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Lisa Ardis: Create a Life with Purpose

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The entrepreneurial spirit is one of the many things that make Lisa Ardis and her family unique. Whether it’s working at her business in Modesto or volunteering for a good cause, living her best life is always in the forefront of this ambitious Central Valley mom’s mind.

Born and raised in Fresno, Lisa attended college at Fresno State, where she met her husband, Brad. After their wedding in 1993, the couple moved to Modesto to be part of Brad’s family business, Huff Construction. Babies soon followed and the couple was blessed with their son, Garrett; three years later, their daughter, Amie, made the Ardis clan a foursome.

Family as Priority
“Those early years of parenthood went by in the blink of an eye,” Lisa remembered. “To this day I am so grateful I was able to stay home and make our kids our first priority. It was a busy and challenging time of juggling school activities and after-school sports, but before we knew it, Brad and I were making plans for college for both kids. We are proud to share that Garrett is now a senior who is about to graduate from the University of Arizona and Amie is a freshman at University of Oregon.”

When Lisa’s once-buzzing household settled into a quieter routine that centered around Brad and the couple’s “fur-babies,” dogs Katie, Sammie and Lucie and cat Charlie, she knew she didn’t want to spend her days being idle. “I became friends with Susan Johnson, owner of Bonnie J, during a time when Garrett was off at college and I was helping with the fashion show portion of a fundraiser event for Central Catholic High School called BASH,” Lisa recalled. “I worked with Susan to showcase some of Bonnie J’s clothing at the fashion show and I was impressed with both her and the shop. I remember thinking to myself how much fun it would be to own Bonnie J, but I dismissed the idea. A few days after I brought the clothing back to Susan, I saw in the paper that her husband had accepted a new position in Seattle. So I called Susan and asked if she would be interested in selling her business to me.”

Finding a New Purpose
Susan was initially not open to the idea of selling Bonnie J, but within a few weeks she reconsidered and called Lisa back. Not long after that phone call, Lisa found herself buying her first retail business. In May 2014, she became the new owner of Bonnie J. “Once the initial thrill of being a new business owner wore off, I probably cried three times that month and thought, ‘What was I thinking?’ at least as many times,” Lisa shared with a laugh. “I knew nothing of retail and neither did my manager, so together we taught ourselves everything. Bonnie J has been such a fun entrepreneurial adventure for me, and I feel very lucky to be the owner.”

Bonnie J is a fashionable boutique offering affordable shoes, clothing, handbags and accessories for women of any age or profession. The quaint, 1,600-square-foot shop is always bursting with fashion-forward outfits and the latest styles. Bonnie J offers shoppers a full line of fun and flirty dresses, Z Supply tanks and tees, Paige jeans, tops, bralettes, stylish footwear, hats, scarves and accessories including custom jewelry from designer Mamta Harris. Bonnie J is also known as source of the Tyler and DPM lines of candles that include popular selections such as Capri Blue and Reserve.

Inspiration for Unique Looks
“Women who visit Bonnie J will appreciate our superior customer service, beautiful fashions and low-pressure buying atmosphere,” Lisa noted. “I also buy limited quantities and sizes of each style to eliminate the worry of seeing the outfit of your dreams duplicated, and I know our customers appreciate that extra touch.”

Lisa also shared that social media has played a huge part in her business’ continued growth. She and her staff post new fashions and outfit ideas on their vibrant Instagram and Facebook accounts that customers clamor for. “We post several items every day on both social media channels, and our customers love seeing new items or outfit ideas. Word of mouth is also another amazing way we get the word out about the unique and fun offerings at this boutique. We change our mannequins once a week, and it continues to amaze me how our window displays pull new people in on a daily basis.”

Giving Back Through One Night Out
As business owners and longtime residents of Modesto, the Ardis family is also very committed to giving back to their community. Most recently, Lisa and Brad have been involved in hosting a Salvation Army upscale dinner experience known as One Night Out. They have participated in the annual fundraiser for several years, and this month, Lisa and Brad are planning to co-host the April 8, 2017, event with friends.

“One Night Out is a fundraiser that involves people in the community opening up their homes to host a home-prepared meal for a designated number of guests,” Lisa revealed. “Guests pay $250 per person to attend a gourmet meal and all proceeds go the Salvation Army. This year we are bringing in locally known musician, Neil Buettner to provide music and Chef John Surla from Surla’s Restaurant will be preparing the five-course meal for the night. It is a wonderful fundraiser for an equally wonderful cause, and it’s one we are honored to be a part of.”

Embrace Your Empty Nest
When it comes to navigating her new life chapter as an empty nester, Lisa has these sage words of wisdom to share with those in a similar circumstance. “Life as an empty nester is better than I thought it would be. I am very glad I made the choice to keep busy after our children left for college.

“My advice for other empty nesters is to have something to do with your life that is for you. Have a purpose. Have a passion, aside from your family, that benefits your life and your community. We should all use our time and talents to help others and better our community because it’s the right thing to do.” ■