.Fashion Maven Margaret O’Leary

I remember living in San Francisco in the early 2000s and first seeing a Margaret O’Leary store on Fillmore. I had no idea the fashion legend lived just over the Golden Gate. What follows is my interview with her…

What do you do?

Design clothing.

Where do you live?

I live in an old, Greek Revival-style house in Mill Valley, decorated with bright colors and interesting fabrics. The walls are lined with rock ’n’ roll photography and the floors with Art Deco rugs from the 1930s.

How long have you lived in Marin?

30 years.

Where can we find you when you’re not at work?

Traveling! I’m so lucky that my wanderlust can lead me all over the globe, as it’s really a passion of mine. When home, my husband and I hike every weekend, and I’m addicted to pilates and gyrotonics.

If you had to convince someone how awesome Marin is, where would you take them?

I love so much about Marin, but I may convince someone by taking them out of Marin. A big selling point for me is how close we are to everything—a big city, the beach and the mountains.

What’s one thing Marin is missing?

Food open late. My husband and I are big foodies.

What’s one bit of advice you’d share with your fellow Marinites?

Be yourselves! Part of the comfort and safety of Marin comes from it being somewhat sheltered, which I think lends itself to people dressing and behaving similarly. I love it when I come across those who are uniquely, loudly individual.

If you could invite anyone to a special dinner, who would they be?

Jane Fonda. She is a role model of mine and to so many. We are going to be designing a poncho for Jane’s Climate PAC, and we couldn’t be more excited to support the cause.

What is some advice you wish you knew 20 years ago?

When I began designing, I was pretty naive about the business and management side of the business. I wish I’d known early on how crucial informing oneself about operations of a company is to succeed.

What is something that in 20 years from now will seem cringeworthy?

Fast fashion. Its production is so devastating to our environment, and worse, trends come and go.

Big question. What is one thing you’d do to change the world?

Give back. Ever since I made any money at all, I donated a portion of it to charity. I believe giving back gives us a sense of purpose that strong, healthy lives are built on.

Keep up with O’Leary at margaretoleary.com.

Nish Nadaraja was on the founding team at Yelp, serves on the San Anselmo Arts Commission and attempts to play pickleball at Fairfax’s Cañon Club.


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