Photo Credit: Courtesy St. Frank
While Fillmore Street in San Francisco’s tony Pacific Heights has received the lion’s share of attention for improving its retail offerings, nearby Sacramento Street has quietly continued to up its game as well. The hautest new space belongs to St. Frank, a socially-conscious luxury home décor company that bills itself as “home luxury for the modern bohemian.” St. Frank, named after the city in which it is located, blossomed from an e-commerce site and last month celebrated the opening of its first brick and mortar store. We popped by unexpectedly on a recent Sunday afternoon and were delighted to find St. Frank founder and CEO Christina Bryant in her dazzling boutique. We chatted with her as she walked us through her store, which you should make a point to visit as well.
HL: Tell me about your brand.
CB: We launched over two years ago selling framed textiles. We’re the first retailer of framed textiles and that differentiated product is really how we built our brand. We were selling 100% online until a week ago. So over the last year we’ve started to expand beyond art into a more comprehensive home line. The goal with this store was not just to be a shop but to invite people into the lifestyle around the brand and all of the elements around that. We really are offering a new lifestyle to today’s global citizen, who is a world traveler, who’s interested in social issues around the world and who also is a fashionista who appreciates beautiful design and wants product that she’ll invest in for the quality and authenticity of the piece alone and that rich history behind it. I think that’s what’s so awesome about being able to have a store is to let people in that lifestyle and see the context around an art piece or a pillow.
HL: You have so many cool pieces and fabulous fabrics.
CB: These are vintage kilim rugs from Turkey. A quarter of our collection are vintage pieces, like these rugs, and the majority of our collection we collaborate with contemporary artisan workshops in low- and middle-income countries who are working in traditional crafts. We’ll design a product based on their craft and their traditional techniques. We have two goals—in addition to offering beautiful unique pieces with stories. One is cultural preservations—really preserving the crafts behind each textile piece or other piece for you home—and then also providing quality jobs to artisans and other resource settings.
HL: I like the way the store is set up. Walk me through.
CB: When you walk in you’re sort of seeing the bar area [with] the bar cart. Our home often centers around entertaining so that’s part of why we put the bar up front. Then you’re in the family room and see some of our iconic textile pieces such as indigo, mud cloth and biddew noir. You move into the dining room. We only opened a little over a week ago. We’ve hosted three evening events including a dinner party around this table. The hearth will be transformed with an 8 ft. tall Christmas tree and stockings on the hearth. We really are trying to incorporate all of those different elements of the brand. We’re lucky to be in a really charming San Francisco building; but, also when we remodeled we tried to bring in those home elements. For example, we created these built-in bookshelves. We built this arch. We worked with a local interior design firm, Swaystudio, and they also put in this crown molding and these really beautiful custom light fixtures. We wanted chandeliers as the focal point for the dining table in the family room. And we have excessive greenery, which you have in a home.
HL: I love this desk. Is it for sale?
CB: The only two things in this part of the store that are not for sale are the bar cart and the desk, which are my personal pieces. We’ll constantly be switching out the floor plan. For example, when we introduce bedding one of our rooms will be transformed into a bedroom. I’m really trying to keep the floor plan fresh—at least every quarter—and we’re constantly selling pieces that are one of a kind. We’re constantly changing what’s on the floor.
HL: This pillow looks so soft.
CB: All of the hide pieces are another brand, Forsyth, that we’re partnering with for the first six months, maybe longer. They provided a lot of the furniture and the hide rugs and pillows. They sustainably source zebra hide from South Africa, cowhide from Brazil and New Zealand sheep skin. In addition to the Forsyth pieces that are a lot of in-store exclusives that we don’t offer online. All of the books, many of the small knickknacks or accent pieces like that large floor pillow for example, is not online. The art above the fireplace. We have a mix of things in store that aren’t online and vice-versa.
HL: Now we’re into the next room. I love how it flows.
CB: Our headquarters are actually located in the back of this space. Our original office was two doors down upstairs. We still have that as well. We have a kitchen here for our parties and entertaining. Any guest we offer coffee, wine, Prosecco, beer. Anyone is welcome to sip while they shop and enjoy our back porch. Our bathroom we transformed into a powder room so you’ll see here a preview of our wallpaper that will be coming out next year. You’ll also see showcased some of our art that’s online as well as some in store exclusives. The lamp [in the bathroom] is also mine.
HL: How long have you had the business?
CB: I’ve been working on it full time for over three years. We launched a little over two years ago. It’s an exciting point where we’re getting to expand into brick and mortar and a little bit of retail through other wholesale partners.
HL: When do you know you’re ready to go from online to brick and mortar?
CB: That’s a good question. It’s definitely a large upfront investment. For us it was really a test. The biggest goal was about creating that lifestyle so I think it was when we were ready to show off a full lifestyle, especially considering we launched with one product. I don’t think at first that would have made sense. When you’re creating a lifestyle brand I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of showing that to people in person and welcoming them into the physical world of the brand. We’ve been able to test that out in small ways through trunk shows and trade shows; just seeing a response in person made us want to invest in that.
St. Frank, 3665 Sacramento Street, San Francisco 94118; (415) 800-8935; http://stfrank.com
Photo Credit: Courtesy St. Frank
Photography courtesy St. Frank