Made in the Valley: Where entrepreneurism, gift giving, networking and giving back intersect

Print This Post Print This Post

amandatraxler88BY AMANDA TRAXLER

When finally ready to bring several of her own product ideas to market (including exquisitely patterned, environmentally friendly fabric gift-wrap), Gail Lara realized she wanted to help other women do the same.

“I thought, ‘Why don’t I invite other women who are also doing this to come together?” said Lara, founder of Made in the Valley (, a website launched in July that serves as a vehicle to help women retail their products while also donating 10% of its proceeds to local charities.

Krazy Karma Jewelry

Krazy Karma Jewelry

Perhaps the logo sums it up best: Exceptional Women, Exceptional Products, Exceptional Charities.

The 14 local entrepreneurs who sell one or two items from their lines on the site (Lara intends to feature 11 more) have each designated a charity to receive the proceeds of their product sales.

With her concept, Lara has accomplished several objectives, including encouraging consumers to buy locally, raising awareness and funds for charities at what is clearly a crucial time, and promoting a return to the art of gift-giving.

“What I’m really trying to do,” Lara said, “is promote meaningful goods. I think the art of gift-giving has been lost. Often, there’s really no meaning to gift-giving today.”

Naja Tea and Happy Chocolates.

Naja Tea and Happy Chocolates.

In other words, out with mass-produced items often made off-shore, in with locally crafted goods often made by hand.

Among the products featured on the site are fragrances, soaps, and lotions whose descriptions alone seduce the senses (for example, Blue Hawaii Fragrance with notes of jasmine and coconut, made by Klean Bath and Body). Also available: delectable chocolates and teas, as well as jewelry, hand-made greeting cards, T-shirts, specialty bow-ties, and a tool to teach productive action and behavior called The Thinking Spot.

Individuals who order from the site have two ways to receive items. For a $2.50 charge, Made in the Valley will deliver to any home or office in the San Fernando Valley. For those outside the area, USPS is standing by.

The craftswomen.

Some Made in the Valley entrepreneurs: Barbara Daoust -- (seated -- Soul Notes Affirmation Jewelry), Linda Wamhof (Krazy Karma Jewelry), Gail Lara ( with the bag - founder), Deborah Lovett (Once Upon A Kind gift cards) and Susan Kushnatsian (Bee Gorgeous Organics -- skincare).

According to Lara, all of the featured entrepreneurs possess a distinct entrepreneurial spirit, one that exudes a passion about their products and their benefits to consumers. All are also equally enthusiastic about networking with other women.

“It’s so important that women support one another,” Lara said. “If one woman is successful, they all are successful.”

Made in the Valley also can help bring together larger events with a special touch. Able to work with budgets of all sizes, Lara and company can help plan corporate events, such as holiday parties, by coordinating catering and gift-giving goodie bags.

I Am Soul Notes

I Am Soul Notes

As part of her commitment to helping women entrepreneurs, Lara actively supports women business owners through a monthly meeting at the Valley Economic Development Center in Van Nuys.

Offering women a chance to network with each other as well as to listen to speakers from charities and networking organizations, recent meetings have featured the Heart Link Network ( as well as a representative of the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission (, one of the site’s designated charities.

To stay current, Lara is constantly working her own business beat.

“I try to get to as many business meetings and classes as I can,” Lara said.

Sweeny Ties.

Sweeny Ties.

Anyone interested in being added to the meeting’s invite list can email Lara at

Check out for great gifts!

Check out the Made in the Valley Holiday Showcase on Tuesday December 15th 2009 from 5-8pm Valley Economic Development Center 5121 Van Nuys Blvd, 3rd Floor Van Nuys, CA, 91403. The showcase will feature the 14 businesses from Made in the Valley and give people the chance to support local entrepreneurs and buy unique gifts if they’ve left Christmas to the last minute!

Made in the Valley is also attending Unique Los Angeles which takes place this weekend (5th & 6th December –

Amanda Traxler is an L.A.-born writer with degrees in journalism from the University of Kansas and creative writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been rediscovering her roots since she returned to the area three years ago from the wintry Midwest.

Share this:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Plusone Digg Linkedin Stumbleupon Email

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

  • Jeff Deasy

    Buyong locally made, beautifully handcrafted items..what could be better!

More in Featured, Lifestyle, My Daily Find, Shopping, spotlight
Mister Ed’s Alan Young talks about the talking horse and Hollywood lore

BY NICK THOMAS What do David Filby, Wilbur Post, and Scrooge McDuck have in common? They were all characters (The...