Helen Russell is Co-founder and CEO of Equator Coffees & Teas® in San Rafael, CA. Under her direction, Equator has earned a reputation as a quality-oriented, customer-focused business that takes the lead on issues of social and environmental responsibility.
Helen is responsible for company strategy and growth. She has defined competitive advantage to include social responsibility and sustainable choices. She strives to deliver innovations in procuring, roasting, brewing, and sales and business practices. These initiatives tangibly support the company’s commitment to sustainability and social responsibility and they also enhance the bottom line.
Under Helen’s strategic guidance, Equator has achieved 10-20% annual growth over the past 12 years. She has done this by remaining focused on developing strong, lasting partnerships with Equator’s customers and helping them execute their business plans.
From the moment Helen meets a potential customer, her goal is their success. To that end, she takes great care in selecting a product line-up, brewing equipment, and marketing materials to help them succeed. Helen’s natural ability to engage with customers carries on through the initial launch phase into many years of mutually beneficial partnership.
Helen’s consistent efforts have attracted and retained a cadre of prominent chefs and bakers, including Thomas Keller of The French Laundry, Traci Des Jardins of Jardinière, Elizabeth Faulkner of Citizen Cake, and Pascal Rigo of La Boulange. Helen has been able to strengthen these and other partnerships by working every day with customers to make sure they have the support they need to execute successfully.
In addition to Helen’s focus on sales and customer service, she has volunteered her time and business experience to local and international organizations supporting women and the environment, including La Cocina Community Kitchen in San Francisco, the International Women in Coffee Alliance, Co-op America and C.E.O. Women. Helen has led efforts to make Equator a socially and environmentally responsible company by investing in an energy efficient roaster, a biodiesel delivery truck, and by purchasing coffees and teas from growers who practice responsible land stewardship and bio-friendly farming techniques.
Helen was raised in Medford, MA, and educated at Northeastern University earning a B.A. in Business.