From Pop Up to Brick & Mortar

Urban Air Market is all about partnering with independent artists & emerging local talents to showcase their work to the SF/Bay Area community. We are so proud of all of our makers and are thrilled to see each and every one of them grow and take their brands to the next level. And for some, the ultimate goal is to go from pop-up to brick & mortar! Here are a few Urban Air Makers who have done just that and what they have to say about their journey:

 

Codacraft Atelier

Jewelry designer Marisa Villa started her business as a way to make supplemental income for her family, designing jewelry out of her living room and selling on the streets of Boston. Through persistence, determination and many years of hard work, she has been in production since 2011 and is the proud owner of Codacraft Atelier in North Oakland’s Paradise Park.

How long has your business been around & how did it all start?

As a young mom at home with a baby, I made and sold jewelry…it all started in our living room! As my craft refined, my work was featured in several artisans galleries around that area. Then I took a long hiatus to pursue other professional opportunities upon moving to the Bay Area. About 6 years ago I resumed my craft seriously. It’s good to pick up the tools again…this is a bit of an exercise in creation that does not involve my guitars or my resume. Just an urge to create something beautiful, tangible & wearable!

 

Tell me a little bit more about your shop’s location/neighborhood & customers:

 

My store is located in an amazing area of North Oakland’s Paradise Park through which San Pablo Avenue borders Berkeley and Emeryville. Our lively little retail strip contains thriving women-owned businesses like Verb, a beloved fabric & yarn store and the ever-loved James and the Giant Cupcake. This is a really diverse and family friendly neighborhood with schools, a church and  an active senior housing community. Codacraft is a tiny slice of gifty grace. We get a good flow of customers who are surprised to find that we offer affordable gifts and in our few months of operation, our clientele is returning to find new treasures.

 

Advice for people who want to transition to permanent retail location?

 

First, visualize a sustainable work/life practice. Next, set your intention. Then spread the word through your social and professional networks. Be curious, active and diligent! Listen and on the look for opportunities. Set up your business structure as you go so you can chart your businesses growth before sounding out your communities’ small business initiatives.  It’s all hard work, but it’s all towards your purpose!

 

 

Kestan

Kestan is an independent womenswear label run by a brother and sister duo Stephanie & Kevin. With one half handling creative designing and the other managing business direction, the two came together to build a brand based on a mutual love for mindful clothing.

 

Stephanie, tell us about your company:

 

I run Kestan alongside my brother, Kevin. We’re both co-founders: I handle the creative direction and he handles business aspects of the company. We met up for a sibling vacation, and being the typical annoying younger sister, I was complaining a lot about the lack of transparency in fashion. He encouraged me to do something about my passions, and the idea of Kestan was born. We both moved back to our home in California to pursue the brand. We started online and through in-person popups before opening our store November 2017.

 

Advice for people who want to transition to permanent retail location?

 

My advice for those starting out in the pop-up market scene is to take it easy! In the sense that you don’t need a crazy build-out. Your product will speak for itself! Participating in markets is surprisingly physical, and there are many effective and authentic ways to express your branding without too many bells and whistles. For those transitioning into a permanent retail location, I’d say carefully choose where you place your storefront. We personally spent weeks canvasing potential locations before deciding on our current location. It was also important for us to be part of a real community that would be supportive of our vision and share similar values.

 

What is one thing in your shop right now that you’re excited about us sharing with potential shoppers?

 

We’re incredibly excited about our SS18 launch as a whole. If I had to pick one item I love the most, it would be the Baker dress. The fabric itself is amazing: Lyocell is not only functionally breathable and cooling but is produced on a closed loop system, resulting in cleaner production. The dress was inspired by my favorite 50’s film so the cut is classic. It’s modernized with an updated collar and detailing with hidden pockets. So flattering, functional, and super comfortable!

 

 

Frolick Jewelry

Founder and lead designer Adrienne L. Wiley launched Frolick Jewelry in 2004 from a desire to create a collection of jewelry that was vintage inspired but contemporary and effortlessly chic for women of all ages. She initially learned to make jewelry as a hobby at age 15 but rekindled her interest years later, selling designs to family, friends & even coworkers out or her office cubicle! Today, Frolick can be found in over 900 boutiques worldwide including Wiley’s own boutique Covet here in SF.

 

How has participating in market events like Urban Air affected your business?

 

Market events are an amazing way to introduce more people to your brand. In addition to increasing awareness, I use them to test out new designs and see how well they’re received by the broad audience of people that show up to events like Urban Air.

 

What is one thing in your shop right now that you’re excited about us sharing with potential shoppers?

 

I’m super excited about the jewelry bar. It features over 300 charms and gemstones that I’ve sourced from around the globe. Customers can design their own pieces and we put them together on the spot. They can choose from dozens of different chains, bracelets, rings, and more to create their jewelry.

Advice for designers starting in the pop-up market scene:

Pop-ups are an amazing way to dial in on who your core customer is and what they want to buy from you. So do as many as you can and take full advantage of having such a broad audience at your reach. Once you feel like you have that down to a science, then maybe start looking for a pop-up retail location.

 

 

 

Lady Alamo

Lady Alamo was founded by fashion industry veteran Yiva and Bryce, who comes from the world of graphic design. There’s also the company mascot Mojo, who doesn’t let being a terrier in a human world slow him down a bit. For the last 5 years this dedicated team has designed a range of bags and accessories in a host of styles, colors, prints & constructions. Simply put, Lady Alamo wants to give you the bag to make every moment in life an opportunity.

 

Tell us about our company & how it all started:

We were both unsatisfied with our day jobs and wanted to start something that we both could collaborate on. Our local doggy park was Alamo Square, home to the Painted Ladies (Painted “Lady” + “Alamo” Square = Lady Alamo). The Painted Ladies are classic icons of the city, but brightly colored. We wanted our bags to embody that same playful elegance.

 

How long have you been in business and how did you grow it?

Since 2011. We hustled and attended LOTS of fairs and craft shows. We then started to participate in trade shows to help expand the wholesale side of the business. At the same time, we tried pop-ups at malls and anywhere else to increase our visibility. There was a lot of trial and error involved!

 

Tell us a little bit about your shop’s location & the neighborhood:

We just celebrated a grand opening at our location in the Mission! The neighborhood is very diverse, colorful and culturally rich.

 

Any advice for designers starting out in the pop-up market scene?

Prepare to have bad days. Retail is a tiring and difficult business, but don’t give up. The more you get out there, the better you get and the more people will recognize your brand. Be willing  to make changes if items aren’t selling as well as you had hoped. Our merchandise looks dramatically different now than when we first started out.

 

What’s one thing in your shop right now that you’re excited to share with potential customers?

Our store is not only a retail shop, it also serves as our workshop. We manufacture in the same space! Our customers can see where their bags are made and the people behind them.

 

Embla

Founded by Greg and Evgenia Perkins, Embla creates unique geometric candles and soap by combining state of the art 3D printing technology with old world manufacturing techniques and a dash of liquid nitrogen.

 

Evgenia, tell us about your how company got started:

Originally Greg started in the 3D modeling/printing industry as he was fascinated with possible applications of it. I loved candles, particularly how much they added to the décor with their look and fragrance. The answer was obvious: Embla came to be by combining our passions and desire to create something fresh, innovative and sustainable. We’ve been in business for about a year and a half and during this time we have come up with a library of unique shapes. We’ve also perfected our production process for both candles and soap! Last year during a cryotherapy session, we got inspired to introduce liquid nitrogen into our curing process which has been a big help in speeding things up.

 

Tell me a little bit more about your shop’s location/neighborhood & customers:

We have just opened our first storefront in the Mission District about a month ago. It’s a perfect location as it’s very eclectic and diverse. People are always open to trying out new things and are instantly attracted to our products. Most of our sales come from people passing by and falling in love with the fragrances and aesthetic appeal of our candles. Just yesterday we had someone stop by and immediately call their friends to tell them about our store which was amazing. It’s the best kind of feedback and we enjoy building lasting relationships with our customers!

 

How has participating in market events like Urban Air Market affected your business?

We love meeting our customers face-to-face and getting real feedback on our products. We made it a practice to introduce new candle shapes/fragrances at our pop-ups to see which ones would the most popular. Since we started participating in local markets, we have identified the Diamond Candle as our best seller and it’s the first product that will be sold in retail stores, complete with its very own packaging.

 

What is one thing in your shop right now that you’re excited about us sharing with potential shoppers?

We have just released our new Eucalyptus Spearmint fragrance, paired with our new beautiful pastel green color option. They’re flying off the shelves just about as quickly as we can make them. We are excited to introduce it to everyone at the Urban Air Market Spring Show!

 

MM Clay

 

MMClay is a handmade tableware business run by local ceramic artist and designer Mary Mar Keenan in San Francisco. Mary Mar’s pottery is used throughout many popular restaurants and has become highly desirable tableware among private home collections. In 2014, she designed and produced a collection of work for Stuart Brioza’s (James Beard Award Winner Best Chef: West) most recent venture, The Progress. From this collaboration, The Progress Collection was developed and has been featured in Food & Wine Magazine, Remodelista, Saveur & numerous other publications. She continues to produce beautiful handmade pieces in her Hayes Valley studio and has a permanent retail location in a slick, converted airstream on the corner of Linden & Octavia streets right along Patricia Green.

 

Tell us how long you’ve been in the industry and how your business got started:

 

I’ve been making pottery for over 20 years  but this studio is actually my 3rd business! It’s been a difficult road trying to make a living doing what I love to do, which is pottery. I started out at a studio gallery with a few artists, making pieces that I liked and then selling them at shows. I didn’t have an actual line of products to offer but that quickly shifted when restaurants started picking up my work. That forced me to create lines of work that I could reproduce and sell consistently. Having my work at restaurants turned into a live gallery for me where people were getting to experience eating off of my tableware. They saw the value in it and what it did for their meal. They started asking about it which then drove more traffic to my website and studio.

 

Tell me a little bit more about your shop’s location and neighborhood:

 

Being in this studio for 10 years I have watched the neighborhood grow, change and develop. I think there’s a lovely vibe in Hayes Valley, people love even just hanging around Patricia’s Green. And so there’s already a heartbeat there that was so easy for me to settle into. When people ask where my studio or airstream is, if you tell them Hayes Valley they’re super excited to come! That has been hugely beneficial, not to mention being behind Blue Bottle…it’s a great way to know locals and regulars. There’s a nice community feel around this part of town.

 

Advice for new designers wanting to get into the pop-up market scene:

As designers, makers and artists each path is different but for me, it’s been the combination of good fortune, timing and talking to the right people. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask people for help…even with the Airstream, I found it through a billboard and now here I am! Don’t be afraid to take risks, it eventually pays off!

What are some new items or projects that you are excited to share with potential shoppers?

It’s exciting for me to show something new, even if it’s just a cup! Hopefully for the next Urban Air market, I’ll be able to introduce a new glaze I just developed called Thai blue, a gorgeous turquoise color that reminds me of the ocean in Thailand. I’m also super excited to be working on an order with Prisoner Winery. With this order, there’s an opportunity to customize pieces like spittoons or spit buckets. It’s something fun for me to play with and that’s what keeps me interested in pottery. People here in SF get the clay connection, too — they get excited about classes and getting their hands dirty. Being able to make pottery feels like a connection to the past. It gets people to slow down and enjoy their meal. If you eat a meal with something handmade, you appreciate the food more and in some ways, it nourishes both your body and soul.

 

So inspiring! And they’re all going to be at our Spring show on May 6th! RSVP here and meet them in person, shop, eat/drink & enjoy a wonderful day in Hayes Valley!



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