Secession Art & Design is a retail store and art gallery located in the Bernal Heights neighborhood, on Mission Street in San Francisco. The owner and founder is Eden Stein.
The inception and the concept
Secession Art & Design opened in 2007 with optimistic bliss. This was one year after Eden planned her wedding using all local and independent vendors in a warehouse overlooking San Francisco. Instead of gifts, she and her spouse asked guests to donate towards art for their home. This showed Eden how direct action could benefit the local economy. One year later, a gallery was born.
The concept for the gallery and boutique came from a trip to Vienna. The early 19th century Secession arts movement was the inspiration. Artists from this time were working in different mediums (architecture, fashion, furniture, textiles, and art), but had a common cause against mass industrialization. Secession is home to 60 independent artists and designers who make art, clothing, and jewelry. This is a curated experience where emerging and established makers have the opportunity to be shown. Secession’s goal is to know the makers, the process of how products are made, and educate the consumer on slow art and fashion. It is now celebrating its 10th anniversary.
Secession Art & Design’s original location, for seven years, was 750 square feet. This featured a small gallery, boutique, art, and jewelry studio. In 2014 Secession lost the lease and was forced to relocate. Eden was able to find a vacant restaurant two blocks away, at 3235 Mission Street, that she renovated into a 1,300-square-foot gallery and boutique show room that is airy and beautiful. This expansion allows for collaboration with more artists and makers. More space opens doors for endless possibilities for fashion shows, film screenings, and successful art openings. Secession is one of the few retail locations that has survived in this urban area.
Eden believes Secession’s longevity is based on her attention to detail, curation, and positioning the location in the middle of an award-winning food neighborhood. Many people discover the store on their way to dinner or drinks. Eden is also currently President of the Mission Bernal Merchant Association. She built a lot of support, loyalty, and trust over the years. Clients have seen her put in the hard work that it takes to run a small business.
Clientele and merchandise
Secession Art & Design has a loyal clientele, people who have followed the store throughout its journey. Some view Eden as their personal curator; others, as their stylist. A major change in the past 10 years is that many people moved away from San Francisco. Creating an online art store has encouraged clients farther away to still support the store. Every single week an email blast is sent out; social media is actively used, and Eden will find creative ways to find new customers.
A business must constantly be evolving, and business owners must share why it is important for customers to shop off line and in person. There is no replacement for human connection and the feeling of falling in love with a piece of art.
Eden listens when people shop at Secession, and this encourages how she curates her collections. She personally goes to makers’ studios to choose art, clothing, and jewelry that she can sell. Some items are more experimental, but that is a great way to test the waters and start conversations.
To keep in touch with Secession
Lead photo: Eden Stein, the owner of Secession Art & Design. Photo by Diane Chehab