May 25, 2015

We Came, We Saw, We Shopped: Holiday Indie Mart

Kelly Malone of Indie Mart and The Bold Italic combined powers just before the holidays for a special edition of Indie Mart that, not surprisingly, turned out to be a festive shopping occasion packed with Bay Area-produced clothing, yummy holiday treats, a crop of recycled cardboard trees to take home and decorate and a “Dirty Santa” for photo opps.

On the scene were merry shoppers and party-goers packed into the brand new Bold Italic office space on 34 Page Street to celebrate the fresh digs and pick up last-minute gifts. As often happens at Indie Mart events, a fun time was had by all.

Here are some of our favorite locally-made products from the evening:

Handmade leather bags by Hawke + Carry, handpainted by calligraphy artist Aoi Yamaguchi

The hip, 2011 version of Lisa Frank: cute little notebooks from Studio Nico.

Casa Murriguez's top seller of the night: Deliciously scented 100 percent lavander sachets.

Delectable treats from Black Jet Baking Co.

Dostoevsky Wooden Stencil by The Lamplighters. Use as a stencil or hang on the wall as art.

Locally made from organic ingredients, soap and soy candles (the wax becomes massage oil) by Heliotrope.

Recyclable and reusable cardboard Christmas trees that you decorate yourself from The Arbory.

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Photography courtesy of SF Indie Fashion


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

We Came, We Saw, We Shopped: City Dolls

Stepping into Space Gallery for the City Dolls trunk show to do a little holiday shopping was like stepping into an alternate universe, thanks to an art installation by Bunny Reiss and Monica Canilao (en route to the SF MOMA) composed of quilts, lace, branches and collected items ranging from dream catchers to paper cutouts. The overall effect: a gallery with a romantic, bohemian vibe. Oh, and sweet unique finds from local designers and artists.

An amazing art installation by Bunny Reiss and Monica Canilao was a centerpiece of the event.

Gathered at the Polk street space to spread holiday cheer and handcrafted gifts alongside chow provided by Whiskey Commons Street Food and spiked hot ciders were a number of California artists and designers, including Siri Hanson Jewelry, The Loin, Christine Mayrina Jewelry, K.M. Knits, Olivous Retro Jewelry, Stolen Sunday, Paulina Carcach Handbags, Black Pyramid Vintage, Anisa Esmail Jewelry, Phoenix the Fox, Amour Vert and Dear Mina Jewelry.

During our chat at the trunk show, City Dolls founder Kirsten Incorvaia told me she wanted to, “create a place for people to shop that wasn’t about the hectic holiday pressure… a fun and friendly environment unlike the impersonal malls” of the world. The event on Saturday night was the second-ever City Dolls trunk show.

Read on for a few of my favorite items at the show:

Christine Mayrina is a jewelry collector who sources her vintage and antique jewelry from a list of places that ranges from the American Southwest to Turkey for a collection with a bold, international vibe.

Statement necklaces, antique cocktail rings and belly-dancer bangles from the Christine Mayrina Jewelry collection.

Dear Mina, a handmade jewelry line by Mina Caragay, is both modern and primitive, hard and soft, solid and fluid. Her pieces are made with crystals, semi-precious stones, rock specimens, metals and textiles, and fun touches like skull beads and arrowheads happily marry the sophisticated with the quirky.

Jewelry by Dear Mina

Shop or design your own purse with a visit to Paulina Carcach, who has has been personally designing unique and handcrafted handbags since 2008. In luxuriously soft leather with thoughtful details, her bags are affordable and well-made. You can design your own bag on her website and get inspiration from bags in her shop and from previous collections.

Gorgeous handcrafted leather bags by Paulina Carcach (photograph courtesy Paulina Carcach)

Inspired by nature, Siri Hanson's whimsical jewelry line.

Siri Hanson Jewelry is a San Francisco local who creates her handmade pieces from such various materials as clay, rolled bits of magazine paper, metal work, and strips of leather reclaimed from a pair of gloves found at an estate sale. In addition to her line of funky jewelry, she also had on display some handmade ceramic Christmas tree ornaments.

Photography by Alexandra Naughton

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

Feel Good Fashion: Jeff Oakes Scarves & Accessories

Jeff and weaver Jaipur

For some designers, their calling is crystal clear from the moment they sit in front of a sewing machine or pick up a pencil and draw their first sketch. And then there is Jeff Oakes, a San Francisco designer who almost accidentally stumbled upon his now-blossoming career producing hand-printed and woven scarves, totes and home accessories with a socially-responsible twist.

Some may call it a happy accident, others fate, but after a chance encounter with a weaver during a trip to India, Oakes had a literal “a ha!” moment. Launching a company focused on ethically-produced, woven textiles made by artisans from at-risk communities around the world would satisfy both his interest in social responsibility and his love for textile design.

With an extensive background in the corporate retail and the design industry (he’s an alum of Gap Inc.) and a degree from San Francisco’s Apparel Arts under his belt, Oakes opened his design studio in 2008.

His goal? To create ethically-made luxury products that support and promote artisan entrepreneurs through a variety of educational projects designed to encourage creativity and improve their skills. Oakes hopes to preserve the artistic heritage of multiple at-risk communities by working with artisans in places such as India’s village of Bagh in Madhya Pradesh, as well as rural southeast Rajasthan and New Delhi.

We caught up with Oakes to discuss his transition from the corporate world to social entrepreneur, his designs, life in San Francisco and what the future holds.

Colors from Jeff's Fall line

A Jeff Oakes tote

A colorful Jeff Oakes scarf

A neutral tone woven scarf

So, prior to starting Jeff Oakes design you were working as an architect. Why did you decide to make the transition and start your own line?

The short answer is “ by accident.”

The more complicated answer is that starting my own line happened over a period of time. At the end of 2007, I was on a quest to see how I might parlay my experiences as an architect and corporate retail executive into playing with textiles.

I was on my first visit to India and by sheer chance I was introduced to an accomplished weaver.  He brought me to his village in rural southeast Rajasthan. I literally had an “ah ha!” moment as he was showing me the entire process of making cloth. I knew instantly that I had found a team to begin designing and producing textile products.

When I got back to SF, I enrolled at Apparel Arts to learn apparel construction techniques and the language of the business. Almost two years later, I met and started working with a fantastic business coach assigned to me through the SF Small Business Council.  Together we honed my business plan, developed two five-year financial models, a short-term and long-term web strategy and put a launch date on the calendar.

What kind of woman wears Jeff Oakes designs? Can you describe her?

Almost all of my clients are genuinely interested in how a design was inspired and executed.  They often will be looking for unique or limited-edition designs to gift or to compliment wardrobes they have built over a lifetime.  I would describe her as a well read and confident woman.

 What types of designs are you drawn to when creating pieces for your line? What and where do you draw inspiration from?

 Inspiration? This is the easy part. It’s all around me – literature, dance, music, parks, travel, my dog Kate, architecture, antique textiles, sculpture, museum exhibits, the weather – it’s endless. The challenge for any designer is in the “editing” of all the ideas and questions that come into your head.  Once you have a clear idea and clear parameters – the decisions you make in developing a product go pretty quickly.

The final pieces for a collection are always informed by the final output of the R&D phase of the process. The weave, fiber content, the hand, the weight of the cloth, the prints, the color will dictate if something should be scarf, a wrap, a top, skirt or pant. I let the magic of the concept and process meld and influence the collection we present. Having said all this, I do enjoy designing accessories, scarves, wraps and bags.

What are your favorite materials to work with?

My current favorite fiber to work with is wild silk from India.

The silk often comes from the forests in rural and very poor areas in the northeast. Tribes people steward these forests and process the silk to supplement their incomes. Being that the worms are exposed to all the elements, when processed the sheen, texture and color of the fibers are much more interesting to me than farm-raised and the finely spun silks.

When you’re not designing and creating, what else do you do?

I am paraphrasing a mentor of mine: “you don’t decide you are going to be a designer on Thursdays at 2:00 pm.  The line between life and work is always blurred. Through the process of discovery, each is always informing the other.”

I think this is true. I read a lot, and, by design, I travel quite a bit.  Observing people, especially in city squares, is a favorite pastime, so is cooking and playing with my dog Kate. OK – I admit it – playing with Kate may not be related to design. She simply reminds me to stay present and to live joyfully.

Tell us some of your favorite shops in San Francisco? What are your go-to spots to find indie apparel and designers?

MAC on Grove Street. The owners Chris and Ben present a wonderful point of view of the industry.  I live in the heart of Hayes Valley, so I don’t have to go very far to find great indie designs and designers.

What inspired you to start your own line?

I can think of many. One of them is reading a lot of biographies of successful businesses and creative people. The most recent book I read is by Barbara Corcoran, SHARK TALES. She writes about how her mom and dad influenced her approach to her life and work: working smart, using common sense, having integrity and surrounding yourself with the best people to help you be successful.

At the end of the day you have to trust yourself and understand you don’t have to do it alone or know all the answers.

How would you describe the Jeff Oakes aesthetic?  

I would describe my aesthetic as modernist. However, you wouldn’t always see that looking at my products.

Where can we find your designs?

You can find my designs at The Gardener in Berkeley and at the Ferry Building in San Francisco, Rubicon and the Vine House at Beringer Estate Winery up in the Napa Valley. By appointment, you can visit and shop in my studio in the Mission.

What new and exciting things are you working on at Jeff Oakes design?

Currently we are working designs that are inspired our study of rain, fog and mist. We’re looking at how these elements are expressed in literature, architecture and music as a way to express pattern, color and texture in cloth.

For Spring/Summer 2012 I will be introducing new home products, including cool retro hand-woven cotton throws, a line of hand-woven and printed table linens. I will also introduce my first collection of women’s tunics.

Photography courtesy of Jeff Oakes

Fall Sale: Sofie Olgaard

A fall sale from San Francisco-based Danish designer Sofie Olgaard means special pricing and discounts on everything in her online shop, including dresses, coats and skirts.

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Mind Behind the Design: Metal Smith’s Isabella Behravan

We’ve always been told that diamonds are a girl’s best friend. San Francisco-based designer Isabella Behravan is challenging this long-held belief with her innovative use of metals in her new jewelry line, Metal Smith. Give her a little time, and she may even disprove that whole diamond theory altogether.

After peeping her pieces during a recent visit to Ver Unica boutique in Hayes Valley, we were immediately intrigued and had to know more about this new local designer and her marvelous metals. Behravan is a born and bred San Franciscan raised in the heart of Russian Hill, and, like any seasoned city gal, she knows these city streets like the back of her hand.

After high school Behravan escaped to Upstate New York for a change of climate and scenery where she attended Bard College. But four years later, she soon found the City by the Bay calling her name.

Manager at Ver Unica for three years and counting, Behravan is in the midst of launching Metal Smith’s debut collection. It may be her first line, but she’s been at the jewelry designing game for quite some time. Behravan initially began creating pieces for herself after not finding jewelry she wanted to wear. Determined to sport pieces she was proud to call her own, Behravan immediately went to work.
Drawing inspiration from her surroundings, the elements, architecture and her love for the craftsmanship and impeccable detail in vintage clothing, Behravan carefully handcrafts each and every Metal Smith design. Her first collection boasts an array of earrings, rings, necklaces and bracelets with clean lines, subtle colors and bold shapes.
We sat down with Behravan to get the skinny on Metal Smith, dish about life in San Francisco and, of course, talk fashion.

What inspired you to start your own jewelry line?

I began making pieces that I wanted to wear because I wasn’t finding jewelry that felt natural and right for me out in the world. So I created pieces that I would want to wear everyday, not to go with an outfit but to make me feel a certain way. I quickly realized I wanted to share the jewelry I was creating.

What types of designs are you drawn to when creating your pieces?

I look to architecture, vintage pieces from my personal collection, and nature for inspiration. Shadows and empty space often play a big role in my design process.

What materials are your favorite to work with?

I love working with all types of metal. I love to see it do unexpected things and transform into something new. I’ve never worked with anything quite like it before; it’s amazing to create jewelry from something so strong with your hands.

When you’re not designing jewelry, what else do you do?

I hangout with my dog, Dirt. I also love going to thrift stores and antique shops to seek out hidden treasures.

What are your favorite shops or destinations in SF? Where are your go-to places to find independent, local apparel and jewelry designers?

My perfect day in San Francisco would start at Sight Glass Coffee, because it is such a beautiful place, where – if I could have a work bench in their loft – I could honestly work for hours upon hours a day. Then I’d take the N Judah to General Store, which has a beautifully curated collection of things. I’d finish the day with a walk with Dirt down to Union Made to check out their beautiful textiles. It is rare to see a shop with such perfectly selected pieces, particularly in men’s.

What is the one accessory you cannot live without?

My sunglasses. They’re circular frame 1960’s Christian Dior. I think that whoever owned them before me changed one of the lenses because they’re two different colors. One lens is a little more rosy and the other is a little more yellowy. When I wear them, anything that’s red looks totally psychedelic!

What is next for Metal Smith?! And I am very excited about stones right now. I have some pieces in mind that will involve new colored and textured stones that will complement the metal work I’ve been designing.

To check out Metal Smith’s first collection stop by Ver Unica boutique for the Metal Smith Trunk Show this Friday, October 14th from 6-9pm.

Photography courtesy of Metal Smith

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