Lifelong Palisadian Marni Diamond Finds the Right Fabrics
By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
If you see someone walking in the Village with a designer mask, there is a better than even chance it was made by Marni Diamond, a lifelong Palisadian and former elementary school teacher who began making masks at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
They have become very popular around town—from the checkout line at Ralphs to trails in Temescal Gateway Park—so much so that it is becoming common for people to ask, “Is that a mask by Marni?”
As the 2021-22 school year begins, Diamond is making masks for children ages 2 and up, since they and their teachers will have to wear masks on campus, as per current Public Health orders.
Recently she was waiting for food at Café Vida and crossed paths with local attorney Lisa Boyle wearing one of her masks at the Pacific Palisades Farmers Market. Rabbi Amy Bernstein from Kehillat Israel told Diamond’s mother at the beach that her daughter Eliana loves her Marni mask.
“I designed masks for a third-grade class in Atlanta last year,” Diamond said. “I found some fabrics I thought they’d like and gave them three options. I wound up sending them 25 masks that went along with the theme of the class and the teacher used the material for her bulletin board. It’s unifying for the kids as they feel connected, like a team working as one. My hope is to work with teachers and principals at our local schools to do the same thing.”
She is perhaps most known for her political masks in 2020, designing everything—Dr. Anthony Fauci, AOC, Bernie Sanders, President Joe Biden/Vice President Kamala Harris, RBG and others. She also designs fabrics for kids, like paper dolls and Hot Wheels, and she is now branching off to other designs to match the masks—aprons, denims, hats and scrunchies.
“I’ve been at it for over a year, and so far I have about 100 clients and they’re mostly repeat customers,” she revealed. “Masks are $25 but I’m always doing discounts. I’d like to work with teachers to find the kinds of fabric that fit a certain theme—say camping—where teachers can make a matching bulletin board. I deliver free locally and ship USPS priority mail for $7.95. It can take 15 to 30 minutes to sew the mask if the needle breaks or the machine stalls. People basically direct message me on Facebook or Instagram with a request.”
The COVID-19 shutdown hit one week before she was set to start as a substitute teacher at KI, forcing her to pivot. A first-grade teacher before she had kids, she started knitting and created her own line of baby and toddler clothes that led her to opening a baby store in the Village called Spanky Lane in 2005.
“That was my favorite thing for three years—having my store and making things,” she recalled. “All these paths led me to buy a sewing machine and I started creating fabrics, I learned how to sew and I started making masks. They are a big hit—even with famous people.”
Diamond lives near Gelson’s with her rescue dog, Fauci, and her cats, Hank and Rufus. Her sister, Laura, is an author and attorney and resides in the Huntington. Her grandparents had a fashion brand for women.
“The Palisades has changed so much,” she admitted. “When I was a kid, everyone walked to and from school. There were only a few restaurants—Hacienda Galvan, Mort’s Deli, Art Poole’s coffee shop and House of Lee (where Pearl Dragon is today). The Bay Theatre was 99 cents every Saturday, everyone surfed or skateboarded, and this was a mellow place to grow up. We’d play on the bluffs, play cops and robbers, use our imagination. The highlight of the day was French fries at Mort’s. I was in the Fourth of July Parade a few times.”
The popularity of Diamond’s masks is evident by the testimonials on her website. Being well connected never hurts in business circles, and Diamond has a strong following.
It also helps that her family name is well known in Pacific Palisades. Her parents, Fran and Roger Diamond, have been active community members for decades, hosting numerous political functions at their home on Via De La Paz near the bluffs—a Spanish-style house that was built in the 1920s where actress Barbara Billingsley (best known for her role as June Cleaver in the TV show “Leave It to Beaver”) once lived.
Famed film director and Palisadian Steven Spielberg even gifted a mask to his wife, actress Kate Capshaw (the couple used to be members at KI).
“It’s hard to believe now but my parents bought a house here because they couldn’t afford Santa Monica,” Diamond reminisced. “They’ve been there since 1968 when I was 1 and a half. My parents are big environmentalists. In 1972 my dad won the Democratic nomination for state assembly and Leonard Nimoy was his campaign manager. He was Citizen of the Year in 1988 when he started a grass roots organization against oil drilling.”
Her dad used to play baseball with Walter Matthau at Palisades Recreation Center, Diamond continued, and her mom was the chair of the California State Water Board for more than 20 years. Her main goal in life, Diamond said, is to help women get elected.
“Bill and Hillary Clinton have been at the house,” Diamond said. “So have Jane Fonda, Gregory Peck, Jeff Bridges and his wife Susan.”
When speaking to the Post, Diamond said her mom was having Congressman Adam Schiff over that Sunday for a political fundraiser.
Diamond went to Palisades Elementary School and spent one semester at Paul Revere Middle School before transferring to CES magnet (now Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies). She went to Palisades High School, graduating in 1984, and double majored in women’s studies and children’s literature at UC Santa Cruz.
“Our class at Pali was the Orwelians,” Diamond said proudly. “J.J. Abrams was in my graduating class and of course he became Steven Spielberg’s protégé. I was even in one of his movies. We were in 11th grade or 12th grade and he cast me since we were in play production together.”
She started teaching at Wildwood Academy, then in LAUSD (one year at Marquez Charter Elementary School and four at Riverside Elementary in Sherman Oaks). Her oldest daughter Rebecca, 24, graduated magna cum laude from USC, lives in Brentwood and works for a production company, while her younger daughter, Noa, 21, is entering her senior year at Washington University in St. Louis, studying marketing, business and psychology.
Diamond said she has never been particularly shy about making her opinion known. Her oldest friend is Leslie Kantor, daughter of former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Mickey Kantor, and the two of them started a petition in fifth grade at Palisades Elementary to allow the girls to play the same games as the boys at recess.
“Leslie lived a block from me and we met when I was 7,” Diamond said of her fellow Pali High alum, who now lives in New Jersey and serves as chair and professor of Global Urban Public Health at Rutgers. “She ordered a bunch of masks from me.”
Diamond’s Instagram is @masksbymarni and her website is marnidiamonddesigns.com.
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