Founder, Heidi Butzine (left) with 2016 grant winners

Winners of the 2016 Small Business Grants were announced at the South Bay Business Mavericks event on October 19, 2016 in Torrance, California.

Awarded to small independently-owned businesses based in the South Bay, the grant program helps provide a financial boost to those who are looking to grow their business, are actively involved in their community or are leading collaborative efforts to give back. Businesses must have built their own businesses or brands (not part of a network marketing or franchise operation) and must submit applications for consideration by a panel of judges.

The 2016 winners included a range of business owners who have started their own businesses or brands in a variety of areas including a local sea-inspired handmade beauty product line, a yoga program designed to empower young women, and an 11-year professional bookkeeping business serving the small business community.

Learn more about the winners below…


Affordable Bookkeeping & Payroll owner Candy Messer (left)

Affordable Bookkeeping & Payroll

You could say the signs were all around AB&P owner, Candy Messer, even though she never planned to be a business owner. From the time she became treasurer for Junior Achievement at age 16 to practically being begged to help someone with their business bookkeeping, she was encouraged to take the leap and start her business.

Going from a home-based business to opening an office, Candy celebrated the business’ 11-year anniversary. She was spotlighted as an Expert on the Cutting Edge in Forbes Magazine, and named Small Business of the Year by the Torrance Chamber, and recognized as “A firm of the future” by Intuit (makers of QuickBooks).

Plans for growth:
Knowing your expenses upfront as a business owner is important. Candy is on a mission to continue to be able to offer affordable bookkeeping services at fixed rates rather than racking up hourly fees to help even more overwhelmed business owners save money and keep them out of the accounting weeds.


Soap Seas owner Christina Wennstrom (right)

Soap Seas

Born and raised in the South Bay, Soap Seas owner Christina Wennstrom has combined her passions to build a business, with inspiration from the Sea creating all-natural handmade beauty products.

Starting her business just 2 years ago, Christina is not sitting back waiting for business. She’s jumped into her community full force and within her first year, has hustled to get her products featured in The Portofino Hotel and through her active involvement in the community is collaborating with SEA Lab and other local charities.

Plans for growth:
Christina has a mission to build up her brand locally and gain the resources needed to produce more inventory to keep up with demand.


Steele Yoga owner Lori Steele (left)

Steele Yoga

Like many entrepreneurs, business owner, Lori Steele, has a diverse background having left corporate and the entertainment industry behind to start her own yoga practice. She’s done a lot…Rodeo barrel racer, raising sheep and pigs, pharma executive, and soap opera and band gigs.

Lori has partnered with United Nations Women and USC Panhellinic to create self-esteem events through the practice of an upbeat electrified yoga workout “electroga”. She’s been featured on many local and national television shows, news media and a contributor to El Segundo TV’s “Healthy Habits” segment.

Plans for growth:
With a love for helping others, she is growing her yoga programs to help girls transitioning into middle school with a conscious knowledge of their value and worth, to build confidence through accomplishment.

Congratulations to all of the 2016 grant winners.  We honor the spirit of entrepreneurship … courage, creativity, discipline, and sound business acumen – and the big ideas it often takes to be a small business owner.  Additional information about the Grant Program and South Bay Business Mavericks program can be found at