Celebrating the Exceptional Females Here in Marin County

AFTER OVER A decade of thinking about it, Marin Magazine is finally dedicating an issue to the celebration of women. The delay was not from a lack of enthusiasm for the idea; it just can feel unnecessary to call attention to gender.

Mimi TowleAssociate editor Kasia Pawlowska is often first in our editing process to ask, Why write “female” in front of “entrepreneur” or “doctor”? Good point. Such thinking seemed to provide even more reason to skip what felt like a trend in the magazine business. But as we started to plan the articles for this issue, I got more excited than I had expected to be. Take the “Fantastic Four” feature — I love the story of how the women we profile relied on each other as they created nationally recognized brands.

Staff writer Kier Holmes, also a business owner, highlighted two inspiring stories this month. Diana Coopersmith, an artist who works with 2,500-degree metal, showed up for her portrait at Blink Inc studio straight from a job site wearing a face shield and apron meant to block the flying sparks. Holmes also spoke to Helen Russell, whose popular Equator Coffees & Teas was recognized as California Small Business of the Year in 2016. It all started with some coffee beans in her Corte Madera garage.

Humble beginnings also call to mind another success story included in our profiles celebrating women. Chelsea Ialeggio’s journey is not a surprise, more like a reassurance that hard work can pay off. I first met her playing volleyball in San Francisco. At a birthday celebration, one of her former sailing instructors teased her about her habit of making each student a framed photo at the end of each week. Overachiever, they called her. A decade later, her mom, Karen Hardesty, sold us our first home in Mill Valley. If it weren’t for Hardesty’s steady guidance through the emotional process there is no way we would have started our life in Marin on Plymouth Avenue. Meanwhile Ialeggio was climbing the corporate ladder, eventually heading up the London office of Bank of America Securities before she turned 30. Like mother, like daughter. Many years later she ended up back home and working with her mother in real estate. Ialeggio’s work ethic followed her everywhere, even when I brought her along to Tahoe as a plus-one. She worked in the car the entire way up — I had to listen to my audiobook with earbuds. I was spared that fate on the way back — she got a ride home a day early to close a deal — but to me her example just proves you have to work hard; success doesn’t just happen (although Ialeggio is off my plus-one list until she retires).

Flipping through the “celebrating women” profiles, I smiled at recognizing so many familiar faces. Both my daughters loved their time at Happy Feet; Kendall at Malugani Tires has tended to our tire needs for nearly two decades; and I’ve enjoyed watching Grace Kraaijvanger evolve The Hivery to the gorgeous spot it now calls home on Miller Avenue. Our community is enhanced by these businesses and I’m grateful.

Reading these stories, I was reminded that life is mostly about change, sometimes good, often scary. And support from your friends (men included, of course) can make all the difference. I hope you will get as inspired as I did reading these pages and the profiles in our special section. And as much as I do love getting letters from readers about the people we forget to mention, please know we will be doing this again next year, and this time I’m really looking forward to it. So go ahead, actually, and send those letters — I’d like to get started early.

Mimi Towle

Mimi Towle has been the editor of Marin Magazine for over a decade. She lived with her family in Sycamore Park and Strawberry and thoroughly enjoyed raising two daughters in the mayhem of Marin’s youth sports; soccer, swim, volleyball, ballet, hip hop, gymnastics and many many hours spent at Miwok Stables. Her community involvements include volunteering at her daughter’s schools, coaching soccer and volleyball (glorified snack mom), being on the board of both Richardson Bay Audubon Center. Currently residing on a floating home in Sausalito, she enjoys all water activity, including learning how to steer a 6-person canoe for the Tamalpais Outrigger Canoe Club. Born and raised in Hawaii, her fondness for the islands has on occasion made its way into the pages of the magazine.