Elitaire Boutique Nominated For 2017 Emerging Small Business Of The Year

On August 15th, the Huntsville-Madison County Chamber will honor the success of small businesses and individuals that have made an impact on the community with an Awards Celebration. One of the contenders, Elitaire Boutique, was nominated for Emerging Business of the Year.

The women’s boutique opened in October 2016 at The Garage at Clinton Row and has quickly grown into a Downtown Huntsville favorite. The shop’s success is evident as it reached another milestone—a nomination for one of the Chamber’s prestigious awards.

We recently sat down with Kayla Adams, owner of the elegant boutique, to discuss the nomination, coming events at the shop, and what she thinks makes for a winning business.

How does it feel to be nominated for this award?

We are very humbled, excited, nervous—all of these feelings! But ultimately, we are grateful and honored to be nominated alongside all the other fabulous small businesses. Being a finalist is already a win for us.

Tell me a bit about the 2017 Small Business Awards.

Like I said, just being nominated is a big deal to us. Every year, the Chamber honors businesses in several categories; we were nominated for Emerging Business of the Year.

The 32nd Annual Small Business Awards Celebration will happen at the Von Braun Center on August 15th. I am really looking forward to honoring the amazing businesses that have thrived in the Huntsville area. Everyone is a winner in my book.

What do you believe makes for a successful business?

First and foremost, I believe that you have to offer excellent customer service. Without our customers’ support, we wouldn’t have made it past the first day. Providing them with our absolute best is something we continually strive for.

Secondly, you need an amazing, unique product offering. All of our brands are new to the Huntsville area. We want customers to be able to find something exquisite and exclusive without sacrificing style or quality.

And last, but not least, I truly believe in community over competition. This is the mindset in which my husband and I have built Elitaire. It’s also the second reason why our brands are new to the area. As a small business owner, I don’t want to carry a brand that is already being represented in Huntsville by another small business.

I focus on providing something different and giving our customers more shopping options in our city. By doing this, we are also able to refer our customers out to other stellar, local boutiques in Huntsville. This encourages them to keep shopping local.

What do you think customers love about your shop?

I think our customers love our store because it offers women the chance to find their own sophisticated style and feel beautiful—but with unique, high-quality clothing you can’t find anywhere else in town.

We will always be a store that is classic and sophisticated, but we love adding an unexpected, eclectic edge that makes our customers feel avant-garde. We want our customers to leave with a certain “je ne sais quoi” they can’t find anywhere else.

Speaking of customers, do you have any events lined up for them in the near future?

Yes! We are having a free pop-up yoga event coming up on the last Saturday in July. It’s a great way to unwind in a beautiful space with friends. We offered the same event earlier this year and it was a huge success.

In the Fall, we will also have jewelry trunk shows. And stay tuned for a fashion show (or two)! We have a few other surprises up our sleeves that I can’t announce quite yet, but just know it will be an experience you won’t normally find in a retail store.

You said you have several unique brands available. Are there any you’d like to highlight?

I come from a nonprofit background, so it’s very important to me that we give back in any way we can—we do that through our “Purpose Brands” that we carry in the store and online.

The Shine Project

The first is called The Shine Project. This nonprofit helps America’s inner-city youth become first-generation college graduates. These students not only make the jewelry, bags, and screen-printed tees we carry, but they also help in the design and selling process. They even answer the phone when I call customer service! These kids are learning excellent communication skills and work ethic that will help with employment in the future.


Another “Purpose Brand” we carry is called FashionABLE. Their motto is, “It is widely known that if we are to end extreme poverty two things must happen. One, we must create jobs for those lacking opportunity, and two, we must do so for women.”

This is the gap that FashionABLE has been helping—women who have been victims of extreme poverty, abuse, and human trafficking in Nashville, Ethiopia, and Peru. These women hand-make beautiful pieces of jewelry, leather goods, and clothing—and they are all original.


E.S.CO is owned by Emma Steelman who is a local, self-taught silversmith and artist. She hand-makes each piece of jewelry out of silver or gold and also uses hand-selected real stones in her design. You will never find two pieces that are alike.

We feel it’s important to support local artists and businesses, and we are always looking to showcase that talent in our store.

What do you love about your job?

Honestly, I love everything about it. But I love my customers the most. The people I am able to meet through this career and the relationships that have grown from it are priceless to me.

We love to provide customers with the best shopping experience possible, so we will always be listening and adapting to what they want while providing our best customer service.

You will always be greeted with a smile when you walk into Elitaire Boutique.

Check out the FULL LIST of award contenders here.

 And stay tuned to Elitaire’s Facebook page for more updates from the shop. Or follow them on Instagram @elitaireboutique.

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Innova Primary Care: Leading The Way In Patient-Centered Health Care

“Providing quality medical care is about more than prescribing medications and performing procedures,” explained Brooke Uptagrafft, Medical Director of Innova Primary Care. “It’s about making patients feel valued and going much deeper than what society considers to be the standard for primary health care.”

With the dream of leading the way in patient-centered medical care, Dr. Brooke Uptagrafft and husband David Uptagrafft have relocated Innova Primary Care to a newly renovated building on Chateau Drive in the heart of Huntsville.

“We were out of room at our previous location,” said David Uptagrafft, Director of Operations. “We have a lot of plans down the road for offering more services, and this space gives us the ability to do just that.”

The new facility will allow the practice to focus on the needs of individual patients through faster service, increased one-on-one time, health coaching, and more.

Brooke and David also shared some exciting news. Innova is now an officially recognized PCMH (Patient-Centered Medical Home) Level 3 practice.

“The PCMH recognition is pretty unique to the Huntsville area,” said David. “This recognition points to our ability to provide the highest quality care while reducing costs, improving patient-staff relationships, and putting patients at the forefront of importance. It’s a reform in health care delivery that supports the shift to value-based care.”

But the pursuit of creating a better primary care experience in Huntsville began earlier in 2011 when Brooke and David moved back to the area and Dr. Brooke accepted a position at a local practice.

A Brief History of Innova

After Brooke completed her residency, the couple decided to return to Huntsville—their hometown—in order to be closer to family. After looking at practices in and around the area, they were contacted by Dr. Tim Howard and Dr. Michael Carter for an interview. In October 2011, Dr. Brooke joined Gleneagles Family Medicine.

“It was a wonderful place to start,” said Brooke. “In 2013, Dr. Howard decided to retire. So that meant there was another influx of patients. We experienced rapid growth from then on and officially launched the BrookeMD Primary Care brand in 2016.”

After several conversations, Dr. Carter and BrookeMD decided to officially divide the practices. The team successfully shared the space at Gleneagles Drive for a year. But as BrookeMD continued to grow, the need for additional space could not be ignored.

“We looked at all kinds of options,” remarked Brooke. “But when we found this building, we knew it was what we needed. So, we purchased it and began remodeling.”

In January 2017, BrookeMD Primary Care rebranded itself to Innova Primary Care to represent a team-based mentality and rebirth at its new location.

An Innovative Space

“This new space means patients are going to be getting back to rooms even faster,” said Brooke. “We already have short wait times, but this change means we will have more space to place guests into a room, freeing up providers to spend more time with patients without feeling time crunched.” She also said the space would make more services possible later this year.

“We have added a Care Coordinator to the team, and a Health Coach is coming later in the fall,” she said. “We will be doing a lot of patient education right in the exam rooms without having to schedule them to come back at a later date or call them on the phone.”

As a primary care facility, the space had to serve many functions—one of which was enabling a comfortable space for staff and providers to have conversations with their patients.

“The functionality and form of the space were vital in our effort to make care more personalized and emotionally safe for our guests,” said David. “We didn’t want our facility to be intimidating or dehumanizing, we wanted to create something that would encourage and empower patients to be an active voice in their healthcare.”

At Innova, every exam room is equipped with comfortable chairs and a cafe table where patients can view their medical records on the computer monitor with their provider.

Image courtesy of Innova Primary Care.

In addition to more spacious and functional exam rooms, the new facility also features consultation rooms that serve as a safe space for patients and staff to discuss any health concerns or have new patient orientations. David also mentioned the importance of technology within the new facility that makes operations run smoother.

“Technology is a big component of what we do,” he said. “The model for health care is changing rapidly, and we provide our patients with tools that make the process of receiving quality care much easier.”

Patient Empowerment Through Technology

In 2014, Innova made Healow—a health and online wellness app—available to patients, allowing clients to book appointments, check in, view lab records, medications, and more. The app is also password protected for enhanced privacy.

“We want our patients engaged,” said Brooke. “Healow is one way to accomplish that. A large number of our patients utilize it, and we continue to see steady growth in its use.” With the expectations for quality medical care shifting, Innova strives to advocate positive change through patient empowerment tools. This includes the adoption of state-of-the-art technology.

“We have more exciting news regarding our technology at Innova,” teased David. “Stay tuned for future announcements when we share more about an exciting partnership.”

A Passion to Make Patients Feel Valued

Brooke and David carry something into the practice each day that’s worth much more than a functional new building or high-tech medical tools. They have a desire to make everyone involved with Innova feel important and cared for.

“I believe that the world is a broken place,” Brooke urged. “I feel that I am here, and have been given the skills and the experience to try and make the world a little less broken.”

“For some people, Innova is the place they go to feel valued. When they walk out the door, they may not feel it anymore. But when they are at our practice, I want to give them a little piece of that. At Innova, you are cared for—mind, body, and soul.”

To learn more about Innova Primary Care, visit https://innovaprimarycare.com. You can also follow them on Facebook.

For media inquiries or questions about the new location, contact Innova Primary Care Public Relations Coordinator, Morgan Boone, at morgan.boone@myinnovacare.com.

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Huntsville’s Popular Mason Dixon Bakery and Bistro Goes Regional!


Image courtesy of Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro © Andrew Hall Photography

“When you become a customer, you become part of our family.” That’s the business philosophy of Ashley and Taylor Ramirez, owners and creative minds behind Huntsville’s popular Mason Dixon Bakery and Bistro. And very soon, the family will be growing. Mason Dixon will be adding a second location in the Homewood neighborhood of Birmingham!

“We are definitely excited for it,” said Ashley. “We were instantly drawn to the Homewood area, because it’s in a residential community much like the one here in Huntsville’s medical district. Maintaining a strong community involvement is something that we are very passionate about and plan on continuing with our Birmingham customers.”

Selecting the location for the expansion was done with close attention to the needs of its customers. “The mission of Mason Dixon has always been to bring convenience to allergen-friendly foods,” said Ashley. “Huntsville has fully embraced us, more than we ever imagined. But to continue our mission we need to expand. We recognized that we could fill a great need in Homewood, and it’s close enough for us to stay heavily involved with the business.”


Edgewood Station, a redeveloped service station on Oxmoor Road, will be the home of Mason Dixon in Homewood. A bit larger than its Huntsville counterpart, the Birmingham restaurant will allow for additional seating and parking for its patrons. The store is tentatively scheduled to open at the end of July 2017.

“Homewood customers can expect a modern and industrial vibe at Edgewood Station,” said Ashley. “It’s a rustic repurposing style that we think fits perfectly with the direction our business is headed. The new space will feature stained concrete floors, and we are taking down walls to the cinder blocks. We know customers are going to love it.”

Mason Dixon’s gluten-free goodies are already popular in the Birmingham area. Ashley said that several of its customers at the Huntsville location drive from “The Magic City” just to get their hands on delicious cupcakes, bread and allergen-free fare. Their enthusiasm was one thing that led to the new location and upcoming offerings.

“We are always listening to our customers,” said Ashley. “Which is why we’ve decided to serve Saturday and Sunday brunch at our Homewood location.”

Image courtesy of Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro © Andrew Hall Photography

Image courtesy of Mason Dixon Bakery & Bistro © Andrew Hall Photography

If that wasn’t enough good news, the restaurant will also be expanding its coffee menu at both locations through a partnership with Honest Coffee Roasters. (The coffee shop will be adding its newest location to Downtown Huntsville at The Garage at Clinton Row soon.) Coffee lovers can officially rejoice!

“This growth is very thrilling for us,” said Ashley. “It’s always scary when you step out and do something edgy, but we’ve discovered there is a great need for what we provide. People in the area do care about what they eat, and they are willing to try new things. I think this progressive mindset will follow us to our Birmingham location.”

Mason_Dixon_Bakery_and_Bistro_HuntsvilleThanks to passion and quality food, Mason Dixon has continued to evolve. Nestled on the corner of Bob Wallace Ave. and Whitesburg Dr. in Huntsville, its flagship store has welcomed customers since 2013 and created a place where people with food allergies and dietary restrictions can indulge worry free. Locals and visitors alike have come to recognize the bakery and bistro as a haven for delectable allergen-free goods.

As their story continues in Birmingham, Ashley has just one thing to say, “I encourage Homewood to put aside any preconceived notions about gluten-free food and give us a try! We think you will be pleasantly surprised.”

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Client Spotlight: Focus Physiotherapy

With a desire to elevate and grow the practice of physical therapy in the North Alabama, Jonathan Zecher and Chad Hobbs are focusing their vision on Huntsville by bringing their hands-on holistic approach to wellness to the region.


“I graduated from Grissom High School and actually started out in engineering out at UAH, but then decided I just didn’t think I could sit at a desk all day long,” joked Zecher who has been practicing Physical Therapy in Huntsville for a little over 15 years after previously practicing in Birmingham for several years before that.

“Essentially,” Zecher explained that as physical therapists, “we’re the experts in movement in the healthcare profession, and that’s really what we treat.  We treat movement, we treat function.”

“Really my goal and desire has always been to increase the standard of care and increase the skills in our profession in this area.” he went on to say. “I’ve had the privilege of working with therapists all over the country and just feel like there are areas we can continue to get better and provide patients better care.”

In pursuit of this belief, Zecher opened his own practice Focus Physiotherapy here in Huntsville in August of 2015, partnering with therapist Chad Hobbs a few short months later in January of 2016. Since then their business has rapidly expanded, moving into a larger facility on Eagletree Lane, and is now in the process of opening a second location in Madison later this year.

crunkleton2016christmas_bw-7“I feel very strongly about the benefits that physical therapy brings,” stated Zecher’s business partner Hobbs. “But I also feel very strongly about our ability to empower patients.” he added. Hobbs, who chose to go back to school and study physical therapy, leaving a successful career as a exercise physiologist behind, made his choice due largely to his first hand experience witnessing how physical therapy improved the life of his disabled sister. He explained that, “we bring the ability to, number one, decrease [our patients] pain, but number two, educate patients as to why their symptoms are happening, where they are coming from, and how they can gradually, with time, make that better.”

“I think our combination of doing the hands on work and looking at people from more of a holistic standpoint sets us apart from other practices in town,” theorized Zecher. “We tend to look at people and treat people as the whole person. Certainly you may be coming in with shoulder pain, but are there other things that are influencing that?”

This approach has yielded great results even from some patients who have tried physical therapy previously and then finally found relief at Focus Physiotherapy. Zecher tells of one such patient who came in, referred for a different part of the body but mentioned having debilitating headaches every day. After treating the original body part, Zecher gained approval from the patient’s doctor to also treat their neck.

“We started working on her neck and really within only about three visits, someone who was waking up every day with a headache, was down to one headache a week,” Zecher said. “And then, in about another three visits, she was down to ‘I haven’t had a headache at all this week’ and then basically we discharged her last week after about seven visits and she had had just one headache in the last month.”

Zecher says he sees this as an example of how physical therapists can partner with physicians to provide the best overall care for every patient.


“We’ve found that most of the family care doctors are very open to utilizing us and trusting us and find us as a great adjunct to what they are doing for their patients,” Zecher explained. “They see their patients for just a few minutes in their office and we spend an hour with a patient nearly every time they’re here. So sometimes we get information the doctor did not get and so our willingness and ability to share that information back and forth has been very positive because it just allows them the ability to treat their patient with more precision than they would have had otherwise.”

But beyond simply educating and empowering their patients, Focus Physiotherapy has also taken it upon themselves to empower its own therapists as well.

“We’re wanting to be pretty aggressive about developing our therapists skills and improving their training, pushing them further than the average therapist goes with those things,” Zecher said.

With this combination of patient education, physician interaction and increased therapist training, its no wonder why Focus Physiotherapy is expanding in Northern Alabama and Zecher and Hobbs are getting one-step closer each day to achieving their goals for their business, and their profession.

Interested in making an appointment with Focus Physiotherapy to see if they can make a difference in your life too? Simple visit their website HERE, or call them at (256) 883-0636 to book your consultation!

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CRUNKLETON Commercial Real EState Group