SF Art Gallery Owner Warriors On

San Francisco Small Business Owner Eden Stein of Secession Art & Design

Eden Stein, Owner of Secession Art & Design:

“My dream started in 2007. I was a preschool teacher and curating art pop ups for an architecture firm. A conversation at a party sparked the idea. The architecture firm owner, who was moving, planted the seed: “You should open a store and an art gallery.” Almost like a dare and then a take back. He asked me, “Do you want to do this?” I said yes almost immediately. He said “I don’t want to break you, but owning a business is really really hard.” I started Secession. 13 years later I keep on dreaming. Each maker that I meet inspires creativity and I love collaboration. Is it hard? Yes. In different ways at different moments. There’s such a weight on my shoulders. People depending on me. When artists get their check they pay their studio rents. The hard makes you a good problem solver and quick on your feet. If it was easy you’d get too comfortable. I am always trying to strategize short term/long term visions. It is the quest that keeps you going. I’ve been finding my inner strength for a long, long time. There are hurdles along the way. I’ve had to relocate when I lost my lease at my first location. It’s really scary that you can do all these tenant improvements and only stay a few years. The risk is huge and there is no guarantee. It also made me feel resilient and like a warrior that I was able to find a new location, take a restaurant out, make a retail space and keep it successful this long. Since I’ve had Luca I’ve had to work a lot. I never had maternity leave. Within a week baby Luca was here in the shop nursing and exploring the store. I’ve had some questioning moments: how am I gonna make this work with a small human? I will always treasure the moments of having Luca at work and the memories of installs, hosting parties, and customers being part of his journey.”

“When COVID-19 struck I knew if I boarded up my windows I might be closing down Secession for good. Keeping the storefront open made me feel like maybe I have a chance. It also encourages me to come in and work for a couple of hours each day. In my heart and soul I want to do this. I have dreams and visions for the long term but I also have a lot of fears that I’m making the wrong decision and should just get out and get a job. All of our vendors are like part of my family. I really appreciate what they make. This pandemic —so many retail spaces are going to close down. Should I stay or should I go? Everyone has to make their own decisions. I’m so small. Maybe I will be one of the last standing because I’ve kept it really small and I can still grow. Instead of depending on the assistance that is supposedly coming from the government small businesses in SF need to realize that your community is your only saving grace. That’s who will get you through this. The only reason I’m still open and thinking about the future is because of people shopping. I don’t know if we will get assistance but I do know my community will always have my back, I have lots of beautiful things, and I hope that people will shop this new way. Every time you’re at your lowest if you can wake yourself back up you’ll always find the answer or the strength. How can I do something to take the first steps to re-building instead of being completely paralyzed? I try to keep a list of people I’m inspired by or want to reach out to or something that can get me re-focused on.”

“My dream is to have a gallery and boutique in SF past COVID 19 and to be able to foster my community and experiment with ideas that are in my head that will really grow the community and make this a multifaceted hub for art, clothing, jewelry, film, events. The sky’s the limit for what could happen in this space. You really have to be doing it for the passion. This is a creative time of re-imagining. What’s holding me back is setbacks in capital. Every time I think I’m there something big happens. A fire or a pandemic. My goal is to get to the next couple of months and keep building and create a gallery and boutique that is virtual and ever-changing in this new way of doing business.”

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