"I thought I could do it all, no problem," she says.
But somewhere along the way, it became clear to Martin that she needed help, and she connected with lifelong Mill Valley resident Khadija Hansia-Gibson, who had just chose passion over profession, halting her career in marketing and launching her Limelight Productions event planning business and specializing in weddings, specifically multi-cultural and interfaith weddings that celebrate diversity.
"Khadija was a major, major life saver," Martin says. "I don’t know how I would've done it without her. I needed her in my life. She is so personable and went so far above and beyond," including taking Martin's 80-something mother-in-law home as the party continued.
Hansia-Gibson was born and raised on Seaver Drive, attending Edna Maguire Elementary, Mill Valley Middle and Tam High before going to College of Marin and San Francisco State. She began her career at NanaWall, the family business founded in 1986 built around innovative, stackable, folding glass walls.
All the while, Hansia-Gibson was among the many in her family who loved helping create and support her Muslim Indian family's weddings – lavish events that overflowed with creativity, design and multi-faceted planning. "It's always been a fun hobby," she says.
That hobby eventually became much more than that, as Hansia-Gibson decided four years ago to make the leap of a lifetime and leave the family business in favor of launching her own. "I decided I was way too comfortable – same job, same everything," she says. "I decided to give myself six months to start something."
She got a call out of the blue from a friend of a friend. It was Martin. "I want to take a chance on you," she told Hansia-Gibson.
Within two months, Hansia-Gibson had hit a home run with Martin's wedding and had booked nearly a dozen more. Business picked up quickly, as she became a go-to planner for an array of multicultural, creative weddings and events. She produced between 35 and 45 weddings per year over the past few years, including her own to Rondell Gibson in 2019. Hansia-Gibson has produced weddings all over Marin and beyond, from Old Mill Park and Mill Valley Community Center to the Community Congregational Church in Tiburon, Cavallo Point, Peacock Gap and Slide Ranch.
And then the COVID-19 crisis hit. A raging waterfall of business turned into a trickle. The hardest part of running an event production business when there aren't any events to produce, Hansia-Gibson says, is that each event requires three times the work "because everything is constantly changing," she says.
But the pandemic has also produced a huge silver lining for Hansia-Gibson's family. Their son Eesa turned one in December, and the pandemic has allowed their young family to spend a ton of time together. And they're expecting another child very soon, all while remodeling their house.
Given her lifelong roots in Mill Valley, Hansia-Gibson is expanding her footprint here. She joined the board of the Mill Valley Library Foundation seven months ago, as well as the Mill Valley Chamber.
"She’s bright, she’s smart and she knows exactly what she doing doing," Martin says. "She sat with us during the tasting with the caterer – I didn't ask for that. She's just phenomenal."
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