Business Spotlight

Local Spotlight: Diamond Academy of Performing Arts

If you haven’t heard about DAPA, you need to read this! Diamond Academy of Performing Arts (DAPA) offers more than your typical performing arts classes. Want to learn more about Acting for Film & Television, Drama, The Arts of Public Speaking, or Speech Arts? If your child needs help public speaking with confidence, this is the place to go! So…what is Speech Arts? It teaches your child to communicate clearly.

In my many years of teaching, I have never seen anything work so well toward helping children confidently communicate and connect to their breath and voice, and seeing these transformations is what continually fuels my passion for teaching speech arts.
-Andrea Johnston, Founder and Artistic Director

Mastering the art of public speaking is the greatest single skill one can develop in order to establish strong leadership skills, boost future earning potential, and carry oneself confidently and successfully in life. Modern society demands effective communication and leadership skills to excel, however presents few opportunities for children to develop these critical life skills. The Diamond Academy represents a new way of thinking: an innovative studio for learning, where students can explore and develop their communication, performance, and leadership skills in a fun and dynamic setting. At the academy, your child will learn skills that will remain with them throughout their lives.
The need for Community, Creativity, and Expression for our children is so important as we help them navigate all the changes they have had to face in the last several months. We are pleased to offer a selection of classes to fit your child’s needs. With both small, socially distanced in-person classes as well as online instruction via Zoom we have the right fit for your child! We are also offering private lessons! Our classes work very well online and we have students joining us from all over the world! In-studio, all County guidelines will be followed. Fall Classes & Play Production are available!  Register here.

A little bit about the Founder and Artistic Director:
Andrea has spent many wonderful years teaching children and adults the art of communication through speech arts and drama. She started her career in Vancouver, British Columbia as a guest artist and instructor at Simon Fraser University, where she had the privilege of directing main stage productions as well as teaching several courses. At The Bolton Academy of Spoken Arts, she taught children of every age how to find and use their voices effectively. Privately she coached professionals including lawyers, executives, and politicians, helping them find their voice, confidence, and poise. As a professional actor and director Andrea directed and performed in many productions which received critical acclaim; she is also a two-time winner of the Vancouver Twenty-Four Hour Film Festival, Director of the North American premiere of “Eulogy for Lois Lane” by Marc Diamond, and has lent her voice to numerous film and television productions. Her expertise in the field found her traveling British Columbia as an adjudicator for Speech Arts, Drama and Speech Festivals.

Helping people find their voice and grow their confidence is a passion for me- Here at The Diamond Academy of Performing Arts, I look forward to helping you find yours!

Local Spotlight: Dreamland Baby, Featured on Shark Tank

We are so happy for Dreamland Baby! Tara was recently featured on Shark Tank. To view the episode, click here!

“If there’s a will, there’s a way” –Dreamland Baby’s Founder, Tara Williams lives by this motto.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Tara and listening to her astounding story of how she started Dreamland Baby. Her story is inspirational and incredible.

It all started with a few mishaps in life and taking a wrong turn, but ended up becoming one of the most beneficial moments! Tara’s son, Luke was the inspiration of Dreamland Baby. We all know the fatigue and overwhelming feelings we have with a newborn and the lack of sleep seems endless, especially if your baby doesn’t sleep well at all. Tara and her husband were already dealing with job layoffs and adapting to a 4th child. One night, while sitting on the couch, Luke was fussy and couldn’t seem to fall asleep(which was always the case with him).

She decided to put a heavy weighted blanket on him, hoping this will calm him down and relax him, and it did! Searching all over the internet, Tara could only find weighted blankets for older kids and dogs, but nothing for babies. Surprised by the outcome, Tara took matters into her own hands. Luckily, her mother-in-law knew how to sew, so Tara told her what she wanted for Luke. When the first blanket was completed, something amazing happened…Luke slept through the night, for the first time!

If you really want to do it. You can make it happen.

Her story is inspirational to all moms out there; whether it be a working mom or stay-at-home Mom.  How does she do it all? Tara continues to say, “If there’s a will, there’s a way” Her will is strong and determined to help out struggling sleep-deprived parents.

Her passion and love for helping others materializes in her success. Not only is she helping babies sleep through the night, she is giving parents their life back.

I’m doing other moms a disservice if I don’t get this out there-I’m obligated to help other people.

There are sacrifices Tara sustains constantly by having a company to run and a family to attend to. She has learned to become a time-management pro! Being a mom of 4, business owner, and a wife – she has managed to do it all! Tara works early mornings before the kids wake up, during naps, and when they go to sleep at night.

Managing your time wisely can get you a long way

Tara knows what it’s like to struggle and not know where to turn and she wants to share with anyone struggling out there, “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

We are excited to see what the future of Dreamland Baby will convey! To find out how Dreamland Baby started, visit Tara’s website to read her captivating story.

You can check them out here: Dreamland Baby

Tara and Her Beautiful Family!

Meet Tracey Medcalfe Photography

Last week Danville Social had an opportunity to interview Tracey Medcalfe and to learn more about her photography business and what makes it special.

How did the business get started?
I have always loved taking photographs, even as a kid! After my degree in physics and Masters in Information Systems, I knew that our growing family wasn’t blending well with my IT consultant role. As photography took its place in the evolving digital world…a business in photography was a natural step for me and allowed me to combine my love of technology and art with the flexible schedule I needed for my family…and yes, I still got to play with cool gadgets!!! Yay!
I started my photography business in the UK. Initially, I focused on family portrait and reunion photography and loved the pictures I was able to capture for my clients! I loved their reactions to their pictures even more! I was so excited to be able to do something directly for people that I knew they would love forever!!

What inspired you to start your own business?
I am a huge fan of pictures…natural, spontaneous, candid, capturing people’s emotions and connections.
I found that I was inspired by the experience of photographing other people. A dear friend of ours hired a wonderful photographer to photograph an event; I was so inspired by her style and pictures. We had a family session with her and I was able to work with her on a number of occasions before we moved to the US. It wasn’t long before I started my photography business here in the East Bay.

What is your background and how did you develop the skills to start your business?
I completed a number of professional photography courses for both portraits and weddings. I am also a member of the Professional Photographer Association, which offers wonderful resources for anyone in the business of photography or even photography enthusiasts. I believe you can always grow as a photographer and dedicate specific time on a regular basis to improving my skills and adding new ones regularly.

What’s the one thing your business is known for, over your competitors?
There are many aspects of capturing a great photograph…light, gear, great subjects, location to name just a few. I believe that timing is also an essential component and am always in search of that telling expression, smile, laugh, action that captures a moment!
A collision of action in soccer.
A crazy laugh from a chased toddler.
An expression of determination in lacrosse.
A confident character presence on stage.
A knowing smile from a big sister.
An adoring smile from a proud parent.
A secret smile from a bride.
A passionate embrace of a couple
A confident exchange between business partners
A friendly wrestle between brothers.
I believe that these are moments captured in time forever with a photograph and I am always in search of this rich treasure! I love to get to know my clients and to be able to capture them as they are most beautiful and natural.
I am excited to have a senior photography banner on the football pitch at Monte Vista. Spring is a great time to get senior and family portraits with great weather and blossoming trees and plants.  Springtime also has the bonus of avoiding the seasonal rush in fall!

Which small businesses are you inspired by?
I am inspired by people more than businesses. People achieve great things, work hard to understand their clients, love what they do! I love working with people who are energetic and passionate about their pursuits!!

What is your favorite part about living/working in Danville?
For an outdoor photographer, Danville and the Bay Area presents a spectacular location! Just within five miles of Danville, there are more than 20 locations that I wouldn’t hesitate to use for photographs! I have included just a few of the locations in some of the pictures.

Tell us the most interesting and fun tidbit about your business.
The story of our logo is fun and quirky! We used to live in Holland and just after our second child, Hannah was born, we visited the world-famous Keukenhof Gardens. They boast some of the most impressive displays of tulips and other plants in their spectacular botanical gardens. The logo heart is made up of a beautiful stone sculpture which I rotated to be vertical and then duplicated in Photoshop. Here is a picture of our oldest taking a quick look through the sculpture.

Click here to view Tracey’s work on her website,


Shred 415 san ramon, danville

Meet Lilly and Giovanni from Shred415

Last week Danville Social had an opportunity to interview Shred415 owners Lilly and Giovanni De Chouden to learn more about their business and what makes them special.

How did the business get started?
Both born and raised in Puerto Rico, Lilly and Giovanni moved to the states 20 years ago and have lived in the Bay area for the past seven years. While raising their two daughters, now 18 and 20-years-old, fitness has always been an important part of Lily’s life. She is a certified personal trainer, a former Zumba instructor and also participated in fitness competitions. Her desire to help others lead healthier lives and get them excited about fitness, along with her goal to engage with the Spanish-speaking community, drove her to open the first Shred415 in California. The San Ramon location is the first of three studios Lily plans to open in the Bay area.

What inspired you to start your own business?

I immediately fell in love with Shred415’s unique concept and method of exercise. We have loved every day for the past year, engaging with this wonderful community and motivating our Shred family to improve their health, lifestyle and overall wellbeing. – Lily

What is your background and how did you develop the skills to start your business?

I have always had a passion for fitness and health in general. I saw an opportunity to combine my passion as well as build a unique, supportive community by bringing Shred to the East Bay. -Lily

What’s the one thing your business is known for, over your competitors?
Shred415 offers a 60-minute instructor-led interval training class alternating between speed and endurance drills on top-quality treadmills and strength and functional movement training on the floor, with each class designed to increase muscle and burn calories in a fun, fast-paced workout tailored to every individual’s level and goals. The result is simple: clients find classes to be enjoyable and effective, a rare combination in fitness.

Which small businesses are you inspired by?
Owning a business is hard work and rewarding at the same time. I look up to local business owners that are both family and women-owned and operated. Businesses like Enforme Activewear, Stay Polished, US Cryotherapy, CB Fit, and many others.

What is your favorite part about living/working in Danville?
The diversity of our community and how we embrace different people, cultures, backgrounds to support this amazing place we get to call home.

Tell us the most interesting and fun tidbit about your business.

When you first walk into our studio you will see the following phrase on the wall – “More than a workout”. This is one of the many reasons we fell in love with Shred415. We want to build a supportive and collaborative community that is not only about working out but is very engaged in building the community that we all live in. We enjoy supporting local schools, charities, and other worthy causes. These words on our wall, mean a lot to us and is the primary reason we decided to bring Shred415 to the Tri-Valley area. -Giovanni


Coffee with Rock Star, David Victor

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with David Victor, formerly from the multi-platinum band, Boston. This American Rock Vocalist, and Guitarist currently resides in the East Bay with his beautiful wife and adorable rescue dogs. He continues to play and teach music, here in the East Bay. He stays busy with the various bands he currently is playing in and performs all over! For a list of upcoming shows, click here!

David has a big heart and loves to give back, he recently did a benefit from the Discovery Counseling Center’s anti-bullying campaign at Danville’s Village Theatre, in October 2019.

He expresses how playing music goes deeper than within himself, he enjoys playing music for people and seeing the responsiveness of how it has the ability to access happy memories and takes them back in time while the song plays. David started a charity, Harmony & Healing After working with a charity affiliated with a band, in Boston, he carried it over here to California. The mission is to bring live music to the bedsides and community spaces of patients and their loved ones in hospitals, healthcare facilities, Ronald McDonald Houses and more.

We lift spirits and take patient’s and family’s minds off their challenges with live musical performances. Music lowers stress levels, brings about positive associations, speeds healing and restores happiness to patient’s lives and the lives of their loved ones.

He loves being able to bring joy to patients and seeing the smile on their faces from the music he plays.

Don’t miss out on his inaugural benefit for Harmony & Healing! David Victor’s SUPERGROUP SF will be playing at the beautiful Bankhead Theater in Livermore on Saturday, March 28th, 2020. To purchase tickets to this event, click here!

To learn more about David, click here!


Dr. Rankin – Blackhawk Plastic Surgery

Last week I got a chance to talk with a new asset to the Blackhawk Plastic Surgery & Med Spa , Dr. Ronan’s newest partner Dr. Rankin. As a surgeon, educator, and innovator, Dr. Rankin comes from one of the leading plastic surgery training programs in the country, Vanderbilt University. Dr. Rankin has spent the last decade with some of the most prominent names in surgical training in order to be able to offer the safest, cutting edge techniques to the San Francisco Bay area.

Dr. Rankin - Blackhawk Plastic Surgery and Med Spa in Danville CA
Dr. Rankin and his beautiful family

Originally from Marin County, he has lived all over the country but likes to be close to family and wanted to get back to the bay area. Recently moved from Nashville, TN to be closer to family, Dr. Rankin plans on calling Danville their permanent home. He loves all that our town has to offer; excellent area for raising kids, parks, schools, and the list goes on!

Dr. Rankin is definitely a man that wears many hats. At the office, he is Doctor, but at home, he is Daddy. Not only is he an excellent surgeon, he is a father and husband to a beautiful family. He has 3 adorable kids – All under the age of 5! When he isn’t working, he is spending time with his family, exploring Tahoe, or visiting the coast! I had the opportunity to also speak to his lovely wife, Kanika. She expressed to me how fascinating it has been to witness her husband’s career path.

“I watched my husband spend years in training to get to this point and now seeing him in his element has made it all worth it! And never once failed to make me feel like his highest priority. His loyalty shows at work, his attention to detail, care for his patients, and passion for the art is second to none!”

Dr. Rankin loves what he does and his passion for his work with cosmetic surgery, which can be see in this quote from our interview.

“I enjoy the art and technical aspects of plastic surgery and how it effects peoples quality of life.  It can truly have a profound impact on your day to day life. My hope is that I continue to work with people and build a lasting relationship.”

One might ask, “How did he discover Blackhawk Plastic Surgery?” Before moving back to Northern California Dr. Rankin considered practices all over California. Working with Dr. Ronan was the best fit due to the world class practice he had built along with a standout community, safety, and excellence. When Dr. Rankin first walked into Blackhawk Plastic Surgery he recalled:

“I felt like the practice embodied the attribute of what I feel. The staff is amazing and has been there 12-15 years. I could tell that patients are well taken care of here.”

Dr. Rankin also offers valuable advice to first time patients and noted:

“All consults are FREE, come in and talk with me and get as little to as much info as you want. I will take my time to explain and answer your questions or concerns. I Work with my patients like a partner-I want to help achieve your goals. I just want you to have exceptional information and knowledge before leaving the appointment”

After talking with Dr. Rankin, I can see how much passion and devotedness he puts into being a surgeon. He genuinely cares for his patients and staff. The world needs more authentic, reputable Doctors just like him!

If you would like to learn more about the services at Blackhawk Plastic Surgery & Med Spa, or make a consultation appointment, Click Here!