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Celebrating Dreams Webinar: Building Out Your Dream: Steps for Success

December 31, 2025

business expert sessions

This session was recorded on 5/11/2023

Uncover the unique challenges women business owners face when working with contractors, city inspectors, and regulatory agencies.

Explore strategies for a successful build out of a brick-and-mortar commercial space, including food service, salons or personal care, and retail storefronts.

Speakers with direct experience will discuss:

  •        lease negotiations
  •        obtaining permits from the department of planning and development including change of use
  •        navigating zoning restrictions
  •        interacting with tradespeople
  •        the bidding process
  •        preparing for inspections from various government agencies

Topics to include:

  •        creating realistic timelines
  •        choosing suitable construction materials for the type of business
  •        tips for choosing contractors and winning bids
  •        creating a construction budget
  •        knowing what can be done by the owner vs. what needs a professional

About the Presenters

Iulia Bejan – Owner of Connect Lounge, 2017-2020

Iulia created a lively Belltown lounge with a full bar and food service. She oversaw all aspects of the process of securing a commercial lease, health department and LCB approval processes, selecting contractors, interior design of the space, and choice of equipment and materials.

Meredith Russell – Owner of Craft Theory, 2018-present

Meredith Russell is a local business owner who got her start at the Lakewood Farmer’s Market and now owns a brick and mortar. She’s always been interested in psychology, business, and art, keeping both sides of her brain busy. Meredith is passionate about helping other small business owners, makers, and artists grow and thrive. Craft Theory is a creative community studio where we help people redefine their relationships with art. Whether you’re making, selling, or appreciating art we are here to help facilitate that journey. Learn more about Meredith and how to work with her at craft-theory.com.

Christina Gilbreath – Owner of The Wise Owl Books and Music, 2019-present

Christina Gilbreath is the owner/book and music enthusiast of The Wise Owl Books and Music. She has been a nurse for over 15 years, helping the sick and vulnerable in all different types of roles. Now she wants to pivot to help people in a different way. She is also a photographer and cinematographer who has worked on independent film projects, landscape, portrait, and real estate photography. The Wise Owl Books and Music opened as an online bookstore in 2019 and transitioned to an online/pop-up bookstore in 2020. The brick-and-mortar store opened in December 2021. The Wise Owl Books and Music is a mostly genre specific bookstore with the specialties being in science fiction, fantasy, mystery, and music, especially vinyl. Learn more about Christina at www.thewiseowlbooks.com.

Jessica Vidican-Neisius – Owner of Morning Glory Chai (1995-Present) and Mr. Spot’s Chai House (1998-2011)

Jessica has built four commercial kitchens including WSDA, FDA, and health department approvals. She also navigated the LCB licensing process, as well as completing two change of use permit processes. Jessica has designed kitchens and worked with design firms to create professional drawings for use in the health department permit process. She has managed complex timelines with overlapping trades to create both large and small food service establishments, including choosing between multiple bids from contractors and ensuring that budgets were adhered to by enlisting volunteer labor where possible. Jessica negotiated commercial leases, created retail spaces, and moved food services businesses from one location to another with minimal downtime during the transition.


12720 Gateway Dr. Suite 207
Tukwila, WA 98168 United States


Business Impact NW
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