Congratulations to the Class of 2017
The Bay Area is changing, there is no doubt about that. With the times shifting around, we had to make a guide that honored the working spirit of 20 local individuals. Everything from style to tech, beauty to food—we have to celebrate the spirit of good people.
Get to know your 20 locals below!
Most likely to be a fearless leader—
Some describe her as Wonder Woman, we describe her as Eva Longoria’s long lost twin, Angela Tafoya (Lonny Mag’s managing editor) is the reason why the term “goals” was invented. This power gal has been writing up a storm, everything from San Francisco living to jaw-dropping interiors is the Tafoya brand. But mix in the realm of new mom, you can’t say Angela isn’t a lady boss. After a lengthy stint at Refinery29’s San Francisco office helming its west coast editorial sector, the editor took a step back to begin raising her family (if you haven’t seen her Insta stories of her beautiful daughter Tallie, you’re sorely missing out.)
We know Tallie is going to be raised with the upmost pinnacle of girlboss magic.
Angela has also moderated panels of various sorts talking about not only interior design and architecture but women’s right, immigration policy, and many more of the current political qualms we face. But if beautiful interiors inspire this SF mommy then Angela’s grace and poise in the editorial world inspires us on the daily.
Hats off to the lady who continues to keep killing it.
Questions for Angela:
BC: What SF neighborhood gives you serious design inspiration?
AT: What’s so special about San Francisco is how each neighborhood has its own distinct offering. I feel like I go to different neighborhoods for different reasons. For example, I love the Mission for its murals and the culture and that ignites and sparks my creativity — just being able to walk out the door and be surrounded by expression is invigorating. I love Hayes Valley for a stroll through some amazing design-driven stores. I love Ocean Beach for its muted palette and mellow vibes. I think they all lend something different but work in harmony to inspire.
BC: In your design opinion, what three pieces make or break a room while decorating?
AT: I think it’s really less about the pieces per se, and more so about how you put them together to make them feel like a reflection of your personality. I do think great art, art that you’ve selected because you truly love it and it holds importance, is always a great anchor to a space and will absolutely make a room. Because there’s definitely an emotive drive to thread the art within the other pieces — and I think that will show. Otherwise the general rule of thumb, buy what you truly love and what you find to be gorgeous, and you can’t go wrong.
BC: Childhood can be a huge source of creative inspiration. What was your favorite room in your childhood home and why?
AT: Well, I moved a lot when I was a kid, so I definitely had my fair share of rooms. But, my favorite room was my bedroom in our home in England – it was upstairs and felt so huge to my little eyes. I had two beds (tiny, I’m sure) and a playhouse in it. I just remember it being my sanctuary of play — dolls, blocks, coloring — I did it all in there. The light was so vivid and bright. I don’t remember much about that house, but I remember that! Also, my room as a teen girl was definitely one of my favorites. I just remember obsessing over my Daria poster on the wall and listening to The Tragic Kingdom all day long.
BC: Who is your design spirit animal? If you could collaborate with them, what might the end result look like?
AT: Solange! She’s been my design (make that life) spirit animal for YEARS. She has such a thoughtful and visionary approach to design, music, fashion, and the human experience — and really utilizes her voice and platform to bring awareness to this in a deep and meaningful way.
BC: Your major aspirations for Lonny Mag are…
AT: Shoot Solange’s house. Kidding! I think it’s to continue to tell immersive, thoughtful stories about people’s spaces and how what they do/who they are informs the way they live and decorate. To challenge people to think outside of what they see on Pinterest, and embrace decorating for themselves and not the “rules” they think they should be abiding by. It’s really to present content that is challenging, inspires, is inclusive, and is surprising for such a saturated market. I want people to click on Lonny’s site and have them understand that we are so much deeper than pretty house pics and that the home is such a special place and building toward that, and having it be a personal, mindful, and creative haven is so important.
Most likely to get a “Yes” from Simon Cowell—
From quitting her full-time job, to driving Lyft for a total of three years, Ariana Roviello brought her vision to life. Her, now, recently opened Laundre has kicked off it’s gorgeous space in the heart of the Mission at 20th and Mission St. From our most recent interview with the budding entrepreneur, Ariana gave us the story about her passion for laundry and how it budded into an aesthetically beautiful storefront.
“If you would have told me 5 years ago that I was going to have a Laundromat, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Ariana tells us candidly while getting coffee at Sightglass (who now helms the coffee portion of Ariana’s laundromat/cafe.) The concept of a laundromat in the city is still a hot topic debate, between time, shame, and amenities, the laundromat scene comes off as a second thought. Whether you’re based in the heart of the Mission or in the center of the Outer Richmond / anywhere else in the city. For most families and single-households, the price of laundry comes at a steep lean. With apps such as Rinse, Washio, and many others offering “deals”—who wants to spend $40 on less than 10 pounds of dirty clothes? No one, that’s who. Ariana agreed with us on this statement, “laundromats are important—washing your clothing isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Unfortunately, there’s been a significant decrease in Laundromats and although more and more tenants are getting in-unit laundry with all the new development – that still leaves a lot of us who don’t and can’t spend a premium on laundry drop off or delivery services. We need more Laundromats to bridge the gap – and we’re aiming to do that while offering an elevated experience.”
And with her eye for hospitality, families of all sizes have come to enjoy the amenities and atmosphere while getting their laundry done for under $3 every 18 pounds. You read us right. All in all, viva la Laundré, here’s to clean clothing and a fresher piece of mind.
Questions for Ariana:
BC: You just opened your debut spot in the Mission, simply, how is it going?
AR: I’m happy to report that its going really well. The community has been super enthusiastic about the concept and very welcoming. We were able to iron out a few wrinkles in the beginning days, (pun intended) so I’m feeling confident about increasing our exposure.
BC: If you were a spin cycle, what would be your setting?
AR: Probably hot. I usually run pretty cold so always looking to get warmer.
BC: How does laundry play into the community such as the Mission? Do you see it as necessary or?
AR: Laundromats have always been a hub for community, especially in the Mission. We’ve had such a cool, diverse group of people start to use our services which I couldn’t be more happy about. And yes! Laundry with a sense of community is super necessary. Everyone has to wash their clothes but its made more enjoyable to wash with the people you love!
BC: What is your favorite corner of the space?
AR: I love the SE corner in the café near the Ficus tree.
BC: How should people spend their time while they wait for their laundry?
AR: It’s totally up to them! You can of course wait out your time in the café with wifi and a cup of joe or hang back in the Laundromat and watch how fast the machines go (I still love watching them!).
Most likely to become famous from a viral video—
One of Bob Cut’s favorite graduates, Becca Mikesell has been the underlining that keeps that Bob Cut image looking so good. As a booking agent for SCOUT Modeling in San Francisco, Becca brings on the best males and females in the business to make amazing work Ranging from fashion to commercial, Becca has grown into her role with the #ScoutFam.
Not only supporting most of the Bob Cut Mag cover talent, Becca is a gal with a multitude of talents. Lending her keen eye for fashion styling, fashion consulting, and even freeform writing—she keeps herself fully vested into the web of Bay Area creative. Though, growing up in an entirely conservative household, Becca has explored her power by sharing her sense of self with the entire world via social media.
Becca’s most shared article on Bob Cut Mag entitled, “A Girl, Her Body, And Her Instagram” tails the trials of Becca’s body self identity. Opening with, “I’m a 20-something-year-old successful woman and I post my half naked body on Instagram. Why? Because I can and that’s completely acceptable.” Her open letter commanded 90% of our female audience and warranted their responses on all of our social channels. To be frank, everyone could hear Becca loud and clear.
Classically, Becca agrees, “I think it’s so important to encourage women not to care what anyone thinks and realize you are strong and powerful and you can do what YOU want with your body. Don’t let society shame you from showing off your natural form. DO YOU.”
Questions for Becca:
BC: What is one power pose you love? A squat with hands to God?
BM: Close… 😉 My power pose is definitely sexy, and booty poppin! Because for me, showing a little skin is empowering.
BC: Describe the SCOUT environment with a famous music quote.
BM: Work, work, work, work, work, work — Rihanna (haha!).
BC: What has been your most memorable moment at SCOUT?
BM: Ah this is so hard to choose! I have so many memorable moments with my Scout fam! I would say one of the funniest moments was the 1st parody video I made of my bosses and everyone’s reactions to it! They are such good sports for letting me make fun of them! I still have people come up to me today to tell me how funny that was.
BC: Who is a dream person you would want to represent / style?
BM: This is such a tough question! I can’t go with just 1 person though! One of my all time favorite models that I’d love to represent/style would be Devon Aoki.
But currently, (just like everyone else) I’m obsessed with Jeremy Meeks. He is gorg!
BC: Finish this sentence:
BM: “I’m a boss-ass …BITCH…”
Most likely to be presidents of every club you can imagine—
If you haven’t tried their grade A balls then you haven’t lived. Andrew Chau and Bin Chen has single-handedly championed the Asian-American way of how boba reflects in today’s society. No stranger to how the Bay Area works, the two started the company with their own money, no outside funding, and now have built 9 locations coast to coast (plus a secret location in South City you have no idea about). The ethos of Boba Guys is to bridge cultures, since day 1, Andrew Chau (on any social platform you own) has talked day in and day out the importance of delivering a message in a clear and concise way. For the two, boba has been their love letter back to the people. Their army of avid boba bae’s also shows how many people they’ve authentically impressed.
We don’t think there is a term in the English vocabulary quite like, “casual boba,” but here’s the thing–we truly mean it. Now with a plethora of drinks, snacks, and merch under their belt, Boba Guys sets the bar for milk tea. Period. The fan fave watering hole boasts beautifully curated imagery, snappy and relatable humor, and their social media presence is indefinitely on-point. Coming into 2017 with their youngest expansion of more stores and being a true favorite of the Bob Cut staff, we avidly wait in their 20 minute lines to grab a 24oz classic black milk tea.
To combat the powder that most boba shops use, the two did their research before sparking the endeavor. Andrew tells us in our past interviews, “we took matters into our own hands and watched countless hours of YouTube videos about making the perfect cup of boba milk tea. We subsequently went to every boba shop in the city, hoping they could help us shed light on a seemingly clandestine food industry. The wheels were churning.”
With hundreds of people flocking to all of their locations daily, the iconic aardvark drinking a cup of boba can be seen from every angle, filter, and scenic SF vista ever photographed. Without fail, we do it as well. But we get in line and jitter at the overwhelming happiness we feel as soon as our name is called and the milk tea decadence is in our hand. “At the end of our last first day of school (for undergrad), we came home and said “…I want boba guys”” said Bekah Cho from her recent visit to the shop in the Mission. While others exclaiming their everlasting love for the independently owned shop, “Finally reunited with bae 💕 #bobaguys”.
Hats off to these two locals for bridging us into their world, we’re honored.
Questions for Andrew & Bin
BC: Who’s the biggest Boba fan out of the both of you? Andrew or Bin?
BG: I think we’re equally rabid fans of boba, although I (Andrew) obviously look like I enjoy boba more. Bin can drink an infinite amount of drinks and keep his Legolas body.
BC: If you had to pick a celeb to be the epitome of the Boba Bae, who is it and why?
BG: If we had to pick, it’d probably be Aziz Ansari or Ali Wong. It’s just a coincidence that they are both comics. They both echo our mission of bridging cultures. We love the way they can bring people together with their wit and social commentary.
We’d also want someone like Martha Stewart or Betty White. They are both badass. I just want to see them try boba and rock a Boba Bae sweatshirt. Anyone got connects!?
BC: What’s the process of creating the perfect cup of milk tea? Any metaphorical wisdom to share?
BG: Milk tea is pretty simple, but we like to make it extra AF. =) We prefer to use young bud leaves to start the brew. We also tell people to overdose on the tea because the extra bitterness will help pierce through the milk. For the milk, we stick to Straus organic dairy. Yeah, it’s a bit bougie for milk tea, but there’s nothing better than a clean dairy taste. Lastly, sweeten it with a brown sugar based syrup. I know people think sugar is the devil now, but you need a little sweetness in liven things up. If you like balls, pop that in there, too.
I guess I’d tie it all up with a small pearl of wisdom: making milk tea is all about balance. Too much tea, you end up being bitter. Too much dairy and it’s plain and boring. Too much sugar and you’ll die from decadence. A little bit of everything. Baby steps.
BC: How do the two of you manage so many employees coast to coast?
BG: We rack up a lot of airline miles and separate our roles pretty clearly. We also rarely travel together to avoid any potential risk, so you never see us in the same place at the same time unless it’s for an interview or event. Since I handle most of our store operations, I tend to be at the stores more often than Bin. Bin is also quite the hermit, which is why he’s known as the International Man of Mystery.
We are also pretty tech-driven, so a lot of our work comes through Slack, email, and other shared platforms. I’m sure if our team saw us around a lot more, we’d lose what magic we have left. These kids… they are so not impressed by us. Haha. We sometimes wish we started a company like Glossier or Everlane, so we’d get more respect. We’ll settle for being the “hip” dad like Phil from Modern Family.
BC: Boba Guys in 5 years: could we see new ventures like Blob Guys or Boba Gals? Haha.
BG: Haha. That’s probably the biggest joke in the company since we are about 75% women. We did think about how we can incorporate Boba Gals into our business like possibly make t-shirts or other merch.
Funny enough, when the New York Times Blob article went viral, we actually wanted to make a short run of shirts that renamed us Blob Guys. But we decided against it after their sincere apology. Perhaps, it’ll still live in the ether as a meme somewhere. We’ve been around for so long now that we’ve probably heard every ball joke there is to tell. The “blobs” thing is like being handed comedy gold and might provide another six years of material. Hm… we should really think about it more…
Most likely to set a world record for most times moisturized—
Imagine the ultimate beauty closet, Dara Kennedy has created the dossier in skincare that feels good, looks good, and also does good. When we discovered her small shop on Bush St., we couldn’t help but peek inside. Like something out of Gipedo’s workshop, a treasure trove of the most highly curated products laid in wait for us to explore. Everything from Vintner’s Daughter to Happy Tea, and more—Dara, who isn’t a stranger to the world of skincare, held our hand through the process of moisturizing our skin, cleansing properly, and learning to talk to our skin on a one-on-one basis.
Dara launched her brand Ayla Beauty in 2011 online, as Dara began to become a healthier version of herself, she noticed the world needed a resource where beauty could be clean, safe, and easy to do. “As I became healthier in general and noticed how great I felt as a result, I took greater responsibility for the choices I made every day—from what I put into my body to what I put on it. Then, becoming a parent really solidified my commitment. Every day, I think about whether or not what I’m doing will support the planet that my kids will inherit, support their health, and support my own health so that I can enjoy as many years with them as possible.”
Though Dara admits there are always challenges with running a skincare boutique, she has confidently navigated the ways in which people interact with beauty. Dara speaks to her clients in a way where they don’t feel attached, hurt, or singled out for their skincare choices, she makes them feel welcome in her workshop. “We love doing personalized consultations, because each person’s skin and hair are unique and respond to products in their own way. We start by asking what you’re currently using and how you feel about it. Where we go next is different in every case, but in general, we try to focus on what you need most, what will get you the best results, and what will make you happiest.”
Questions for Dara:
BC: Where do you see the company going in 5 years?
DK: Our overall mission is to show women they’re beautiful through a deeper, more empowering retail experience and truly excellent products. We’re going to keep trying to do that in better and bigger ways; our new storefront in San Francisco is one example, and it also provides us with more opportunities to learn from our clients about what they really need.
BC: What inspired you to start Ayla Beauty?
DK: I wanted to offer an alternative to the typical process of buying beauty products — one that was more thoughtful, with a greater emphasis on empowering its clients through expert knowledge and better-performing products.
BC: What brands do you want to bring in to the shop?
DK: I’m not sure I have any specific brands in mind at the moment. But I’m always on the lookout for interesting hair and makeup brands; those are tough categories to do well when you’re committed to non-toxic formulas.
BC: What’s one failure you’ve experienced while running the shop and how did you overcome it?
DK: This sounds crazy, but before we moved into our first office space, I checked with the prior tenants to make sure we’d be able to get phone, internet, etc. set up the way we wanted to. It all sounded pretty simple. But when we moved in, I discovered that the service they’d been using was basically dial-up and there was, bizarrely, no way of getting high speed internet access in there. I spent a good 24 hours frantically searching for options and freaking out when it seemed like there were none. Luckily, we have a great IT team that was able to come up with a creative solution! So I didn’t really overcome it — they did — but I did learn the value of getting excellent IT help on your side.
BC: What is the one beauty product you’d never be without, whether in the store or not?
DK: Dara’s Oil — Marie Veronique very kindly created it for my super-sensitive skin, and I really can’t go without it. It’s a blend of perfectly balanced omega-rich oils, hyaluronic acid, and elderberry that soothes skin and makes it look gorgeous and glowy (not greasy!).
Most likely to D.I.Y everything they want—
If a brand ethos could make us smile, it’s Western Editions. “We Print Cute Shit” can be found amidst all their darling letterpress creations—whether Mother’s Day, Christmas, or the occasional Drake thank you card, their creative minds combine are witty and to-the-point.
Western Editions is Erin Fong and Taylor Reid, two friends who met while living in San Francisco’s Western Addition (…get it?) and have relocated across the Bay to an artist co-operative in sunny Emeryville, California.
Both Erin and Taylor have been printing since 2007 with a background ranging from commercial letterpress printshops to fine art letterpress and book arts. The stars aligned and they both landed in San Francisco at the same time, where they met and figured out…wait for it…that they had both learned letterpress in the same dusty old library at the University of Nevada, Reno! Though at different times, Erin and Taylor both fell in love with letterpress in the same room, on the same machine!
Now these gals are totally inseparable, their passion for spreading fair rights to every human being through cards is incredibly impactful. Almost unheard of. The two also love to hosts workshops for their friends and Instagram followers, you can find them creating posters such as “I love myself” or even as powerful as, “Love Trumps Hate.”
Wherever these gals go, (i.e Westcoast Craft, Madrone Bar, or even a Bob Cut party near you) they are always the life, fun, and drama of the party. Of course, in the best way possible. Who knew letterpress was so lit?
Questions for Erin & Taylor:
BC: Creative collaboration seems to be at the root of your brand. Can you tell us more about how you two came to cultivate this shared vision for Western Editions?
WE: Before we were Western Editions we were friends. Our friendship grew through sharing similar interests, ie: being obsessed with paper, printing and cute shit. From there we both realized we had the same dream, starting a print shop. So we decided to make it happen. In a way it’s hard to put into words, we just tend to like the same things, have the same design aesthetic and we innately share this without having to sit down to talk about it or define it. “Do you like this?” “Does this look right?” Passing it back and forth effortlessly is a big part of our collaboration process.
BC: Where is your favorite place in the Bay Area to seek out inspiration for new prints and designs?
WE: Erin’s pretty obsessed with the plastic bags in Chinatown lately. There is something so simple and commonplace about them and is instantly relatable for anyone anywhere. We’re also into visiting SF Moma and the smaller galleries over at Minnesota Street Project. Another big part of our inspiration is the nature surrounding the Bay Area. Whether going on hikes or out to Ocean Beach, nature seems to recharge both of us by clearing our heads mentally, and also more literally by taking in the colors and patterns that fill the environment.
BC: Your workshops adds an element of uniqueness and accessibility to your brand. How have Bay Area locals responded to these fun workshops, and have you gained any new ideas from the people you meet in them?
WE: We’ve always made sure that workshops and events are a core part of our business. They bring in so many different types of people. A lot of people, especially in the Bay Area, only work on their computers and stare at screens all day, so it’s super rad to spend time with them in an analog way. Their hands get dirty, mistakes are made and no one is using a computer. It’s awesome. There’s a lot of tools used in design that come from a physical and historical part of letterpress. Sharing that with new people really energizes us and our own relationship to the work we print.
Here’s one of the favorites, the saying “mind yours Ps and Qs” comes from the small individual lead type letters (or sorts, as they are called) the “p” and “q” look very similar and careful attention must be paid to make the distinction between them when setting type.
BC: What does your company have in common with the Bay Area spirit and personality?
WE: When we first moved to SF about 8 years ago we connected with an amazing community through Workshop SF. It was an awesome group of creative, driven (and beer drinking) people. We felt like we all wanted to turn our craft or skill into a business and supported each other on the road to do that. As of lately, with the growing tech-sector and rise in rent costs, it’s been harder to see that community grow. We’ve definitely hung onto the spirit we once found here but are always looking to connect with makers and small businesses in the extended Bay Area in order to keep that spirit alive as much as we can.
BC: What’s the first piece of art you made that made you truly proud?
WE: We are really proud of the work we created for our first solo art show, Greetings From California, which was a collection of landscape prints inspired by some of our favorite places in CA. Starting from cut paper shapes that we then digitized and ultimately printed by layering transparent inks to create a watercolor-esque look, really represented our “hands on” approach to designing. It was fun to create a body of work not for a client, but for ourselves. Plus, the opening party was a blast!
Most likely to dress all her friends—
To describe a Gah girl is to describe a vast community of like minded women with the intention of dressing effervescent but still have a point of view when it comes to music, literature, or any aspect of her life. Enter Gabriela P, the associate buyer to the Lisa Says Gah brand. Very much a Gah girl herself, Gabriela’s style can be described in our office as this French chic meets California poppies. All in all, a goodie.
Now being with the brand for more than a couple years, Gabriela has watched and helped fortify the brand ideals. Being featured in (namely) Vogue a plethora of times, clearly something is working. But Gabriela stays incredibly humble as she continues to push boundaries in the brand. You can find her modeling the latest and greatest on their blog, on the floor at Westcoast Craft Fair greeting potential customers, or juggling emails from buying to assisting brands with partnerships. She’s a Gah girl of multi-talented traits.
But she isn’t afraid to have her voice be heard when it comes to the brand. As a liaison for brand ideals, goals, and ambitions-Gabriela keeps the Lisa Says Gah image in full view with her quick wit, attention to detail, and the ability to adapt herself when she needs it.
All in all, how would you describe a Gah girl? She’s powerful, intellectual, persuasive, but also kind-hearted in root.
And if we had to equate the two, Gabriela is the ideal Gah girl.
Questions for Gabriela:
BC: What inspired you to start working at Lisa Says Gah?
GP: What inspired me to start working at Lisa Says Gah was that Lisa herself was so passionate about creating a place in such an over-saturated marketplace for artists/designers of the fashion industry that create truly special pieces and the fact that she wanted Lisa Says Gah to be more than just an online shop – she wanted to create a community for not only the designers we carry but also our customers and admirers! Creating meaningful content that our customers can relate and aspire too was so refreshing and inspiring that it just made me want to work harder and delve into the LSG conscious to learn and grow with her.
BC: Who (celebrity or otherwise) do you think most encapsulates the Lisa Says Gah girl?
GP: I don’t think there is one person who most encapsulates the Lisa Says Gah girl because we are a company that is built by women for women who are multi-faceted. She is thoughtful, hardworking, passionate, diverse, creative, fun and feminine living her best life! On our blog every Monday we feature a “Muse Monday” which are women who are inspiring self-starters working in a creative or interesting field that is ambitious and overall just a cool girl that really shares the same vision as Lisa Says Gah and a girl we would love to get coffee with so we can pick her brain! She isn’t one girl but a million goal oriented women in one.
BC: Are there any brands you would like to collaborate with in the near future?
GP: We’ve been really lucky to have collaborated with amazing brands in the past but in the future, it would be almost dreamlike to collaborate with Paloma Wool, Away, Girlfriend Collective, Glossier, Maryam Nassir Zadeh and Jacquemus.
BC: How do you incorporate art and music into the brand?
GP: We incorporate art and music into Lisa Says Gah with the LSG blog, it’s a visual diary of what has us excited right now. In an increasingly oversaturated market, our goal is to provide a stimulating and refined environment for our customers, the intelligent consumer, to shop, learn and, most importantly, find inspiration. We are really community focused and one way we collaborate with our community is through our interview and travel guide series featuring muses, friends etc! We recently featured Mia Carucci who is an LA-based DJand her trip to Mexico City! Aside from putting together an awesome travel guide, she curated a playlist for her trip and LSG! It’s always on repeat in the Gahffice.
BC: What’s one failure you’ve experienced while running the shop hand-in-hand with Lisa?
GP: I wouldn’t say I’ve experienced any total failures but there has been a lot of valuable learning lessons that are necessary and all part of the process. Part of making mistakes is about getting back up. Feel bad about it, talk about it – remedy it and keep moving. There will always be failures and cringe-worthy times but there will always be a solution and without them, I can’t improve to find more productive ways to work.
Voted most likely to be a millionaire—
“Our ultimate goal is to be the brand men trust most to elevate their sense of self. As we plan and build for the long game, you’re not always going to agree with every decision, but you’re fired up about the big picture. What we do is hard, so encourage each other. And above all else, never give up,” is written on the Touch Of Modern website and it extends to the heart of how business is ran—Jerry Hum, a man who boasts teamwork and hard work, has a lot to talk about since launching Touch Of Modern 5 years ago. Jerry himself is a man of many few words but his actions as a leader of 100+ people ranging from intro level to executive management has lead the menswear mecca into years of constant horizontal growth.
With other publications taking notice quickly of the deals and discoveries Touch Of Modern puts up daily, Jerry, along with the other Touch of Modern co-founders, were named on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in 2016. But this co-founder stays rather silent on achievements and wins, all the more focusing that winners spirit back into the front pages of Touch Of Modern’s extraordinary finds. Making sure people come first, Jerry stays nimble when addressing the vast employee tree. Whether it’s an open ear conversation or a hard discussion about improving upon process’—Jerry is at the forefront of moving people forward. And in this day and age, that’s what we need now more than ever.
Questions for Jerry:
BC: What is the coolest aspect about your team?
JH: Mobility. I’ve never been on a team where I’ve seen so many people move between different functions. It’s really cool to see people start here in one place and change direction without leaving the organization.
BC: What’s one accessory every guy needs in their closet?
JH: A pocket square. It really polishes off the outfit and after wearing them, suits really look incomplete without them. You can also buy less suits when you have pocket squares because you can use them to change up the overall look.
BC: Describe your day to day in 3 words.
JH: Work, Gym, Sleep.
BC: When you’re not curating an online destination, what else do you like to do in your free time?
JH: I like to make things, mostly out of wood and leather. If I see something I like, I usually try to see if I can make it myself before buying it.
BC: Never could I ever leave the house without _____________?
JH: A watch. I’ve got a watch for every type of occasion and I’m so used to wearing one now that it feels weird now not to.
Most likely to ditch class for the beach—
If puns were currency, Martha Duerr & Naomi Gassel would be millionaires. Though not rich yet, the two gals who respectively hail from Hawaii and New York City met by chance in San Francisco, became fast friends, and started a community of like-minded swimmers who breaststroke to the beat of their own drum. On an average foggy San Francisco day, while bored at her Levi’s cubicle, fashion designer Martha Duerr called out to whoever would listen, “Pottery! I want to learn pottery.” To which only one lone, curious voice rang out from an adjacent desk. “Me, me too. Let’s pottery.” It was merchandiser Naomi Gassel. The courting process had begun.
With weekly after work dates and an illustrious but short lived ceramics career, Naomi and Martha became not only pottery partners but fast friends.
Together, they created this—Pali Swim.
We got to sit down with the girls of Pali Swim early on into their growth to talk all things swim, business, and the if swimwear is a thing in San Francisco. Oh, did they tell us a thing or two. Martha was born in Hilo, Hawaii and grew up on a pali, Hawaiian for cliff, with the water as her second home. She followed her nine-year-old self’s designer aspirations and attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. After graduation, her hate of winter and love of chillness quickly brought her back to the West Coast, where she worked in corporate fashion until following her stoke back to Pali life. While Naomi is a native New Yorker and Californian by choice. Shortly after graduating from Johns Hopkins University, Naomi packed up her Art History degree and California dreams, and headed to San Francisco. Naomi is following her years of fashion merchandising, and love of the ocean, into the world of Pali Swim.
The two believe in ethical construction, timeless silhouettes, and an encouraging community of body positive girls who feel like badasses in their Pali wear. So when we dive into the pool, ocean, or tub head first—we are constantly thinking of Pali.
Questions for Martha & Naomi:
BC: How has Pali Swim made it’s waves in the SF and Hawaiian retail market?
PS: The two markets are completely opposite. In Hawaii, you do anything from grocery shop to jumping off waterfalls in your bikini – you live in a swimsuit. In SF, we are lucky if we have 5 days warm enough to go in the ocean without a wetsuit, 10 days if you are #palipeople. SF has three types of fashion companies: active outdoor, mass market and independent designers. With Pali Swim we try to merge all three which is how we have been able to make a big enough wave – a tsunami if you will – to hit both markets.
BC: Explain to us how the concept of Pali came to be?
PS: We met while working in corporate fashion and soon discovered a shared love of the water. Over time and boogie board sessions at OB, we began to brainstorm swimwear ideas. We felt like the US market was missing a brand that never compromises style for functionality, affordability and fit for women of all body types. So we quit (within a day of each other), took some time to travel and scope out what the world was offering in swim, and decided to go for it. We based Pali Swim on that instinct to have fun, travel and make sure whatever we were wearing makes us feel as comfortable as the water does.
BC: What beach babe would you want sporting the Pali Swim gear?
PS: Badgalriri. HANDS DOWN. We would be so excited to see her light one up in our Puff, Puff, Pass print. But seriously, Pali Swim is for all babes who want to feel comfortable and fashionable, no matter if they are paddling out or chilling out.
BC: What are three dream destinations to home the swimsuits?
PS: Any ocean, lake, hot tub. We aren’t picky.
BC: What should we expect from the two of you moving forward? More puns or?
PS: As we like to say to each other when the fashion world waters get choppy, you can either move forward or move home. No matter what, it will be entertaining. In terms of immediate future, we are stoked for our Spring 18 collection – we have a super cute cropped, ribbed rashguard and some fun new colors including Malibu pink and Humboldt green.
Most likely to find the cure for cancer—
When Bob Cut was in its infant stages, we could barely even get a press release emailed to us let alone a response. We knew we wanted to conquer quality Bay Area content without succumbing to the pressures of selling out. Enter in: Monica Powers, the first gal we worked with who gave us a shot to cover stories about her Bay Area-centric clients. Everyone from Blue Bottle, Timbuk2, Three Twins Ice Cream—she opened the door to our beginnings and we, of course, needed to celebrate her spirit in taking chances.
As one of the executive leads to the MADE PR team, Monica is on the heels of what cool Bay Area-based brands are doing in today’s community and how she can utilize her communication skills to further push their messages. It goes without saying, Monica understands quality over quantity. Working alongside founder, Defne Crowe, the two vet their list frequently to make sure that quality stays atop the list of MADE.
But alongside the amazing people and talented creatives Monica works with daily, she is also advocating and pushing brands not based here to spread their wings; opening our eyes to outside talent in various states and cities. Notably our first collaboration post with Filson of Seattle (where our editor in chief is from) was a result of Monica’s vision to see Filson push it’s powerful message into a Bay Area context.
Still being a Bob Cut supporter, we value the work ethic Monica brings to the table every time we engage in dialogue. And without her taking a chance, our site wouldn’t be as known as it is today.
Questions for Monica:
BC: What is your morning mantra when getting ready for the day?
MP: It is a little unconventional but when getting out of bed just seems to be hardest thing, I repeat – you are a badass! When I look at the type of clients we represent, the type of national campaigns we roll out, the incredible people we get to collaborate with every day and how MADE PR has a hand in how all of that is playing out, it is pretty powerful. I am lucky enough to lead a team that rolls with the punches, moves quickly on their feet and doesn’t shy away from challenges – that’s badass and inspiring!
BC: How would you describe the essence of MADE?
MP: Liberating! Such a strange word to use for this but the work we do here isn’t like anything I’ve ever done or anything I’ve ever seen other firms execute. We pride ourselves on making an impact in a different out-of-the-box way. There is no typical day at MADE PR, which makes coming to work and approaching the day that much more exciting.
BC: What is the best part of your day? Just one!
MP: Lunch? Just kidding! The best part of my day is when we are meeting face-to-face with clients. Our clients look to us not only as PR experts but as creative consultants. Often times we are looped into product development, design, creative or marketing meetings and our clients really trust our outside perspective. We work with some of the most iconic brands and it’s always a blast being a part of their success.
BC: Out of the roster of cool brands you work with, who has made an impact on you the most?
MP: That is such a hard question because each of our clients is so unique and revolutionary in their own way. Each client inspires me because they are changing their respective industries for the better. Not only do they challenge themselves but they challenge everyone around them.
BC: If you weren’t in the public relations field, what would you see yourself doing today?
MP: Do you know Temperance Brennan from “Bones”? That would be me, hands down! My major in college was Biological and Forensic Anthropology, so I loved looking at bones and studying the evolution of our species. I know, dork!
Most likely to use the word ‘hella’ in most sentences—
Passion can spawn simply from where you live, no matter what neighborhood you reside—it can hit like a bolt of lightning. For San Francisco locals, Daniel Lee and Natasha Wong, the road to retail, with their vision Seldom Seen, has been a learning curve that now incorporates their customers as loyal friends, avid shoppers, and lifelong partners. Longtime high school friends, the two believe that the universe brought them together to create their highly coveted shop, “I learned that she (Natasha) wanted to open up her own boutique after a conversation before she left to work for lululemon in Vancouver and that had stuck in mind along with the fact that she had all these years of merchandising experience,” Daniel said about the match, “I still had the itch to start my own business and Tash was the one person I wanted to work with.”
The biggest hurdle for the two budding owners? The first year hump. The store lays quietly on Octavia St., under the trees adjacent from Patricia’s Green park and sometimes it’s too quiet. For Natasha, this was one aspect that worried her most about operating outside of the Hayes St. central—traffic. But when life gives you lemons, you turn it into sweet, sweet lemonade. The two started to engage with every single person that walked in their doors, and we mean EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. Saying hello with a smile, offering consultations in-store, asking about the customer’s personal style, and even asking about their day and what they’re up too. Personal connections that now fuel Seldom Seen in a positive light. As friends of the two owners, that even worked on us. Unlike so many stores on Hayes St. that just say hello and quickly walk away from you, these two however, do the exact opposite.
But with prior experience in the retail world, Natasha and Daniel had used their knowledge to leverage the beginnings of SS. “I started my career at Levi’s and then the Gap, and most recently lululemonAthletica.” Natasha told us, “I managed their women’s bottoms business from HQ in Vancouver before deciding to move home to SF to open the lululemon store in the Westfield Mall,” while Daniel also came from amenswear retail background, “I was a partner in a menswear boutique called Department Seventeen. It was early on when Americana and heritage workwear was starting to gain in popularity.“
Now we’ve reached their almost two years in business, writing up on their website’s blog about their amazing customers wearing SS in the wild. The two are over the moon with the response from the customers they now call friends. With debuting their own line, Hella Good, Natasha and Daniel have really connected with their local “friends”, everything from sweaters, to kids shirts, and pins as well—the Bay can’t hella get enough of what they have to offer.
Questions for Daniel & Natasha:
BC: How has Seldom Seen evolved since launch?
DL I think we have a better sense of who we are both aesthetically with the brands we carry and in a more personal way with having the business reflect who we are as people. We’re figuring out ways to utilize the channels that we have to do and say things that are meaningful to us. The blog is one. In store events and pop-ups are another.
NW: Both Daniel and I have evolved in our roles and have a focus on our strengths which I think you can feel and see in the store and online. We’ve also grown our team and are grateful to work with people who are dedicated and passionate about Seldom Seen’s growth.
BC: The biggest challenge you both have faced as business owners?
DL: Time management
NW: Being comfortable being uncomfortable. Right when I feel like we’re getting into a groove, something in our business shifts. Nothing ever stays the same and it’s what I love AND it’s what challenges me.
BC: How do you relate to your customers? As friends, etc?
DL: One of the things we talk about is making fashion accessible, meaning creating a space that us welcoming and unpretentious.
NW: We believe in building relationships with our customers. I think it’s really important that we’re always listening and creating an experience in our store that I would want to spend time in. We value inclusivity, being real and human connection. And thru that, many friendships have formed in the last two years.
BC: Let us in on the Hella Good trend you’ve dominated lately?
DL: Using the word “Hella” is such a Bay Area thing and being SF kids, opening up a store here, it was a way fun way to shout out this place we call home. It represents our youth but it also represents the West Coast lifestyle. Laid back, relaxed, chill.
NW: What Daniel said! It’s been really cool to see people who live outside of the Bay Area embrace “hella good” as a lifestyle, a way of being.
BC: What are future goals moving forward with SS?
DL: The future feels like this large ambiguous blob. We’ve discussed some of the different avenues we could potentially explore and even looked into some but nothing is certain. We do want to grow the business and right now the main focus is online.
NW: We’re focusing on being in the present with our store in Hayes and growing our business digitally. But maybe a future sister store in the Bay Area is a possibility?!
Most likely to win Master Chef—
Food is the key to the heart or the key to the stomach… the jury is still out on that debate. But whatever it is, Nora Dunning of her momentous Dripline Oakland has fully impressed, changed, and enlightened how we look at food and the origins of meals. Our lifestyle editor, Ashley Tarr, was (for lack of a better term) shook when she sipped on Nora’s premium matcha latté. The perfect mixture of the grassy taste and the smoothness of a famous barista pour. Heavenly, if that.
How does she do it? Simple, you gotta love what you do. Nora has always pride herself on ingredients of the highest quality. And of course, you hear that statement on every single food site and write up but who do you know that avidly quality controls every product going in and out of her West Oakland cafe? We will wait. Amidst West Oakland’s brick warehouses and metal fabricators, Dripline offers a vibrant gathering place for magnificent coffee and food in a modern, light-filled space.
Don’t think that Dripline appeals to trends or “Instagram worthy” shots, Nora’s goal has always been to feed people and feed them with the best of the best. Her menu combines sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and spicy flavors, for a cuisine influenced by her Singaporean roots and her Northern California home.
But as also a Bay Bites 2017 honoree, Nora has not only made her food known in our book but her personality melts in seamlessly with the very nature of human interaction. Pure kindness at no extra cost. And that’s a meal that keeps on giving whether it’s in our stomachs or in our hearts.
Questions for Nora:
BC: Tell us about the name, Dripline, how did it come to you?
ND: In architecture (my partners are Larson Shores Architects), the term Drip Line refers to the path water travels. Running across the eaves. Falling to the ground. Drip Line is about unexpected path, touching the people, business, and neighborhoods of West Oakland. And we are across the street from East Bay Mud!
BC: What is your favorite ingredient on the menu? Who does it remind you of?
ND: My favorite ingredient is definitely the “belacan” (shrimp paste). Adds so much depth and umami to our dishes and reminds me of my mom’s kitchen where I first learned how to cook.
BC: Can you please explain your love for food in five words.
ND: It’s my meditation and medicine.
BC: What does the East Bay mean to you now as a resident and food tastemaker?
ND: I am very happy to see an expansion of South East Asian cuisine in the East Bay. East Bay residents are more open to try dishes that are foreign to them. With this exposure, the East Bay in itself has become a destination for world cuisine which makes it friendlier for businesses with our vision.
BC: What are the next steps for the space and what can eaters expect?
ND: We will have more dishes not restricted to Singapore but all of South East Asia with Californian sensibilities. I am also partnering with Bay Area chefs for pop up collaborations in the coming months.
Most likely to release a fitness video in Manolos—
Revered in our office as the queen of sample sales, Robyn Hagan Cain of Rockyt (pronounced like rocket) has a firm hold of the Bay Area style scene. Reporting on a majority of streetstyle, sales, and power gals to meet in the world of fashion—Robyn commands the attention of style denizens with her “to-the-point” writing and eye-cuddling visuals.
Robyn has covered/written a multitude of our friends on her beautifully laid website. Leather designers, jewelry designers, fashion designers and more—she keeps her eyes and ears open to what’s going on in the Bay Area. And who said the Bay Area had no style?
Robyn herself isn’t a stranger to the editorial / e-commerce spectrum in SF. Once helming the style writing for Racked, Nob Hill Gazette, and SF Mag, Robyn felt it was time to get back to what she loved to talk about most, Bay Area style. While updating on her site daily, Robyn also is an avid user of Instagram. Constantly updating, tagging, and #regramming her very engaged readers on upcoming sales, style icons to meet, work outs that she’s tried and wants to recommend—she’s the go-to friend when you’re unsure about a brand or event. That’s entirely needed and special.
For us here at Bob Cut, we know our style and fashion departments are slow and not as updated regularly but we highly (and we mean highly) recommend tuning in/subscribing to Robyn’s work if you wanted to be informed daily about who’s the who to know. “As a lifestyle writer for multiple websites and magazines, it’s my job to know the coolest stores, treatments, and classes in town, and I want to share that info with you” she told us.
Questions for Robyn:
BC: You’ve been all over the fashion circuit in the Bay Area, what made you ramp up Rockyt?
RH: I switched from legal blogging to lifestyle writing in 2013 when Racked launched its San Francisco city site. I left Racked to take a job at a startup in 2015, (and continued freelancing), but I missed covering fashion, beauty, and fitness on a daily basis. I was between jobs when Racked and Refinery 29 shut down their city sites in 2016. The traffic had been strong, and I knew I could do the work; it seemed like a no-brainer to launch Rockyt to fill the void.
BC: What are three items in your bag that never leave your side?
RH: My iPhone, a Clipper card, and lip balm.
BC: What Bay Area trend do you want to see a resurgence again?
RH: I wouldn’t mind seeing the Giants return to even-year World Series wins.
BC: What’s the most rewarding thing about writing the site?
RH: Connecting people, whether it’s with brands, stores, gyms, salons, cool events, or each other. The best feeling in the world is when someone reaches out to say they tried and loved something that I wrote about. I try to promote small businesses and shopping locally as much as I can. There’s so much talent, creativity, and style in the Bay Area; I want to increase awareness around that.
BC: If you could meet your style icon, what’s something you’d ask them?
RH: Kate Lanphear, can we go shopping together?
Most likely to consume gallons of matcha—
What started as two different bakeries, Third Culture Bakeries Wenter Shyu and Sam Butarbutar fell in love and made baking their baby. Once was We The Mini’s and Sam Patisserie, Third Culture was the mix of both partners upbringing–not to mention their contributions to the Asian-American LGBTQ community. Fast forward into the latter half of 2017, a dense social media following, multiple pop-ups a month, and one Mochi Muffin that has the Bay Area turned up on its head.
For both Wenter and Sam, it’s all about synergy in the kitchen. Being able to be both partners in love and in business, everything that is made to sell is made to feel lovely, delicious, and most importantly, thoughtful. Though you won’t spot the two with a brick-and-mortar anytime soon, their wholesale game is currently killing the greater San Francisco area with a variety of sweet treats. Picture: Mochi Muffins, Matcha Custard Cakes, Churro Custard Cakes, Thai Tea Custard Cakes—all elusive but so worth it once found.
But it’s not all serious, the two continue to be the most in love, playfulness in life gets them through the day of making 5000+ mochis. Trust us, it’s a lot harder than it looks.
Questions for Wenter & Sam:
BC: What’s the best advice you’ve been given about your career or life in general?
WS: It comes from my mom who’s always filled with so many amazingly useful life tidbits, for better or for worse. One thing she taught me at an early age was to “never let other people wipe your ass”(translated from Chinese directly). Roughly meaning to always tie up lose ends and complete any task/job whole heartedly so that no one else has to go in and finish the job. I’ve applied this in my professional and personal life, and has helped me stay one step ahead time and time again. I’ve noticed that a side effect of completing a task so completely is you almost start on the next thing without even trying. And people are really impressed.
SB: One of the greatest life advices that I’ve had was from my business mentor Minh Tsai of Hodo Soy. He said that in life and in business there is no mistake; everything is a learning opportunity. Sounds a bit cheesy, I know, but once I took that to heart, it really changed my attitude and my outlook in everything I do. It freed me from fears of failure, empowered me to take more risks, and forced me learn from every step of the way.
BC: Greatest compliment you’ve ever received about Third Culture?
WS: One time, we have a family come to Catahoula and bought a dozen or so Mochi Muffins and asked if they could take pictures with the baker (Sam). Come to find out, they drove all the way from Half Moon Bay to Berkeley for our Mochi Muffins and their son was so excited to be at our kitchen and the place where Mochi Muffins were made. Very humbled to know how our products touch so deeply!
SB: The greatest compliment is whenever someone tells me that our pastries remind them of home. I once had a French lady tell me that our tarts and croissants reminded her of Paris hometown, and a Hawaiian man told me that our mochis remind him of being back in Oahu. How cool is that?! To be able to create food that evokes a happy memory is the greatest feeling!
BC: Your friend from out of town is visiting you in the Bay. Your top three spots to show them would be…
WS: Oh my god, easy. Brunch at Bartavelle in Berkeley, Boba and Nitro Tea break at Boba Guys Potrero Hill after hiking twin peaks, and then dinner at Sol Food in San Rafael. All food, all the time.
SB: Blue Willow Tea, Berkeley: Ali Roth, the owner of the tea shop sources all her own loose leaf teas. The teas are incredible, and I’ve haven’t found a place that can rival the taste of her tea! Sol Food, San Rafael: is our favorite restaurant in the Bay Area! They serve up some mean Puerto Rican fare, and have never failed to dissapont in the 10 years we’ve been there! Oh, get the deep fried prawns!! UC Berkeley Campus: minus the throng of sleep-deprived students walking around, the Berkeley campus is drop dead gorgeous. The vibe, the architecture, and the history (it’s the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement!) will make your jaw drop. Also, it’s my alma mater, so Go Bears!
BC: Let’s get this straight: in your experience, is baking an art or a science?
WS: Totally both. And one cannot live without the other in Baking. The science is crucial to back up the recipes, execution, pairing and balancing of flavors and making sure everything reacts to each other cohesively (this part Sam is a genius in and has taught me so much). The art is needed for the technique, cohesiveness, and finish. We all know humans eat with their eyes first and this is crazy true in the world of baking and pastries. So yes, both. The science for production and the art for presentation. Both have to be met for a great experience. No one’s looking for a good experience, it’s ‘great’ that makes an impression.
SB: Half art, and half science! To be a good baker and pastry chef, you need to understand and master the elements of the kitchen–what happens when heat hits sugar or what happens when yeast is added to a dough. But being able to marry different flavors or think of visually appealing finishing touches is more of an art; and that’s what turns a good baker into a great one.
BC: A celebrity walks into Third Culture Bakery. Who would you be most pumped to see in the shop and what would they order?
WS: I’m torn between Hillary Clinton or RuPaul; both have succeeded in the face of adversity and broken countless, endless barriers! Both would order a Mochi Muffin for sure, but Hillary would have hers with coffee and RuPaul would definitely have a matcha latte with rice milk. Right??
SB: This actually already happened!! My biggest baking inspiration of all time, Alice Medrich, actually stopped by my pop up 3 years ago. She is known to be the one who brought and popularized chocolate truffles in the US! We still keep in touch, and she gets our Mochi Muffins all the time. “Such great texture!,” she says.