Full circle: Dancers' orbit leads Mountain View ballet academy to thrive

Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Rima Chaeff, left, with her mother Marion, who opened the academy in 1985.

While sharing the history of Pacific Ballet Academy in Mountain View, Marion Chaeff and her daughter, Rima, both used the ballet programs they were participating in or the class they were teaching as a time stamp to ensure they were speaking in chronological order.

It could be because the academy’s owners were being interviewed about their business and the 33-year run through which they have nurtured it, but it became increasingly obvious that no matter the topic, the conversation – and their lives – would always turn to ballet.

3 Potato drapes women with an artist's touch

Photos by Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Clothing designer Guo Feng, above, opened the 3 Potato boutique on State Street in Los Altos this summer to sell her loosely constructed, abstract pieces of women’s clothing.


An artist at this summer’s Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival spotted an empty storefront during her weekend in town and saw the potential to stay for the long term. Within a month, women’s clothier Guo Feng had opened a brick-and-mortar boutique, 3 Potato, and started selling her personal designs from the former location of Atelier Gray at 358 State St.

Feng’s loose and flowing shirts, tunics and jackets are made of lightweight, easy-to-wash viscose. Some of the fabrics use patterns she painted herself, other prints she modified or picked for their striking aesthetic.

Assistance League closes Costume Bank, hands off HOME program

Courtesy of Assistance League of Los Altos
End of era: Los Altos Fire Chief Dick Bassett, above left, dressed as Napoleon, clowns around in 1966 with local businessmen wearing outfits from the Costume Bank.

After nearly 60 years of service to the community, Assistance League of Los Altos is changing its nonprofit model by eliminating two of its time-honored programs – including the Costume Bank on State Street – to accommodate a lifestyle far different from the one their founders knew.

The league in June decided to shutter the Costume Bank as well as withdraw from overseeing operations of its long-standing HOME program at Stanford Health Care, which provides subsidized, temporary housing to out-of-town patients undergoing treatment for an extended period of time.

Local siblings create pet tracker app inspired by their own dog

Gideon, Ron, Lynn Marks
Courtesy of Gideon Marks
Los Altos natives Lynn and Ron Marks, pictured with their father, Gideon, came up with the concept for an app, DogLog, that records canine caretaking activities during their difficult time coordinating who was tending to their dog, Joy, between alternating schedules.

Siblings Lynn and Ron Marks, Los Altos natives, were having trouble taking care of their family dog. They weren’t negligent pet owners, or particularly busy people, but Joy was sometimes getting fed dinner twice or missing out on her morning walk because they couldn’t keep track of who had done what.

IKB celebrates quarter-century in the design-build biz

Courtesy of Ilona Lindauer
The IKB team took a cruise to Ensenada to celebrate 25 years in business.

Ilona Lindauer recently commemorated the 25th anniversary of her Los Altos business by taking her staff and their families on a three-day cruise to Ensenada.

The cruise was a fitting celebration for an enterprise that has been a labor of love for the owner since its beginning.

The business of birth

VR childbirth
Courtesy of Tracy Donegan
A client of Mountain View resident and childbirth preparation instructor Tracy Donegan uses virtual-reality glasses to expose her to a different, less intimidating perspective of labor.

The birthing suites at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View and Stanford Hospital are scheduled to undergo redos this year in a continuing regional trend away from shared, noisy birthing wards and toward private rooms with a more homelike feel. Part of that impetus is changing social expectations about privacy, but a larger conversation about choice and childbirth also factors in.

The local businesses focused on education, resources and even midwifery that care for families are all finding a niche with women who see themselves as informed consumers, selectively seeking out health-care providers rather than going with the closest neighborhood option. Many women in Los Altos and Mountain View, for instance, have made the drive to El Camino Hospital in Los Gatos because it is the only area hospital to partner with a midwifery practice, combining access to emergency medical care with a midwife model of childbirth preparation and delivery. Access to all of these resources depends on money and insurance. But it also requires consumers who know, in advance, what questions to ask.

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