LATOYA RODRIGUEZ – Deep Love Picnics, Birtinya A passion for picnics and a flair for creativity has seen Latoya Rodriguez and her fiance David Thomson unveil a unique business venture capturing the beauty and relaxing atmosphere of the Sunshine Coast. Sharing a mutual love for an elaborate picnic, romance and the outdoors, Latoya and David decided to launch their business Deep Love Picnics in September, with the hope of offering a new experience for the Coast’s residents. “We love food and we love the ocean, so we would regularly pack a massive platter and set up a picnic. We would often get people walk by and give us compliments, so we thought, ‘Let’s share this’.” Providing each customer with their own custom designed private gourmet picnic, it is an idea that has proven to be a hit with locals. “I love seeing the look on our customers’ faces when they show up and see a gorgeous spread catering to their individual wants and needs, and it’s a great feeling when people share their photos with us too. “It’s something where people can create memories and relax and unwind while enjoying what we’ve naturally been blessed with here on the Sunshine Coast.” Having spent their first few months of business setting up, catering and packing away custom picnics for romantic dates in various locations around the Coast, Latoya says Deep Love Picnics is now turning its attention to special occasions, with packages available for proposals, hen’s and engagement parties. Partnering with Izba Espresso for delicious platters and going above and beyond to create the perfect picnic, it’s no wonder they’ve built such a great reputation. “People’s responses have been fantastic and that makes us want to keep going and expanding – it’s a dream come true.  

KERI STANFORD-NASH – Keri Stanford-Nash Counselling, Yandina
Keri Stanford-Nash has always been a ‘people person’ but it wasn’t until 10 years ago that she realised the full potential of her ability to help. “I used to be a massage therapist because I love working with people, but I found most people fell asleep,” laughs Keri. “I wanted to be able to interact with people more, so I studied counselling at the University of the Sunshine Coast.” Beginning her career in a family contact centre and going on to work for a variety of agencies where she worked mostly with children, Keri found her niche in helping children express their issues and concerns, recently deciding to branch out with her own service. “My passion is working with children and helping them overcome difficulties they may be facing in life,” explains Keri, “I found I had a really good rapport with children and I love using creative, expressive therapies, so I use that a lot.” The expressive therapies she refers to include sand tray and play therapies, through which children can communicate their worries without having to directly explain how they feel by playing with toys, symbols, figurines and sand. “It gives them that avenue to express themselves in a less confronting way,” says Keri. “It really just gives them that opportunity to talk about some of their concerns and worries by projecting it as a story.” Keri also addresses behavioural issues – something she says is often a manifestation of children’s problems or concerns. “Helping them to express themselves often leads to a reduction in bad behaviours,” explains Keri. “Sometimes we’ll role play some more helpful behaviours as well, so for example, for social issues, we might trial conversations they could try in those situations. It’s all about supporting people to help themselves.” Working with children five and older alongside their families, Keri’s work is certainly making a big difference to little lives.]]>