Noe Valley Voice October 2009

Store Trek

By Lorraine Sanders

Store Trek is a Voice feature profiling new shops and businesses in Noe Valley. This month, we introduce a beauty supply store that was among the first businesses to be tapped by Mayor Newsom's new micro-loan program, and a clothing boutique on Church Street which plans to present regular fashion shows.

Bubbles and Shampoo

3836 24th Street (at Vicksburg)


A fresh-faced store called Bubbles and Shampoo popped up in July in MadKat Beauty Supply's former location next to the Dubliner Bar on 24th Street.

Painted a pale aquamarine both inside and out, the shop offers complete hair care lines from Redken, KMS, Joico, Rene Furterer, Pureology, Bed Head, Mop, and others, as well as skin care products by Murad, Mario Badescu, and Dermalogica.

There also are Paul Mitchell shampoos for kids and pets, OPI nail polish and nail care tools, Seda France candles, Terra Nova fragrances, waxing supplies, hair curlers, blow dryers, and soy-based Tash cosmetics by Bay Area makeup artist Tasha Delancy.

"I try to bring in things that are really good brands. Everything I bring in I believe in," says owner Claudia Ricarte, a 15-year veteran of the beauty industry.

The wide array of products is thanks in large measure to a $25,000 micro-loan awarded to Ricarte by the San Francisco Revolving Loan Fund (RLF), a program announced in February as part of Mayor Gavin Newsom's economic stimulus plan for small businesses.

Ricarte was one of the first two recipients of loans under the program, which is administered by the nonprofit Working Solutions. Loan acceptance means that business owners must create at least one job for a moderate- to low-income person. Ricarte hopes to fill that job in the coming months with an employee who can perform hair or skin care services at the shop.

"What [the loan] helped me with was helping to buy more merchandise for the store. The more merchandise that you have, the more sales that you can do," says Ricarte.

Ricarte may be new to owning a business, but she's hardly new to the business of beauty--or to her 24th Street location. A licensed aesthetician, she lives above the shop and spent more than a decade working for MadKat (and its previous owner) before deciding to strike out on her own.

Once she secured the lease to the retail space, she replaced the store's glass shelves with kid-friendly wooden ones, reorganized the layout to be more inviting to shoppers, and revamped the shop's inventory. Prices are $2 to $20 for sundry items and top out at about $80, for a few higher-end skin-care products.

One more thing you'll find in the store is not for sale: Willy, a chihuahua-poodle mix who's often lounging near Ricarte's computer. But ladies, you're in luck.

"He loves kids and women. He's a womanizer," Ricarte says.

Bubbles and Shampoo is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Loft 1513

1513 Church Street (at 27th)


If Loft 1513 bears a striking resemblance to the recently closed Arara boutique that once sat on San Jose Avenue, your eyes do not deceive you. Located adjacent to Green Twig Salon in a former residential unit at 1513 Church Street, Loft 1513 is the latest from Arara co-owners and designers Larissa Verdussen and Andrea Lamadora, who joined forces with designer Jessica Summers-Miller to open the Noe Valley boutique in July.

"We three are designers, and we have about 15 to 20 other designers as well. We have a lot of local stuff and a lot of things from Brazil, Costa Rica, and limited small runs. It's nothing you could find at Macy's," says Summers-Miller, whose label iKohl is sold at the store.

While they share an appreciation for handcrafted and unique clothing that doubles as wearable art, each of the shop's three owners offers apparel with a different look and feel.

Summers-Miller's iKohl line ranges from versatile cotton tops made to flatter the body to one-of-a-kind dr aped pieces that stand out for their raw hems, pin tuck details, and mixture of fabrics and textures. She also has a small selection of clothing for toddlers, including versatile tube-shaped pieces that can be worn as a dress or a skirt.

Verdussen specializes in leather utility belts and whimsical, flowing clothes that reveal the former dancer's love of movement and theatrics. Lamadora's House of Mamasan mixes hip-hop and street-inspired influences with a feminine twist, while her second label, The Black Panther Party, includes T-shirts with images and memorabilia from the eponymous movement's heyday. Each of the designers is available for custom garment orders upon request.

In addition to wearables by the owners, the shop stocks clothing and accessories ($25 to $450) from an assortment of independent designers, including dresses of recycled silk by Audrey Acosta, leather bags by Tuckymama, fleece tops by Kayo Anime Clothing, men's button-down shirts by Callou Designs and Saaz Designs, Aiko jewelry, Se a Pony printed leggings, House of Lore skirts and dresses, vintage re-creations by Kittinhawk, and T-shirts by Stoneybrook.

While the store carries many of the designers Arara once housed, the shop's larger size, high ceilings, wooden floors, and rectangular shape are much better suited for the fashion shows the owners plan to hold approximately every six weeks. A back office allows plenty of room for designers to ready their models for the events, while clothing racks on rope-and-pulley systems let the owners raise clothes high into the air to create more room for onlookers to take in the show.

Another benefit of the shop is its location. Along with increased foot traffic, Loft 1513's owners are enjoying the camaraderie of the surrounding merchants.

"We're all like, 'How do we help each other? How can we be a kind of Church Street community?' You can do that in this kind of neighborhood. We feel right at home," Summers-Miller says.

Loft 1513 is open for private shopping by appointment, and on Mon day through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.