The Square has a rich history of entertaining San Franciscans and visitors alike, but what you may not know is that many of the incredible eateries, food specialty stores and shopping destinations are owned and run by women. San Francisco is known for being a city of equal opportunity, championing women and other minorities and Ghirardelli Square is no exception. Women have always played an active role in commerce in the Square and this only grows truer as new businesses arrive.
The women of the Square love working together and supporting one another. We were lucky enough to chat with some of the proud female business owners leading a new wave of retailers at the square. A common theme amongst them was that they all love offering people products and experiences that are unique to San Francisco.
Vanessa Silva runs Culinary Artistas, a cooking school for kids from ages two through fourteen focused on inspiring and empowering kids to be comfortable in the kitchen. Vanessa uses her broad background in food (ranging from engineering to holistic nutrition) to inspire and educate...at Culinary Artists you’ll get much more than just basic cooking skills.
Silva and her team have been at Ghirardelli Square for three years, originally having come across the space by chance. Silva commented that the Square is a special place to be a woman-owned business. “You feel supported by fellow business owners and there are plenty of opportunities to collaborate. The women owners in the Square are very collaborative and quick to support and leverage each other’s strengths.” Silva said, noting the sense of comfort and openness. “Being at the Square gives you some level of credibility because it has a deep history in food and has a high level of quality associated with it,” Silva said.
Vanessa regularly reaches out to other business owners in the square, including Kiri Fisher and Kristina De Pizzol, for collaborations. Fisher runs the famous Cheese School of San Francisco where you can learn about your favorite cheeses during a class or even better, take a class on cheese and wine pairing. Cheese and wine are both San Francisco past-times, and Fischer and her team at the Cheese School are experts on both.
Fisher told us, “The Cheese School has long been a women-run organization. Not on purpose, of course! We've thankfully had good longevity and women happen to come into leadership roles. We're a hard-working, get-it-done crew. We're also (mostly!) low on drama. We think a lot about what work is energizing versus enervating, both collectively and individually. It's been really helpful to us as we've grown and changed as an organization.” Fisher also told us that she liked the vision for Ghirardelli Square right away. “I love being in what feels like a mini neighborhood. Fellow business owners and staff look out for each other, it's a good scene.”
Kristina De Pizzol, owns multiple businesses in the Square that you can visit to do a spot of shopping. De Pizzol owns both Jackson & Polk, (the name a nod to the famous San Francisco streets), and the lovely Gigi + Rose. “I realized a long time ago that I can't do it alone, and this has led me to create a business model that allows others to lead and share their creativity and energy. I don't sweat the small stuff. Together we pursue beauty, success, and making each day have value.” De Pizzol also commented on the almost magical quality of the Square and how inspired it left her. “The minute I saw Ghirardelli Square I was inspired. A historic landmark next to the sea -- this was the right fit for me! I have loved the journey of bringing energy and heart to the Square.”
De Pizzol is an artist at heart. With a storied background in cultural anthropology and clothing design, she loves to support local artisans and their work. This past year, in particular, De Pizzol has gone back to her roots and relaunched her wholesale line, Delilah Studios, creating a line of locally designed clothing and jewelry.
Visit these amazing female-run companies and more at Ghirardelli Square.