A Small Business
Owner's Story

Mona Clevenger has always
had a love for gifts...

read more

A World Class
Coach - and Dad

In high school, Wayne Bryan
made a pretty bold statement...

read more


A Small Business Owner's Story

Mona Clevenger has always had a love for gifts... "I love unique things, beautiful gifts, items that are customized to a person's particular interests or passion," she explains. "It brings me joy." For the past seven years, Mona has brought that joy to life at her gift shop Gatherings on Fulton Avenue in Sacramento, voted one of the best gift shops in the area for the past four years.

For Mona, the path to a career as a small business owner began when she was in high school, when she worked at a Northern California Hawaiian gift shop. After college, she worked a few more sales jobs before putting her marketing degree to work doing outside sales for General Mills. After a stint at a bank, she began working for a direct sales giftware company. Attending giftware shows, she realized she had found her calling. "I loved finding items that were different and unique," she says. "I wanted to support these small businesses and bring their beautiful items to people here in my community."

So she took a leap of faith and decided to open her own shop. "I was a nervous wreck," Mona recalls. "I worried that no one would show up, no one would shop... Or maybe they wouldn't like what I was selling. Now I realize you can't take that stuff personally - you just have to do it." And that is Mona's advice to anyone considering following their dream and starting their own business - just do it. "The timing might not ever be perfect - you just need to dive in. If you don't do it now, time will pass and you will wonder why you never followed your dream."

For Mona, following her dream has brought her fulfillment, challenge and even friends. "My customers are so loyal and kind. I love trying to find items that fit certain interests or personalities. I really love my job. I consider many of my customers to be friends."

Mona admits that her store is like her baby - demanding much of her time. Fortunately, her husband Nick supports her. "He understands that I love what I do and I'm very committed to it - and he loves what he does too, so it works."Nick and Mona share a common commitment to the community as well, support the Sacramento Children's Home, among other organizations, for more than 20 years.

Mona has also been a supporter of Dignity Health's annual Care Begins With Me event. "I love the fact that Care Begins With Me brings together so many women - more than any other event I've been to! - and that all those women are focused on improving themselves. It's affordable and accessible to everyone and it shows that women here are bettering themselves and their community." Just like Mona.

Mona will again be participating in Care Begins With Me this October 8, as a vendor in the Care Begins With Me marketplace. Don't miss out on the premier women's event in Sacramento. Register by August 15 to receive reserved seating!

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A World Class Coach - and Dad

In high school, Wayne Bryan made a pretty bold statement. "I said that my son would be the best tennis player in the world," he recalls. "Little did I know that I'd have twin boys - and so they would actually be the best doubles team in the world!"

That's right - Wayne's teenage prediction came true. His sons - Mike and Bob Bryan - are the most decorated doubles team in the history of professional tennis, winning every major tournament at least once, including Wimbledon, the US Open, the French Open, the Davis Cup and even a gold medal in the Olympics. And Dad's career hasn't been too shabby either - after a stellar run as a collegiate player at UC Santa Barbara, he went on to found and run the Cabrillo Racket Club, mentoring players of all ages. In 1999, he achieved his lifelong goal of being a coach for World Team Tennis (WTT) team and for the past 11 years he has coached the WTT's Sacramento Capitals team. During that time he has led the "Caps" to two championship titles and been named WTT's Coach of the Year three times.

To what does Wayne attribute his success and that of his sons? Simple - hard work and setting good goals. "I am a huge believer in writing down your goals and affirming them with those around you," he explains. "My boys always had a list of their goals taped to the refrigerator. The goals were broad but yet specific. They still set goals today - and you know what, they have achieved every single one!"

Wayne says this type of goal-setting is something that every parent can help their child with - whether it is a specific grade in a class or a reaching a varsity team or earning a spot in a play. The important thing, Wayne says, is helping your child identify what type of practice and work will prepare them to achieve that goal. "My boys knew that putting in the practice time would prepare them for the tournament, which would put them in a position to do well in that tournament, which would then push them up in the rankings and help them reach their goal - of being ranked number one."

Wayne also encourages parents to keep their kids' activities fun. "Yes, they need to practice, but they should see that practice time as fun. Any parent can force a kid to be a champion - but that kid won't want to continue. They have to love their sport or their activity in order to want to do it."

One way to encourage a love of a sport is to give your child an opportunity to see that sport performed at the highest level. That is one reason why Wayne has always had a passion for World Team Tennis. "WTT brings world-class tennis down to the community level. These matches are family events - bring the whole family, bring your friends. It's such a great atmosphere. Come early and let your kids watch the players warm up - heck, even come in the afternoon and see them practice and how they work on their skills, how they interact. It's a great opportunity for young athletes - gives them something to aspire to. They will remember that experience."

Whether your kid is destined for the courts of Wimbledon, or is maybe just hoping to get a spot on his high school team, Wayne encourages parents and kids to give it their all. "You don't learn life lessons by dabbling in something - and that is what sports and performing should be about - life lessons. Commit to it and strive to be your best. Go all in and know that you are going to win, you're going to lose, you'll cry, you'll feel joy - but at the end of the day your child will be better equipped to handle life because of what they learned through their commitment to their activity."

If you'd like to catch Coach Bryan and the Capitals in person, they will be playing several home matches at Sunrise Marketplace during the month of July. Hope to see you at the courts!

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