I was three months into my business three years ago and already questioning whether or not I’d made the right decision to make the leap into making jewelry full-time. I was cold-emailing and cold-calling and cold-walking-into-shops to see if anyone wanted to carry my jewelry. I didn’t have linesheets to show, my images were, um, rough, and my pitch was yet to be honed. Mostly the answer was no, or silence.
And then there was Collage Gallery on Potrero Hill. It’s an out-of-the-way neighborhood by San Francisco standards - i.e. there’s no BART line to get there, buses are less frequent, and it’s on a hill. Kind of a steep one, so there was that. I received an enthusiastic response from the owner right away. She encouraged me to come in and selected some jewelry on the spot. She even called me later that day to say that she had already sold a pair of my earrings and ended the conversation with an encouraging, “You can do this! You can make a living as an artist!” I've never forgotten this.
Collage has since changed owners, and I am thrilled that their commitment to local artists has continued and is stronger than ever. I sat down with Mary Petrin to ask her about how she got started with Collage.
How did you get started with this business?
Before I owned Collage I was a stay-at-home mom. I started with Kate's Closet first (Editor’s note - this is the cute clothing shop next door to Collage). Delisa, the founder of Collage, opened the store 24 years ago and I bought it from her 2 years ago. We all have different visions and I have taken the store down a different path. I have kept most of the local jewelry designers and added a few more. But really I wanted the store to become the place in the neighborhood to showcase all art! I re-arranged the store and have an "Artist of the Month." Wall art has really taken on a huge life at Collage. Collage has become the 18th Street hub! Friday and Saturday nights we serve wine to shoppers and they love it. A few months ago we even made a match! They are getting married!
Collage is so much more than a store. Being in a tight knit community as a business owner you have to "get" that. When my store manager’s father passed away suddenly, the outpouring of love and support from the community for her and her mom was overwhelming. Makes me feel I made the right choices for the shop and my vision for it.
What helps you decide which pieces to carry in your shop?
I try to do only local works. I pride myself on having very little shipped to the store. Down to the tissue paper....it comes from Arch!! In regards to style.....I have encaustic work, a steampunk jewelry artist, recycled beach plastic jewels......so let's say a wide array!!
Is there something that you are coveting for yourself at Collage but haven’t pulled the trigger on yet?
The new chest of drawers I just bought. I almost brought it home but needed it at the store! Really, I think it will end up in my house!!
What is your favorite place for lunch in the neighborhood?
1345 18th Street (at Missouri St. on Potrero Hill)
San Francisco, CA 94107
Open Monday to Wednesday 11 - 7
Thursday 10 - 8
Friday and Saturday 10 - 9
Sunday 10 -5