How NELA businesses use Kickstarter; The Eastside’s top hospitals; Meet the new execs at Self Help Graphics & Pacific Opera

Welcome to our first roundup of news about Eastside businesses, organizations and entrepreneurs. We welcome your tips, story ideas and suggestions.

— Jesús Sanchez, Publisher


This issue of Biz Buzz takes a look at how Northeast L.A. business owners have successfully used the powers of crowdsourcing to get started. Also: an artist/ballerina has launched a Glassell Park-based arts journal. And an area hospital gets a top overall nod while another is singled out for outstanding patient safety.


Kickstarter Helps Launch Eastside Businesses

The fundraising platform Kickstarter has helped many Eastside businesses successfully establish themselves in the marketplace and continues to be an important aspect to nascent organizations that need initial funding. For example:

  • Coffee shop Kindness and Mischief found Kickstarter success to the tune of $33,000+ which was enough to start coffee brewing at its Highland Park location in 2015.
  • Likewise, Max City BBQ can point to its Kickstarter campaign, funded in 2013, with providing enough capital for the family-owned and catering service to open the doors to its brick and mortar space in Eagle Rock.
  • Similarly, WERKSHOP produces high-end and artful leggings; its owner/founder Tina Z (aka Chriztina Marie) launched a Kickstarter campaign in January 2014 which helped the niche clothing line position itself in the fashion landscape where today it has a big international following. While production has moved to a Monrovia location, the business still runs out of Eagle Rock.

Glassell Park’s “Quarter Marks” Art Journal Debuts

A quarterly arts journal launched in May and, based in Glassell Park, features the work of local artists. Started by artist and ballerina Janine C. Taylor, Quarter Marks is being promoted on Instagram and through its website. Taylor had a career with the New York City Ballet since 1998 with numerous leads roles. She retired in 2014 and is now focused on artistic as well as costume design.


Pacific Opera Project welcomes Eleen Hsu-Wentlandt

Highland Park’s Pacific Opera Project has hired a new company manager, Eleen Hsu-Wendlandt who has previously performed with the musical company in The Rake’s Progress, Viva la Mama!, Carmen and The Mikado. For more than eight years, she has been a production/teaching artist in addition to being a professional actor/singer for more than 14 years. Formerly, she was the Director of Children’s Music ministry at San Marino Community Church where she produced musicals, anthems and skits.


Betty Avila named director of Self Help Graphics and Art

Based in Boyle Heights, the nonprofit Self Help Graphics and Art has named Betty Avila as its new director, according to Art News. Avila has been with Self Help since 2015 serving in various roles including acting director. She has previously worked at the Getty Research Center, the Music Center and the Levitt Pavilion in MacArthur Park. Renowned for its print-making studio, Self Help is gearing up for its 45th year with a new exhibition “Entre Tinta y Lucha: 45 Years of Self Help Graphics & Art,” which opens on August 25.


Best Hospitals rankings include Children’s Los Angeles, Keck-USC and Kaiser-Permanente

Keck Hospital of USC in Boyle Heights and the Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in East Hollywood were rated as among the best hospitals in Los Angeles and the state, according to this year’s Best Hospital rankings by US News & World Report. Keck came in at No. 3 locally while Kaiser-Permanente was No. 13. (UCLA Medical Center took the top spot. Meanwhile, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles places 6th among the nation’s top children’s hospitals.


East L.A. hospital Tops Patient Safety

Los Angeles Community Hospital (LACH) has been named a top hospital for patient safety for the fifth year in a row, the hospital announced. Healthgrades’ 2018 Patient Safety Excellence Award recognizes superior performance by a hospital to prevent serious, potentially avoidable complications for patients during hospital stays.


EL Sereno Bio Science Exec Honored

Willie Zuniga, president of Grifols Biologicals in El Sereno, was honored with a BioStar Award by Cal State L.A. for his contributions to the regional bioscience industry. Grifols, which employs 1,200 workers, develops plasma and protein therapies to treat a wide variety of diseases.


That’s it for this issue!

We will be back soon with more business buzz.

— Brenda Rees


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