It's Your Business: Photo studio focuses on life's sweet side

It's Your Business: Photo studio focuses on life's sweet side

A single mother has launched a full-service photography studio in Mahomet,

Heather Wanninger has started Sweet Lemonade Photography at 207 E. Oak St.

She specializes in weddings, senior portraits and family portraits, but she also does corporate head shots and sports photography.

"I'm a natural light photographer who loves customizing sessions for each client, creating a unique experience for them," said Wanninger, who has been doing professional photography since October 2011.

"I love the connection meeting people, and I strive to capture a person's personality by getting laughs and smiles and creating enjoyable memories that can be appreciated for generations to come."

The sitting/photo shoot is only the beginning of the Sweet Lemonade experience.

Wanninger said her clients participate in a viewing party seven to 10 days after their session to choose their favorite images and figure out which products (including wall art, photo jewelry, albums and digital items) best suit their needs.

The story behind the Sweet Lemonade name is ironically bittersweet.

"First life gave me lemons," Wanninger explained. "My husband left me five years ago, and I found myself a stay-at-home mom trying to support three children.

"One day I decided it was time to decide what to do next. I have always loved taking pictures since I was a kid, so I took a class to improve my skills.

"I then started the studio to make money for my family. This business and its flexibility allows me to volunteer at my boys' schools and to be home with them after school.

"I've created a business I love where I capture life's sweetest moments for my clients, many of whom have become friends. This business gives me new hope, hence the name Sweet Lemonade."

She may be reached at 840-2444.

Educational app company

A former employee at the Beckman Institute has started a new company that makes educational apps for children.

Mahshid Farzinfar of Champaign started Shivid last month, and she recently released her first app, called Triassic Era, for the iPad.

"It is a fun 3-D and interactive journey to the old ages of Earth," Farzinfar said. "It goes back to a time when the first dinosaurs came to life among other strange creatures, way before the Jurassic time."

The app is geared for children ages 8 to 13 and is available for $1.99 on iTunes and the Apple Store.

When children experience Triassic Era, they meet giant ancestors of dinosaurs who survived a horrible extinction on Earth, listen to their stories and learn about their habits and lifestyle.

"The adventure doesn't stop there," Farzinfar said. "You will explore an interactive 3-D map and timeline of major events in the history of planet Earth from its birth to creation and the evolution of continents."

Before Triassic Era was released to the public, Farzinfar said the game was play-tested by children at Kenwood Elementary School in Champaign and Carrie Busey in Savoy.

"Our mission is to help parents, teachers and education coordinators create a better learning experience for children using emerging technologies and innovations," she said

Farzinfar is a native of Iran who came to the United States in 2010, and her company's name, Shivid, is derived from the Persian name for dill, an annual herb in the celery family.

While Farzinfar, 30, is initially running Shivid out of her home, the Champaign woman hopes to eventually move the business to the University of Illinois Research Park.

She said she is also looking to hire passionate employees to assist her with developing educational apps.

For more information, go to her website,

Coffee shop opens at Meijer

A premium organic coffee and tea shop has opened a new location on Champaign's north side.

Espresso Royale opened its ninth location in Champaign-Urbana, inside the Meijer store on North Prospect Avenue in May.

The shop is just inside the "fresh" section by the produce and is open every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., according to Douglas McCarver, operations and marketing manager for the chain's Illinois region.

The store has between about 10 employees.

"The Meijer Espresso Royale is a full-service coffee and espresso bar and features cafe-style seating," McCarver said. "In addition to our specialty coffee drinks, we offer premium loose leaf teas, 100 percent all-fruit smoothies, blended polar cappuccinos and mochas, cold-pressed coffee and fresh baked pastries from our own bake house."

The Meijer location will also offer grilled breakfast sandwiches all day long.

If you want to make your own coffee at home, Espresso Royale sells a line of whole bean coffees that can be ground to order.

Other C-U Espresso Royale locations include 1117 W. Oregon St., U; 602 E. Daniel St., C; 1411 S. Neil St., C; and 2401 Village Green Place, C.

There are also four locations on campus: Krannert Art Museum, 500 E. Peabody Drive, C; Undergrad Library, 1402 W. Gregory Drive, U; Business Instructional Facility, 515 E. Gregory, C; and Grainger Engineering Library, 1301 W. Springfield Ave., U.

New Slumberland in Danville

The new Slumberland Furniture store in Danville is holding its grand opening later this week.

The store at the Village Mall, 2917 N. Vermilion St,, plans a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Friday.

The retailer, which takes up 34,000 square feet in the former Sears location at the mall, showcases living and dining room, bedroom and home office furniture. It also sells mattresses and home accent pieces.

The manager, Andrew Daily, comes to Danville after working at Slumberland Furniture stores in Fargo and Grand Forks, N.D.

The store has 12 employees.

"We had a lot of shoppers from this area shopping at the Champaign store," Daily said. Danville is an underserved area as far as furniture goes."

The store is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Slumberland was founded in 1967 in Richfield, Minn., starting out as a La-Z-Boy and mattress specialty store. The company's headquarters are in Little Canada, Minn.

New site for engineering firm

A Champaign engineering company held an open house last month for its new office location.

Engineering Resource Associates Inc. has moved from 3002 Crossing Court near Duncan and Windsor roads to new offices in the former Next Generation Preschool building at 2416 Galen Drive.

"The new location offers us a bit more space," said company owner and project manager Jake Wolf.

He said the company used to be called Frauenhoffer and Associates until it was purchased by Engineering Resource Associates in 2009.

"We do civil and structural engineering," Wolf said. "For example, we do a lot of bridge design and rehabilitation of buildings. We are currently working on the new Midtown development."

Wolf said the business also does some forensic engineering work for individuals, for homeowners and for insurance companies.

Engineering Resource Associates has between four and five employees, depending on the time of the year.

It is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

The business may be reached at 351-6268.

Dollar Tree branching out

A new Dollar Tree is sprouting on Champaign's west side.

Construction is underway for a new store at Country Fair Shopping Center. The discount variety store sells items for $1 or less.

Dollar Tree is headquartered in Chesapeake, Va.

Grand opening set

Huey's Home Medical is celebrating the opening of its new office at 2024 Glenn Park Drive, C, with a grand opening and ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m. Wednesday. There will be coffee and doughnuts.

Founded in 2004 by Huey and Lisa Robinson, the business serves a 50-mile radius around Champaign-Urbana.

Huey Robinson started the business because he felt there was a need for respiratory patients to receive hands-on personalized solutions to their respiratory conditions.

The business offers a full range of home medical supplies with a special focus on sleep apnea solutions, including CPAP machines and masks.

Its phone number is unchanged, 356-4839.

Pork tour hits Champaign

A trade mission geared toward increasing international sales for the agriculture industry made two stops in the Champaign area last week.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture hosted 26 international buyers from China, Vietnam, Colombia and Vietnam from June 5-9 to seek to increase sales for the state's pork industry.

While the buyers visited sites all around the state, from Red Bud to Chicago, they made two area stops.

They toured the National Soybean Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois, where Marilyn Nash talked to them about soybeans, large animal veterinarian Dr. Jim Lowe spoke on swine health and College of ACES Professor Hans Stein provided information on the role of soy in swine diets.

Then it was off to Prairie State Semen Inc., a full-service commercial boar stud and hog semen supplier in rural Champaign, followed by a tour of a nearby soybean field owned by Jon Fisher of Prairie State Semen.

Illini FS joins challenge

Illini FS Farmtown in Urbana has joined the "Million Pollinator Garden Challenge," a campaign to register a million public and private gardens and landscapes to support pollinators.

The goal of the program is to preserve and create gardens and landscapes that assist in reviving the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats and other pollinators.

Individuals, schools, community groups and businesses can join the challenge by purchasing plans or seeds and starting a pollinator garden and then registering it.

FS Farmtown manager Paula Blakley said any size garden qualifies for the program, from window and patio planters to home gardens, pathways, roadsides and meadows.

For more information contact Illini FS Farmtown at 384-8303.

Contact Tim Mitchell at 217-351-5366; by email at; or by regular mail at The News-Gazette, c/o It's Your Business column, P.O. Box 677, Champaign, IL 61824-0677.

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