May 24, 2015

Party Seen: Carrots 4th Anniversary Celebration

Sisters Melissa and Catie Grimm, who co-own CARROTS, celebrate the boutique's 4th anniversary

Ultra-chic boutique CARROTS, nestled in San Francisco’s posh Jackson Square neighborhood, celebrated its 4th birthday last Thursday evening and drew a crowd of uber-stylish San Franciscans, among them the evening’s hosts Taylor of Sterling Style, Samantha Rudd & Kendall Asmuth of Sequin Harvest, Erin Hiemstra of Apartment 34 and Caitlin of Sacramento Street. Read on for pics and detes from the night’s festivities.

Hosts Erin of Apartment34 and Caitlin of Sacramento Street strike poses in pairs of sweet sunnies.

Sam and Kendall of Sequin Harvest ventured into the City for the night from Napa to co-host the event and, of course, shop.

Taylor of Sterling Style

It’s no surprise that it was a working celebration for owner’s Catie and Melissa Grimm, as family, friends, shoppers and some of the city’s most style-savvy fashion bloggers such as Heather of Heather in a Candy Shop, Tara of Wonder Girl, Britt & Whit of Britt + Whit and Krystal of This Time Tomorrow oohed and ahhed over the boutique’s seemingly endless supply of lust-worthy goods. Needless to say, it was impossible to walk out the door without something on.

Party-goers take a break from shopping to catch up on the latest and dish

Josh of the Bon Vivants concocts one of many specialty cocktails served during the event.

Scott and Josh of  The Bon Vivants were busy behind the bar, where they speedily mixed up a few of their deadly delicious specialty cocktails (Pilgrim Punch, the Potrero Buck and the El Rio, to name a few) to keep guests going strong as they perused the merch.

Party-goers found items from such local designers as Geoffrey Young, Isly handbags by Sobia Shaikh and scarves from Camilla Olson in addition to the  a’bout + CARROTS pop up shop, the Grimm Sisters’ collaboration with designers Dean Hutchinson and Yunchieh Chang of Toronto-based a’bout, whom they have have teamed up with to create an exclusive line.

The party in full-swing

Carrots will no doubt be celebrating its 5th anniversary just as stylishly. If you can’t wait that long to snatch up some goods, and we don’t blame you if you can’t, you can find the Grimm sisters at 843 Montgomery st. San Francisco, Ca 94133.

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Photography courtesy of Colin Day

In Pane Sight: Swankety Swank

Prim and proper dress with pretty print and little white gloves

In the window at Swankety Swank: popping colors, bold blazers, refurbished furniture, trendy housewares and plenty of stylish threads made by local master-craftspeople with the conscious consumer in mind.

Swankety Swank is an artist retail co-op that carries an assortment of locally-made (and reasonably-priced) goods, including Art Furniture by Yabette (founder of Swankety Swank), wearable art by Phoenix Zoellick, Miranda Caroligne’s clothing made from salvaged textiles, deliciously-scented Neives Natural Handmade Bodycare, wild-inspired jewelry by Sexi Seaweed and so much more.

Below, a few quick shots of the shop from our window-stalking adventures.

Clothing for men and women that's handmade by local artisans.

A paint-splattered blazer makes a bold statement.

A modern approach to a 1920s-style hat.

Swankety Swank, located at 289 Divisadero Street, a Panhandle boutique specializing in local, handmade goods.

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Alexandra is a San Francisco writer with a passion for style and creativity. You can find her on Twitter @theTsaritsa

Behind the Shop: Gravel Ghost Vintage

1970's draped maxi dress from Gravel Ghost Vintage

Luscious faux furs, fringed bustiers, pastel high waist shorts and pin-up style rompers are just a few of the retro finds you’ll uncover perusing the online offerings of Gravel Ghost Vintage, a collaborative effort between two vintage lovers, Daniel and Kat, whose boredom with same-old-same-old style led to their very-addictive etsy shop filled with everything from 1950s party girl pieces to 1970s arena rock chic items and 1980s gothic glamor must-haves.

We recently had an email chat with Kat, who let us in on how she got started, what motivates her to thrift and her thoughts on the fashion scene in San Francisco.

We love the eclectic collection of vintage pieces in your store. How do you find the pieces, and what do you look for?

We get our pieces everywhere: estate sales, thrift stores or often from friends. Vintage clothing almost seems to find us! Our buyer specialist, Dawn Hernandez, hunts for vintage throughout the North Bay Area. She has great taste and a knack for finding gorgeous designer vintage. What I keep my eye out for is unique clothing from any era that I would hope inspire women to get out of mediocre fashion ruts.

Your site says that “With a collective upbringing of urban poverty and suburban boredom…” Can you tell me more about that?

My family grew up poor in SoMa in the 80′s, so my mother would tighten her purse strings by taking me thrifting. She really encouraged me to express my individuality and showed me that cool clothes could be accessible without breaking the bank. My boyfriend, Daniel Nolan, photographer for Gravel Ghost Vintage, grew up in the South Bay. With little else left to do on a weekend in the suburbs, he would peruse garage sales looking for old Nikons and KISS albums. Together we ended up with a massive wardrobe, an insane record collection and a creative sensibility, which enables us to do what we do.

When did you start selling vintage? What inspired you to start your own business?

I started selling vintage clothing in 2007. I felt that starting my own business took a natural course, as it seemed that there was a demand for it. I had people stop me and ask, “where did you get that dress!?” Later realizing that I could perhaps quit my mundane day job and provide vintage clothing to seekers of an eclectic wardrobe, like myself!

What do you think of the San Francisco fashion scene?

Although I appreciate the high fashion scene in San Francisco, I definitely gravitate towards a more individual sense of style that derives from personal taste rather than fashion trends. San Franciscans have a diverse style that varies from district to district. The nonconformist approach seems to contradict itself in that most people here have adopted it. The San Franciscans that stand out to me and inspire me the most are those who take ownership of their style because they have the confidence to do so, no matter how the industry thinks you should dress.

What do you see for the future of Gravel Ghost Vintage? Do you plan on expanding, and how?

It would be amazing to see Gravel Ghost Vintage become a brand and perhaps have a storefront some day. My own personal ambition is to become a wardrobe stylist to artists and musicians, since they are the ones who inspire me. We aim to include stand out pieces in our collection, so we are continually striving to pick up sought-after clothing to inspire creative people the way they inspire us.

1980′s black lace blouse with Victorian-meets-Steampunk puff sleeves

More San Francisco vintage


Alexandra is a San Francisco writer with a passion for style and creativity. You can find her on Twitter @theTsaritsa

Snap Judgment: Prairie Schooner Cocktail Ring

The Prairie Schooner cocktail ring from Drella Jones

Our very-visual, (almost) chatter-free snap judgment of the day: The brass Covered Wagon Cocktail Ring, $11, perfect for the cowgirl or Oregon Trail fanatic in all of us. Inexpensive and fun, this Western-inspired piece is just one of many kitschy-cool items available from the etsy shop of San Francisco-based Drella Jones.

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Alexandra is a San Francisco writer with a passion for style and creativity. You can find her on Twitter @theTsaritsa

Behind the Shop: DEMA

DEMA, 1038 Valencia St, San Francisco

In the heart of the Mission on Valencia Street between 21st and 22nd is a boutique called DEMA, which for nearly fourteen years has been keeping stylish Bay Area ladies gussied-up in modern women’s clothing with a vintage vibe.

Dema Grim, owner and namesake, designs and crafts her own clothing which she sells in the shop and can oftentimes be found in her workshop in the back of DEMA, where she creates patterns and cuts fabric. In addition to showcasing her own creations, Dema seeks out other designers with a unique voice that fit well with the atmosphere of the shop. Among them are clothing lines Vkoo, Cardigan, Subtle Luxury and Red 23.

Walking inside DEMA is like stepping out of a time machine into a very hip, punky-mod alternate dimension, with vintage posters, kitschy-cool furniture and racks and racks of colorful and boldly-patterned skirts, dresses, blouses and accessories. Plastic BearBricks stand on a shelf near the dressing room area dressed with Sex Pistols cover art (“They can be customized with whatever, Dema tells us, “I’ve seen Fendi ones…”) while neat stacks of folded sweaters lay atop a crescent-shaped table.

Tops by Cardigan in a plethora of patterns.

Avocado tiled floor and mod touches create a retro-feeling shopping experience.

Dema, busy in her workshop.

Sam + Lavi blouse, DEMA Lesley Skirt, and Tokyo Bay cross-body bag, photo borrowed from the DEMA web site.

We got a chance to interview Dema via email while she was getting some R&R up in the Russian River Valley. Read on for her thoughts about getting started in the biz, where she gets her inspirations and what looks she’s loving for fall.

Are you originally from the Bay Area? Do you believe your environment influences your style?

I was raised in Seattle, where I started my clothing line; moved to NYC in 1989 and enjoyed some success- selling to lots of small influential boutiques around the country as well as Barneys; moved to SF in 1994 with a lot of these shops, including Barneys, owing me a LOT of money and decided to open my own shop and stop doing wholesale in 1997. The one exception to this is M.A.C., with whom I’ve been collaborating for almost 20 years!

I believe that environment absolutely influences my style. In New York, I made much dressier, more tailored things. Suits, lots of black,etc. Being in San Francisco, and the Mission district in particular, has relaxed my style and made it more colorful. I really think that in the last 5 or 6 years I have found my voice, as it were, in regards to mixing color and pattern.

How did you get started in the fashion industry?

I did not go to a fashion school, rather I cobbled an education together by working in theater doing costumes, at alterations shops where I learned about fit and from a woman who taught pattern making in her living room. I did take a sewing class and a basic draping class at Seattle City College. I just bought the textbooks and taught myself!

Where do you look for inspiration?

I’m very inspired by the 60s and rock and roll. I was quite the mod punk in my teen years! The 60s was a time of new freedoms from restriction for young women. The mini skirts and racing around on scooters etc! But also, on a practical level, the fabrics I find really push me in a particular direction. I think my line reflects a modern interpretation of vintage classics done in unexpected patterns or textures.

Who is your typical client? If you could dress any person, celebrity or not, living or dead, who would it be?

My typical client is me! 35-45, wanting to still look cool and relevant but also age appropriate.

I have a real soft spot for Jean Seberg. She was so perfectly gamine. My perfect blend of tomboy and girly. I live in skinny jeans and Keds and had just the same short haircut for a lot of my life and have always admired the girls who race around town on their scooters. I may stray into other eras, but I always come back to this sort of girl in my head.

What is your favorite trend for Fall?

Having said that, my favorite Fall trend is turning out to be the midi-skirt. I’ve done a great below the knee 4-gored skirt with a sort of 40′s flip to it. Very flattering to lots of figures and a very fresh length! This is turning out to be a very popular skirt for Fall. I’ve also done a very classic late 50′s dress with a little cap sleeve, pleated neckline and fitted skirt that looks great on almost everyone and works well in many different fabrics from daytime wools to silky evening prints.

Where do you like to shop in the city?

I don’t shop for clothes too much around town. I have a hard time buying anything I could make! But shoes and sweaters are definitely allowed: Gimme Shoes, Rabat, Bulo, Shoe Biz, etc.

DEMA has been in the Mission for nearly 14 years — what kind of changes have you noticed? Has the clientele and store changed in that time?

Boy have I seen a lot of changes in the neighborhood. I opened in 1997, and there was very little on Valencia besides used clothing and furniture shops. Then came the DotCom years, and I was very successful…When the bubble burst it was quite an eye-opener. Then things stabilized for a bit, and then this current recession started three years ago! I’ve seen so many shops come and go. I worked very hard to keep American Apparel off of Valencia even though we had so many empty storefronts. I just knew it would change the “indie” attitude of the neighborhood. And now almost every storefront is filled with interesting retail concept shops or great restaurants. For a while there were tons of indie clothing design places as well, although we lost a few to the recession. I would love for this neighborhood to be known as the place to come for small production clothing shops.

What are your goals for the future of DEMA?

I imagine DEMA to remain a fairly small enterprise. I’m pretty happy with my little design incubator and with the collaborations with MAC (Modern Appealing Clothing). I’m certainly busy enough! I would love to get something going besides my blog so my fans across the country could buy DEMA online.

If you didn’t have to work, where would you be right now?

When I’m not working, you’ll find me either poking around Europe or in my garden wrangling the roses or walking my three dogs around Bernal Heights!

Sex Pistols BearBricks give an edgy sense of fun.

Fabrics waiting to be turned into DEMA's next creations

Faux leather handbags by co-lab on display.

Kitschy-cool is the vibe of DEMA.

Cute decorations inside Dema's workshop

DEMA is celebrating its 14th year on Valencia, so don’t forget to stop in and say “Happy Birthday!”

Photography courtesy of Alexandra Naughton

More indie-friendly San Francisco shops

Alexandra is a San Francisco writer with a passion for style and creativity. You can find her on Twitter @theTsaritsa