Margaret Fearey Walsh is a native of Philadelphia, P.A., and grew up in the legendary Chestnut Hill neighborhood. She was a debutante, skier and competitive ice skater. Margaret went to boarding school at Kent School in Connecticut, then moved on to study Interior Design at Mount Vernon College, now George Washington University. She soon married and had her lovely daughter while working in design. Margaret also became a buyer for the family business, the House of Walsh, a small department store in Amherst, MA.   In 1971, she moved back to Philadelphia to begin a new chapter.

Margaret landed a serendipitous job with Julia Dannenbaum, the cooking teacher, “Grande Dame of Philadelphia cuisine,” and a close friend of James Beard. Although Margaret was merely an assistant, she soaked up everything she could about gourmet cooking. In 1974, Margaret opened her own pastry shop and catering company, Margaret Fearey Walsh, Inc.

To further her culinary education, Margaret studied at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, and studied in France with Louisette Bertholle, the co-author of the bestselling cookbook, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” with Julia Child and Simone Beck. She also studied under Giuliano Bugialli in Italy.

By 1980, Margaret’s business was recognized as the #1 catering company in Philadelphia. The same year, in a twist of fate after major surgery, Margaret was diagnosed with Celiac Disease, a genetic disease forcing her to maintain a gluten-free diet for the rest of her life.

While recovering from the surgery, Margaret didn’t have the stamina to maintain her award-winning catering business, and she moved on and began a new job selling party rentals and tents. Quickly becoming the top sales person, Margaret won an award to attend an International Special Events Society convention, ISE, in L.A. Within 6 months, Margaret moved to sunny San Francisco to make a fresh start and to get out of the cold and snow.

She couldn’t find a job because she knew only three people in California. In those days, it was “who you know, not what you know” that would find her a job. Desperate, Margaret started cleaning houses.

Ever the survivor, Margaret started “Rent-A-Wife”, offering catering, errand running and housekeeping for busy executives and families. Her first year, Margaret was hired by an executive with GE Capital to move him from San Francisco to Connecticut. She orchestrated her first national move: sorting, packing, overseeing movers, then unpacking and and settling her client in NYC, in 1993.

Rent-A-Wife evolved into Changing-Places, Inc., thanks to a business coach who told Margaret the company name sounded like she was a “lady of the night.” It’s Margaret’s Philadelphia upbringing that prompted a client in California to dub Margaret “a blue blood with blue collar work ethics.”

As an adult, Margaret was diagnosed with dyslexia. She quickly found that being organized was essential to her success. She would put everything in its proper place, focusing on processes to keep life neat and tidy in order to be quick and look smart. This led to her natural talent and passion for home organizing.

Changing-Places, Inc., grew from a home-based operation to a staff of 32, headquartered in San Rafael, CA.

The Fleur de Lys became Changing Places’ iconic logo in part because it connects Margaret to France, where she spends much time each year, and because the company offers international services. Changing Places has moved many dozens of clients internationally, a service which grew from the need to offer her expertise outside of the U.S.

When Margaret isn’t running the award-winning Changing-Places, Inc., she’s giving of her time and attention to charitable causes including Beyond Celiac, Northern California wildfire relief, breast cancer research, the Braille and Talking Book Library, environmental sustainability and more.

Changing-Places, Inc., was the first organizing and relocation company in the U.S. to offer a “Green Team” and to promote sustainable moves. We have also won “Best Home Organizer” in the Pacific Sun 10 years in a row, from 2009 to 2019, thanks to our wonderful clients, realtors and our amazing CP team!

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