7 Women Whose Passions Power This Town

The Fashionista

Mahjuba Levine

CLAIM TO FAME: Next-level polish, on-trend togs and a wardrobe that makes sense are what personal stylist Majuba doles out to her many Del Mar clients. ORIGIN STORY: “My mom had a saying: ‘always be dressed up when you walk out the door, because you never know who’s going to be on the other side.’ THE ROAD SO FAR: “I was a personal shopper for Saks Fifth Avenue, actually the youngest personal shopper they had ever hired. Eventually my clients kept wanting me to shop for them at other places. In 2001, Levine founded her company, Closet Therapy. CLOSE CAUSE: Levine has volunteered with The International Rescue Committee, and she holds the mission of the Malala Fund close to her heart. Both are causes she can relate to, having arrived in the US with her family at age nine as a refugee of the war in Afghanistan.

The Chef

Stefani De Palma

CLAIM TO FAME: At just 28, Stefani De Palma has already climbed the culinary ladder at five-star restaurant Addison to score the role of chef de cuisine. Last year, De Palma was named to Zagat National’s “30 Under 30,” list. WHERE SHE’LL BE: On Sundays and Mondays Addison is closed, so you may find De Palma hiking in Torrey Pines, riding his-and-hers Segways with her boyfriend, or popping into CUCINA enoteca or Board & Brew. CLOSE CAUSES: “My dad and I used to compete in a fishing tournament for The Make a Wish Foundation every year. THIS LADY’S LEGACY: “I’m a female in this important position at a well-accoladed restaurant working under a renowned chef. I hope that shows people what’s possible.”

The Activist Mom

Jazmin Blais

CLAIM TO FAME: The Del Mar mama of two daughters (Riley, 9 and Embry, 7) is a founding member of the philanthropic organization Heights Cares and helms a parent-led initiative to bring mindfulness programming into schools. And then, of course, there’s Jazmin Blais’s day job. She runs a culinary consulting company with her husband, winner of Bravo’s Top Chef All Stars, Richard Blais. Together the duo also hosts the popular podcast Starving for Attention. WHERE SHE’LL BE: Look for Blais organizing a kids’ sports equipment swap, breaking down 1200 pounds of carrots alongside students for Feed San Diego, or donning her Yoga-instructor hat and subbing in at one of the studios around Del Mar. When it’s time to eat, their own area restaurants–Crack Shack and Juniper & Ivy–are usual haunts, as is Boto Sushi Del Mar. STYLE SIGNATURE: “Richard sometimes refers to me as looking like I belong in Brooklyn because I’ll have on a skully and a baggy sweater. So sometimes it’s eclectic, definitely.”

The Entrepreneurs

Kate Nowlan & Kimberly Caccavo

CLAIM TO FAME: The co-founders of local apparel company GracedByGrit are now sharing their piece of the $48 billion US active wear sales pie, by incorporating the nonprofit GrittyGirls and pledging 1% of the company’s net sales toward programs that build resilience in girls. ORIGIN STORY: Kate Nowlan was a running coach helping Kimberly Caccavo train for a triathlon when they started talking workout clothes. “What Kimberly noticed,” says Nowlan, “as a chemical engineer, was that the clothes might look great static, but once she started to actually move in them, they were not performing.” THE ROAD SO FAR: Nowlan and Caccavo wanted to make a product using high performance fabrics, adding pockets to waistbands and incorporating sun protection. They named the business for what they share in common: each has gone through particularly tough moments that developed their grit, which both consider themselves graced by. WHERE THEY’LL BE: Walking their pups on Dog Beach, biking around Del Mar or having drinks at L’Auberge.

The Artist

Lindsay Perry

CLAIM TO FAME: Surfer/Singer/Songwriter Linsdsay Perry first gained fame as a member of Billabong’s Women’s Surf Team. Last year her profile was raised, with the release of her EP The Dark Revival, which hit #1 on the iTunes Blues chart. In March, her single Dancin’ With the Devil was featured on an episode of the Netflix series Jessica Jones. ORIGIN STORY: “I taught myself how to play guitar at 14.” Once Perry started riding, though, music had to wait. “At 15, I got really into surfing and, mind you, I could not even stand up on a surfboard, but that was my teenage rebellion.” It resulted in her moving out at the age of 16. “I would surf every day. Then I started traveling full time at 18. And then Billabong found me at 21 or 22 and I signed with them.” THE ROAD SO FAR: When Perry found a musical mentor in Scott Russo, of Unwritten Law fame, that connection lead her to sign with Pacific Records, founded by Del Mar resident Brian Witkin. 

The Teacher

Kathy Minarik

CLAIM TO FAME: As the science teacher at Del Mar Heights Elementary, Minarik serves up weekly hands-on experiences to every student in the school–from kindergarten through sixth grade. DAILY GRIND: Minarik teaches a full day in her lab, coaches students for a science competition during lunch, then spends a couple hours cleaning up and preparing for the next day. “When you have seven grade levels that gets tricky….electric cars in fourth grade, shade structures in kindergarten…you have to find somewhere to put it all!” WHERE SHE’LL BE: On the weekends you may find Miniark and her family at Del Mar Pizza, enjoying a New-York-style slice and some salad, with one-year-old Boxer mix Indiana in tow. THE LADY’S LEGACY: “In the lab, students are constantly communicating and collaborating and trying to solve problems. It helps to set them up to be strong, kind, empathetic people who can solve problems and work through things. “