The Orange County Chapter of the National Assn. of Women Business Owners will hold its 14th annual Remarkable Women Awards Celebration dinner Oct. 15. The event will honor three female business owners for their developing successful organizations that promote women’s roles in society, business, and at home.
The event will recognize Heidi Miller of Laguna Beach for a lifetime of achievement along with Cheryl Osborn as business owner of the year, and Laura Neubauer as entrepreneur to watch. The association felt the three women best represented this year’s theme of “Inspiration, Courage and Hope."
“Heidi, Cheryl and Laura embody the mission of NAWBO-OC and are an inspiration to us all," said Karen Gifford, association president. “They exhibit a passion for what they do, and exemplify the theme ‘Inspiration, Courage and Hope’ with the integrity, tenacity and acumen each brings to their business."
Miller, a Laguna Beach resident for nearly 30 years, will be honored for her success at creating numerous successful businesses throughout her lifetime and her involvement in various charitable organizations.
A nursing major in college and once a competitive gymnast in a nationally ranked women’s body building group, health and fitness have always been a top priority for Miller. It was this combination of interests that led her to open Heidi’s Frogen Yozurt Shoppes Inc. in 1982.
“I found in the late ‘70s a couple of places that sold frozen yogurt and I liked it because it was a tenth of the calories of ice cream and nutritionally better for you, but they were always in these funky little stores that weren’t cosmetically appealing or anything. And in the back of my mind I thought, ‘You know what? There’s a market for that. And I think I’d like to do that.’"
After franchising her frozen yogurt stores and eventually selling the company in 1989, which had grown to 120 stores in nine states, Miller set work on her next business adventure. As a sales rep in college, Miller became exposed to the retail industry. In 1990, her knowledge of retail combined with her passion for an active and healthy life brought her to open Tight Assets, a women’s clothing store specializing in exercise, dance, and active-wear.
Two and a half years ago, when the World Newsstand closed after 10 years of operation, Miller reopened the business despite its high rent and low profitability potential.
“You make a dime on a newspaper and you make 35 to 40 cents on a magazine," Miller said. “It can’t really be somebody’s sole income. But it’s a hub, there’s a lot of energy there, that’s where everyone meets and greets and with that thing closed all the businesses around there suffered."
News that she would be receiving the lifetime achievement award, which was based on nominations, was an overwhelming moment for Miller.
“It really almost brought me to tears," said Miller, recalling when she read the nomination letters. “It was very humbling to have some of my peers and mentors speak so highly of me."
The dinner, where Miller will receive her award, will be from 5:30 to 8 p.m. at the Hilton Hotel in Costa Mesa.