AROUND TOWN: The Mason Jar

Around Town

San Francisco’s most fashionable destination recently got a sister. The Mason Jar is the new accessories and home accents complement to Marmalade, the Union Street clothing store named Best Boutique in the Bay Area by SF City Voter and 7×7 magazine. Not only does The Mason Jar serve as the perfect addition to the clothing boutique, but it also acts as a future event space for parties, crafts and jaw-dropping DIY (like the “Make Your Own Tea Bags” event in the photos.) Even better, most products are sourced from local jewelry designers or made by the owners themselves! CollegeFashionista spoke with the savvy brains behind the operation, Hope and Pete Colling, at their charming San Francisco location.

Name: Hope and Pete Colling

Role: Founder of Marmalade and The Mason Jar, the clothing boutique’s sister store for accessories, jewelry and home

College Fashionista: What inspired you to start The Mason Jar as a complement to your clothing boutique, Marmalade?

Pete Colling: I’ve been building for the last five or so years; I’m not a trained contractor or carpenter or anything like that, it’s just something I picked up when I was a kid that I really enjoyed doing. And it kind of started with one of the buildouts for Marmalade: people kept trying to buy the fixtures right off the wall. And we were like, “We have to have things to hang the clothes on, so I can’t sell you this, but I’ll make you another one!” And it happened very organically. I didn’t set out necessarily to do that, but people kinda liked the stuff that I was doing and it spiraled out from there.

Hope Colling: It happened enough that we thought, “Maybe we should consider doing this as a business.” We both love design; our house is constantly evolving and people would come over and say, “Can you do this to my house?” And so, over the course of a year or so we thought we’ll give it a shot and see what happens! So we found this amazing space.

PC: Yeah, the second we saw this, we knew.

CF: Hope, how have you been able to balance your time between Marmalade and The Mason Jar?

HC: Not well! We don’t have kids, but I imagine that Marmalade is like the older child, that now can walk and make its own sandwiches and is okay on its own, but this baby [The Mason Jar] needs all my attention, and then Marmalade gets little scrapes and cuts because nobody was paying attention to it. But fortunately, it dusts itself off and gets up again.

At first I thought, ‘Two stores, it’s going to be easy! It’s just two stores!’ But it’s two different brands, two different marketing strategies, two different sets of buying, of merchandising, so it’s like two different full-time jobs. I think, ‘If I’m doing my buying for Marmalade, I should just do it for The Mason Jar at the same time, that seems like that would make sense, but it doesn’t always work out that way.’

PC: I’m a contractor and a designer, and I do restaurants and bars and a lot of residential stuff as well, so I’ve found that things have been pretty good here, but I’m still doing my own thing as well.

CF: Speaking of buying, where do you buy from?

HC: I try to use as many local vendors and designers as I can. For this store, I’ve started scouring Etsy San Francisco, to find people that maybe don’t have a place to showcase their things.

PC: We’ve chosen to bring on local jewelry artists…we try to find as many people possible that are local to give them a spotlight. We do a rotating artist, so we’ve had a couple different artists who have had their work shown here. It’s been really fun getting to meet local artists and creative types.

CF: What inspired you to start hosting events at the stores?

HC: We’re trying to get the word out about the store, so this is the first idea of doing a DIY thing, of doing something that everyone can do. And if this goes well, we’ll start having it be a regular thing. We have some great ideas about things that, with our help and tools, people can create on their own.

PC: It’s also a cool opportunity to do something community-minded. We meet someone every single week that just moved into their first place in San Francisco from DC or Chicago…so it’s going to be a great opportunity to say, “Hey, well why don’t you guys stop by in three weeks? We’re doing this event, so sign up and maybe meet some people in it.” Most of our clients and customers here are locals, and so it’s just a good opportunity to get people together.

CF: What advice do you have for recent college graduates or current students looking to network with and shop local artisans and designers on a budget?

HC: Doing these fun DIY events is a great way to meet people who are like-minded, because if you like the store, chances are you’ll have something else in common. In terms of design, I would say at this point, go flea market shopping and learn how to haggle! Get some great flea market pieces and DIY them.

Learn More: Hope mentioned that going to flea markets is a wonderful way for college students to obtain great accessories and accents for their college wardrobes or dorm rooms. To find out more about flea markets in the San Francisco Bay Area, click here. You can also read more about The Mason Jar on Refinery29!

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