Esther Kang

Manhattan Beach-based expo highlighting local green businesses goes digital

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Tammy Lipps, owner of catering company The Ripe Choice in Manhattan Beach, is featured in a YouTube video as a s.a.g.e business. Screenshot from YouTube

Tammy Lipps, owner of catering company The Ripe Choice in Manhattan Beach, is featured in a YouTube video as a s.a.g.e business. Screenshot from YouTube

Thirteen years ago, Manhattan Beach resident Tammy Lipps started a custom catering company called The Ripe Choice in her home.

Cooking, creating menus and working with food had always been a deep-rooted passion for the mother of three. It’s been about a year and a half since she opened her storefront kitchen on the north end, just steps from Highland Avenue.

Dressed in a white chef coat and her blond hair tied back in a ponytail, Lipps is the star of this nearly three-minute YouTube video. In it, she talks about her business — how she uses the freshest ingredients, picked personally from local sources, and caters for private parties and cooks and delivers meals for homes.

“I really enjoy helping people with their vision for their event,” she says, “being able to help them bring that whole package together.”

At the video’s conclusion, you can’t help but feel like you just met her in person.

That’s precisely the impetus behind the s.a.g.e (Sustainable and Green Environment) expo going digital this year, explained Mark Lipps, s.a.g.e cofounder and co-owner of The Ripe Choice. Last April, the inaugural s.a.g.e expo kicked off at the National Guard Armory in Manhattan Beach, spotlighting some 80 green-inspired local businesses. While the event enjoyed a “decent turnout,” the brick and mortar setup had limitations.

“This year we said ‘Let’s try to engage people where we could make it easy access,’” Lipps said. “We want to reach as many people as possible and engage you in an expo that’s at your leisure.”

Officially launched earlier this month, s.a.g.e expo 2014 has so far debuted 15 videos of small businesses like The Ripe Choice. With local photographer/videographer Brad Jacobson behind the camera, more videos are in the works. They will be debuted at a breakfast networking event at Manhattan Beach Toyota on March 11.

Pictured here, s.a.g.e. expo organizers, local business owners and a number of Manhattan Beach council members gathered for a photo at s.a.g.e. expo's recent breakfast networking event at Tin Roof Bistro. Photo courtesy of Mark Lipps

Pictured here, s.a.g.e. expo organizers, local business owners and several Manhattan Beach council members gathered for a photo at s.a.g.e. expo’s recent breakfast networking event at Tin Roof Bistro. Photo courtesy of Mark Lipps

As small business owners deeply rooted in the community, both Lipps and co-founder Angela Silverman understand the challenges of promoting their businesses and expanding their clientele beyond their long-established circles. It’s difficult to convey character through a newspaper ad, for instance.

“Many times like Tammy, you’re chief cook and bottle washer,” Lipps said, referring to his wife. “You’re spread thin. How can you possibly get out and meet as many people as possible to let them know who you are, what you’re about and what your company represents?”

The vision, Silverman explained, is for s.a.g.e to become “a virtual directory and top-level networking resource” for environmental, health-conscious businesses in the South Bay.

“The idea is to be able to meet all these businesses virtually on our YouTube channel,” Lipps said. “Businesses that would show you how to improve your lifestyle, whether it be mental or physical health, financially, nutritionally…”

The list of s.a.g.e businesses so far includes Body Glove, Enviroscape, Manhattan Beach Toyota as well as realtors, banks and psychiatrists.

“We have found that it is not easy to find all the shops and services here in the South Bay, close to home, that provide ideas or products to improve your lifestyle,” said Silverman, who with her husband Lester owns Look! Optometry Center in Manhattan Beach. “s.a.g.e expo brings together a niche market of local businesses who provide green services and products.”

With regular networking sessions paired with the videos, Lipps and Silverman hope these local businesses will work together to keep the buying power in the South Bay. Lipps noted that businesses within reasonable commuting distance, from Redondo Beach to Hawthorne, should not hesitate to get involved.

Next year, s.a.g.e expo will likely return in brick and mortar in Manhattan Beach. Meanwhile, it will continue to cultivate a community of local businesses who pride themselves in improving lifestyle and health.

“Let’s lock arms as a group of local business owners,” Lipps said. “It’s as simple as, ‘I’ll share your video, you share my video.’ Let’s start helping each other. It’s almost a green grass-roots campaign.”

Visit sageexpo.net for more information. To watch videos of s.a.g.e businesses, visit YouTube Channel “Sage Expo Green Scene.”

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