Mona Chmeis, owner of Austin-based, LiVegan decided to become a vegan in 2014 and it changed her life. “I have never been healthier of happier,” she says. “Being vegan is not just about what you put into your body. It is about ethical choices that you make every day. There is a sense of pride living vegan that includes sacrifice, passion and a strong moral compass.”
Chmeis began searching for fitness products that would show her vegan pride. “As you become more aware of what you put into your body, you begin to recognize the improvement to your body’s health and fitness,” says Chmeis. “You want to find products that promote your new lifestyle and that are made cruelty-free with no animal products. After searching the Internet, I couldn’t find a sports bra that I liked, so I decided to create my own,” says Chmeis. And, that initial search led to the development of a number of lifestyle products with the LiVegan brand.
LiVegan is now offering custom hooded sports bras, shaker bottles, hats, sleeveless hoodies, and is in the process of testing fitness pants for production. Chmeis is committed to ensuring that all of her products are made by companies that pay fair wages and use no animal products. “Each product branded and marketed by LiVegan is made in the United States to ensure no workers are harmed or exploited in the production,” says Chmeis.
Over the next couple of years, Chmeis will continue to build the LiVegan brand, expand product offerings, and promote the LiVegan website. An avid animal lover, Chmeis’ long-term goals are more far-reaching. “I will continue to pursue my goal of defending animals and hope to someday own an animal sanctuary and rescue facility.
To find out more about Chmeis’ journey and to learn more about LiVegan products, visit liVegan.com.
There are many options for imprinting or “branding” your promotional product or wearable. Most are recommended for a specific product type, such as debossing or embossing for leather and screen printing for T-shirts, but others can be used on a wide range of products. This short guide is designed to help you not only choose the one right for your product, but also to understand how they work and what the associated costs are for each.
In the screen printing process, film separations are made that represent each color in the design. The film is laid on a fabric mesh that is covered with a special emulsion and exposed to light. Where the light hits the emulsion, it becomes solid; where the film covers the mesh, the emulsion remains unchanged, and then is washed off. The screen is then placed on top of the surface to be printed, and ink is pushed through the mesh using a squeegee. The ink is dried, and the next color is applied. There is a screen charge per color or location as well as a run charge for imprinting each additional color or location.
Best products for screen printing: T-shirts; tote bags; promotional products, such as water bottles, rulers, pencils, and plastic pens.
As the name suggests, pad printing involves transferring ink from a silicone pad to the object you want printed. . Using a machine that holds both the pad and the promotional product steady, the pad is pressed into an inked plate etched into the shape of your desired artwork. The pad is then pressed into the actual object, creating a crisp printed image. One of the main advantages of using pad printing is that you can use it to print on three-dimensional surfaces and products of all shapes and sizes. There usually is a setup cost for each color or location, plus a run charge for multiple colors.
Best products for screen printing: Round items or other shaped items, such as stress relievers and golf balls.
When you want to print your logo in a whole bunch of colors, screen printing may be too expensive because of the cost of multiple colors and the run charges. That’s when it may be good idea to move to digital, or full color, printing. This process makes use of physical printers instead of screens and generally allows you to print over the entire surface. Another term used for digital printing is dye sublimation. There often is not a setup associated with digital printing.
Best products to use with digital printing: mouse pads, magnets, and note pads.
Debossing and embossing give your logo a 3-dimensional element. For both processes, dies are constructed from metal in the shape of your logo. The product is then placed between them and heat and pressure push and form the material into the impression you want. Embossing rises from the product, while debossing pushes into the product. For an additional cost, you can also add color to the logo. There is usually a setup charge for creating the die.
Best products to use with debossing/embossing: leather products, such as portfolios, letterhead, vinyl pouches, and custom chocolates.
If you want your logo to really stand out on a nice polo, consider embroidery. Any cloth product, and especially corporate apparel, looks great with the vibrant stitching of your logo. In the embroidery process, your logo is changed to a digital image and then assigned color threads. Your garments or blankets are placed in the embroidery machine, the needles go to work, and then excess threads are cut off. There is usually a one-time cost for digitizing your logo in preparation for embroidery.
Best products to use with embroidery: T-shirts, blankets, caps, boat totes, robes and towels.
This process creates sharp, crystal-clear logos that are unable to be peeled off. Without ink or tool bits, this process is simple, clean, and easy. Logos are programmed into the laser software and then executed onto your items. If available, you can also opt for oxidation, which adds a little more color to your logo and makes it a touch more distinctive.
Best products to use with laser engraving: metal pens, wood items (such as cutting boards), glass awards, and corporate gifts with metal plaques.
This month we are spotlighting a local real estate company, Blairfield Realty. (Complete disclosure: we used Blairfield when we recently sold our house and bought another one. They were already an Armadillo client, so we knew that they were a great company.)
We asked founder and owner, Donna Blair to tell us about how the company got started and where it was headed.
What is Blairfield Realty?
Blairfield Realty is a boutique real estate brokerage located in the Zilker neighborhood. We specialize in full-service client representation, and we are committed to bringing real value to our clients, our community, and our industry. We approach our job with a “whatever it takes” attitude, and we are extraordinarily passionate about advocating for our clients’ best interest.
How long have you been in the business?
I have been working in the industry for about 20 years. I started Blairfield Realty in 2009.
How did you get started in the real estate industry?
I started working for a homebuilder fresh out of high school and stuck with that for many years. Real Estate was all I ever wanted to do.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted a career in real estate?
My advice to anyone wanting to get in the business would be to get ready for some hard work. It is not easy, but it’s not rocket science either. You need to be committed to working hard for your clients and truly care about what you’re doing to be successful. Too many people get into this business because they think it’s easy money. It’s not.
Where is Blairfield Realty headed over the next several years?
We plan to keep doing what we are doing; serving our clients and our communities. We’ve been growing our business at a nice sustainable pace for the last 7 years, and I’d like to just keep that going for many, many years to come.
Does the business use promotional products?
Yes! I think we’ve done a nice job with branding our company, and the promotional products really help with that. Pens, stationery, shopping bags, and various labels all help to make our brand recognizable to our clients and potential clients.
Our entire team here at Blairfield is passionate about volunteering and philanthropy. We help out a lot in our community schools, donate money for our park systems, raise money for the Hill Country Ride for AIDS, and last December we went shopping for all of the children at Helping Hands Home for Children and bought them all a new holiday outfit.
This month we visit with one of our clients, Sumari Bhasin, owner of TrainLifeFit to see how things are going and to get some insight into his business.
Sumair, an ACE Certified Personal Trainer with a masters in Exercise Physiology from UT Austin, started TrainLifeFit because he wanted to help people find stronger and healthier versions of themselves.
What is TrainLifeFit?
TrainLifeFit is a holistic strength and conditioning gym located in the Mueller neighborhood that is focused on creating impactful change from the inside out. We delve deep into optimizing the areas of movement, nutrition, and lifestyle design! Over the past year we have built a community of individuals that act as each other’s coach. Everyone is making sure that their fellow TLF members are staying accountable to pursuing the strongest and healthiest version of their self. I couldn’t have imagined it any better, and love watching this beautiful community unfold.
The people that I serve are those who want to take responsibility for how they want to look, feel, and what bad-ass things they can actually do. I do not see fitness and wellness as solely for the elite athlete, but rather a birthright for every human being.”
This means understanding and practicing optimal positions, internal cues, and proper breathing. Then we can manipulate things like reps, sets, frequency, and intensity (AKA start to kick ass!). The same goes for nutrition. Before we hit macros, and all of that jazz, I simply help people add high quality nutrients into their dietary arsenal of awesomeness.
I like to see it as I am adding X or Y food to my body simply because I know it will make me feel amazing and perform better in and outside of the gym.
And last but not least, understanding the type of lifestyle habits you need to manage and maintain a feeling of wellness is FIRST. Forget everything else. From this foundation of wellness, then we are empowered to step up and transcend into stronger and healthier versions of ourselves.”
How do you see the business growing over the next few years?
The culture that is being developed here is that of a coaching style. Every member coaches each other. They watch out for each other, and ensure that their movement cues, and nutritional/lifestyle factors are held accountable. With that being said, TrainLifeFit will be holding an Academy that helps those that want to share their knowledge and success with others. Whether that is in the form of being a holistic strength and conditioning coach or someone who just wants to learn the tools to help others, the Academy will serve that purpose. Eventually, it will be a community that runs itself!
Have you used any promotional products? If so, has it been successful for your business?
I have used business cards, signicades, and T-shirts (Armadillo advertising). Probably the most successful advertising that I do is free … word of mouth from my clients.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about starting a business?
- Find a mentor who is doing what you would like to do and is thriving! Learn from them.
- Just do it. Most people never start and always live in that state of limbo (wondering if they can actually start their dreams!)
- Value your product and own your rates. People will buy into what you value and whether you OWN it or not.
- Don’t be scared to network with people that you consider to be your role models. They often learn from you too!
- Find out who your target audience is. Even if you can serve everyone. Target an audience, and then you can grow from there
- If you don’t have the necessary funds immediately, start a crowdfunding campaign!
Anything that you would do differently?
I would have asked for more help from my family and friends.
This month we are breaking from tradition and instead of spotlighting a local Austin business, we are focusing on a local nonprofit: Drive A Senior – North Central Austin. This is a totally volunteer-driven organization that provides critical transportation services to the elderly in Austin who are living independently at home but who can no longer drive. They often have no family or friends living close by, so rely on Drive A Senior volunteers to get them to the doctor, dentist, pain clinic, bank, grocery store and to help with small chores around their homes. Studies have shown that seniors who live independently live longer and healthier than those who do not.
Serving Austin for almost 30 years
Drive A Senior has been providing these services for almost 30 years to seniors living in North Central Austin. They are constantly in need of volunteer drivers and donations to provide taxi vouchers when they fall short of drivers, which they often do.
How to Volunteer
Volunteers for Drive A Senior get as much as they give. Often they build strong friendships with the people they drive. Here is what a couple of our volunteers had to say about their experience as volunteer drivers:
If you would like to volunteer to be a driver or to make a donation to Drive A Senior – North Central Austin, call 512.453.2273 or email email@example.com.
23rd Annual Christmas Choral Concert
Benefitting Drive A Senior
On December 4th at 7:30 p.m. at St. Louis Catholic Church, Drive A Senior is presenting its 23rd Annual Christmas Choral Concert with the choirs and bell choirs of 10 local churches. This is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year. While it is free and open to the public, the organization is seeking sponsorships from both individuals and businesses.
As the owner of a small local business, there is nothing that I love more than to see a new business grow. That is why I enjoy writing about their successes and talking with the owners to see how they have translated their visions into viable businesses. This month I talked with one of the co-owners of The Austin Doula Collective, Sarah Stasica, a business that offers support services to women and their families during one of the most exciting times of their lives.
What is the Austin Doula Collective?
Austin Doula Collective is a group of individual birth and postpartum doulas who offer support to families during pregnancy, birth and the postpartum period.
Why did you become a doula?
I was drawn to doula work because of my passion for the birth of a baby as well as the birth of a family. There is nothing more beautiful, amazing and miraculous as seeing a new little person come into the world. I know that women are strong and I love to help them connect with that strength in labor and early parenting.
In addition to co-founding the Austin Doula Collective, Sarah is also a volunteer with Giving Austin Labor Support (GALS). because she believes that every woman deserves to have loving support during labor regardless of income level.
Why did you start the company?
I started the collective because I wanted to build a supportive community for myself and other doulas interested in joining. This work is amazing and beautiful but it is also intense and can be hard. It is really important for doulas to have a community they can turn to when they need to find loving support. I feel that the doulas in our collective support each other just as we support our clients. I also wanted to start this collective because business is what I already knew. My degree is in finance and I spent nine years out of college working in the financial industry before starting my own small business.
How do you see the business growing over the next few years?
I see the business growing by adding more doulas so that we can support more families in Austin. We intentionally are growing very slowly because we want to make sure that our doulas all share the same philosophy of loving support for both clients and each other. We believe in supporting women and their families without bringing judgment to their choices. We believe that each woman’s birth is individual and there is no wrong way for a woman to birth her baby.
Have you used any promotional products? If so, has it been successful for your business?
Yes, we do use promotional products. We wear Austin Doula Collective shirts to the births we attend which we feel looks more professional while also making our collective more visible. We also give each of our clients an Austin Doula Collective onesie when their baby is born. We have also ordered our business cards from Armadillo and plan to order postcards this fall to spread the word about our collective.
Any advice that you would like to give to anyone thinking about becoming a doula?
Yes, I think that if they feel drawn to the work they should look into different doula training options. I did my training through Doula Training International (DTI) and I really loved their mentoring program. You do five intense days of training and then you are in a nine month mentorship program where you are assigned an experienced mentor and you also have your training class to communicate with. I would say that the lifestyle can be challenging because of being on call so much and missing out on things because babies come when they are ready so you may miss a holiday with your family. I believe the future of doula work is in shared call, it just makes this work more sustainable. I partner with Janixa Ramos, the other co-founder of the collective, so that we are a prenatal team for our clients and whichever one of us is on call will attend the labor and do the postpartum visit. This set up allows us to fully support our clients but also take care of ourselves and give our lives a bit more predictability. Finally, I would say that I feel so lucky each time I can be there to support a woman and then see her child come into the world. There is nothing more beautiful than birth, both the birth of the child but also the birth of the woman into a mother.
At Armadillo Advertising we are committed to helping our small business clients grow and prosper. We work with them to find promotional solutions that will help them increase their visibility and build their brand. One such client is DragonFIT a full-circle women’s empowerment and fitness company located in Marble Falls, Texas, that helps women build not only a healthy body, but also a healthy mind and spirit. Owner, Danielle Bryan, a certified personal trainer and WBFF pro fitness model, started the business in 2014, and in just one year, it has grown significantly.
Bryan started DragonFit because she saw a huge void missing in women’s fitness programs. “Most of the fitness programs I saw were all about ‘looking a certain way and not feeling good about yourself along the way’,” says Bryant. “ With DragonFit, we help to build women up, no matter where they are in their fitness journey. We cheer each other on through each triumph, large and small.”DragonFit offers a wide range of services to its clients. “ We have a variety of virtual boot camp programs for women as well as life coaching and merchandise,” says Bryant. “The boot camps run anywhere from five to eight weeks. Each program comes complete with a weekly workout routine, nutrition guidelines, healthy living tips and fun weekly challenges.” DragonFit offers the following bootcamps:
- BodyByDragon for any level
- BridalFit for brides & bridal parties
- OfficeFit for women who have to sit at a desk all day, and
- AthleteFit for women wanting to train for a specific race or event!
All DragonFit women are plugged in to a private Facebook group (soon to be app) where they cheer each other on and provide DragonFit support! According to Bryant, “We really are like one big positive sisterhood, and I think the world needs more of that!”
Bryan hopes to launch a line of merchandise as the business continues to grow. “The addition of merchandise to DragonFit has been a daunting yet amazing thing for us! We plan to keep selling hats, tank tops and other DragonFit merchandise to represent women’s desire to live a healthy lifestyle and support other amazing women!”
Bryan has a long-term vision for the business. “I would love to grow DragonFit to the point where we have thousands of women participating in the various boot camps, reaching their goals and cheering each other on. This is just the beginning for DragonFit, and with such a strong team of women whose lives have already been changed, I hope to make the DragonFit logo the emblem representing fearless and fabulous women doing what makes them happy and looking good while doing so! We hope to really expand the brand and solidify the merchandise line so we can see that fierce dragon everywhere!