HomeCommunity NewsDavid Laurell: Mix and Mingle Program Brews Strong Community

David Laurell: Mix and Mingle Program Brews Strong Community

In February of 2022, the Burbank Chamber of Commerce established a new program called “What’s Brewing in Burbank?” It was a three-pronged approach to providing the community at large with the opportunity to mix and mingle. The event would also give attendees the chance to learn about what is going on in Burbank, and at some of the city’s businesses and entertainment venues.

With an inaugural presentation that took place at the Hotel Amarano, Chamber CEO Jamie Keyser-Thomas welcomed more than 100 attendees to the first of these free-of-charge events, which are open to anyone who would like to meet, hear from, and question prominent individuals who play a key role in Burbank.

Kicking off the series by delivering the big guns, then-Mayor Jess Talamantes and Police Chief Michael Albanese, Keyser-Thomas has continued this tradition of establishing conversation and collaboration with those who may not have otherwise ever met to exchange ideas and experiences, build new relationships and gain valuable insights about Burbank.

“That’s what we are all about,” said Keyser-Thomas at the most recent, Feb. 28, “What’s Brewing in Burbank?” event, which put out the welcome mat at the Lusanet Collective, a Downtown Burbank retail boutique that features the work of photographers, artists and designers of jewelry, clothing and numerous other artisan disciplines.

Anet Abnous and Lusine Simonyan, the women behind the Lusanet Collective, established the unique business to serve the creative community. It has become an idea-exchange platform, a resource bank, an exhibition venue, and, most importantly, a gathering of like-minded creative professionals who come together as part of a nurturing and encouraging environment focused on business development and professional and personal growth.

Through both pop-ups and curated events, members of the collective gain access to new audiences and critical resources to elevate their businesses and brands and enable them to discover new partnerships with investors and manufacturers.

True marketing gurus, Abnous and Simonyan, have presented fundraisers and events featuring experts from the fields of fine art, jewelry- and perfume-making and wine selecting, book signings, poetry readings, musical recitals, and beauty and wellness seminars.

Abnous and Simonyan have also been committed to the Burbank community, both serving as City Council-appointed commissioners and working with the Burbank Unified School District’s WorkAbility program.

Funded by a grant obtained from the California Department of Education, WorkAbility provides career awareness and guidance activities, pre-employment training, paid work experiences through employer partners, and monitor and support services for students ages 14 to 21. The students earn minimum wage during the training period and are covered by workers’ compensation insurance through BUSD.

The Lusanet Collective has joined other Burbank business partners who provide a training site for students who meet eligibility requirements to help them develop work skills and learn about the expectations of the professional work world.

At last week’s event, attendees were introduced to Tallulah Heder who is one of two local young women now working with the Lusanet Collective. A student at John Burroughs High School, Heder’s desire is to pursue a career in photography and marketing. Through WorkAbility she is currently assisting Abnous and Simonyan by handling product and event photography and management of the collective’s social media platforms.

During last week’s mixer, while it was impossible to escape being photographed by Heder, it was equally impossible to not notice Burbank Police Commissioner Romik Hacobian’s shirt emblazoned with the statement: “I Watch Burbank City Council Meetings.”

That shirt, along with a wide selection of merchandise which has been curated to celebrate Burbank as the Media Capital of the World, is now available through the online retailer Burbank Merch which is the brainchild of Hacobian.

As a former Burbank Chamber of Commerce board member, Hacobian said that over the years he has received numerous inquiries as to where people could purchase Burbank-related items. Stepping up to answer that question, he invited attendees to peruse Burbank Merch’s recently launched online store. 

“When you purchase a product from Burbank Merch, you’re actively supporting a local small business,” said Hacobian. “You are also purchasing a quality product with durable materials and impeccable design.”

From apparel and collectibles to unique memorabilia items, the products offered by Burbank Merch are designed to reflect the company’s commitment to being a caretaker of the city’s legacy.

“Our intimate understanding of the city’s rich history, [coupled with] our personal connections within the community allow us to offer merchandise that truly captures the spirit of Burbank,” said Hacobian.

He also made it clear that the company is committed to respecting intellectual property rights by adhering to the highest standards of copyright protection, and striving to ensure that all of the designs and products they offer are original or used with the proper authorization.

For information on the Lusanet Collective, visit lusanetcollective.com. To check out the products available at Burbank Merch, visit burbankmerch.com. To learn more about the WorkAbility, contact the program’s coordinator Lori Schleinkofer at (818) 729-4595.

Barry Gussow and City Councilwoman Zizette Mullins mingling with Gema and Rey Sanchez at last week’s mixer.
Among the notables in attendance were former-City Councilman Tim Murphy and his wife Gloria Salas.
Chamber CEO Jamie Keyser-Thomas with Police Commissioner Romik Hacobian, who wore a shirt that said, “I Watch Burbank City Council Meetings.”
Don Baldaseroni and Karen Volpei-Gussow enjoying the Lusanet Collective.
Numerous Burbank-related items are now available through Burbank Merch.
One of the many designs you can find at Burbank Merch is shown above.
Among the items you’ll find at Burbank Merch is a laptop sleeve.
Burbank Merch offers numerous designs for a plethora of products. To check out the products available at Burbank Merch, visit: burbankmerch.com.

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

First published in the March 9 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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