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Local women entrepreneurs honored for excellence in business

Dozens of successful female entrepreneurs in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties are nominated for their contributions to economic growth in the region.

This year, The Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation’s will honor women in 12 different categories at the 7th annual Spirit of Entrepreneurship Awards held on Friday, May 5 at the Coral Casino of the Four Seasons Biltmore.

Sherry Villanueva received the Hospitality/Tourism award last year. She is the managing partner of Acme Hospitality, which owns and operates several businesses in Santa Barbara’s Funk zone, including the wildly popular–The Lark.

Villanueva has a background in sales and marketing. She worked for Target specializing in ideation–coming up with concepts and ideas for product development.

The shift in her career path came when she met a real estate developer who asked for her help to ‘re-imagine’ the Funk Zone. The Lark became the focal point of the area.

“By far it’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s very challenging every day,” Villanueva said.

At first, Villanueva found it difficult to navigate her way through the restaurant industry.

“It’s very much of a male dominated field,” she said. “So coming in not only as a rookie, but a woman has had numerous challenges of its own.”

In addition to The Lark, Villanueva owns Lucky Penny, Les Marchands, Santa Barbara Wine Collective, Helena Avenue Bakery and Loquita.

Villanueva employs 250 people and attributes her success to her team, and hard work.

To learn more about Acme Hospitality, click here.

To learn more about the Spirit of Entrepreneurship Foundation, click here.

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