Nationally, about 40 percent of businesses are owned by women. We’re not sure what the figure is here in Downtown Las Vegas, but it’s clear that women helm many of the enterprises at the heart of downtown’s revitalization—from Eat to The Beat. In honor of Women’s History Month, DTLV profiles five women-owned businesses you may not have heard of that are bringing some extra spark to our humble ‘hood.
Feetish Spa Parlor
Owner: Andrea Lipomi
Your skin is parched, your lips are cracking, and fine lines are appearing that you’ve never seen before. Yup, you’re in Las Vegas. But whether you’re a newcomer or a longtime desert-dweller, Andrea Lipomi says she’s got the solution to keep you looking and feeling luscious in our harsh climate.
“Perhaps you need to up your exfoliation factor, or try a different moisturizer,” says Lipomi, who worked as a massage therapist and aesthetician for casino resorts before opening Feetish day spa in February. “I tend to avoid a one-size-fits-all treatment mentality because that’s not usually the most beneficial.”
Whatever the cure, you’ll enjoy receiving it in Lipomi’s tiny 140-square-foot space inside Emergency Arts, transformed in a style she describes as “Victorian parlor meets day spa meets curiosity shop”: coffered ceiling, antique-looking washbasin, even a doorstopper shaped like a lace-up, high-heeled bootie. The simple menu includes customized back, face and foot treatments, some using mud from Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.
“There are so many new retail spaces that have opened [inside Emergency Arts] even in just the last three months that are providing downtowners with more walkable options,” says Lipomi. “I see the future as being really bright down here.”
Pura Vida Bakery and Bystro
Owner: Mayra Trabulse
The menu at Pura Vida Bakery and Bystro describes the marble waffle ($15) as bearing a “light drizzle” of semisweet chocolate. Don’t be fooled; it’s more like a cocoa-flavored thunderstorm. Actually, it’s like swimming in the chocolate river at Willy Wonka’s factory—if Wonka was a vegan.
Maybe that’s the trick to serving animal-free food to Las Vegans: wow them with monstrous portions and crispy and creamy textures that defy stereotypes. It seems to be working so far for chef-owner Mayra Trabulse, whose lunch and breakfast joint on an out-of-the-way stretch of Western Ave. lures them in with its bright color scheme and a sign outside the door proclaiming, ‘Save the Planet, Save Ourselves.’
“I had to create dishes that were outrageous, so that people would talk about how crazy I am, how much food I serve,” says Trabulse, a former personal chef who opened the 12-table restaurant in 2011. “I decided, when you come here, it’s going to be huge, just like at any buffet in Vegas.”
Stop by and you’ll feel like you’ve walked into a family-style Central American lunch counter, with tile floors and walls, a lace tablecloth in the entry and salsa music playing in the background. Friendly servers will walk you through the voluminous menu, which features local and organic ingredients and burritos, empanadas and quesadillas ($16) made with Daiya vegan cheese. Be prepared to wait a bit for your meal: for Trabulse, it’s all part of the back-to-basics slow food movement.
“We cook per order and we cook fresh,” says Trabulse. “Pura Vida is about leisurely time, having good spirits, enjoying life slowly, celebrating good fortune. If you come in here and you need to be at the airport in 25 minutes, it’s not going to work.”
Corner Store Furniture
Owner: Cima Mizrachi
A $3,200 coffee table made by a local artisan from the insides of a piano is one of the more impressive treasures on display at Corner Store, but fear not—not everything at the Main Street furniture shop is priced in the four figures. The store bursts with velvet loveseats, artfully-arranged knickknacks and terrariums, and other eclectic finds both vintage and new at a range of price points.
“We get people looking for antiques from the older generation and young kids who go to Las Vegas Academy and pick up some fun accessories,” says owner Cima Mizrachi. “We do a lot of reproductions, so if you like the style and don’t want to pay as much as you would for an authentic vintage piece, you can get the look for less.”
Mizrachi grew up in the home furnishings industry—her family owns Big’s Furniture. “We were kind of raised to be entrepreneurs,” she says. “It’s not necessarily the safest thing, but it’s all I know.” When it came time to marry her college sweetheart, the couple eschewed a big wedding, got hitched at the Cosmopolitan, and poured their savings into launching the business, which opened in May and is in Mizrachi’s name.
“People don’t always realize I am the owner; it catches them off guard,” says the petite 28-year-old. “They’ll make a comment and they’ll automatically say ‘he.’ I say, ‘Actually, it’s me.’ “
InVision: Coaching for the Creative Professional
Owner: RaShelle Roberts
“As creative people, we have to get clear about who we are and what we offer the world,” says creative business coach RaShelle Roberts. “Then you can communicate that out to the world and the world can give it back to you. But until then, we wonder why we’re running around, overwhelmed and not getting the work we want.”
Helping artists, writers and other “creative entrepreneurs” find that focus—and make money at it—is the raison d’etre behind Roberts’ firm, InVision Coaching, which she runs out of an airy, art-filled 1940s bungalow on Seventh Street.
For $750 for a five-session package, clients learn to clear out mental and emotional clutter, discover their strengths and set goals. Budget-minded bohemians can take advantage of the free initial consultation, or Roberts’ monthly $25 Brew breakfasts, which include informal discussion around a set topic, like marketing strategies.
While Roberts’s business is international, she says 30 to 40 percent of her clients live in Vegas, including photographer Angelina Galindo and blogger (and now Downtown Project griot) Brian ‘Paco’ Alvarez.
“It was important to me coming back here to be part of the growth and development of our city,” says the Vegas native and former graphic designer, who built a client base in Southern California before returning home in 2006. “Not the Strip, the casinos, but Las Vegas the city.”
And as a single mom developing a business in a field that has only recently gained mainstream acceptance, Roberts says she can relate to her clients’ struggles.
“Everything I talk about, I work on it myself every single day.”
Sin City Gallery
Owner: Laura Henkel
Even in Las Vegas’s lust-soaked landscape, Sin City Gallery stands out as especially—well, sinful. A recent photo exhibit featuring landscapes made of glistening bodies studded with lighthouses and other phallic landmarks caused quite a (positive) reaction on the Vegas Seven Facebook page, and an arresting photo of a gagged woman catches a visitor’s eye upon entering the space.
Owner Laura Henkel says the works she shows are meant to inform as well as titillate.
“For me, this is sex education through art,” she says, pointing to a glass cast of a woman’s vagina and a photo showing thighs criss-crossed with rope marks as opportunities to spark discussion about anatomy and BDSM, respectively. “There’s a lot of erotic art shows out there, but they’re really shocking. I like stuff that’s more sophisticated.”
The gallery’s yearly “12 Inches of Sin” juried competition solicits submissions of sensual art, with a solo show serving as the grand prize. The first contest last year drew 70 entries; this year’s attracted 230, from as far afield as Mexico, Slovenia and Israel. Among the questions judges ask themselves, according to Henkel: “Would you hang it in your home? Would you feel comfortable with your mom or children seeing it?”
Henkel, who operated Las Vegas’s Erotic Heritage Museum before leaving under contentious circumstances in 2010, says she’s found her creative outlet with the gallery, located inside the Arts Factory. “I think women are being risk-takers [Downtown],” she says. “What I love about Vegas is you can create anything you want, and people can get behind it very easily.”
CHEF MAYRA PHOTO BY HARDY NANCE; ALL OTHER PHOTOS BY FELICIA MELLO