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Storied: San Francisco

Mar 17, 2022

In our last episode, we met Danielle Fernandez briefly when she told us all about the 10-year vision she's realizing out at Calibird and Bee Pollinator Sanctuary. In this podcast, we get to know Danielle.

Danielle's parents were born and raised in San Francisco. They met at Sears and Roebuck on Geary and Masonic in the Sixties. After they were married and started having kids, the young couple moved down the Peninsula, but didn't stop coming to The City regularly for big family dinners. The Fernandez family would hit up spots like Bruno's, Caesar's, Green Valley, Spenger's (across the Bay). Danielle describes what these dinners were like for a young kid like her.

Her mom had a successful food-demonstration business in the Eighties. They made the stuff people would hand out as samples at grocery stores back in the day. And sometimes, Danielle would go with her mom on runs to the stores.

In her teens, Danielle and her friends came to San Francisco a lot, mostly to go to raves held all over town. Getting out of the house involved some creative trickery that many of you might relate to. She says other kids at school might've thought she was a druggie, but in fact, she was just having a good time sober. She describes some of the goofy stuff she and her friends did.

In high school, Danielle worked at a pet store, where she learned to work with animals. After graduation, she took a stab at vet tech school, but didn't stick with it. From there, she worked in bio-tech for a while, but she didn't like that much either. Then a friend was looking through an old book of Danielle's drawings. They knew nothing about her artistic past, and asked why she wasn't still pursuing that. For Danielle, it was an awakening.

But it was Project Runway that really kicked things into gear. She ended up going to Parsons in New York and lived there for many years after graduating. She did well with fashion, but shifted her focus to "fast fashion," with the idea that she wanted to create practical clothes for the masses. It wasn't long, though, before she discovered inadequacies and injustices of that industry.

All this coupled with homesickness was drawing Danielle back to the Bay. And so, after nearly 10 years in New York, in 2018, she decided to pack up and head out west. Her aunt's house in the Bayview suddenly was available to her and her partner, and she was able to get a job here. We rewind a little to hear Danielle's version of the story of her and Isaiah's meeting.

​Isaiah recounts the story from his perspective. For a refresher, check out Isaiah's podcasts with us from 2020: Part 1/Part 2. Dani sent care packages to Isaiah while he worked in a dangerous situation in Santa Cruz county. We hear all about their whirlwind first day together all over the Bay Area.

We end the episode with Danielle and Isaiah's thoughts on what it means to still be here in San Francisco.

We recorded this podcast at the Calibird and Bee Pollinator Sanctuary in the Bayview in March 2022. Photo by Michelle Kilfeather