Gal on the Go: The Ultimate Boss Guide to San Francisco

CREATE & INNOVATE in collaboration with Marriott Hotels

Photo credit: Milo Cho 

We headed to San Francisco this past month in partnership with Marriott Hotels to profile five women working and living in that glorious city by the Bay. Each woman is at a different point in her career. Each with a different focus, personal definition of success and balance, various insights, and secrets to share about the city.  

We stayed at the newly renovated San Francisco Waterfront property (see above photos and the ceiling glass in the Great Room), talked best spots for coffee (obviously), their favorite place to sit and be still in the midst of the daily grind, and tourist locations that are their guilty pleasure. Spoiler: three of them have never walked the Golden Gate Bridge. 


Photo credit: Andrea Posadas 

She's a designer, wine maker, and now skin care expert, but the through line of April Gargiulo's career has always been "businesses that are focused on quality and expression at the highest level." 

April founded Vintner's Daughter an active botanical face oil "designed to be a powerhouse of multi-correctional activity." She calls it her desert island product (and has the skin to prove it).  "It address all of my skincare needs (acne, discoloration, elasticity, tone and clarity) at the highest levels and without toxins. It's the product I would never go without. Interestingly, because we addressed my skincare needs at such a foundational level, Active Botanical Serum is able to correct a multitude of skin issues; from rosacea to acne."

It's also a face serum for the busy working woman who doesn't have the time for a multi-step skin care regime every night. 6-8 drops, 30 seconds of pushing and pressing per the serum's instructions, and you're glowing. "I am a business woman," she notes, "who is focused on creating the most uncompromisingly effective skincare made from the world’s finest ingredients."

Or simply: "Put Vintner's Daughter on, drop the mic, and walk away." 

"Put Vintner's Daughter on, drop the mic, and walk away." 

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Who: April Gargiulo, Founder, Vintner's Daughter

Where: March, the first stockist of her product, Lower Pacific Heights 

Favorite spot to find the perfect chair: Hedge Gallery or Almond Hartzog

Where she'll grab a glass of wine with a career peer: The Progress

The facialist to whom she entrusts her skin: A Facial Massage from Julie Lynge. Her hands are magic. 

Where she'll take a client dinner: Octavia 

Favorite spot to grab coffee with a friend: As Quoted

If she could choose to sit and be still anywhere in the city, it would beWood Line. An installation by artist Andy Goldsworthy in the Presidio. 

Tourist attraction in SF she's never visited: I’ve never walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. 


Photo credit: Anna-Alexia Basile  

Lonny Mag is an SF-based interior design publication that focuses on accessible design, but as the news and apartment prices tell us, SF is a very expensive city, even for successful, young professionals. In line with Lonny’s mission, Angela has found a way to enjoy "the culture and essence of the city by the Bay" even in the face of it's higher price tag. "I try to be mindful of little things during the week I can cut back on. While on-demand services are certainly convenient, I try to limit my use (only for times of dire need). Also, we lived in a pretty fair-priced storefront-style home in the heart of the Mission for years. We made it work (quite well actually) and just made some DIY adjustments to make it perfect for our needs. It was great, we were able to live in an awesome neighborhood and didn't have to pay the outrageous prices."

She still trusts her "tried-and-true written agenda" when it comes to organizing her editorial calendar, saying, "it's yet to let me down." And yes, if you're wondering if working for an interior design publication gives her the itch to re-do her house all. the. time. The answer is yes. "And, I succumb to it," she says. "I am actually in the process of redoing my house right now." 

Who: Angela Tafoya, Editor of Lonny Magazine

Where: Four Barrel and Le Point, the Mission 

Best place to stock your first “adult” kitchen: Gus's in the Mission. It's a relatively new, family-owned grocery store with plenty of local purveyors and an amazing bakery and sandwich shop inside. 

Go for a solo outing: On my free days, which don't happen too often, I love grabbing a blanket and a magazine and lounging at Precita Park. Soaking up the sun and just doing nothing for an afternoon is very freeing. I also love walking down Valencia Street and popping into some of my favorite shops like Le Point, Voyager, and Mira Mira

If she could sit and be still anywhere in the city it would be: An August or September evening, dusk, and I would be atop of Bernal Hill watching the sunset, soaking in the palatial view of the city — reflecting on my day.

Piece of furniture she's pining after: A fuchsia Hans Olsen Settee chair spotted at De Angelis. "It's a little bit outside my price range," she says, "and let's be honest, not super practical but — a hot pink sofa? Who can resist?"

"Atop of Bernal Hill watching the sunset, soaking in the palatial view of the city — reflecting on my day."

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Tourist attraction in SF she's never visited: I've never actually stopped at the Golden Gate Bridge lookout point. Who am I?

SF tourist attraction that's a guilty pleasure: The Painted Ladies, of course! 

Have a glass of wine with a career peer: Mission Cheese. I love to grab a glass of Rosé and a cheese plate and sit on the patio. 


Photo credit: Anna-Alexia Basile

Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson works for a company focused on travel. So it's only natural that, time to time, she would want to get out of the office and jump into the photos, Mary Poppins style. "I dream about it a lot!," she says. "I get especially excited when we are working on stories about big cities, my favorite kind of travel. Places like Copenhagen, Tokyo, Lisbon, Budapest, and Berlin." But as new mom to a  5 ½ month old and the Creative Director for all of AFAR Media, a getaway isn't the easiest. "Today I had a meeting to finalize the cover for the issue we are closing right now, had a planning meeting for the January cover, approved layouts for this issue, met with my digital designer about some new projects, plans and changes for our website and our mobile app, and checked in on the progress of an AFAR-branded retail situation that is in the works."

Each of her days is a little bit different, which, she says "is nice." 

"There are photo edits to look through, color to approve, shoots to plan, digital planning meetings, and more." But even in the face of a hectic work/life she says it's so important to "be someone that others like to work with. Most of my jobs (long stints at DetailsT, and Bon Appetit) came from recommendations from people who had worked with me before." 

"Be someone that others like to work with."

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Who: Elizabeth Spiridakis Olson, Creative Director AFAR Media 

Where: AFAR Offices, Financial District 

Best place to go for a solo outing: Temescal Alley in Oakland. Does vintage shopping and eating donuts count as a good solo outing??? [Ed. note: yes.] 

Have a glass of wine with a career peer: Over lunch and pizzas at Cotogna 

Get dessert: Humphry Slocombe for a cone of secret breakfast

Favorite spot to have a client dinner: Tosca!!!

Best thing on the menu in her opinion: Cacio e pepe and the pony bottles of Miller High Life 

Favorite spot to grab a cup of coffee with a friend: Bartavelle in Berkeley, at the Blue Bottle that is attached to the Heath building, or Craftsman + Wolves in the Mission

Tourist attraction in SF she's never visited: I’ve never actually walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. I want to but it seems so WINDY all the time and...a LOT of walking?

SF tourist attraction that’s a guilty pleasure: Alcatraz and Haight Ashbury 

If she could sit and be still anywhere in the city it would be: I love the new SFMOMA. There are a lot of beautiful galleries to sit in and take a minute to yourself. 


Photo credit: Andrea Posadas 

Amanda Holstein runs the popular modern advice column/blog, Advice from a 20-Something where she shares the ups and downs, inns and outs of being, well, 20. For avid readers don't worry, she's already purchased the domaine, Advice from a 30-something, where she'll likely be sharing her journey on the next phase of her life. For now though, she lives in the Polk Neighborhood in SF and she focusses on sharing real content. "I love that what I'm working on is my own. It makes me work that much harder knowing that this thing I've created is an extension of me and I feel so much passion for it," she says. She's part of a generation that's forged a path for themselves. They're influential and early adapters. "I love being my own boss, coming up with what to work on every day, and feeling true satisfaction as a result of my own hard work."

"I love that what I'm working on is my own. It makes me work that much harder."

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Her way to weed out what to share and what not to is fairly simple. "My blog is all about offering real life, down-to-earth advice to twenty-somethings," she explains. "I make sure that everything I decide to share falls under that umbrella. I always ask myself, 'Would this content be helpful to a typical twenty-something?' If not, then I don't share it."

Who: Amanda Holstein, Founder, Advice From a 20-Something

Where: Saint Frank Coffee and Cheese Plus, Historic Russian Hill 

Favorite spot to grab a cup of coffee with a friend: Saint Frank! I love the decor, the vibe, and the coffee, of course.

Go for a solo outing: Crissy Beach — even if it's chilly, it's a beautiful place to walk and enjoy the view of the Golden Gate Bridge.

An unexpected doorway to take a good blog photo: The carved wooden doors outside of Reverb on Polk St.

Have a glass of wine with a career peer: Union Larder

Tourist attraction in SF she's never visited: Alcatraz! I'm dying to see it but it's always booked!

SF tourist attraction that’s a guilty pleasure: Lombard Street — I actually live on Lombard St about three blocks from the famous zig-zag part of the street and it really is a site to see!


Photo credit: Milo Cho 

Emma Brooks, known to the internet and Instagram as Emma Dime, is an Oakland based Graphic Designer whose work is the stuff of design dreams. Crisp, simple, and unexpected, she spends her days in her home office working for clients as well focusing her efforts on a new design shop Hands-On, which she recently launched with a good friend that lives in Austin, TX. "We're virtually working together every single day so that has created a new kind of working environment for me."

According to Emma the best part of her job is freedom. "The freedom to take on jobs that excite me. The freedom to control my own schedule. The freedom to shift gears at any moment in time. I could go on and on." That doesn't negate the difficulties of freelancing. "I definitely get a case of the lonelies from time to time," she says, "and when the work load is heavy I'll disappear for a few days at a time and get lost in all of my projects." She also knows that just because there is a freedom in working for yourself, you should likewise expect to "Work hard. Work as hard as you possible can and then work some more." 

"Work hard. Work as hard as you possibly can and then work some more."

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"My lack of balance can be frustrating at times," she says, "but I love what I do."

Who: Emma Brooks, Graphic Designer, Oakland

Location: Her Oakland Home/Office 

Go for a solo (Oakland) outing: I love to cruise Temescal Alley. It's got everything you need — coffee, food, shopping, and great people watching! I usually get a coffee at The Cro Cafe first and then I'll browse Ali Golden, a local designer that has quickly become a favorite of mine. Crimson always smells good and is covered in thriving plants. Homestead Apothecary is where I pick up my sleepy time tea. Esqueleto has a great rotating jewelry and art selection. On a good day,  I'll hit up Bakesale Betty for the lunch of my dreams - a fried chicken sandwich with coleslaw. Yes please! 

Have a glass of wine with a career peer: Ordinaire is top notch. They have a great selection of natural wines from France, Italy, Spain, and California. The staff is super pro and super fun too! 

Get a new book: Book/Shop in Temescal Alley carries an incredible selection of rare books. They also have small batch furniture, artwork, lighting, and other small goods. Issues is great for magazines. 

If someone comes to visit the one spot she has to show them:  I've been spending a lot of time up near Stinson Beach and Muir Woods - it's about an hour north of San Francisco. It has a small town vibe, surrounded by gorgeous trees, fog, and the ocean. It has lots of hiking trails that weave through some of the most beautiful California terrain I've seen to date. You're allowed to have a bonfire on Muir Beach so I always make sure to bring food, booze and a few blankets. It's always the perfect end to a day full of hiking and exploring. 

Favorite spot to have a client dinner: Penrose — California cuisine in an environment that feels like... Paris! Every time I go there, I fall more in love with the space. It's magical. 

Favorite spot to grab a cup of coffee with a friend: Boot & Shoe Service has great coffee, the BEST granola, and a cozy ambiance. It's also walking distance from Lake Merritt so if you want to grab a coffee and keep moving, you can head over to that path.  Trouble Coffee just opened up by my house and is also a must. Their cold brew will have you jazzed for days! 

Tourist attraction in SF she's never visited: I still haven't been to Alcatraz. I want to spend more time in all of the museums and parks — especially the MOMA, now that it's reopened. 

SF tourist attraction that’s a guilty pleasure: The boat rides that go out onto the bay. If you go over to the obnoxiously crowded Fisherman's Wharf, you can catch one for pretty cheap. There is nothing like seeing San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge from the water - especially on a clear sunny day. Foggy days are cool too. You really can't go wrong. 

If she could sit and be still anywhere in the city it would be: Somewhere by the water. In the East Bay, it's Crown Beach. My husband and I have started going there for a couple of hours every Sunday. In San Francisco, it's the west side of the city that looks out onto the ocean: Land's End and Ocean Beach.

Create & Cultivate will be visiting 5 more cities across the United States in partnership with Marriott. For our next city, we're heading to Miami. 

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