My Other Job Is...

The Occupational Therapist and Wedding Planner

Liz Zborowski, 41, Point Loma

Liz Zborowski has been an occupational therapist for 18 years, but it was her own wedding in 2003 that led her into event planning. She didn’t have a day-of coordinator, which made her realize just how vital that job can be.

"The next year my cousin was getting married and I said, ‘I’m going to do this for you, because you need it.’ A couple of her bridesmaids were engaged at that time. They asked me, too. From there it was all word-of-mouth. I’ve done every venue in San Diego at this point."

Zborowski does occupational therapy at UC San Diego Health in Hillcrest Monday through Thursday and early intervention therapy Fridays at San Diego Regional Center, and teaches a class on physical disabilities at Grossmont College. Add to that her robust event planning work, handling mostly day-of coordination and floral arrangements—the latter she picked up from watching YouTube videos.

"They’re huge life events you’re helping people accomplish," she says. "In the hospital there’s a beginning and an end. You work with someone who’s been in a car accident or had traumatic surgery, then they get discharged. You help a bride get through something, too. You plan it, it comes to fruition, then it ends. Weddings are just a little more glamorous."

Both careers involve problem-solving, but sometimes the overlap is even more concrete. She’s done her rehab department coworkers’ weddings, and is the first person fellow staff go to when they need a bouquet for their baby shower. The hospital administration knows about her career in events, "but they encourage work/life balance."

Toggling the two gives her an opportunity to express herself in ways her day job doesn’t. "I’ve always been creative and into fashion," she says. "That’s the thing about being in a hospital—I wear scrubs every day. It’s nice to have that other outlet."

Her goals are to expand her event planning services and to cut down on wedding-related waste by launching a platform that allows couples to resell decor, like chargers, vases, and even flower arrangements.

But first, she wants to hire an employee. Her calendar has been jam-packed ever since she got into the business. The hustle is getting harder now that her kids, ages seven and nine, are getting older.

"I really like being a hardworking role model," she says. "I’ve missed their baseball games from time to time, but they understand that’s what Mommy does. ‘She’s Mom first, then she has these two careers and works hard for our family.’ I’m not saying it’s always easy, but I like showing my kids you can work really hard and love what you do. That’s important for them to understand."

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The Real Estate Broker and Restaurateur

Roxanne Govari, 49, University Heights

Depending on the day, Roxanne Govari may either be selling you a house—through Pemberley Realty, which she co-owns with her sister, Sanam Govari—or serving you dinner at Soltan Banoo—the University Heights Iranian restaurant she co-owns with Sanam and her mom, Mahin.

But Roxanne’s résumé has always been diverse. After moving to the US from Iran in 1990, she was a teacher in New York City before coming to San Diego in 1997 to work in IT for Qualcomm, LPL Financial, and Trega Biosciences. When Trega was bought out, Roxanne had a hunch she’d be laid off and began seeking an exit strategy.

Meanwhile, she and her sister were trying to convince their New York-residing mom to move to San Diego: "She was saying, ‘If I move, you have to promise to help me open a store.’ I was looking for property to buy for my mom. I learned a lot about the real estate process. So I thought, ‘I know how to do this—let’s give this a shot.’"

Roxanne got her license in 2000 and began working for Coldwell Banker at the same time she and her family opened Cafe Caspian in University Heights—the gift shop Mom had wanted. They quickly realized it wasn’t making enough money, so they added coffee and tea to the mix, but neighbors were more interested in food from their native Iran. "The restaurant wasn’t our idea. It’s what the neighborhood guided us into," she says. "It was well received almost immediately."

They closed Caspian in 2003 and opened the full-service Soltan Banoo that same year. While her sister and mom handle the bulk of the restaurant operations, Roxanne manages the books ("It’s ongoing, every day") and helps with serving and kitchen duties once a week. Her main focus is Pemberley Realty, which she cofounded with her sister in 2006 just as the market was starting to go sour and her Coldwell office closed. She says, "I didn’t want to go to another office; I didn’t want to join another company. I said, ‘Let me just try my own. Pemberley was my baby."

Her real estate business keeps her busy six days a week, and Soltan Banoo offers just the reprieve she needs. "The real estate world is very cutthroat, stressful, and deadline-oriented," she says. "At the restaurant, people are there to relax. It’s like going from this very dry daytime to this leisurely laissez-faire night."

With Pemberley and the restaurant side by side on Park Boulevard, some overlap is inevitable. "I have happy hours for my business at Soltan Banoo. I have open houses where I serve Soltan Banoo food. And when I close a transaction, I always give them a gift certificate to the restaurant."

But she knows when to turn it off, too. Roxanne, who also serves on the board of Diversionary Theatre, credits her staff and her husband for being able to balance both. "My business is my passion, but I block the time to spend with family. Fridays are date nights with my husband no matter what. If my child has a field trip, I go on that field trip. At the same time, you have to get over the guilt trip. Working moms always have guilt trips."

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