Entrepreneurs Show off a Variety of Products and Creativity

Entrepreneur Doug Byrd has gourmet brownie treats for actress Josie Davis of “Charles in Charge” fame.

Entrepreneur Doug Byrd has gourmet brownie treats for
actress Josie Davis of “Charles in Charge” fame.

Shark Tank is my favorite TV show because it is motivating to learn about entrepreneurship from the risk-takers who dare to turn their dreams into reality. I enjoy hearing the interesting stories that every business person has about transforming ideas into the next big thing.

But Shark Tank isn’t the only place where future business moguls can grab the spotlight. A recent visit to the GBK Celebrity Gift Lounge, honoring the nominees and presenters of the 2014 MTV Movie Awards, had lots of sponsors who were showing off their products and creativity. Celebrities, VIPs, and the media gathered at the SLS Hotel to enjoy a treasure trove of trendsetting goodies and services while helping with the entrepreneurs’ marketing efforts.

Wildly popular with stars was a yummy business called Barry’s Gourmet Brownies. President and CEO Doug Byrd came all the way from Clearwater, Florida to brag, “It’s all about freshness, quality and taste. It’s from a special recipe that creates the chewiest, fudgiest brownies ever. Our sweet success story has grown from a couple of bakers to about 200 employees who create and market internationally.” Businesses like this offer encouragement for our nation’s economic outlook.

Other treats included Jackson’s Honest Potato Chips, a true mom and pop operation which offers organic, vegan and naturally gluten-free chips. It was started by parents who created healthy and tasty potato chips for their four children, and they now ship globally. “Where’s the Fire” gourmet pizza, Ripped Cream natural coffee creamer with a boost of protein, and Sabra Dipping Company, with their award winning hummus, were also there. And more sweets came from the (aah!) bourbon-infused chocolate truffles from Bread Basket Cake Company.

Adding to the list of impressive little companies with big dreams was Brett Gontarek, founder of the Honolulu based Pono Woodworks, who transforms rare Koa wood into unique beach-to-boardroom Koa Surfrider Watches, plus phone cases, rings, and jewelry with the Aloha spirit. Although it sounds like candy Lollipop Bandz by Zorbitz is the trendy new multi-shape bracelet craze in lollipop colors for cool kids. The bracelet wraps are from a mother-daughter company that also supports charities. Audiopark’s Audiowrap were a great idea for earbuds, with beads and bling that coil up into a snappy bracelet. The ThursdayFriday totes with high-fashion graphics on them were designed by a gal who wanted to make canvas bags look fun and chic. Fashionistas loved Qupid ultra-stylish shoes made from “vegan” leather. Onkyo USA presented its sleek headphones with precision hi-fi technology.

For beauty there were customized skin care creams from New York City’s famous Very Pretty Skin office headed by stunning Dr. Rosetta Garries, an expert in the beautification experience, coming soon to LA. Keratin Complex had hair care products, and the lovely CEO Falicia Fracassi, who calls herself “a fierce entrepreneur,” was promoting her fabulous Fracassi Lashes, lash extensions and more.

Always a GBK favorite TheArtisanGroup.org is a collection of elite cottage businesses on a mission to introduce Hollywood to the best-of-the-best in handcrafted products. The website showcases their statement-making jewelry, accessories, spa and bath items, fine art photography, and other unique gifts. It’s interesting to note that most of the creative artisans are women who give back generously to worthy causes. Bless them.

GBK’s gracious host Gavin Keilly is well known for giving back too, and the event helped several organizations. Lambda Legal has led the fight for the fair treatment of the gay community through education and public policy. Supporters were happy to learn Lambda Legal’s West Coast Liberty Awards will take place June 13 at the Beverly Wilshire. The Los Angeles Youth Network’s mission is to empower abused and homeless adolescents to become self-sufficient by providing educational programs in a nurturing environment. While striving to raise awareness and offering hope, Autism Speaks is dedicated to funding research into the prevention, treatment, and a possible cure for autism.

Plus the American Red Cross of Santa Monica was there to offer information for earthquake preparedness, and sign up celebrities to attend their Red Tie Affair gala May 3 at the Fairmont Miramar Hotel. Fox News’ Christine Devine is set as the emcee, presenting the Crystal Cross Award to Carson Daly and The Voice, NBC’s Emmy-winning talent show.