We all know that Marin has an amazing outdoor backdrop where you can run, bike, paddleboard and surf to your heart’s content. There are also plenty of good restaurants, bars, cafes and breweries. But did you know that Marin is also the home to a few homegrown businesses that manufacture their products here? Here are some favorite Marin-made companies that are working their magic locally:
EO stands for “essential oils.” They started the company in a garage (sound familiar) in San Francisco in 1995 where they created 5 essential oils for a holiday gift catalog. The company has grown to a 90 person company that is based out of San Rafael where they manufacture their product line. They became a certified organic manufacturer in 2004 and a certified non-GMO manufacturer in 2011.
This is a bit of a love story. Originally founded in 1962, the company handcrafted custom lighting fixtures in the style of Post War California style. But several years after the company began, tragedy befell the founder and several family members. There were changes in ownership in the 70’s and 80’s and then the company closed in 1989. Fifty years later, Long’s son, also named Robert, has brought back the craftsmanship and concepts of his father’s designs. Working with local vendors and craftsmen, Robert Long design is recreating these pieces in Sausalito today.
Another story that started in a garage. Equator founders Brooke McDonnell and Helen Russell started roasting coffee in a Marin County garage in 1995. The partners started by going to Guatemala to establish relationships with coffee farms and then build relationships with wholesale coffee vendors and finally to creating Equator cafes that sell the finished product to the local communities both in Marin and around the Bay Area. In 2016 they were the national Small Business of the Year and they are a certified B Corporation. Equator is also a big supporter of their coffee relationships by paying quality incentive to farmers, supporting farming community incentives and providing microloan credits to their farming partners.
Heath was originally founded in 1948 by Edith and Brian Heath in Sausalito. Edith designed her ceramics to be very durable and led to advances in clay and glaze development. Her pieces are in the permanent collection at the MOMA and LACMA. Heath’s products fell out of fashion for a time but the company was revitalized in 2003 when Robin Petravic and Catherine Bailey bought the company, created new products and began collaborating with artists. Heath products are still handmade in small batches in their Sausalito factory where there is also a retail store.
Peggy Smith and Sue Conley came out west to the Bay Area in the 1970’s both going into the restaurant business: Peggy at Chez Panisse and Sue at Bette’s Oceanview Diner. In the 1990’s they discovered picturesque Point Reyes Station out in West Marin. They started Tomales Bay Foods to help West Marin farmers get their products to high end restaurants. They stumbled upon a cheesemaking room at their first location which gave them the idea to partner with local Straus Family Creamery and start producing cheese. Two decades later, Cowgirl Creamery now has two creameries, many accolades, four retail stores and many varieties of award winning cheese. The rest is cheesy history.
Originally founded in Arcata in 1997, Heidrun moved to Point Reyes Station in 2011. They set up a commercial bee keeping operation, a bee forage cultivation program and continue to maintain a visitor center and tasting room. In the fields around the operation, Heidrun cultivates flowering plants to supplement the forage available to their honey bees which is the main ingredient in the mead. The floral source of the nectar determines the unique character of each mead varietal. Mead and select honey is available for purchase. The tasting room is open every day: Monday through Friday from 11am-4pm, Saturday and Sunday from 11am-5pm. Buses, limousines and parties of 10 or more people must make reservations prior to visiting.