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Wednesday, Oct 4, 2023

Friends Help Each Other’s Businesses Shine

In business, it’s not what you know that matters – it’s who you know. That wisdom has special meaning for Crystal Jones and Megan Dugan, a pair of friends whose San Fernando Valley businesses took the spotlight Oct. 19 to 22 at the new Riley Rose beauty boutique at Glendale Galleria. Jones – a past winner of the Food Network’s show “Cupcake Wars” – sold a selection of her company Cream by Crystal’s cheesecake cupcakes as the featured pop-up vendor at the shop’s in-store dessert cart. Just a few feet away, Dugan offered glittery make-overs with products from her line Lemonhead in honor of its launch at Riley Rose. “It’s super cool and I’m super proud of her,” Dugan said of Jones. “We’re just having so much fun.” The women met when Dugan did Jones’ make-up for a wedding back in their hometown of St. Louis. Jones, who was already living in Los Angeles, told Dugan to reach out when she decided to move to L.A. “She actually took me up on it, and here she is!” Jones said. The women have been supporting each other’s businesses ever since. After starting Lemonhead, Dugan reached out to Jones for customized cupcakes to give away at events. When she found out Riley Rose was looking for a local dessert vendor to feature at the store, Dugan told the company she knew the perfect fit. “I called (Jones) and said, ‘I have the best opportunity for you,’” Dugan recalled. “So here we are and we’re reconnecting again with our own businesses.” For the in-store pop-up, Jones curated a selection of red velvet, white chocolate, “millennial pink” lemonade and raspberry-rose cupcakes to offer sweet-toothed shoppers. For Jones, who offers delivery and catering services throughout greater Los Angeles, the event was the perfect opportunity to introduce Cream by Crystal to a new market ahead of the holiday season. It also gave her the chance to test out a new flavor. “The rose we created for Riley Rose, so I infused rosewater into my raspberry,” she said. Edible glitter, of course, featured prominently on every cupcake. Brewery Law Los Angeles’ one-size-fits-all wastewater policies for breweries frustrated small-scale craft beer companies for years, as even those that brewed less than 300 barrels a year were mandated to pay the same inspection and application fees levied on firms such as Anheuser-Busch Cos. Now, thanks to the efforts of a coalition spearheaded by San Fernando Valley brewing companies and the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce, at least a couple expenses may be cut down to size. Breweries and chamber members went before the L.A. Department of Public Works committee on Oct. 18 to make a case for lower fees – and won. “I’m so proud of the whole community for taking this on, because it’s very expensive to start a brewery,” said Jennifer Febre, co-owner of MacLeod Ale Brewing Co. in Van Nuys and one of the industry representatives who took part in the hearing. “It’s hard to get a craft brewery going, but it can have enormous benefits for the community.” L.A. regulations for beer production were in place well before the latest brewery boom, which saw the number of U.S. breweries rise 17 percent year over year between 2015 and 2016, according to the Brewers Association, a national trade organization. Most of the country’s 5,300 breweries are small, independent brewers – and most are in California, reports the California Craft Brewers Association. The state’s craft breweries generated $7.29 billion in sales in 2015. Despite California’s status at the forefront of the craft brewery movement, L.A. regulations had not kept up with the times, Febre said. State and federal tax policies on brewers are based on size, as are the membership fees associated with trade associations. In contrast, L.A. beer producers were required to pay $450 in wastewater permit application fees to the Department of Public Works, regardless of their output. The same principle applied to quarterly inspection fees, which ran to nearly $2,000 a year. “For a brand-new brewery that’s starting out, that’s a significant amount of money,” Febre added. After listening to brewery owners, the committee unanimously agreed to complete its review of its fees and payment structure for small brewing businesses. The results will likely lead to a reduction in wastewater permit and inspection fees for micro-breweries – defined as those producing 15,000 barrels or less – and an exemption for those that are even smaller. Staff reporter Helen Floersh can be reached at (818) 316-3121 or hfloersh@sfvbj.com

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