Warning: don’t read any further if you are not in agreement that Marin County is the best place to live — the next 500 words will just tie your panties in a bunch.
This issue we celebrate our Best of the County picks in a way we have never done before. It’s taken us years to evolve and dare I say perfect this process to offer you a robust selection of over 500 small businesses that all make our county the best place to live (just ask the folks at Robert Wood Johnson Foundation). Our best-of lists are composed of eight categories: arts & entertainment, beauty, dining, fitness & wellness, home & design, services, shopping and philanthropy, each with at least eight sub categories. Back in March we sent these lists to our newsletter audience to select their favorites with a caveat, to reduce the “you didn’t include me” emails and letters — if a business received 10 individual write-in votes we would add them to our list.
Luckily, Holly Smith, our marketing coordinator, had just started and took on the task of searching for duplicate emails addresses with the fervor of an Orkin Pest control pro. “Got one” I would hear her squeal, or “Cheaters, cheaters, cheaters.” In the end, we had over 7,200 individual votes and as a complete surprise due to write-ins, added another 40 businesses, with bakeries, pizzas and nail and hair salons leading the charge. Once the votes were tallied we were happy to see we only had one tie, but if your businesses earned this year’s readers’ choice, you might want to thank your customers — in many cases there were hundreds of votes cast per category and the winner won by only 20.
Then came the fun part: creating over 100 individual online articles. While it was a group effort, our then spring term intern, Ciel Perlot, immersed herself in the poetry of writing all those introductions and over 400 associated blurbs for topics ranging from auto repair to photography — halfway through the project we brought her on as a freelancer. Also, on this Herculean task, Grace Towle managed and trained a small army including intern Eva Knowles — one of five stellar humans we have in the office this summer — to upload all of these posts, find images, triple check for accuracy and include the category sponsors. However, the real MVP award goes to the tag team effort of Kasia Pawlowska and Lisa Hilgers. Kasia painstakingly combed through each post, alphabetized businesses, fact checked names and made sure write-in information was appropriately included. She then passed off to Lisa Hilgers, who was tasked with making 18 pages of lists look dynamic without the help of a photographer or illustrator. It was just Lisa, and her dog Otis, in her studio with a lot of words and provided imagery we pulled from businesses.
Enough about us, this issue is about introducing you to a new bakery, Pilates studio or hair salon to enrich your life or visit here in Marin County. If you don’t agree with the selections, there is always next year, and if you feel like your favorite Thai restaurant should have won readers’ choice, next year be sure to vote and spread the word. Also please share your appreciation of your favorites throughout the year by tagging us and adding #MarinBOC2023, we will share your photos on our social channels (including Threads). Cheers to Marin!