September 6, 2012
Named after the son of the founder, Sharone Nassi, Carmel Blue is a refuge, store, and ad hoc community center for moms and babies, fathers, lovers; the expecting and the unexpected. The brick and mortar is in North Beach and the philosophy is that “parenting should be happy and healthy, and community is a huge key to that success.”
This in an age when many city parents rarely have a sense of community, much less a family support-network nearby.
“A decade ago, there weren’t that many families that stayed in the city. If you were in your 20s or 30s, the first thing you did when you got pregnant was to move to the suburbs. That was a time when public schools were also in decline here, but now all that’s changed. Parents are older, more settled. They’ll stay in the city even without a backyard. And now the schools are better.
“So much has changed. When I had my son, all these moms would meet at Trader Joe’s. That was the only place we had.”
Nassi’s “pit stop” as she calls it, was largely inspired by a community model in Israel, where she’s from. “In San Francisco, there are few other centers where new parents can go and find a place that’s fun and relaxed, and that offers real hospitality. I know the name of every mom and baby that comes here.”
Nassi, who spent some years on design and product teams at Levi Strauss and Co. and The Pottery Barn, also sells various baby-related products. But her real focus is on pre- and post-natal workshops that deal with sleep and breast feeding issues, along with Yoga classes — no more than about 15 people in each class. She also hosts “meetups” that enable pregnant women to meet each other and talk about various issues. And just hang out.
But what has all this got to do with music, you ask.
On Friday nights, Sharone has something called Music Jiggle Jam, which is her version of “happy hour” for parents. A musician and educator named Michael Picard teaches rhythm, movement, and instrument play with songs, dance, and other activities. There are two 30-minute sessions: 4:30 to 5 p.m., for six to 18-month old children; 5:15 to 5:45 p.m., for all ages. Cost is $15 per class. “I just want parents to find some happiness,” says Sharone, “during a time that is often very stressful.”