Christy Mack

We Are Cass

Cass Carrier: Christy Mack, social entrepreneur + change maker.

1.     Tell us a little about your current work 

I’m focused on new concepts that bring social change, especially setting up and funding models that create more inclusive equitable and sustainable communities.  I like to think about it as “making good on good”.

I currently work with an East Bay non-profit, White Pony Express to secure funding and expand the programs and services they offer for fee to low-income and un-housed people.  We are creatively looking at how to rescue and redistribute the abundance that exists all around us and use it to fill gaps in basic needs from food and clothing to mobile hygiene services.  The hyper-local model of identifying surplus intrigues me, saving it from being wasted and redirecting for those in need.

I also support 100 Plus Women Who Care Contra Costa County and the Women’s Legacy Fund at the San Luis Obispo County Community Foundation to ensure funding reaches non-profits and community organizations serving the people who need the most. 

2.  What’s your ideal day?

Ah - it all starts with waking up without an alarm clock and then making a big pot of coffee. I’d tidy up the house and then eat breakfast with my family. After that it’d be off to yoga and then onto the market to pick up whatever is looking yummiest for dinner that night. But, before cooking dinner, I’d hit the neighborhood trails with my husband and son. At dinner time, I’d love to have our family or close friends in the kitchen with us, enjoying wine and sharing in our meal. Stargazing and telling stories outside before bedtime. Oh, wait - somewhere in there, post hike and pre dinner I’d love a long, hot shower! The perfect soundtrack? Internet radio. Jazz Wyoming in the am, KUTX in the afternoon, and KCRW all evening long.

3.  What feeds your head, heart and soul?

Art. Art. Art. Art is the most beautiful, powerful way I know to tell and share our stories; to see each other in new ways, to examine our place in time. I think art feeds into how we understand ourselves and our place and role in life - family, community, civic, and professional life. If we can reconcile even just of part of this, then I believe we become more able to see each other and to see beyond ourselves; maybe we become more human. Maybe we are less scared of one another, maybe we make different decisions individually, eventually even collectively. 

Most recently I co-founded Art Moves Project with some other bad-ass Cass-clutch carrying women to use public art as a means to explore how we are living in this place at this time. I also am working on hanging original art, especially vintage art and objects, at a local brewery. The art tells the stories of people from various times and places. I think many more stories will be shared and heard in this space because of it. Important and special. 

4.  Who are a few women that inspire you?

An impossible question to answer because there are so many women I adore! Maybe it’s the characteristics I will focus on. I’m continually inspired by women who are willing to be vulnerable, to be messy, to be imperfect, to try new things on, to sit with pain, to say it as it is, to keep going, and to do it with love.

5.  What outfit do you feel most authentically you in?

My well-worn comfy black leggings, a soft graphic t-shirt, long chenille sweater with big pockets (comfy like a bathrobe, but street wear), knit socks, vintage cowboy boots, and chunky rings. And leg warmers if it’s cold.

6.  You’re the proud owner of 2 Cass bags. How did you choose your colors, and which one is your go-to?

Yes, I’m lucky - I have 2 Cass bags! Stinson Amber was my first love. Then Tahoe Blue was born, and I fell in love yet again. It’s the colors of both that I could not resist - they just call my name. Suede has never been so pretty. I got my Amber Cass 3 years ago and have carried it with me almost every day since. I’m not afraid to take it anywhere. It’s been to the rainforest, beach, mountains, and it shows in the most loved, worn-in way imaginable. If I’m not carrying my Amber Cass “lovey” then I’m carrying my Tahoe Blue Cass. It’s my elegant go-to; what I grab when I’m all dressed up. It’s divine. 

7.  What are the “must-haves” in your bag (Cass or not)?

All the essentials - full wallet, complete with all the necessary IDs and credit cards, Sharpie pens(!), Carmex and pink lipstick, Dentyne peppermint gum, pony tail holders, measuring tape, a toothbrush, dental floss, grocery lists (call me old-fashionedbut I still like to write them on paper), and my phone

Off The Cuff: 

Rock Or Rap?  
Rap. The lyrics tell the stories of people I want to hear more from

Ocean, Mountain Or Lake?  Can I have another choice? A farm in the California countryside. Beam me there!

Beer, Wine Or Cocktail? Wine. French wine - any of it, really. Or, a great California Pinot Noir

Exercise Yea or Nay? Yea. I love it. Keeps me from getting stuck. Makes me a better being .

Butter Or Olive Oil? Butter with sea salt on bread. Olive oil on everything else

Tea Or Coffee?   Coffee. Straight up black 

Pen Or Pencil?
Sharpie pen in black. Addicted 

Nude Or painted lips? Nude. But if painted, pink. Bright matte pink 

Reality Show Or Documentary?  Documentary. Always

Dark Or Milk Chocolate? Dark. The darker the better

Check out Christy’s IG account here.

Debra Szidon
Natalia Szidon

We Are Cass

Cass Carrier: Natalia Szidon, Cocoon founder, PodArt creator, lover of botanicals, textiles and all things beautiful.

l.Tell us a little about your current work. This summer I've been fostering kittens, an activity which has considerably slowed down my PodArt projects.  Hope to get back to them in the Fall, especially since I have a lot of new ideas and materials that I would like to implement for the holiday season.

2. What’s your ideal day?  It would begin with breakfast with my grandchildren at my place (i.e. sleepover).  Then lunch with Debra Szidon (Cass) at any "happening" restaurant in either SF, Oakland, Napa or Sonoma.  The day would end having dinner with your husband at my favorite Italian restaurant in Concord.  Notice how my ideal day revolves around family, food and great conversation?

3. Who are a few women that inspire you?Brave and dedicated women inspire me, whether they're focused on their families, careers or special causes.  Whatever their circumstances may be, they're not afraid to stand up for their beliefs, families and/or commitments. 

4. What outfit do you feel most authentically you in?You can ask anyone and they'll say "As long as it's black, she's being authentic."

5. What color Cass do have and why did you choose it?Funny you should ask.  See question #4.

6. What are the “must-haves” in your bag (Cass or not)? Ample space for stuff.  My husband used to say that I could hold a garage sale out of my handbag.  Gross exaggeration.  A small yard sale perhaps...

7. If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?My age.

Off The Cuff: 

Rock Or Rap?  Most days I just prefer silence intermittent with a little birdsong or a child's laughter.  Corny, I know.

Ocean, Mountain Or Lake?  Vacation by the ocean.  Weekend on a lake.  Live on a mountain.  

Beer, Wine Or Cocktail? Chardonnay all the way!

Exercise Nay Or Yay?  I plead the 5th.

Butter Or Olive Oil? Both in generous quantities.

Tea Or Coffee? I grew up in South America.  I'm a coffee girl. 

Pen Or Pencil? PEN

Nude Or painted lips? Painted, of course.

Reality Show Or Documentary?  I consider The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills a documentary.  LOL  

Dark Or Milk Chocolate?  Do I have to choose? 

Debra Szidon
Kristen Philipkoski

We Are Cass

Cass Carrier: Kristen Philipkoski, writer, podcaster and denim lover.

1.  Tell us a little about your current work. 

I recently launched an online publication and podcast called Mean Magazine. I'm also a freelance writer (currently a monthly contributor to Forbes), and I write a jeans blog called Eat Sleep Denim.  

2.  What do you hope women will get out of Mean Magazine? 

I hope Mean Magazine will help women feel like their age shouldn’t dictate what they wear, who they hang out with, or what they do for fun or work. I hope it will inspire women of all ages to get curious about something new, take a risk, or make a friend with someone they thought was outside their demographic. I hope it inspires a woman to wear something over-the-top to a party or to carpool pick-up. I hope it helps young women not fear aging. And I hope it empowers women (or anyone) to not be defined by their age.  

3.  What’s your ideal day?

If we're talking mid-week during the school year, my ideal day would be getting up super early, around 5:30 or 6 (after, of course, having a great night's sleep) and drinking coffee while I wrote uninterrupted until I had to wake up our 6-year-old at 7:30. We would stop for a donut (for her) at the bakery next to her school. Then I would head to Rhythm & Motion dance class at ODC, come home and work for a few hours until I had to pick her up at 2. After school we'd take the dog for a walk at the beach. In a perfect scenario I would have prepped for dinner the day before or my husband would cook, then we'd all go to bed early. 

If we're talking a weekend or vacation day, I'd wake up around 9am (preferably in a bungalow on the beach), read an actual book, laze around all day, take a hike after lunch, then have dinner and wine as the sun sets.  

4.  Who are a few women that inspire you?

My mom, because she showed me by her example how to be independent and strong; Frida Kahlo, I have a slight obsession—I named my child after her and have a portrait tattoo on my back; and Gloria Steinem. 

5.  What outfit do you feel most authentically you in?

High-rise flare jeans, platform sandals and concert t-shirt cut at the neck to be off-shoulder. 

6.  What are the “must-haves” in your bag (Cass or not)?Phone, True Botanicals lip balm, Korres Lip Butter, wipes, Band-Aids. 

Off The Cuff: 

Rock Or Rap?  Rock

Ocean, Mountain Or Lake?  Ocean, love them all though!

Beer, Wine Or Cocktail? Wine

Exercise Nay Or Yay?  Big Yay

Butter Or Olive Oil? Both

Tea Or Coffee?  COFFEE

Pen Or Pencil? Pen

Nude Or Painted Lips? Depends on my mood and the occasion

Reality Show Or Documentary?  Documentary

Dark Or Milk Chocolate? Dark

Follow Kristen on Instagram here, here and here.

Debra Szidon
Amanda Kay

We Are Cass

Cass Carrier: Amanda Kay, beautiful boot-wearing biotech badass with a passion for all things Star Wars.

1.     So, Amanda you have an interesting career. Tell us about it.

I work in the biotech industry at an exciting young company with a vision to design living medicines. The idea is that diseases are complex and require new ways to address that complexity. Our vision is to genetically program beneficial bacteria to act as if they are mini-robots, say R2D2, to seek out and treat disease. I work on the business side, helping to fund the amazing work that our scientific team dedicates themselves to every day.

2.     Describe your ideal day.

I am lucky to get to do this most Saturdays! I must have my coffee and read a bit in our window seat. Then off for a run or to the gym with my husband. By the time we grab lunch and do a few errands it is 4pm, so it’s a fairly unproductive day (full disclosure). At that point we face the decision of making dinner plans with friends or picking a Star Wars movie to project on our wall. “Rise of Skywalker” is my life right now.

3.     What feeds your head, heart, and soul?

I started meditating about 6 months ago, and I am pretty sure that feeds everything. Clears the head, reminds you of the relationships that fill the heart, and begs for you to find your soul.

4.     Who are the few women that inspire you?

Does everyone answer Oprah to this question? Her constant message is to feed your head, heart, and soul…and to start doing that by just being you. I am getting better at this.

5.     You are the proud owner of 2 Cass bags one of which is a new Cassie. How did you choose your colors, and which one is your go-to?

My Big Sur Green Cass clutch is my go-to when I must feel chic - weekend shopping and nights out. The color is neutral and offers more to a look than just another black bag.

My Presidio Blue Cassie is now part of my DNA. Goes everywhere with me from 7am to 10pm. Boston is a walking city, and I need something that goes from work to dinner. The Cassie is with me for a regular day at the office, as well as at more formal meetings. I never feel like I am carrying a laptop in a “work” bag – Cassie is so chic. Then if I go to dinner, I can drop the shoulder strap and use it as a clutch. Never have to think twice if it is appropriate for the situation!

6.     What are the must haves in your bag (Cass or not)?

I don’t want to over think my bag for every event, so the Cassie is the perfect no-brainer.

In any bag, I need to fit my survival “kit” – Vasoline lip therapy crème brulee, Chanel Rouge Coco lipstick, migraine meds, wallet. That’s it! 

Off the Cuff

Rock or Rap? – Rock

Ocean, Mountain, or Lake? – Mountain

Beer, wine or cocktail – Sake!

Exercise Nay or Yay? – Yay!

Tea or Coffee? – Coffee

Pen or Pencil? – Pencil

Nude or painted lips? – Nude. But my Grandma always said I needed more lipstick. I was only 10 at the time. What was she thinking?

Reality show or Documentary? – Documentary. Just saw Apollo 11. I was speechless at the amount of bravery and dedication shown by all involved

Dark or Milk Chocolate – Dark, but triggers the migraine, hence the meds =(

Jen DiPrisco

We Are Cass

Cass Carrier: Jen DiPrisco, organizing maven, music enthusiast and Twilight Zone-binge-watcher.

1. What’s YOUR story, Jen? 

I’m originally from Southern California but am happy to call the Bay Area my home for the last 17 years. I’ve been organizing, editing, and attempting to make things pretty my whole life. When I was a kid, my best friend and I would stay up all night at our sleepovers to organize our closets! And my favorite means of procrastination has always been to clean something. For years, I casually helped friends and family with small organization projects until I officially launched Ommmhome in 2015. I help clients tackle projects of all sorts: kitchens, garages, kids’ rooms, bathrooms, home offices. We take these spaces from chaotic and cluttered to edited and functional. My favorite part of the job is when a client tells me how GREAT they feel after a good organizing session, almost as if a weight has been lifted. 

2. How does being a professional organizer affect your family? 

Well, a lot of things in my house are labeled! Because we are a busy family juggling school, work, sports, theater, and music, it's essential to have a specific home for every item. We don't need the added stress of not knowing where to find the shin guards minutes before the soccer game, you know? I'm hopeful that the systems I've set up teach my kids how to stay organized and increase their independence. My biggest challenge right now is coaching my 13 year-old on how to keep schoolwork organized. He's much more creative than I am, but his backpack is a mess! 

3. Describe your ideal day. 

Ooh… this is exciting to think about: first I’d sleep in. I’m a night owl and sleeping in is such a luxury. Some form of exercise in the morning: either a Masters swim class or a good hike in the hills with friends and my crazy energetic dog. Then I’d work in my vegetable garden or turn the compost pile, something I find oddly satisfying. Later I’d take a bath or read a book. I’d make a healthy, fun dinner for my family while listening to my favorite band The National, then curl up with them on the couch post-dinner to watch a classic 80s movie or an episode of The Twilight Zone. Hey that was fun! 

4. You are the proud owner of two Classic Cass bags. Which colors do you have and which one is your go-to? 

I have Stinson Amber and Lassen Black. I tend to carry the Stinson Amber during the day or with more casual outfits. It’s a perfect neutral that goes with everything, but it also classes up whatever I’m wearing. I love the super soft suede and sturdy leather combo. Lassen Black works better for me at night or when I’m a little more dressed up. I also have the leopard print zippered pouch, for when I’m feeling sassy! Leopard goes with everything, right? 

5. How do you rock your Cass, clutched or carried? 

I typically carry it by the handles, but appreciate the clutch's versatility in being able to carry it either way. 

6. What is a “must-have(s)” in your bag (Cass or not)? 

When working, I carry my P-Touch label maker, measuring tape and a clipboard for taking notes and recording measurements. When playing, I carry my phone and Bose sport headphones (I am constantly listening to music or podcasts), Lano Lips hydrating lip gloss and sunglasses. I don’t like to carry too much! 


Off The Cuff: 

Rock Or Rap?  Rock. With a brief rap phase in the early 90s. 

Ocean, Mountain Or Lake?  I miss my So Cal ocean days but have gladly traded them for Tahoe summers in the mountains. 

Beer, Wine Or Cocktail? Anything with gin. But I also love a good savvy blanc! 

Exercise Nay Or Yah?  Absolutely. It keeps me sane. 

Butter Or Olive OilOlive oil for cooking. Butter for slathering over a baguette. 

Tea Or Coffee?  Coffee. Black. 

Pen Or Pencil? Paper Mate Flair pens! 

Nude Or painted lips? I’m not good with makeup...just a little gloss. 

Reality Show Or Documentary?  Documentary.

Dark Or Milk Chocolate? Can I have cheese instead? 

Debra SzidonComment