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Keri Aivazis is the co-owner of Urban Radish, a rising star in Los Angeles’s grocery retail industry. The store is a full-range, farm fresh market rooted in the tradition of high-touch customer service. Through Urban Radish, Keri is combining over twelve years of management consulting expertise with a passion for fine food, and her goal of bringing premium quality foods and locally farmed produce to LA’s urban core.
Keri Aivazis is an entrepreneur from the Los Angeles area who currently works in the grocery industry. Keri Aivazis is a co-owner of a full-range farm-fresh market called Urban Radish located in east side of downtown Los Angeles. Through Urban Radish, it is Keri Aivazis’s mission to cultivate community and inspire through food. Her goal is to enrich the urban lifestyle with the finest foods and ingredients, and bring people closer to the foods they consume through education and active customer engagement.
Keri Aivazis is helping transform the way urban communities relate to healthy food. With only two hours separating Los Angeles from San Joaquin Valley, a geography known as “the food basket of the world”, it is Keri Aivazis’ belief that LA’s urban communities should have easy access to ripe, delicious produce – not produce that has been picked early and left to ripen in the sunless distribution systems typical to large chain grocers. Keri Aivazis believes that nutrition and flavor are maximized by working with local farmers who are passionate about the quality of their crops. Through Urban Radish, Keri Aivazis and her business partner Carolyn Paxton hope to help the community better understand where their food comes from while providing nutritious and delicious foods.
Urban Radish is a small format, full range market, emphasizing farm fresh perishable foods. It is located in the Los Angeles Arts District and helps support small, local farmers and artisan food producers by selling carefully selected products and seasonal produce. They offer the freshest produce as well as meats, seafood, deli items, artisan cheese, baked goods, dairy and more. Aivazis personally selects what comes into the market by making trips to local farms and artisanal food producers. She does this to ensure that only the healthiest and tastiest options are making their way to the dinner tables of her customers. She is very passionate about changing the urban community food system as well as offering outstanding customer service. Keri Aivazis is a strong believer that food goes well beyond its nutritional value. She believes that food brings people together, food is core to culture, and food helps build community.
Keri Aivazis's professional career started after she completed her graduate studies at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. While there from 1994 until 1999, she pursued her PhD in applied mathematics as well as a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. One may wonder what any of this has to do with helping bring fresh food to someone’s table, but the numbers aspect of the business is a big part of keeping Urban Radish running.
While she was taking part in her PhD and her master’s programs, she focused on fluid mechanics and published a few articles, including “On Spherical Vortex Models for Homogenous Turbulence, Physics of Fluids” and “Pressure Statistics and the Fourth-Order Velocity Structure Functions for Isotropic Turbulence.”
After she completed her education, Keri Aivazis spent nearly 13 years in management consulting. Keri started her career at Mitchel Madison Group, an international consulting firm that emphasized cost reduction. At MMG, Keri specialized in cost take-out through organizational transformation, sourcing and outsourcing. Specifically, Keri did work in baseline spend analysis, sourcing and vendor management. Shortly after joining MMG, Keri Aivazis helped spin-off MarketsWork, a venture that married consulting expertise and know-how, with robust analytics and e-commerce technology. MarketsWork, eventually named Zeborg, built and deployed web-based tools to help some of the world’s largest companies with spend analytics, transaction facilitation and vendor management.
At Zerborg, Keri’s industry focus was financial services and consumer goods. She designed e-sourcing and procurement technologies to help clients save money and sustain best-in-class procurement processes. She may have had the biggest impact in firm development though, as she was an important part in securing the capital for the new consulting opportunity.
In 2001, Keri founded AKTI Partners, a boutique consultancy, which eventually became the US arm of an international consulting firm. In her position, she developed deep industry expertise in consumer goods and food retailing. Keri served companies across the full range of critical business issues including: product development and market growth strategies, organizational transformation, supply chain optimization and spend reduction. Keri developed deep experience in the world of mergers and acquisitions in both the consumer and industrial markets.
Some specific points of experience include:
• Creating growth strategies for multinational companies that are in the confectionery, beverages and snack industry;
• Providing transaction support for manufacturers who were looking to get into health and wellness fields;
• Optimizing the profitability for food manufacturers’ portfolios;
• Optimizing the supply chain network for many companies in the beverage industry;
• Providing transaction support for some of the world’s largest private equity firms looking for high return investment in consumer goods and retail industries.
Much of Keri Aivazis’ experience in the food and beverage industry came from her position as managing director of Liber Capital, LLC. Here, she established a specialized investment platform for the beverage industry. Liber Capital’s investment thesis focused on the consolidation of the beer wholesale industry and the capital needs of the high-growth craft brew industry.
Over the past 10 years, she has contributed to a few different publications including:
• “Credit Card Surcharging – It’s a Prisoner’s Dilemma at Best” (2006)
• “New Drinks – Old Tricks” (2009)
• “Christmas Trading Index” (2006 – 2009)
• “Retail Proposition Strength Index, ‘Are You Good Enough’” (2009)
Once Keri Aivazis launched her current venture, Urban Radish, she decided to change the way urban communities experience food. Through Urban Radish, Keri is bridging her analytic strength, business expertise and her personal passion for fine food. She is dedicated to bringing only the best foods possible into her business for her customers to purchase. She serves as ‘Owner and Chief Forager’ for the store and hopes to grow Urban Radish into a portfolio of stores throughout Southern California over the next 5 years.
Keri Aivazis is helping the Downtown LA community in more ways than one. As part of launching Urban Radish, she chose a building in the Art District of Los Angeles that has a distinctive wall mural, painted by famed graffiti artist Roa. She not only decided to keep the mural, but is hoping Roa will add more street art to the structure to stay consistent and celebrate the culture of the Arts District. In addition she is planting foliage intended to cover the building structure to help insulate the building on the hotter days of the year and bring much needed greenery to the community.
She has taken on the job of personally contributing to the selection process for the food in her store. This means she regularly visits farms as well as other artisan food manufacturers, where she sees how the food is produced, and develops a personal understanding of the stories behind the brands she sells. Her goal is to continually educate herself in an effort to bring her customers closer the sources of food they consume. For example, she has traveled to California Olive Ranch to see the processes that go into creating their olive oil to make sure the product deserves the Urban Radish stamp of approval. As a consequence of her ongoing ‘hand-curating’ efforts, Urban Radish is proud to support manufacturers and growers including: Creminelli Fine Meats, Ojai Valley Olive Oil, and Murray Family Farms.
Providing healthy foods is not just about the food itself but an educated staff that can provide answers and make suggestions. Education and a passion for quality food is cored to Urban Radish’s DNA and a must-have for all the people involved in the business. That is why she only hires people who have a genuine concern for their customers and truly care about our food system and providing the best products available. Her staff does not come cheap, but she is willing to pay more for the right employees so she can be sure her customers get the most in-depth and positive experience possible.
When she is not working, Keri Aivazis takes time to improve her knowledge on health and wellness and her skills as a chef as well as taking the time to travel. She is a fan of creating ‘Cal-Med’ dishes inspired by Mediterranean cuisines and California’s locally grown produce. Keri Aivazis is also a fan of traveling to places like East Africa, Asia and Europe.
As busy as Keri Aivazis is, she always makes sure to make time for her philanthropic works. She plans to combine her work and commitment to community service through a partnership with Homeboy Industries, an organization that assists high risk, formerly gang-involved men and women with a continuum of services and programs including job training.
Homeboy Industries was founded in Los Angeles by Father Gregory Boyle in 1988 to help men and women escape the cycle of gang violence. Today, Homeboy Industries is the nation’s largest gang-intervention program, assisting approximately 12,000 people each year through services such as tattoo removal, general equivalency diploma certification and by learning job skills through social enterprises such as Homeboy Diner and Homeboy Silkscreen.
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