Happy Birthday to me!

My Journal/My Stories

I love to be "somewhere else" on my birthday - in a newly discovered spot or old haunt. And always with favorite people. It sets the tone for my new year ahead and when I travel, I easily find my gratitude ...so here it is! My birthday week in San Francisco (mostly a gastronomic tour) with the perfect trifecta of family, friends, and Swiss Silk Company!

 New restaurant in Hayes Valley,  a | Mano  ...all pasta made by hand, and cocktails too ...sigh.

New restaurant in Hayes Valley, a | Mano ...all pasta made by hand, and cocktails too ...sigh.

 One  smoked salmon sammich  and latte to go, please ...

One smoked salmon sammich and latte to go, please ...

 Birthday dinner with my first born, she's as golden as this dish. Excellent meal at  Kin Khao  on Cyril Magnin St.

Birthday dinner with my first born, she's as golden as this dish. Excellent meal at Kin Khao on Cyril Magnin St.

 I took a cruise through  Britex  Fabrics - a landmark since 1952. Its moving from its original location, but not far

I took a cruise through Britex Fabrics - a landmark since 1952. Its moving from its original location, but not far

The Value Of A Great Partner

My journal/My stories

My friend and business partner, Irene Wilhelm, is quiet, graceful, gently elegant, and a designer of lasting beauty. While we both can be mild-mannered, I, on the other hand, like to shout loudly with delight about my favorite people, and I'd like to tell you a few more things about this lovely woman.

I could begin with stories of Irene’s father settling in Seattle, WA from England in the early 1900’s. We could enjoy stories about her youth, when she worked at Mt. Rainier National Park and met her confident, handsome, and hard working US Marine husband, Bob. I could easily embellish her qualities with stories of our meeting decades ago in San Francisco. In the 1980’s when we worked together in a boutique high-end interior design firm, Jozi Meskan Associates (see Joszi's recent project). Irene (an energetic beauty in her 50’s) and I (in my 20’s and far from the grace or wisdom earned from womanhood) could share experiences and a few tales of how I worked hard to break into that magical city and find my way in the world of design…

 In Memory of Irene Wilhelm, San Francisco, California (May 5, 1928 - August 28, 2018)

In Memory of Irene Wilhelm, San Francisco, California (May 5, 1928 - August 28, 2018)

But what I really want to tell you is that Irene taught me the essence of Swiss Silk Company. And because of her, I am now the proud owner of this special design and production company. Since 1981, Irene and I have worked together as friends and colleagues. And were she in strong health today, she would encourage me and let me know that I earned the deserved place of the grown woman in my story.

Why is Swiss Silk Company so special? And why do we design and produce custom silk scarves and neckties?

All through the 1980’s, Irene’s husband, Robert Wilhelm, was Executive Director of the iconic St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco's Union Square, and a true civic leader. The Wilhelm’s, both now retired, are still recognized for their community and non-stop civic mindedness. Swiss Silk Company was inspired by Bob’s need for a memorable gift, an expression of the city and its host committee for that historic year’s American Hotel & Lodging Association convention. A memento visitors could wear and take home to share their experience in San Francisco. The idea thus developed for a custom designed gift… unique… wearable…  high-end silk scarves and neckties.

Irene had worked among leading creatives of the San Francisco design community – In the 1980’s, beautiful textile houses with talented designers filled the city and surrounding areas. Irene collaborated with Author Athas of Twigs Fabrics & Wallpaper, and together they created a beautiful custom silk scarf for the Hotel and Lodging Convention. The idea was so popular that Irene soon had orders from other historic hotels, and resorts, then museums, foundations, wineries, and corporations, all seeking beautifully custom branded silk scarves and ties of their own.

Later, I relocated to the Midwest and expanded our partnership. While I am in San Francisco regularly, Irene and I can no longer chat on a daily basis. I miss our camaraderie, our partnership and the fun we shared. I am proud and honored to direct Swiss Silk Company. Each day I continue to push our boundaries, interpret needs and develop designs for our valued clients, and share ideas and relationships with colleagues.

I can still hear Irene’s wise voice guiding me: “Are you doing your very best? Then you have nothing to fear”. This, I shout loudly, is the value of a great partner.

Travel well, and stay a long while.

My journal/My stories 

I‘d been away from home for over a month and needed some self love, so I researched hair salons near my North Beach apartment in San Francisco. I randomly (with recommendation from a stranger whose hair I admired), booked at Tom’s Beautiful Sexy Hair on Chestnut Street. It’s a lovely, bright white and fresh salon with two Tom’s. The service was luxurious and leisurely. #1 Tom told me to be sure and stop-into the shop around the corner. He assured me I would like it, and its owner, Christina Weber. It was serendipitous because I learned about Christina and her shop the day before while walking around the Dogpatch neighborhood, and visiting the Work Shop Residence (btw, an energizing place for ideas and collaboration)

 The talented, interesting, and fun Christina Weber (shown here in her  studio )

The talented, interesting, and fun Christina Weber (shown here in her studio)

I followed Tom’s suggestion, stopped into Studio Patró and introduced myself to the interesting and talented, Christina Weber. Studio Patró has a motto; "Use cloth, Not paper" and Christina's studio is filled with crisp linen tea towels and aprons printed locally with fresh modern designs, colors, and words.  We became new friends and met again after work to continue on with full conversations about small business, designers, product development, places to eat, places to live…and basically life as we know it. Christina suggested the new North Beach restaurant on Columbus, Bodega North Beach . She introduced me to the owners, Paria and chef Lalo, we sipped rosé and shared small plates. Bodega has delicious food and the perfect end-of-the day vibe.

I made my way home to my apartment and crawled in to bed, I looked at my calendar and read a note to myself - “Make today GREAT” …it truly was.