Success Stories

Lixit Corporation, as its name implies, is the largest small animal watering device manufacturer in the world.  The company also produces feeding devices, animal care accessories, pet houses, pet exercise equipment and has a number of new product innovations in various development stages. Lixit acquired and relocated Equitex, a company originally based in Petaluma, combining a number of textile products for horses shows into the firm’s total product mix.

Linda Parks started as a buyer for Lixit Corporation over 40 years ago. She has held numerous positions throughout the years. Through a qualified employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), Linda purchased the company and became President and CEO in 1994. Guided by Linda’s passion and big picture thinking, Lixit has been awarded SBA Business of the Year for Northern California, Napa Chamber Business of the Year, Family Friendly Business of the Year and Top Manufacturers Award for the North Bay. Some 30 to 40 percent of the firm’s... Read More

Priti Narayanan was a civil engineer who worked on large scale transportation infrastructure systems like BART and Muni.  She was feeling burnt out at her job.  One night, while walking with her wife in San Francisco, she experienced a life changing event. Priti was run over by a party bus in a near-fatal accident.  She was hospitalized with third-degree burns and her leg was crushed. The event made her re-evaluate her life.

Priti decided to quit her job as an engineer to pursue a career in craft ice cream.  She had always been obsessed with sweets and desserts, something she attributed to her family’s roots in South India.  As a transplant to California, she wanted to combine the fresh local flavors with some of the classical dessert flavors from her youth. Priti grew up in Mumbai, where kulfi, a popular frozen treat that’s traditionally served as a popsicle and made with milk cooked with nuts, sugar and spices was indispensable.

While preparing to start her business... Read More

After nearly 100 years of dairy farming along the Northern California Coastline the Giacomini family dairy farm had reached an impasse. The farm had grown to its limits at the same time that profitability for dairy farms nationally had fallen and its owner, Robert Giacomini, was in his 60’s. His daughters, who had grown up on the farm, had also all moved away to start their own careers in different industries around the world.

Faced with this situation, Bob called in the family in 2000 and asked the daughters if they would like to help re-envision the farm. The daughters, Diana Hagan, Lynn Stray, and Jill Basch, weren’t passionate about the dairy operation they had always known, but they were united in a common love for fine food and sustainability. That was enough for the sisters to leave their careers and come home, where one of the early decisions they made was to pivot the family business from milk production to environmentally sustainable, artisanal cheese making.

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When participating in a farmer’s market, if the right customers aren’t there, a business can choose to stop participating, but once they’re committed to a space, they have to make it work.  Reem Assil, the owner of Reem’s California, an Arab street food bakery in Oakland opened its doors in May of 2017.  Reem found there was a steep learning curve between selling at farmer’s markets and maintaining her own brick and mortar location.

Reem chose to start an Arab bakery rather than a Middle Eastern restaurant, because she wanted to pay homage to a specific type of business found everywhere in the fertile crescent. She has family roots in Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.  She wanted to honor her holistic Arab identity.  Growing up in America with a strong Arab identity was not without its challenges.  Reem has experienced racism first hand, but she hopes through her business she can help normalize a word and a culture that otherwise can be fraught with negative associations in... Read More

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