Town Center News

There’s an undeniable twinkle in Chris Wooten’s eye when he reminisces on a lifetime spent in Neptune Beach. “This 200 First Street block was my life,” he says, referring to the area where Sliders Oyster Bar currently sits. “I just love my neighborhood.”

From days spent as a boy with his father at Willoughby’s Auto Center (the business that originally sat where the restaurant does today) to afternoon meetings with the local surf team down the street, you can’t talk about any landmark in the neighborhood without hitting on a fond memory. Wooten scrubbed dishes at the oyster bar as a teen, then eventually went on to deliver their seafood after scoring a job at his father-in-law’s warehouse. Even his first date with his wife happened at, you guessed it-- Sliders.

When it comes to running a business and a family simultaneously, there’s no shortage of challenges. From balancing school schedules and business hours to changing diapers and menus, being a mom at home and a boss at work takes a special level of finesse.

To gain a little insight on what it takes to master both sides, we chatted with some seriously boss babes who run businesses around Beaches Town Center. From restaurants to retail, here’s what they had to say:

EMILIE
Emilie Christenson
Mom to Carlie, 21 and Devon, 19 and Owner of Jaffi’s Boutique

Q: How has being a mother changed your outlook on work and business?
A: Being a mom has changed my outlook on EVERYTHING! I quickly realized how precious life is and how much influence I have as an individual to hurt or help others - helping people became a passion for me both personally and professionally and motherhood made me see myself differently. At first my focus was on being a positive role model and setting the best possible example for my children no matter what. But eventually, I realized we are all "mothers" to someone, and I try to touch as many lives as I can in a positive and productive way.

Q: What challenges does motherhood bring to owning and operating a business?
A: Balancing work and family is a challenge for sure - but when I went back to work after having our first child my Dad said, "don't worry honey, it's quality not quantity that matters - make the time you have count". I've found that to be incredible insight and amazing advice.  What rewards? The reward of being able to share my personal and professional life with my kids has been invaluable. Being self employed I get to manage my time, effort and energy to focus on what's most important to me and my family. My husband and I have also been able to show our girls that hard work can be lucrative, fun, and rewarding at the same time.

When you think of an intense workout, the last thing you might imagine is fun. But that’s what Kiki Cunningham, the bubbly blonde trainer at Intensity Personal Training, wants to change. With a huge smile and infectious laugh, her passion for everything athletic radiates through the intimate space with beach-front views.

We chatted with her to get to know a little bit more about her training style and how she got started.

Q: What initially sparked your interest in fitness and personal health?
A:
I was always active growing up between dancing for 17 years and being a cheerleader from the 2nd grade up until I graduated college where I cheered for Marietta College. I was raised an athlete with an athlete mindset because my dad played college basketball and was our High Schools basketball and golf coach and my mom coached cheerleading. So I have always been involved in some sort of fitness.  After graduating college I noticed without cheerleading that I had no physical activity so I started strength training and worked at a gym in Chicago and absolutely fell in love with pushing myself harder everyday and seeing how I could manipulate certain aspects of my training and diet to essentially build my dream body.  Looking back now, I grew up on a farm in the middle of nowhere Ohio where the knowledge and resources available for health and fitness are basically non-existent so I am empowered to share my knowledge, advice and experience with my hometown and my new home in Atlantic Beach.


Q: What's the most rewarding part of your job as a trainer?
A:
Seeing the excitement that my clients get when they reach the small victories.  Accomplishing big goals are huge but I like celebrating the small wins that my clients achieve each session whether that's them lifting heavier, executing an exercise they didn't think they could, keeping on point with their diet, or even the whole mindset and self-love that comes with people's fitness journeys.

Q: What sets your business apart from others like it in the area?

A: My approach to training is very individualized and functional, focusing on each client's goals and things I believe I want them to improve upon.  Before moving to Atlantic Beach I completed my graduate work at Ohio University and received my Masters in Business Administration and Masters in Sports Administration.  I try to base my training from a business mindset (knowing that people want efficient workouts that get results) in which I use critical thinking and analytical skills to provide my clients with exactly what they are looking for.  Goal planning, charts, tracking, etc I'm all about being able to show the improvement that people have made over time.  And as my instagram handle implies "kikerslaughfit" we will never go through a session that doesn't involve a bunch of laughter and fun! 

Q: What advice would you give to someone starting out on his or her fitness journey?
A: Start off slow and ease into it.  There are so many factors that go into "health & fitness" that it can become so overwhelming if you are just starting out.  I suggest picking two or three things you would like to improve on in your daily life and go from there.  This is about living a healthy AND balanced lifestyle so if you cut out everything cold turkey and dive headfirst in you could find yourself getting burnt out and frustrated rather quickly.  Also seek help from a professional that you trust.  There are a lot of different wild training and diet plans out there for people to follow that are not individualized to your body and goals so it's best to get a jump start from a personal trainer to lead you down the right path for you! 

Q: What's your favorite cheat meal?
A:
 Cinotti's Donuts OR Ellen's Kitchen Chocolate Chip Pancakes! 

Q: Best music to work out to?
A: 
A mixture between 90's pop, EDM and Cardi B.

Q: What's the most challenging part of your job?
A:
Finding clients!

Started by husband and wife duo, Hugo and Debra Saavedra, Saavy Naturals has been the Beaches Town Center community’s go-to for everything that smells good and is good for you. From all-natural body scrubs to luxurious soaps, their products are known as “a feast for your senses and food for your skin” and they’re careful to refer to themselves as “chefs, not chemists.” And it’s easy to see why-- with a background in culinary ventures, they’re experts on creating products so pure, they’re good enough to eat.

With their names on the menus of Spago, Patina and The Water Grill, the two have been mainstays at many 5-star restaurants in Southern California. After years of cooking and growing herbs and edible flowers, they started experimenting with them in new ways, creating the line of amazing products you know today.

After taking over KYDS Children’s Boutique in 2017, owners and twin sisters Rachel and Melody were on a mission to make the space as fun and magical as can be. Before they knew it, their boutique was bursting at the seams with adorable merchandise—which is exactly why, when given the chance, they jumped on packing up and moving business across the Courtyard.

With the old First Street Gallery space available, they gave the store a speedy overhaul—and thus, the new KYDS was born!

To get a peek into their process, we chatted with them about the vision, doing boutique DIY and more below:

Thanks to you, your Beaches Town Center Agency is pleased to say that Coastal Carnival 2018 was a HUGE success! Take a few minutes to watch the Coastal Carnivale Video.

After nearly 100% merchant participation, it was a well-received party and successful fundraiser with amazing auction items, the super-popular Cash Blaster—a complete sell out with over 350 tickets sold!

Funds raised from the event will be going directly to landscape improvement plan

Many thanks to our sponsors as well. They are:
Neptune Beach Plaza
Tribridge Residential
Edward Skinner Jones
St. Augustine Distillery
One Ocean Resort & Spa

It’s no secret that Beaches folks are the smartest around—so it isn’t surprising that Beaches Town Center merchants swept the board this year in the annual Best in Jax polls!

From Best Burger to Best Boutique, the city spoke and let everyone else know just how award-worthy BTC is. And while all of our businesses are winners in our book, these are the ones that snagged the bragging rights:


Dance Trance Fitness
• Best Dance Studio – Folio Weekly
• Best Group Fitness Class – Jacksonville Magazine FabuList

Guaranteed to get your blood pumping, Dance Trance is a welcoming environment for people of all dance skills. Whether you’re a regular like J. Lo or more of an Elaine Benes, their skilled instructors will guide you through upbeat sets designed to encourage fun and shed pounds.

Visit Them When: you’re sick of the same old workout routine, or your palates instructor made you cry during your last session and you’re too embarrassed to go back.

The art of combining old and new is no easy task, though you’d never know it walking around Red Daisy.

On every shelf and surface, elements of years gone by coexist peacefully with their shinier, newer counterparts. Rusted cheese graters long out of commission find new purpose as a display for colorful rows of earrings; grandma’s china lives on, reimagined as a necklace. Around here, owner Tracy Raymond makes sure everything gets a second chance at life.

Self-described as “always selling something”, Raymond started her first business when she was 16. A cocktail cleanup crew called ‘The Party Slaves’, they tidied up after the soirees of family and friends. From there, her path led her through various ventures: sales associate, travel agent, caterer, florist and stay at home mom— when at last, Red Daisy was born.

Jam-packed with things cute beyond comprehension, it’s no wonder why KYDS Children’s Boutique has remained consistently busy since opening its doors.

Within seconds of walking through the giant, green doors, you’re immediately consumed by adorable-- teeny-tiny outfits for baby, funky styles for tweens and blankets so cuddly, you’d want to buy one for yourself. Forget about walking out empty handed; it’s nearly impossible.

All of these great things coupled together made the decision to acquire the business an easy one for twins Rachel and Melody. When the opportunity to buy arose, they grabbed the baton and ran. The fact that they had no prior experience as business owners didn’t matter-- they were going to make it work.

To get to know the two bubbly blondes better, we asked them a few questions about what goes into taking over a business:

Hurricane Irma has caused much devastation across the state of Florida, including the destruction of Dance Trance’s San Marco studio on September 10th.

The studio was submerged in 3-5 feet of water and was considered a total loss and will thousands of dollars and months to get it back up and running on its feet. The money collected will go towards bills and damages of what the storm claimed.

Jay and Beth Handline, the creators and owners of Dance Trance and beloved staples of the Beaches Town Center community, have sunk every penny into creating the studio and dance fitness program as a whole.

If you are able, we hope you’ll consider a donation to help re-open the studio’s doors, but to also help the Handline’s keep the program in operation for many Jacksonville students.

In addition, the Dance Trance Neptune Beach studio will be selling tops for $10 and pants for $20 in the DT shop to help raise funds. The shop will be open during class hours.

For more information, visit their YouCaring page here

For a dance class schedules and DT Neptune Beach shop hours, visit here:

Kim Rogers wasn’t always immersed in the world of retail.

Originally a restaurant owner in St. Louis, it was a desire to return to Jacksonville that drove her to sell the business and move to Neptune Beach. And through a happenstance business venture proposed by friends, she dove headfirst into the challenge of buying with no prior experience.

The product of this partnership, of course, was Bali Cargo Company- a tiny slice of exotic locale stowed stateside that you could visit without the expensive plane ticket. Behind its doors lays a business that beautifully blends the rich, ornate culture of Bali with the laidback, chill lifestyle of Neptune Beach.

To get a feel for how the gears behind this cool business work, we chatted with Rogers’ about bringing Bali to the Beaches Town Center, the art of buying and more:

For the past year, Mother and Daughter duo Michele and Whit have kept Beaches Town Center stocked with Southern, salty home and entertaining goodness at Sailors Siren.

Nestled in a cozy loft off of 1st Street, the space is a visual treat— bright, warm and exploding with color. Tables topped with beautiful book spreads dot the room, while the shelves display things like delicate dishes and cards with cheeky sayings. It’s a one-stop shop for everything entertaining-- a hostess’ haven, for sure.

If you’re unfamiliar with this bubbly, bright pair of boss babes, read on— to
celebrate their brick-and-mortar’s One Year Anniversary at BTC (and to get to know them a little better) we picked their brains on some different topics:

The North Beaches Art Walk got its start in 2007 when Beaches art-industry professionals JoAnne Adams, Alice Gartland and Linda Stewart came together in hopes of recreating the popular art walk atmosphere of Downtown.

Through their nurturing and dedication, the event has grown considerably since its infancy. And on every third Thursday of the month, the streets of the Beaches Town Center erupt with creativity.

What was once a small pool of carefully selected artists has now become a bubbling ocean of art, a place where woodworkers comingle with jewelry designers and musicians play into the night. Welcoming to locals and out of towners alike, to say it’s a communal event would be putting it lightly; it’s an experience.

Now, ten years later, the ArtWalk is gearing up to celebrate with a special anniversary bash.

This upcoming Third Thursday, October 19th, attendees will be in for a treat with a performing acrobat team, as well as a caricature artist and two exciting raffles. In addition, a nonprofit team will be launching a campaign to help people understand how valuable teachers are to the Jacksonville community. Adults and children will be able to make art themselves, as they’ll be encouraged to create a visual representation of their favorite teacher.

Following a 9 month renovation of the historic Palms Inn, the owners behind Hotel Palms are hoping their private courtyard and patio space becomes an event venue for locals to use for happy hours, birthday parties, family reunions, trunk shows, weddings, rehearsal dinners, etc. The space, which fits 125 people, is complete with an outdoor fireplace, access to the hotel's beer and wine lounge, and wooden rocking chairs. Click Here To Visit Their Website.

Contact:
Stevan Brown
(904) 226-8782
stevangarvin@gmail.com

100% Natural, Vegan, Cruelty-free—what more could you want? Saavy Naturals are experts in handcrafted beauty, so you know their new Bay Rum & Hemp scent has to be good. A classic scent for men, but great for women too, this scent is packed with amino acids and nutrients to deeply nourish hair and skin. Score this yummy scent in a few different forms: soap bars, bath salts, body cream, bath bombs, salt scrubs, body wash, shampoo and conditioner.

Stop in and shop their store in the Beaches Town Center today!

This spring, the Beaches Town Center Agency issued a friendly contest to all BTC employees: make a 3-5 minute video of the do’s and don’ts of employee parking that was both creative and entertaining.

After much outstanding work and effort, the winning video was selected and the amazing team at Peterbrooke took the prize! As winners, the team split $500 and will receive VIP parking for one month.

Watch their incredible video.

Sliders has a new K9 for Warriors puppy namesake!

NEW FAMILY MEMBER: Slider

K9's for Warriors

Sponsored by the Fletcher High School Interact club. Sliders Seafood Grille has hosted five fundraisers for K9's for Warriors which has raised $50,000. This cute 8-month-old Black Lab is our namesake SLIDER. An owner-surrender, Slider is now being fostered by our very own staff member Samantha Epstein!
Luckily Slider is now also the subject of her new blog, Sliding into Service. In it, she chronicles both the journey of this special pup to becoming a service dog and her own discoveries about the unique and challenging process. Keep up with his AND her progress at slidingintoservice.wordpress.com and sharing it with your followers!

It’s no secret that Beaches folks are the smartest around—so it isn’t surprising that Beaches Town Center merchants swept the board this year in the annual Best in Jax polls!

From Best Burger to Best Boutique, the city spoke and let everyone else know just how award-worthy BTC is. And while all of our businesses are winners in our book, these are the ones that snagged the bragging rights:

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