We had the good fortune of connecting with Eden Stein and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eden, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I opened Secession Art & Design in San Francisco during the recession of 2007, leaving a stable job as an early childhood education lead teacher. My passion is owning a gallery & boutique that represents over 70 independent artists and designers. 14 years later I look back on my creative career and know that all the risks that I took led me to being the person, owner and curator that I am today. In 2014 I lost my lease and had to move my business to a new location. I fell in love with a building that happened to have been a restaurant. My biggest risk was transforming the restaurant into a gallery. I had to take out a loan, fundraise, and rezone a commercial building. I hired a team of contractors to paint, do electrical, plumbing, rebuild the floors and all the custom details that make the gallery what it is today. I think about these pivot moments and the feeling inside that encourages you to take a risk. These are the milestones that make you cry, get excited, and fall back in love with your business and role as a leader. Signing a new lease during a pandemic is my next big risk. I have trust in my vision and that my customers will show up to support our makers. I believe in the gallery that I built and know how important this sacred retail space is to my community. Risk is the silent push that encourages me to think about the future.
What should our readers know about your business?
Secession Art & Design is inspired by the Vienna Secession Movement that was founded in 1897. This group consisted of artists, fashion designers, furniture builders, architechs, and other creatives that were pushing their exploration of craft against mass industrialization. When I started the gallery I knew that I wanted to break the gallery mold and introduce that a store could be a gallery, boutique, and workspace. I wanted my curation to reflect the relationship between fashion and art. My goal was to not just sell one type of art but to focus on blending the different genres, for example showing street art next to fine art. I look back on all the risks that I took throughout the years to get to my dream storefront. I have had to take out loans, work long hours, and learn how to run a small business and the team that makes it happen, create a culture for our artists and designers, be passionate about customer service, and be resourceful in stocking my store with brands that have similar vision and values. I am proud of every win and every mistake! I have learned the grit that it takes for survival and how to pick myself up when the going gets tough. I have learned to let go and be forgiving. I have learned to ask for help. It is no easy feat to have a commercial lease and run a small business in San Francisco. I have been living my story as owner, curator, and community leader for 14 years. I know I will look back on this legacy with fondness and thankfulness that I created a space where connections were made, I got to dress clients up, and beautiful art hangs in so many homes.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Secession is located in a micro hood called Mission Bernal. You could spend a weekend exploring my block of this neighborhood and experience art, music and award winning food. You could start with a burrito from CanCun for lunch, stop by Secession for art, clothing or jewelry, and take an afternoon walk to Precita Park or up to Bernal Hill. As happy hour approaches you could get a vegan Outer Bánh Mi and beer from Outer Orbit, a drink to go from the KnockOut, pizza from Pizza Hacker, or japanese curry and ramen from Fumi. As the sun sets you can head across the street the Royal Cuckoo for a cocktail to go and listen to their famous line up of local musicians playing a beautiful organ on Mission Street. Later in the evening more bites are available at Blue Plate, Emmy’s and The Front Porch to name a few. Our little slice of San Francisco is vibrant and worth making it a destination for a long weekend even during a pandemic. Life just keeps finding a way to persevere, rain or shine.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my in-house artist and graphic designer Heather Robinson. She was the first person I bought a piece of art from in 2001 and has had her art studio nestled inside my gallery since 2007. For the past 14 years she has been my trusted graphic designer, friend, and encourages me to write content and explore new concepts. The look and brand has evolved and grown because of her technical skill set and thoughtfulness towards helping me layout emails, social media posts, building and maintaining our online store and helping me find solutions to shipping, virtual happy hours, and inventory management. I have a creative vision and she helps me realize it visually. Working together for over a decade and watching her grow as an artist gives me a sense of satisfaction. I am forever thankful that she said yes when I asked her to be part of the Secession team in the early days. https://heatherrobinson.com
For photo credit please use Jonathan Koshi. If it’s a web thing and there’s a link just link to my instagram account, https://www.instagram.com/jkoshi/. My husband took the before and after photos