We had the good fortune of connecting with Robyn Ritter Simon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robyn, what do you want people to remember about you?
I want my legacy to be that I built a life delivering joy to my family, friends and clients by designing memorable experiences. It’s not just about setting a stylish table. It’s about the experience you create with your designs and how guests feel. With age comes wisdom and at 60 I’m very clear on what truly matters in life. The human interactions we create with one another is the priority. It’s not about the stuff we amass, it’s about the memories we collect along the journey.
When I design a whimsical tablescape and gather my family around the table there’s no greater joy then the memories we’ll share over a meal. That experience is what I want to deliver to my clients. I started Malibu Table Maven, the second business I’ve launched in my career, when I was entering my sixth decade and during a pandemic. Not an easy lift, but I saw an opportunity as people were starved for connection during a catastrophic health disaster. Through our outdoor beach, park and backyard picnics we were able to keep families connected and create memories for them despite the chaos of the world. Styling special occasions that lead to building more memories for clients is my legacy.
Maya Angelo said it perfectly: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Legacy is a powerful word and I hope my footprint on earth will be that I was intentional, fierce, and created memorable experiences for people.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I started my professional career as a broadcast journalist and host of my own public affairs program for a Southern California NBC affiliate. One of the best jobs of my life and to this day I remain friends with colleagues from my years as a reporter. After starting a family I threw myself into local politics mostly surrounding my children’s public schools. That expereince launched a passionate career as a community advocate and a subsequent run for public office. Nothing is more challenging than running for office and laying yourself raw to the public. A very humbling experience that taught me so many life and business lessons.
After many years working in politics and at nonprofits I launched my own strategy firm RRS Political Strategies. I spent years working to elect more women into office and was managing a Women’s Empowerment Series that brought me much fulfillment. But then the world was turned upside down with the pandemic and all my contracts were cancelled as of course no one was hosting events. Like most I believed this mysterious illness would pass. As we conduct this interview sadly COVID is still here and punishing so many.
It was during this period of lockdown when I conceived my tablescape business. I had spent my entire adult life entertaining and dressing tables for my family and friends and each event brought joy to my guests. I had always toyed with the idea of turning my creative love of styling tables into a business, but really never thought there was much of a market for a table styling service. But when the world changed the landscape was starved for ways for people to connect with their loved ones and I offered the perfect way to gather safely.
If I had contemplated all the challenges of launching a business at 60 years old and during a pandemic, I wouldn’t have gone for it as it sounded so crazy. Instead I didn’t overthink the idea and just knew I could make this creative endeavor flourish if I threw myself into the business with a promise to deliver joy to those that craved away to gather safely with their loved ones.
So 18 months ago Malibu Table Maven was born and I say I went from #PoliticsToPicnics and it’s been a very rewarding journey!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh my goodness this is a loaded question! As a native Angeleno the list of venues and experiences I would introduce visiting guests to is endless. Our Southern California landscape offers so much but let me highlight my favorites. No visit to Los Angeles is complete without a drive along Pacific Coast Highway and a stop at Westward Beach in Malibu. After an exhilarating walk along this beautiful beach we’d stop by The Sunset Restaurant for a delicious lobster roll and cocktail with spectacular views of the ocean. If my guest was interested in a little more fine dining but still with stunning beach views then a stop at Geoffrey’s also along PCH is a must. Delicious food and yummy cocktails nestled along the coast. If we wanted to head to Santa Monica then a stop at the old school The Galley restaurant on Main Street would be next. The bowl of clams is divine!
If my guest is a wine enthusiast as am I then a trip to Cielo Wines in Malibu is a must visit. Breathtaking views and scrumptious wines! Catching a baseball game at Dodger Stadium is a must too! One of the oldest stadiums in the country and it’s a civic jewel. Whether you’re a baseball fan or not it’s worth experiencing sitting in the stadium during a sunset game.
I’m a Hotel enthusiast and Los Angeles is rich with fabulous properties to either stay at or visit for a drink or to dine. One of my favorite old school Hollywood glam hotels is The Sunset Tower on Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood. Visit the Tower Bar for a drink and glam. Then plan a breakfast or lunch at The Sunset Marquis a favorite spot for musicians to visit. In a neighboring city to WeHo is Beverly Hills and a stop at both the famed Bel Air and Beverly Hills Hotel are worth a visit. Lunch at the Polo Lounge is always a treat.
Whether you’re a fan of Mickey & Minnie Mouse or not try to score an invitation to Club 33 at Disneyland. A secretive private club within the amusement park. It’s a real treasure. If your guests are into the theatre then a visit to the Pantages Theatre to catch a live performance is worth the trek into Hollywood. Following the show you must hit Musso & Frank Grill for nostalgia and a delicious Martini.
Griffith Park is an exquisite 4000 plus acre park smack in the middle of urban Los Angeles. It’s one of the largest parks in the United States and offers endless trails and hikes with spectacular views of the city. A perfect place to start your day with an invigorating hike followed by a picnic on the endless grounds. I suggest picking up sandwiches at the famed Santa Monica Italian Market Bay Cities. Highly recommend the Godmother Sandwich for your picnic.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The circle of gratitude is large! Certainly no one achieves success without the encouragement from their tribe. In my case the love and support at every turn of my long career has come from my family and friends. A close knit group of type A personalities with strong opinions. From the early morning phone calls saying “you’ve got this” to the late night breakdowns met with a strong cocktail, they have all shared in my success over an illustrious career spanning some 35 years of professional work. I am grateful for each of them. However, the one constant, unwavering, unbreakable booster to my madness is hands down my partner of 45 years, my husband Brian. We met at age 13. He was my high school prom date. We’ve been married 34 years and raised three sons and no matter what crazy idea I muster up like starting a new business during a pandemic, he is game. So shoutout and kudos to Brian Simon and all the strong men who are cheerleaders for their partners.
Other: Email address: Robyn@RobynRitterSimon.com
Molly Marler Photography Brooke Bohm Photography Farrel Freeman Design