San Rafael's Equator Coffees & Teas has been named California's first LGBT-owned Small Business of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The 21-year-old business, founded by partners Helen Russell and Brooke McDonnell, launched in 1995 in a Marin County garage and now operates a robust wholesale business, as well as three retail stores (with two more coming soon) and outposts at LinkedIn and Google. It is also the coffee of choice for The French Laundry in Yountville.
“This celebrated recognition of Helen and Brooke’s outstanding work not only exemplifies what we know of women in business leadership; it also illuminates an answer to the challenge of our time, demonstrating that businesses can be both successful and sustainable,” California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom said in a statement.
Russell and McDonnell will be formally honored at a ceremony in Washington D.C. on May 2.