I would like to introduce myself to you. My name is Carolyn Alt and I am the fifth generation that was raised in the San Francisco, Bay Area. My great-great grandfather, Captain Robert Dollar settled in San Rafael in 1888 and later bought the Falkirk house in 1906. My family gave back to their community in many ways. They donated 20 acres in San Anselmo for Sunny Hills Orphanage and built a school there. They gave 40 acres of pastureland for cows, so the children could have milk. They built a YMCA, a school for the blind and an orphanage in Oakland. Their continual giving and caring for the well being of people was a value that was passed down from generation to generation.
"There was not a Sunday growing up that was not spent making breakfast for a neighbor or a nearby family," I remember. The holidays were all about giving to others; making baskets, wrapping presents and baking those holiday treats. I later went on to work with organizations such as the Housing for the Homeless, Abused Women Shelters, Single Parent Families and the Disabled. Touching people’s lives in my Community was one of the best ways for me to get involved and make a difference. Our company, "CiCi", would like to do the same. We will donate a portion of our proceeds to organizations such as the Falkirk Cultural Center, Abused Women Shelters, Performing Art Non-Profits, etc. Carrying on my family’s traditions is a very important piece that helps us define who we are today.
My grandparents, Gorham and Diana Knowles, have always supported the Arts, such as the San Francisco Ballet, San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera and the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. I was exposed to the arts at such a young age that I was fascinated with creating beautiful things. I picked up my first pair of knitting needles when I was eight, nine when I made my first pillow, and eleven when I cleaned, dyed and spun my first skein of wool. My curiosity kept growing and my skills kept evolving. Calligraphy, stained glass and graphic design were amongst the many skills I developed throughout the years. At twenty-one, I began to focus on needlework and loom work and how to incorporate them into clothing. With the latest technology available, I found that I was able to take my drawings and turn them into embroidery. This opened up a whole new area for me to explore and I am still exploring this today.
All the women in my family have great style which they attribute to traveling abroad on the Dollar Steamship Line. The late Bill Blass and Oscar De La Renta were amongst the many designers that I was exposed to through my grandmother, Diana Knowles. With all of this wonderful exposure my family has given me, it has lead me to start a company where I can use my talents to make beautifully embroidered tee shirts for women and for children. I have great supporters such as Dottie Doolittle in San Francisco and Pearl Wonderful Clothing in St. Helena. In starting this family business, I hope to give back to my Community and touch people’s lives the way my family has from generation to generation.
My great-great grandfather, Robert Dollar had once said, "In this world all we leave behind us that is worth anything is that we can be well regarded and spoken of after we are gone, and that we can say that we left the world just a little better than when we found it."