Lives of Style: Cheri Spolin

Cheri Spolin is one of those natural blondes who give blondes a good name.  Brainy (tech and finance), well-raised (her parents, Don and Cherie Murray, emphasized philanthropy at an early age) and beautiful, Cheri was born in New York to a large family — she has two brothers and two sisters — and moved to the Bay Area at age 5. The family settled in the Almaden Valley. 

Active in sports and on the swimming team, Cheri graduated from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, majoring in finance.

“I’m very analytical. I love numbers,” she says. She was a programmer at Accenture Consulting, then moved to Oracle’s finance department, and then to Apple for a few years. Today she works at Genentech in human resources. “I love it. It’s an amazing company with an amazing mission. It’s all about saving people’s lives and saving the patient; 75 percent of the people are involved in philanthropy. They value giving back to the community.”

She met her husband, Mathew, chief technology officer of a company called Market Seven, at a start-up.

“I always had this rule: Don’t date anyone you work with. Mathew was CTO of the company. We worked in two different buildings. Mathew is very much the gentleman. He was persistent in courting me. We knew it was right — he loves the ballet and was a season-ticket holder before we met. He’s wonderful and brilliant. Cerebral.Very smart and quick — and smart is sexy. He also has a creative side. He’s been dabbling in photography.”

Eight-and-a-half months pregnant with the couple’s first child, Cheri loves to travel. “Paris is one of our favorite locations, so we’ll have a mural in the baby’s room of the Tuileries,” she says. She has already booked a trip for Baby Spolin, to Hawaii, in February.

Cheri Spolin dearly loves this tea service given to her by her grandparents.

Cheri began volunteering with the Junior League of San Francisco, then became involved with the San Francisco Ballet Auxiliary five years ago. This year, she’s chairing the Nov. 16 Ballet Fashion Show and Luncheon at the Westin St. Francis, featuring 2008 fashions by Christian Lacroix. It includes, for the first time in San Francisco, Lacroix’s couture pieces and an appearance by the designer’s director of haute couture, Marie Martinez-Seznec.

In addition to informal modeling from Saks Fifth Avenue, which is underwriting the show, there’s a French-inspired meal and fantasy auction prize packages, including two tickets to Lacroix’s Haute Couture Show in Paris in January.

“All fashionistas out there are getting excited,” Cheri says. Tickets for the event are available by calling (415) 553-4658 or e-mailing

Cheri’s San Francisco home is European in feel, with graceful, rectangular windows and soaring 14-foot-high ceilings. Exposed brick walls and touches of russet emit a welcoming atmosphere. The space is elegant and open, with furniture groupings arranged to separate living areas and a kitchen meant for cooking; Mathew is a proficient chef.

Cheri looks around her home wistfully: “I’m so grateful. This is a wonderful time in my life.”


Cheri Spolin's love of classic lines is evident in her home.

STYLE PHILOSOPHY: Classic. I’m not very trendy.

STYLE SECRETS: My gosh, you’re going to make me blush. Alterations are very important. I get everything altered, sweaters, slacks, everything — I have to get everything done.

GOT STYLE FROM: Mainly from travel. I love old movies. My husband would tease me right now. I’m addicted to Turner Classic Movie Channel. I love old movies; Nick and Nora, “The Thin Man,” Grace Kelly.

COMFORT VS. STYLE: Right now, eight months pregnant, it’s comfort — later, more of a balance. Stylish and comfortable at the same time.

COLOR VS. TEXTURE: Probably texture. Fabrics. I love wearing cashmeres, wools, cotton.

FAVORITE COLORS: I love light blue, camel, gray tones.

HOW DOES COLOR MAKE YOU FEEL: Those colors make me feel more sophisticated, happy — color does affect mood.

MOST PRECIOUS POSSESSION:People: 1) My husband and our baby-to-be. 2) My family. They love my husband, Mathew, as well — they immediately fell in love with Mathew. My family is large and Mathew was an only child. 3) My friends. Things: Probably a tea set passed down from my grandparents in my family.

WOULD NOT DO: I would never wear exercise clothes to Union Square.

MOST UNUSUAL THING ABOUT ME: Gosh, people are surprised at how career-oriented I’ve been, and about my technical background.

FAVORITE DESIGNERS: Christian Lacroix, Chanel and Oscar de la Renta.

SECRET CACHE OF: A pretty big supply of Hermès scarves. They can add a splash of color.

WOULD NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: I’m a pretty open book. My friend Shannon would say. “You like board games. You’ve got this little competitive side to you.”

STYLE ADVICE: Remove the pockets — streamline your look — it elongates you.

LIFE ADVICE: Don’t borrow trouble. In other words, don’t worry about something you can’t control. Keep things in perspective. If you’re worried about something that you can’t control you’re borrowing it — you’re bringing it into your world. Remember what’s important: family and friends. It will all work out.

PERFECT DAY: Waking up, going on a walk with my husband, going to the beach, relaxing and reading. I love to read. I belong to a book group. We meet once a month. Wonderful, incredible women. Accomplished, down-to-earth; we take turns hosting it, choosing books to read. I tend to like nonfiction.

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