How Artist Annabel Sclippa is turning Trauma into Beauty

 This is a Northern Arizona member spotlight for Annabel Sclippa Fine Art in Cottonwood

belle w borderAnnabel Sclippa reflects fondly on the days she would sit and watch her grandfather paint. “He captured the beaches, boats, houses and landscapes of New England in a way that was more beautiful to me than the world I observed immediately in front of me,” she writes. It was her grandfather’s passionate watercolor paintings that first inspired her to travel to China, France, Africa, New York, Colorado, and Arizona.

Growing up in different cultures and landscapes as an emancipated minor afforded Annabel with many opportunities and experiences, but along the way there have also been challenges, including a severe spinal cord injury sustained at the age of 17, which left her paralyzed. And later on, in her 30s – 40s, a series of life saving surgeries leading to a year and half of illness; finally arriving at a fulfilling journey of renewal, healing and transformation.

Wheel Head by Annabel Sclippa

“Wheel Head” by Annabel Sclippa, Watercolor

Prior to becoming a full-time flourishing artist, Annabel first became well known in the Verde Valley as the proprietor of the highly successful bed and breakfast, The Annabel Inn. Popular among visitors, The Annabel Inn received consecutive Readers’ Choice Awards for Best B&B in the Verde Valley until it’s closing in 2012 as Annabel underwent her life saving surgeries. After her recovery, she began painting and completed her first 20 pieces within three months. “Finally an epiphany struck me that to heal, I must paint and find that sense of freedom that I saw expressed through my grandfather.”

Mostly self-taught, Annabel has taken classes in oil painting from Robert Venosa and Martina Hoffman in Visionary Art as well as watercolor from Sandra Lothrop of Martha’s Vineyard. Artistic talent is engrained deeply Sclippa’s roots. Her mother is a color therapist since the 1980′s, her grandfather, Nembhard Nottinham Culin, was an architect and artist, whose paintings of “houseboats in the Orient, Cafes in Paris, Canals of Venice set in me a desire for travel.” Roots reaching even further back to her great uncle, Steward Culin working as curator for the Brooklyn Museum for 25 years.


“Pole Star” by Annabel Sclippa, Watercolor

Annabel expresses her tremendous journey of struggle, triumph, beauty and feminism into each work she creates. In April of 2013, Sclippa debuted her ‘The Lady as Landscape series’ at The Manheim Gallery, which she described as, “A personal reflection of life-saving surgeries, paralysis, and healing, as shown through a process of transformation of trauma into beauty.”

More recently, Sclippa has shown at Schoolhouse Restaurant in Cottonwood, RooPho Gallery in Roosevelt Row, and even internationally in Costa Rica’s Casa Redonda Bed & Breakfast.

View Annabel’s artwork on her website, Annabel Sclippa Fine Art. Sales of original pieces can be made directly from the artist. You can also follow her on Facebook page to find out about upcoming exhibitions and artwork series releases.


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Pinetop-Lakeside and Local First Arizona Present Series of Small Business Workshops

pinetop lakesideThe Pinetop-Lakeside Chamber of Commerce and the Ad and Promotions Committee for the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside will host Local First Arizona Director Kimber Lanning for a series of small business workshops. Kimber Lanning will present two workshops on September 4 and 5, 2014, titled “How to Leverage Your Localness” and “Social Media Strategies for Small Businesses.” In “How to Leverage Your Localness,” Lanning will discuss the tools that local businesses can use to best market and promote themselves to a local and regional audience. In “Social Media Strategies for Small Businesses,” Lanning will cover the basics and best strategies of using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter as a promotional tool.

pinetop_8“These seminars will help Pinetop-Lakeside’s local business owners gain valuable skills that will promote entrepreneurial success and help build a sustainable local economy,” said Lanning. “The social media and marketing skills that will be offered in these workshops will help local businesses attract customers from all over the state, which will ensure business growth and job creation for the Pinetop-Lakeside region.”

Kimber Lanning is the founder and Director of Local First Arizona, a statewide non-profit organization working to strengthen communities and local economies through growing, supporting, and celebrating locally owned businesses throughout the state of Arizona. She will be presenting these workshops based on her previous work in the Pinetop-Lakeside community, and on her background as an entrepreneur, economic development specialist and founder of Local First Arizona. Each workshop is open to the public, and the Pinetop-Lakeside business community is invited to attend.

More information on attending these seminars:

  • When: On September 4th at 6:00pm, Kimber Lanning will present “How to Leverage your Localness.” On Sept 5th at 8:30am she will present “Social Media Strategies for Small Businesses.” Each seminar will be approximately 1.5-2 hours in length.
  • Where: Both workshops will be held at The Gathering Place at 4756 Buck Springs Rd, Pinetop-Lakeside, Arizona 85935.
  • Additional Information: Seminar registration is $10 per person per workshop (cash or check only). Call the Chamber of Commerce office to reserve a space at 928-367-4290. Refreshments will be served. More information about these workshops can be found at
Posted in In The Community, Northern Arizona, Rural Arizona | Leave a comment

Caduceus Cellars: Locals Going Local

caduceus logo(2)We received this letter from Brian Sullivan, Tasting Room Manager of Caduceus Cellars, about his local food journey:

It was such a great snapshot of the kind of local partnerships we aim to build, that I had to share it for the rest of the state to see.

The event Brian mentions, the Arizona Farmer+Chef Connection is currently accepting registrations for its fifth iteration on October 6th, at the Desert Botanical Garden. For tickets and more information, please visit

I moved to AZ in 1993, and founded a cafe in Jerome. During the café’s 16-year run, I found it to be very difficult to find some ingredients here that I was used finding quite easily in other, more food-aware cities that I had been used to. Thankfully, as time has gone by, things have progressed in Arizona. Interesting, cutting edge restaurants have proliferated.  In addition, a wine industry arose to compliment the food.

caduceus_tastingroom2After I sold the café, I became involved in the growing Arizona wine industry, when I took on the management of my friend Maynard Keenan’s Caduceus Cellars tasting room in Jerome.  For the tasting room, I was not interested in the wine related merchandise that could be had out of any number of national catalogs.  I wanted products that were more meaningful.

photo 4 copyMy first sight of what turned out to be the tip of an iceberg of local food products was Hayden Flour Mills.  Maynard had sent me there to pick up the flour with which he wanted to make dried pasta for sale at the tasting room. There I learned about the resurrection of White Sonoran Wheat. From there I found myself re-investigating the books and articles of local author Gary Nabhan, like Coming Home to Eat.

photo 5By this point I knew that I wanted to fill my tasting room with local products, which, of course, would be the perfect complement to our own local wines.

Finding them was a time-consuming project.  I searched, and after many dead ends, found a wonderful home baker to supply our biscotti, a bakery for breadsticks, croissants, and chocolates, Native Seeds/Searchfor seeds and various other producers.  But finding local product was slow going – especially since here in Jerome we are a hundred and more miles away from the major metropolitan areas.

photo 1I don’t remember exactly how, but I came across a notice of the 2013 Arizona Farmer+Chef ConnectionImmediately, I knew I had to go.  It was there that I found the submerged portion of the aforementioned iceberg; a mother load of producers, whom I’m not sure I would have found on my own.

But there at the event, under one roof, were a plethora of products whose existence I had only suspected until then.  What a fun ride it was that day, discovering that behind each of these local products, were local people transforming their dreams into reality – and realizing that I could help their dream along while bringing to fruition my own vision for the tasting room in Jerome.  A win/win situation!

photo 3 copySome of the suppliers I found at the 2013 farmer chef connection are Mano y Metate Moles, Black Mesa Ranch, Rising Hy Specialty Sauces, Ramona Farms, Flor de Mayo, Grassfed Beef Crisps and Wei of ChocolateI hope local producers are teaming up with Local First Arizona and Edible Phoenix for this year’s event. Because I will be there, and I’m hoping to discover and meet many more of you!

Posted in Agriculture, Beer Wine and Spirits, Excellence in Localism, Local First Movement, Local Food | Leave a comment

LFA Business Members, Board Member, Finalists in ATHENA Awards

LFA Director Kimber Lanning was the 2013 ATHENA Award winner for the public sector.

LFA Director Kimber Lanning (left) was the 2013 ATHENA Award winner for the public sector.

Every year, the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce hosts the ATHENA Awards, a ceremony to “honor Valley Businesswomen for their excellence in business and leadership, exemplary community service and their support and mentorship of other women. The women honored are very deserving finalists who not only excel in their careers, but make an incredible mark on the community where they live.

We were proud to see many Local First Arizona business members (and a board member!) were honored as finalists for this prestigious award. Congratulations to these amazing women, and thanks for what you do for our community:

In 2013, Local First Arizona Director Kimber Lanning was the ATHENA Award winner for the Public Sector Award! You can watch her moving acceptance speech by clicking below:

Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 12.01.22 PM

You can learn more about the ATHENA Awards and register for the awards event by visiting the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce’s website.

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The Student Book Center Offers Local Alternative for ASU Students

This Local First Arizona member spotlight is on the Student Book Center:

Student Book CenterFor those of us who are ASU alumni, you may recall your first experience at the Student Book Center. Freshman year: trolling the rows of books, searching for those required reads for your first set of classes and then the weight of having to haul them back to Manzanita or one of the Palo Verde dorms. Since 1967, this little gem has been the local, independent, family-owned bookstore serving Arizona State University. Their staff continues to provide a personal touch in conducting business and strives to keep their customers satisfied. It’s one of few the local bookstores that is heavily invested and goes to great lengths to ensure students are getting the lowest prices with a wide selection of used textbooks.

The Student Book Center also offers ASU merchandise, from apparel to spirit items, which are on trend and unique to their store. Additionally, their Greek life items are hand chosen based on what members want. If you’re heading back to school or sending your kids off to college for the first time, remember you have a choice when purchasing your text books and collegiate items – keep your dollars in Arizona by supporting family businesses such as the Student Book Center that have played a crucial role in building our community and providing a unique college experience for 47 years.

Click here to find out more about the Student Book Center. You can click here to read past member spotlights. You can also search our local business directory to find 2,500 local businesses across Arizona. 

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Southern AZ August Mixer Recap: Connecting Tucson, One Local Business At A Time

This LFA Event Recap was guest written by LFA Intern, Matt Poulton.

14768126337_e94b171b40_zThis month’s Local First Arizona (LFA) member mixer was held at Connect Coworking. Connect is located in the heart of historic downtown Tucson, on the southeast corner of Fifth Ave. and Congress. This new business is helping to usher in a new era of innovation for Tucson, providing next-generation, modernized collaborative workspaces for entrepreneurs, small businesses and freelance writers. Their amazing spaces promote open communication between users and help cultivate the creative process. The workspaces come with a variety of extra shared amenities such as kitchen with a bar, multiple sound-proof meeting spaces of various sizes and an outdoor patio with a ping pong table when you need to take a break. Workspaces can be rented by the hour, day or month, making it easy for business owners to be flexible with their budgets by not getting roped into any long-term leasing contract. Connect truly does “connect” people and businesses, in order to create a better, smarter community.

Over sixty local businesses showed up to network and support each other and the LFA mission. Yet again, we’re so thankful for the numerous gift donations from many attending businesses for the monthly mixer raffle. Last month’s mixer raffle was the biggest there had ever been, only to be trumped by this mixer! These kind gestures only help to build our momentum and increase the quality of the experience at our mixers. In addition to the successful raffle, The Chef Police catered the event, providing exceptional customer service and flavor. The food was something many “connected” with (multiple times)!

14768013839_d0e56c616b_zErika Mitnik-White, the Southern Arizona Membership Coordinator, and Margaree Bigler, Localist Program Director, delivered excellent speeches addressing LFA’s mission and why it’s so important. They also promoted the Localist Program which provides individuals an opportunity to participate with LFA by supporting local businesses through many different exclusive and exciting experiences! Interested in hosting a Localist event at your business?  Sign up here.

Erika and Margaree also mentioned upcoming events such as:

  • Certified Local Fall Fest November 8th in Downtown Phoenix. This is a great venue to showcase your amazing local business. Only a few spots are left, you can sign up here.
  • Member Webinar on Practical Procurement: Doing Business with the Public Sector, Wednesday, August 20th, 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Find more details and register here. 
  • Tucson Lunch and Learn Seminar – September 17th, 12:00 P.M. to 1:00 P.M.: How to Build a Bike-Friendly Business with Kylie Walzak, the Program Manger for Living Streets Alliance (LSA) It will be hosted at Bookmans Entertainment Exchange.  Register here.

Please join us at our next LFA member mixer, which will be held at on September 3rd at HomeStyle Galleries east location, which is the largest premier consignment shop in Southern Arizona. Their vast collection of art and other home accessories and additions has really separated them from the rest of the competition. HomeStyle Galleries is located at side 1010 S. Wilmot Rd., Tucson, AZ 85711. RSVP here.

Again, thank you to everyone who was in attendance and for continuing to make these mixers an amazing experience!

Posted in LFA Event Recap, Tucson & Southern Arizona | Leave a comment

Merit Foods – three generations of local food distribution in Southern Arizona

meritlogoAt Local First AZ we do a lot to highlight local restaurants and local food. A big piece of the local food puzzle is connecting our local restaurants to local food distributors. As the bigger nationwide foodservice distributors continue to merge and occupy a larger share of the market, the availability of independent choices for local restaurants continues to shrink. Additionally, large global food distributors have very little interest in working with local food producers. Luckily there are still a few local options. This month’s member spotlight highlights Merit Foods, a third generation local food distributor run by the Sadowsky family.

The Sadowsky family has over fifty years of experience in the food service industry. Irving Sadowsky, alongside his son Mort, started Ace Poultry in 1960 in Tucson, Arizona. They raised, processed, and delivered fresh poultry to restaurants throughout Tucson. Mort applied his expertise and established Merit Foods. Years later, the company was passed down to his son Matt Sadowsky, when he purchased it in 1998. The family tradition of outstanding service and creating personal relationships with customers, is something Matt has carried on. The team at Merit Foods is comprised of some of the most experienced food service professionals in the market. In fact, many have worked for Matt’s father and grandfather.

Merit Foods2Matt’s brother, Mike Sadowsky, also works in the business and says that they love being part of the Tucson business community. “Tucson has been our family’s home since 1941. Along with being a beautiful community with wonderful diversity, it has a vibrant host of restaurants for every taste. It truly is a national food destination,” says Mike. “The new trends are exciting and always keep us learning about our customers’ needs for new and different products. We are excited and proud to contribute to such a unique atmosphere that is Tucson.”  Local restaurants appreciate the attention to service that Merit provides.  “Everyone at Merit has really supported Baja Cafe and have tried to help us succeed in every way,” comments Gerard Meurer, co-owner of Baja Cafe.  “It means a lot to us.”
When Mike heard about Local First Arizona, Merit Foods1he felt it was a natural fit for Merit to be a member. “We always try to use local businesses, because not only are they our friends, family and neighbors but more of the money stays in our community. This in turn helps the community and all industries grow. When people purchase from non-local businesses all the profits go out of the state and in some cases out of the country. Many of the establishments we service are local and it is incredibly rewarding to create a close partnership that contributes to their success.”

Merit Foods will be hosting their 1st Annual Customer Appreciation Show on August 27th at The Desert Diamond Casino & Hotel. All restaurants are welcome to attend.  For more information about the event please contact

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Spotlight on Community: The Arizona Fallen Firefighter Memorial

Plans for the Arizona Fallen Firefighters Memorial

With each loss of a fire fighter, our lives have been lessened, but with each sacrifice, our lives have been enriched.

The Arizona Fallen Fire Fighters and Emergency Paramedics Memorial honors the fire fighters, paramedics and wildland fire fighters who left behind families and loved ones. These men and women died in our cities, towns, forests and on our highways – we promise to never forget. We must remember to protect the future and to honor the spouses and children of these men and women. These are the people – the ones left behind – for whom we must keep the memory of their loved ones alive.

The Arizona Fire Fighters & Emergency Paramedics Memorial will provide a place to remember their sacrifices, reflect on the loss of each of these more than 90 Fallen and provide space to remember those whose lives will be sacrificed in the future protecting our lives, our homes, businesses and families.

How you can help bring this memorial to life:

Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 10.23.55 AMFor Individuals

1. Make a tax-deductible donation to the project! Here’s how you can donate:

2. Spread the word and encourage others to donate to this important project!

FirefightersFor Businesses

1. Collect donations at your business location!

We’ve made it easy for you to collect donations. Simply click here and we will send you more information and promotional materials! 

2. Be a corporate sponsor

Your business can make a lasting impact for the memories of Arizona’s fallen firefighters. There are many levels for which your business can contribute, click here to view your options.

Posted in Greater Phoenix, In The Community | Leave a comment

August Lunch Mixer Recap: Picazzo’s Organic Italian Kitchen

Picazzo's LogoThe next time hunger strikes, we suggest you quench your cravings at Picazzo’s Organic Italian Kitchen. Picazzo’s is committed to supporting Arizona by incorporating fresh, local ingredients into the healthy dishes they create. Queen Creek Olive Mill and Duncan Family Farms are among those they support, as well as utilizing local services, like Diane Serpa of GreyCatDot Digital Design, to develop their menus and marketing tools.

20140806_123717Picazzo’s owner, Rick Freedman, opened his first location in Sedona back in 2002. When the recession hit, Freedman saw this as an opportunity to create healthier dishes for his patrons. “It was time to stand up for greater change and provide healthier dining choices for our guests. Going organic, natural and gluten-free is the result, “ Freedman said. Their dedication to providing delicious, healthy choices has been so well-received that Picazzo’s has now grown into four more locations around the state.

20140806_120803Recently, we had the pleasure of dining at Picazzo’s when they hosted our monthly lunch mixer at their Frank Lloyd Wright location in Scottsdale. Members joined us from far and wide to mix, mingle and munch. It’s never an easy task taking on a group our size, but Picazzo’s was amazing, professional and efficient! We want to thank them for their delightful service and delicious lunch. They continue to be great collaborators and supporters of our organization and the community.

Join us next month’s lunch mixer at Flanny’s in Tempe! Click here for more information and to reserve your seat.

Thank you to all those in attendance:

Another Hand Advantage
AZ Interactive Media Group
AZ Social Media Wiz
BizSimplicity, Inc
Blue Sky Airport Parking
Carter Law Firm, PLLC
Community Tire Pros & Auto Repair – Sustaining Members
Consolidated Personnel Services
CopperPoint Mutual Insurance – Sustaining Member
Edible Phoenix
Element Plumbing Services
GreyCatDot Digital Design
INBusiness – Tax & Accounting Service
Jim McCroy Realtor & Business Consultant
Kalil Bottling CompanySustaining Member
Let it Roll Bowl & Entertainment
Living Raw by Grace
mARC Architecture
R & S Insurance, LLC
Sage Payment Solutions
Statewide Lighting
Toys & Playtime Oasis

Posted in Greater Phoenix, LFA Event Recap | Leave a comment

Go local for harmonious styling for your home + office

This Local First Arizona member spotlight is on breathe.organize.repeat.:

bor_service_organizing3-325x400You spend the better part of each day either in your home or at the office, and if you’re anything like us – your drawers, pantry and closets space can quickly get out of control. The goal of breathe.organize.repeat. (b.o.r.) is to bring simplicity, harmony and order into your life by way of your most important spaces. breathe.organize.repeat. accomplishes this by combining organization, styling and Feng Shui techniques to create a flow of energy that will inspire all who live and work in your space. As an insured professional organizing and home styling company, an affiliate of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) and a Professional Member of ACCFS (The American College of Classical Feng Shui), b.o.r. specializes in a wide range of services catered to meet your specific needs.

Owner Kelsey Groetken’s three-step process for transforming your home or office space into an organized, harmonious environment begins with taking the stress out of the organization process. Through a mix of techniques, she will help you free you of the things you don’t need, better utilize the things you do, and make sure the energy in your home is promoting your optimum potential. And, finally Kelsey will teach you techniques which you can maintain and repeat throughout your home or office after she’s gone. She ensures the changes that are being made are a reflection of your true self and will fit into your lifestyle. To schedule a consultation or to learn more on how to make your space more harmonious, visit b.o.r.’s website at

Click here to find out more about b.o.r. You can click here to read past member spotlights. You can also search our local business directory to find 2,500 local businesses across Arizona. 

Posted in Greater Phoenix, LFA Member Spotlight | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment