Years ago I was meeting with a founder who told me that she did not allow her two children who were then 9 and 7 to get vaccinated. It wasn’t for religious reasons but she believed every insane thing she read around the link between autism and vaccinations. I literally picked up my stuff, ended the conversation immediately.

Each state deals with this differently but in order to enroll your child in school, you must show that they have all their vaccinations up to date. When it comes to this, I am incapable of seeing any other side of the fence. Schools should not allow children to attend unless they have been vaccinated, period. Perhaps there should be a federal law. Shame on these parents putting their children and others are risk. Vaccinate your children!

Sundance

We saw 13 movies in three days. Sundance is an incredible event. It is the movies that are small and powerful that we love. Ones that you don’t always get the opportunity to see although these days with Netflix and Amazon more and more are being shown.

I could ramble on about all of them but instead, I will name the highlights which will hopefully come to a screen sooner than later. One thing to note is that on our first full day of movies, every director was a woman. We saw more female directors and producers this year. The diversity was incredible and I applaud Sundance for making it a priority.

The Edge of Democracy a film by Petra Costa. A Brazilian documentary that follows the beginnings of democracy in 1985 until now. The embattled leaders, the scandals, the corruption and how their constitution works is eye-opening.

The Farewell a film by Lulu Wang. A film about family, immigrants, differences and love. Back in China the matriarch of the family has terminal lung cancer and nobody tells her because that is how the culture works. The family comes back to throw a wedding together so they can all reunite. One brother raised his family in the US and the other in Japan. A take on the real life story of Wang’s.

Honey Boy directed by Alma Harel and written by Shia LaBeouf. An intense raw film about growing up as a childhood star with an abusive father as his guardian. Incredible.

Ms. Purple written and directed by Justin Chon might have been my favorite. Set in Los Angeles a daughter cares for her bedridden father while trying to make ends meet through being a young hostess for rich businessmen. She ropes in her estranged brother to help her care for their father. It is about immigrants, family, and siblings. I just loved this film.

Last and certainly not least is Midnight Traveler a documentary by Hassan Fazili shot on three Iphones. As a film maker in Afghanistan, the Taliban put a price on his head. He begins his journey with his two young daughters and wife, who is also a film maker, across Iran, Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia finally getting to Germany. We witness the realities, the danger, the desperation of migration today. Everyone should see this film. They were not able to attend the screening as they are people without passports and a nation.

Will be interesting to see what is bought and what is not but as always Sundance is a wonderful event.

Imagining the Well Woman, Carolyn Witte, Ask Tia

Carolyn Witte is the Co-Founder and CEO of AskTia, an integrated healthcare center, resource, and community for women. Carolyn left her dream job to start Tia after realizing that women’s health was a huge, complicated problem that she had to solve.

You can listen to this on iTunes here