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Sunday, Jun 16, 2024

Firm’s Owner Not Crying Now Over Spilled Drinks

Small-business owner Michelle Zafiropoulos is living proof that inspiration in business can come from unexpected places, including an embarrassing backyard mishap usually reserved for sitcoms.

Zafiropoulos, who sells home entertainment products from a warehouse in Poway, unveiled her company’s latest product, the Teeter Tray, on Nov. 1 and it’s all thanks to an incident involving a tray of spilled iced teas. Zafiropoulos said that she was serving her husband’s boss and his wife when suddenly she lost her balance and glasses of iced tea fell directly onto the laps of her guests. Luckily, the victims had a sense of humor and no one was fired for it, but the experience led Zafiropoulos to think, “There’s got to be a better way.” Enter the Teeter Tray.

The Teeter Tray securely holds up to six 12-ounce shatterproof acrylic tumblers and is being sold on the Internet, the QVC Shopping Network, in gift stores nationwide and via a stand-alone TV infomercial. Upon the product’s launch on QVC earlier this month, nearly 2,400 units sold in seven minutes.

“We’re struggling, but hopefully this product is going to turn us around,” said Zafiropoulos, who has been in the business of designing, manufacturing and distributing home entertainment products for the past six years under the guise of the Montiel Group.

Other products brought onto the market by the Montiel Group’s five employees include coasters, wine charms and party invitations. Manufacturing is done overseas, while design and distribution efforts are based in Poway’s business park.

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Almost Famous:

Carlsbad-based Red Diamond Coatings, along with Southern California-based Bay Cal Commercial Painting, has been entrusted by the Hollywood Sign Trust to refurbish the landmark during the next several weeks.

It has been 10 years since the famed Hollywood sign, which was erected in 1923 and dubbed a historical monument in 1973, has been painted.

Red Diamond Coatings, which was founded last year with only four employees, is donating its time and materials to complete the job on the 45-foot-high, 36-foot-wide letters. While Bay Cal, a larger company that spreads its headquarter operations throughout Southern California, will provide the bulk of the manual labor on the job, Red Diamond is supplying coating material designed to prevent mold and mildew damage, as well as fire resistance protection.

“Our product is perfect for the Hollywood sign because it won’t crack, chip, peel or blister, and it virtually cleans itself after a rain,” said Red Diamond President Brad Kubela.

Bay Cal has about 50 employees throughout California, from San Francisco to the South Bay. About half of all Bay Cal employees work in the San Diego area.

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Grand Opening:

Knitting By The Beach, a yarn and knitting boutique, has opened in Solana Beach.

The new store is the brainchild of Ukrainian-born Tanya Alpert. The Kiev Institute of Art and Design graduate moved to the United States in 1988 and has since shown fiber art, jewelry designs and graphic art pieces in galleries throughout the country and sold her work via shops in La Jolla and parts of North County.

In addition to materials, Alpert will host classes and display completed works at her new shop, which is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays.

Send all small-business news to Jessica Long at jlong@sdbj.com. She can also be reached at (858) 277-6359.


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