Business Notepad

Climb every mountain

Businesses often celebrate their grand opening by cutting a symbolic ribbon in front of their store. But Sharon Frazier decided to take the tradition to new heights, marking the launch of her business, Mountains To Climb, with a July 13 ribbon cutting atop Mount Pisgah.

Mountains to Climb, explains Frazier, is a personal guide service that steers clients to enjoyable day hikes. “So many people visit Asheville to experience our natural beauty, but when it comes to getting out into the mountains, it can be difficult to know where to begin,” she says. “Along with the views, a professional guide can offer hikers information about the flora, fauna and history of the area, while ensuring their comfort and safety.”

Although her business is targeted mainly toward tourists and conventiongoers, Frazier believes it might also appeal to locals “who just don’t want to hike on their own. I wouldn’t mind getting some women group hikes out or starting a singles hike — just to get people out there and having fun.”

Frazier is also working with Asheville Outdoors to create employee-appreciation or team-building weekends for corporate clients, combining hiking, whitewater rafting and other outdoor activities.

Based on group size and the length of the hike, Frazier charges anywhere from $35 to $125 (water and snacks included). Most trailheads are within an hour of Asheville; they include such favorite routes as the Rattlesnake Lodge Trail (“a nice, easy hike that has a lot of history”); the Black Balsam Trail (“It has outstanding views — you can go as long as you want and make it a full-day or half-day hike”); and the Hickory Nut Trail (“not too hard, but a real pretty trail with waterfalls”).

For more information, call Frazier at 628-0557.

Local stylist garners national recognition

How far would you be willing to go to have your hair cropped, colored and coifed by one of the nation’s top stylists? Atlanta? Houston? New York? How about Wall Street? (Downtown Asheville’s Wall Street, that is.)

Up a hidden flight of steps and tucked in the corner suite of an unassuming office building, you’ll find Studio Chavarria — one of the region’s hottest salons, according to a recent poll by Salon News, a leading industry magazine. Owner Guadalupe Chavarria was named as one of the top 30 stylists in the U.S. who’s under 30 years of age.

Though you may read about Chavarria in a national magazine, you won’t find him listed in the Asheville phone book, on the Internet, or in any advertisements. His business comes totally by word of mouth.

“I feel the client serious about his or her hair will seek me out,”says Chavarria. And that’s what hundreds of people have done in the three years since he opened his salon, some coming from as far as Atlanta and Knoxville. For those who track Chavarria down, their efforts are rewarded.

Latin ballads and other ethnic tunes fill the salon and pour over the Mediterranean, neoclassical setting. Clients are offered European coffee in the morning and wine in the afternoon. And though they rarely have to wait, the coffee table holds the latest fashion magazines alongside the writings of Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda. European hair-care products exclusive to our region line an antique display case.

Once settled in Chavarria’s chair in front of the framed Italian, 7-foot mirror, clients receive his undivided attention. He doesn’t take phone calls, and there are no other clients waiting in line. Chavarria is determined to build a salon where clients receive individualized care in an upscale, confidential setting. “People feel vulnerable and exposed when having their hair done,” he explains. And for him, this quiet, solitary style works. “Distractions and interruptions strip your artistic ability.”

When he’s styling, Chavarria factors in a client’s personality, lifestyle and how much maintenance a given style requires. “The individual time helps me learn more about my client — people tell me more one-on-one. I want to help them express themselves. And if they can’t do it, I’ll help them find it in themselves and express it.”

Chavarria, whose parents are both hairstylists, knew early on that he had a way with hair. “I just understood hair,” he says simply. “Whether it was fine or kinky, curly or straight, I knew how to make it work. I’ve always felt it was like when a child prodigy walks up to the piano and knows how to play it.” Chavarria trained under international stylists and continues to educate himself about coloring and cutting techniques.

“My job is to make you feel better about yourself,” he says. “I can find something beautiful about everyone who sits in my chair.”

If you’d like to try the Chavarria experience, make an offering to the hairstyling deities, put on your detective’s cap, and start looking.

Vendors needed for Lexington street fest

With its eclectic mix of hip, funky shops, cutting-edge art galleries and antique stores, what better spot for a street fair than Asheville’s Lexington Avenue? The Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival will take over this downtown thoroughfare (between Interstate 240 and Walnut Street) from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 1.

The festival will offer a slew of activities and events, arts-and-crafts booths, food and drink. One stage will feature live music (including such acts as Strut, Blues By Design, The Hula Cats and Tranceform Venus); a second stage will showcase dance and other performing arts (provided by African-dance group Ballet Warraba, tribal belly-dance troupe Baraka Mundi, Surreal Circus, Mosaic Vortex and Orange Brain Unlimited).

Other festival offerings, says organizer Kitty Brown, will include “an outdoor art-car gallery on the street [where] people who have crazy, painted-up cars are going to enter their cars for cash prizes”; a community-painted car that will be raffled off at the end of the day; a free-standing mural to be painted by festivalgoers; an underground-art show sponsored by Our Next Generation (a nonprofit group that works with disadvantaged youth); and “big-people games [including] something called Viking Croquet.”

There’s room for up to 90 arts-and-crafts vendors; a 10-foot-by-10-foot space costs $100 for the day, and at press time, there were still spaces available.

The festival’s organizers, explains Brown, “are basically merchants, artists, performers — everybody who’s interested in the health of the arts community and also the health of business and Lexington Avenue and its connection to arts at a grassroots level.”

In fact, she notes, the festival is also a fund-raising event for a newly formed, citywide mural project. Though it’s still in the early planning stages, says Brown, organizers are envisioning “creating one large mural every year … that would beautify the city. We could have them be community murals where the elderly, the young, the disadvantaged, special-needs people, everybody, can work on them together. Some of them will be done that way; others will be done where one artist is paid to do the whole thing.”

“The idea is that we want to create something that people can come together on, people who are in the established arts community as well as people who are somewhat disenfranchised … everybody from [members of] the Arts Council to whoever’s painting bricks on Lexington.”

For more information or to reserve a booth space, call Brown at 232-0076.

NC WasteTrader helps businesses cut costs

North Carolina businesses and industries with waste and byproducts that they need to get rid off now have an alternative to the landfill: NC WasteTrader (www.ncwastetrader.org.) Developed by the N.C. Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance, this new on-line marketplace could enable companies to divert much of their waste stream — even hazardous wastes — from the dump and into the hands of those who can reuse it.

Participants list not only the waste materials and byproducts they have available, but also the materials they’re looking for — which may be available at substantial savings. As the new Web site really gets rolling, visitors can expect to find such commodities as post-industrial plastic, wood, metal, chemicals, rubber, electronics scrap and more.

On the day I visited the site, 10,000 pounds of paperback books, 4 tons of lumber, wood and pallet parts, 12-14 tons of concrete test cylinders, and 140 tons of something called kyanite were among the items listed under “materials available.” Under “materials wanted,” an industrial and agricultural chemical supplier was looking for 100 gallons of hydrochloric acid.

NC WasteTrader also offers handy links to other key marketing information sources, including the Recycling Markets Directory (a statewide data base listing more than 500 companies that collect, process, broker, transport or remanufacture covered materials), other waste exchanges in the Southeast, and national exchanges such as Recycler’s World and Global Recycling Network.

To learn more about this service, contact Scott Mouw or Tom Rhodes at the DPPEA, (919) 715-6500.

Professional group awards first scholarship

The Land of the Sky Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals has awarded a $500 scholarship — the group’s first — to Jennifer D. Chandler. An employee of Haywood Community College (from where she graduated with honors), Chandler is now working on a bachelor’s degree at Mars Hill College.

After soliciting applicants from local high schools, technical schools and colleges, the chapter’s Scholarship Committee chose Chandler based on her GPA and other criteria. The group plans to award more such scholarships in the future.

The Land of the Sky Chapter was chartered in 1946. The IAAP works to enhance the skills and knowledge of administrative professionals through continuing education, facilitate networking with colleagues, and establish high professional standards through certification. The local chapter meets the fourth Thursday of every month; all administrative professionals are welcome to attend.

For more information, contact Marsha Miller at 213-0144 or marsha.miller@msj.org.

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