Sally, Danielle, and Jennifer- Three is the magic number.

From left to right: Danielle, Suzette, Sally, Carl, Ella, Miles, and Jen

Sometimes you are lucky enough to meet one new person, and suddenly discover an amazing group of new friends. That's what happened when I met Danielle at last winter's SF Renegade Craft Fair. These women's style, friendship and business savy really inspire me.

Danielle Steuernagel- Co-owner of Sculpt Gardens 
Sally Burgess - Owner of Slate Janitorial
Jennifer Witt- Physical Therapist and Co-owner of The San Francisco School of Massage.  

I grew up in a small town in England, and my mum had this really close knit group of friends in the neighborhood. I remember them all sitting around the table, drinking coffee and chatting while we played. I think I learned what female friendship is from her during those afternoons. Can you guys talk a little about your friendship circle in SF, and how that helps informs you as a mother?

 Yes, you've got it!  Incredible conversations - often over coffee or wine.  I had no idea until I became a mother, how special these relationships would be.  I cherish not only my personal friendship connections, but also the bonds my children have with these families.  It's cliche, but it certainly does "take a village" to raise your children and the density of San Francisco certainly helps. With neighbors and families so close together, we are able to step in and help out.  I appreciate the trust that my children have built with the other parents in our lives. In this beautiful and vibrant city, there is always something to explore with your kids and your friends. 

Danielle: When my daughter Suzette started pre-school last year, my social life in San Francisco changed in ways that gave new meaning to my life. The mom's of Suzette's new friends became my sisters overnight. They are my everyday... everything. Their families are an integral part our family, and they enrich our lives. These women, these amazing moms, inspire me, teach me, and remind me to laugh every day. I am so thankful for their love and friendship.

Jennifer: I learned a lot about friendship from my mother. Even though she lives in Michigan, we talk almost daily. She is funny and full of life - just what I aspire to be. In San Francisco, I am fortunate to be surrounded by creative, interesting and passionate women, who also happen to be incredible mothers. I love that my friends have so much confidence and integrity. It inspires me to follow my instincts when it comes to being a mom.

Isobel: There's a lot in the media right now about it being the 50 year anniversary of The Feminine Mystique and the birth of Second-Wave feminism.  We were raised during that movement, do you have any memories of your mum being a feminist? How do you think those lessons apply to raising a little girl now?

Sally:   From a young age, my mother was a shining example of female empowerment.  As a child of two parents who struggled with alcoholism, her mother joined AA and was able to stay dry for the rest of her life.  The strength of my grandmother as a bedrock in the family was passed down to my mother, who has carried the torch through significant personal and family challenges. 

My mother is never idle and doesn't let obstacles prevent her from getting things done. She instilled in me a beautiful balance of love and strength. As I raise my daughter, it is important to me that she does not feel restricted or have doubt in her ability to take on challenges. We often visit about friends who have hurt her feelings, and many times we call on Grammy for her insight. I want Ella to feel heard and understood, but be able to move on, not letting others' words negatively effect how she sees herself

Isobel: You guys live in one of my favorite neighborhoods in America, Potrero Hill. Can you talk a little about the benefits of raising kids in the city?

Jennifer: I love that each day with my kids is a new adventure. Museums, parks, farmer’s markets, beaches, urban gardens are all a few minutes away. Our neighbors are good, kind people. For the most part, San Franciscans are tolerant, environmentally aware and socially responsible. There is a big priority placed on clean living and locally made, sustainable products. I love that my kids will grow up with these influences.  It's also pretty easy to take a break from the city, you can find nature in all directions!

Isobel: You and your family live in a tiny, but wonderful house. When I visited you, I was struck by the amazing use of space, and how playful and fun it seemed to live there. I especially loved the swing in the living room! I think a lot of new parents decide they need to move to the suburbs and buy a giant house. Can you talk about how you came to decide to stay in your small space and how you made it work?

I grew up in a fairly affluent suburb in Massachusetts, but thankfully my Mother was not about keeping up with the Joneses. Au contraire! My mother grew up in France during the war and my family values are defined by her stories. I eat everything on my plate and there is little in our house that we do not need. We live simply and are conscious of each item that enters our 700 square foot cottage. We shop locally whenever we can, and always choose quality first (hello Bryr). We teach our four-year-old Suzette to value and take care of her things. I must admit that several of Suzette's friends have come to our house and asked where her toys are. But then in the next moment they are in our tea house making a tent out of scarves or playing "make-pretend" in our garden. I'm so grateful to my mother for teaching me that less is more.


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