I met Marissa Goodman when I started my first day at my new job in San Francisco, almost 5 years ago now. We were both forging our way at a scrappy (not-so-little) tech/apparel start up, working insane hours (as you do at any start up in the Valley) and still managing to throw on heels in the morning before commuting out on the 101. What I loved immediately about her was her effortless panache -- followed closely by her laid back, Pacific Northwest roots. She's equal parts elegant as she is outdoorsy and I love how comfortably she blends the two worlds.
I've had the pleasure of working with her for years since then, both of us moving on to Google, until she eventually left back in 2013 to follow a dream of hers -- to start her own knitwear line. I remember quite vividly how excited I was for her when she broke the news to me and have been waiting anxiously for the debut collection to drop ever since. Well, I'm ecstatic to report, Tempest + Bentley, a luxury sustainable knitwear line launched earlier last month and I, for one, have been eyeing every last piece. Hard. Sourced and produced entirely in the US, each sweater has a unique flair to it -- either from an exaggerated cable knit detail, or perhaps a peek-a-boo shoulder cutout -- that turns the notion of traditional sweaters on its head a bit. (You may have even caught me in a few right here and here.)
Lately, we've been chatting a lot about ladies who have taken the entrepreneurial leap, leaving their corporate day jobs to pursue their dreams and passions. Clearly, Marissa is no exception here. Earlier last week, we stopped by her adorable Cole Volley work studio to take a peek at the debut fall/winter collection, chat about what it takes to finally make that leap and even some of her favorite hidden gems around San Francisco.
Your path leading up to this point has been anything but traditional (read: how fun!). What's been your career trajectory until now? How did you get your start?
My first job in fashion, for a cashmere brand in San Francisco, started 2 weeks before I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. It was there that I was first introduced to the art of knitwear design. I was hooked. For ten plus years I worked for a number of San Francisco corporate fashion companies, small and big. I hit a point where I wanted to try something new and I didn’t want to climb the corporate ladder. After a brief stint refurbishing furniture, I was offered an opportunity to work for a fashion technology company, which is where I met you! One of my first tasks was to support engineers in creating trend and seasonal search engine phrases. I never thought I would end up in tech and the idea of working at Google, I never saw that in my career path. It was a great experience though and I learned so much about e-commerce. I like to work with tangible products and I’ve always loved sweaters, so it wasn’t surprising that I went back to my roots.
Is there anything in your past work lives that's helped you along the way in launching your own line?
Years of designing apparel, creating tech packs, fitting garments and visiting factories, definitely helped me figure out my process. Building a website is extremely time consuming and involved a lot of design strategy. I can’t imagine how hard it would have been if I hadn’t worked in e-commerce.
Your commitment to sustainability really strikes a chord with us, especially when it comes to investing in quality, well-made pieces. Where does that commitment stem from?
The older I get, the more attracted I am to long lasting pieces, from a trend, style and high quality standpoint. It doesn’t feel responsible to buy throw away fashion, fashion I can only wear for a season before it’s out of style and fashion that wasn’t made ethically. Part of this attitude about fashion has been inspired by my husband’s work in sustainable food and agriculture. Waste is waste, whether it’s food or clothing. We live in a world where we need to be considerate of how things are made and be responsible for the waste we are creating.
So why sweaters? (Not that we're complaining, we love them!)
My first job was for a cashmere sweater designer that really let me explore knitwear design. I love the architecture of creating stitches and combinations of stitches. She also gave me a lot of beautiful sweaters and I’ve gravitated towards the coziness and warmth of a sweater ever since.
You've already worn the design hat multiple times in your life -- how is it different blazing your own line this time around?
Now I’m not just focused on design, I’m wearing all the hats needed to start a business. It’s a lot of work, but I do like that everyday is different. There’s not a lot of routine in my day to day. It keeps it interesting.
A good designer…is always looking for new inspiration. Some of my best ideas were created in unexpected moments.
One thing that you know now, that you wish you knew then…Just take a deep breath and everything is more than ok.
Who's the girl you're designing for? What is she like?
The Tempest + Bentley woman is a conscious shopper, both in terms of style and quality. She strives to find fashion forward pieces that she can wear again and again, that will last more than a season or two.
Not that we're asking you to play favorites, but what piece from your debut collection are you obsessed with? What's the story behind that piece?
I wear them all, but I would say I’m wearing the Charlie Croppy Cable the most right now. I love how chunky and cozy it is, but a little sexy too, with the cutout shoulder.
What are you wearing on repeat these days? What does your daily uniform look like?
I’m into long skirts and dresses right now. I can’t get enough. I just got a gorgeous embroidered skirt from Suno with a fringe on the hem that looks great with a lot of Tempest + Bentley styles. I’ve also been wearing a super skinny calf length dark denim skirt by McGuire Denim.
Any hidden San Francisco gems you care to share?
San Francisco is the best city for an urban hike. I’m always up for exploring Ocean Beach and the surrounding Forts and Cliffs. It’s fun to hit up the cool boutiques and cafes that continue to pop up in the Outer Sunset. I often pop into General Store.
Speaking of fun boutiques, where are you shopping these days in San Francisco?
Gimme Shoes, Mill Mercantile, Steven Alan, Elizabeth Charles, AB Fits, Rand + Statler and Decades of Fashion. Past Perfect, Heath Ceramics and Sue Fisher King and for home.
West Coast or East Coast?
West Coast. I was born in Portland, Oregon and I moved to San Francisco when I was 19. I crave visits to the East Coast, but the West Coast is home.
Name an item every woman should have in her closet…
Besides a cozy sweater a beautiful silk lounging robe.
We really admire the entrepreneurial jump you made to launch your own line. Any words of advice for someone looking to change their career drastically?
Well, thank you. I thought about this for a long time. It wasn’t a sudden decision. Do the research and take the time to make sure you are ready to make a change.
You're a long-time San Francisco resident (practically native now), what is it about this city you admire?
San Francisco has this great elegant, yet sporty balance. You can hike in Marin or surf at the beach and then take your pick of what exceptional restaurant you want to end your day in. There’s so much to do in the Bay Area. It’s impossible to get bored.
Most memorable place you've ever traveled to?
I used to travel a lot for work when I was in corporate design. India and Korea definitely left a lasting impression. The hospitality in both countries was over the top and the food and shopping in each was wonderful. I had never seen so many skyscrapers in one place in Seoul. The poverty in New Delhi was overwhelmingly sad.
Right now, I can't stop talking about…I just discovered Dr. Sylvia Earle this year. She’s a marine biologist and was the first female chief scientist of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. She continues to dive at 79, and she’s focused on establishing marine protected areas around the world to save the oceans. She also constantly has a smile on her face and has the most positive outlook on life.
If I could trade places with anyone for a day, it would be…I’m scared of deep dark water, but if I could be Dr. Sylvia Earle for the day, and explore the depths of the ocean, that would conquer my fears I’m sure.
I feel the most comfortable when I'm…with my family, playing at the beach or in the country, with no plans, just enjoying the moment.
Make sure to check out the Tempest + Bentley collection right here and start clicking right this way if you want to follow Marissa and her T+B adventures on Instagram.