By Joni Kelly


Those in the ballroom at the Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort on the evening of May 4 will hear, “The envelope, please,” and 11 outstanding women entrepreneurs will receive the 2018 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards.

The winners to be revealed that night were selected from some 115 nominees in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties by independent judges who live outside the tri-county area and are not connected with the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (SOE) Foundation.

Three Santa Ynez Valley women — Puck Erickson-Lohnas, Jody Williams and Raiza Giorgi — are among the finalists.

“It is exciting for everyone involved,” said Cathy Feldman, board chairwoman and CEO of the foundation. “We had an amazing group of candidates this year, and it was difficult for our judges to narrow it down to the top three in each of the categories.”

The 33 finalists will be recognized for their business achievements at the SOE awards dinner.

“These remarkable women have such a variety of enterprises that we think it is important to tell the community about them. In fact, every one of them deserves recognition,” Feldman said.

One recipient — Lady Leslie Ridley-Tree — was unanimously selected by the foundation board and announced prior to the awards for the indelible community impact she has made as a woman business owner and philanthropist.

She will be honored at the event as the Rock Star: Life Achievement winner for 2018.

She is CEO of Pacific Air Industries, a company based in Chatsworth that supplies airplane parts to airlines and companies around the globe. Lady Ridley-Tree is a very hands-on entrepreneur, traveling to the office several days a week.

The awards will also honor high school and college student winners of SBCC’s Scheinfeld Center New Venture Challenge competition.

Proceeds from the awards dinner will go toward cash prizes, in the form of seed money, as well as scholarships for the winning student entrepreneurs.

Several sponsors also contribute directly to the student awards, including Montecito Bank & Trust and Southern California Edison. This fulfills the foundation’s mission of supporting entrepreneurship at all levels in the Santa Barbara community.

Before dinner, guests and the public can meet the high school and collegiate finalists from New Venture Challenge and learn about their proposed businesses.

For the first time this year, the students will be joined by previous winners of the SOE awards to help these businesses recover from the recent floods and mudslides.

Tickets are available until April 30 and can be bought by visiting and clicking on the red banner at the top. For more information, email Cathy Feldman at or call 805-682-8380.

The 33 finalists for the 2018 Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards are:

Agriculture & Wineries:

Marta Alvarez, YCE Inc.,

Puck Erickson-Lohnas, Arcadia Studio,

Jody Williams, Broken Clock Vinegar Works,

Emerging Business:

Carey Bradshaw, Hooter Holster by Carey Bradshaw,

Raiza Giorgi, Santa Ynez Valley Star and Santa Barbara Family & Life Magazine, and

Lele Miranda, Lele Patisserie,

Green & Social Entrepreneur:

Diana Pereira, Impact Hub of SB and Balance Financial Management,

Marine Schumann, Brighten Solar Co.,

Cecilia Villasenor Johnson, Sun Pacific Solar Electric,

Health & Wellness

Robin Long, The Balanced Life,

Melodee Meyer, Kickboxers/Martial Arts Family Fitness,

Marlo Tell, Marlo’s Therapeutic & Sports Massage,

Hospitality & Tourism

Nirasha Rodriguez, The Food Liaison,

Diane Smith, Joy by the Spoonful,

Tammy White, Grapes and Hops,

Media & Communications

Lindsey Carnett, Marketing Maven,

Marjorie Large, WitMark Marketing & Branding Group,

Emily Solomon, The Food Marketer,

Nonprofit organizations

Anne Cremarosa, MIYB California/Santa Maria Business Development Center,

Debra Manchester, Family Therapy Institute of Santa Barbara,

Sarah Otterstrom, Paso Pacifico,

Professional Services

Laurie Gross, Laurie Gross Studios,

Terri Hilliard, Terri Hilliard PC Estate, Elder and Special-Needs Law,

Ann Levine, Law School Expert,


Claudia Cordova Papa, Aqua Skin and Nail Care,

Zdena Jiroutova, ZFolio,

Johanna Zlenko, The Closet Trading Company,

Science & Technology

Kristin Denault, Fluency Lighting Technologies,

Jenny Du, Apeel Sciences,

Laura Nixon Miller, Redi Match,

Wholesale, Manufacturing & Global Trade

Yvonne Erwin, YARD CARD,

Michele McDowell, Wiggins Lift Co.,

Andrea Ridgell, Mishay Salon & Spa; Glop & Glam,