Arthur Jackson Diversity in Business Award: Fabric8

Pub date April 25, 2006

3318 22nd St., SF

(888) 554-4321,

Hoping to spread San Francisco style — in all its bounty of shapes, sounds, and colors — across the land, Olivia Ongpin and Antony Quintal founded Fabric8 10 years ago. They started selling locally made, youth-oriented clothing, jewelry, and other handicrafts on the company’s Web site.

When they recently had the chance to open up a brick-and-mortar storefront, they leapt at the opportunity to showcase a diverse selection of today’s young Bay Area artists and designers. Found-object dioramas by Swiss-born, Bay Areabred DJ-artist Romanowski, small paintings priced for the collector on a budget, and mix CDs by homeboys Tom Thump and UFO reflect an eclectic SF-based flavor in the Mission District shop’s kooky-kitsch homage to the quaint. (Think indoor suburban backyard, complete with illuminated sky-blue ceiling, wall-to-wall SYNLawn, and a treasure trove of tiki-themed paraphernalia.)

A background in supporting the underground art scene drove the pair to get into retail. Ongpin, a San Francisco native with roots in nonprofit food distribution and jazz writing, and Quintal, a computer engineer and designer, first made a name for themselves hosting hip, club-inspired trunk shows and DJ-driven events. It was through these activities that the two met well-known Bay Area artists such as Sirron Norris, Brian Barneclo, Ursula Young, and Nomzee, who have all contributed to a mural of familiar San Francisco landmarks stained into the store’s woodwork.

Aside from offering local art at very affordable prices, the store also ventures into more retail-oriented fare. One highlight is the brainchild of local boy Manuel "Gonz One" Gonzalez, maker of the aMonster plush toy. These handmade, furry creatures come with built-in speakers and an interior pouch for an iPod or CD player — a very cute way for music freaks to amplify their tunes. Chiquita Banana walkie-talkies, old Nike belt buckles, a Mr. T Chia Pet, and a set of Lucite napkin rings with built in salt and pepper shakers are also for sale, much of it stuffed like bric-a-brac into the store’s dresser drawerlike display system. "Museum store meets Sanford and Son," is how the owners describe their particular aesthetic combination of creative sprawl and cuddly nostalgia. (Sidra Durst)