San Francisco has done an exceptional job in re-inventing itself.
It helps to do so when you have a bustling economy filled with High-Tech jobs and prime real estate.
Many enhanced neighborhoods wear new names like south of Market Street or SoMa.
When you are the up and coming new neighborhood on the block you absolutely want to attract vibrant retailers who can inspire shopping.
San Francisco’s neighbor across the bay is no different.
West Berkeley’s dynamic Fourth Street retail district has a rich reputation for its original and locally owned specialty boutiques, making up a wonderful shopping center that would make any college town (Go Bears) proud.
The challenge sometimes is that many are still unaware that it exists. Even if they live in the Bay Area.
Time to get the word out because there is a lot of excitement brewing there.
Over the years, big-name brands like Apple, Restoration Hardware and the London clothing chain Jigsaw have anchored there in the half-mile corridor, which runs from Hearst Avenue north to Virginia.
The San Francisco Chronicle speaks to the region’s expansion, “The expansion features big-name as well as local merchants in the fashion, beauty, fitness and health arenas. Lululemon, maker of high-end athletic wear for men and women, opened April 25 in the premium corner storefront space at Fourth and Hearst. Madewell, a J Crew-owned brand, opened next door on the same day. Cult favorite SoulCycle opened its ninth Northern California location on May 21. Eyewear cool kids Warby Parker arrived on June 26, and Marine Layer, a San Francisco company that makes cozy-casual basics, opened on June 28, both roughly at 1,200 square feet. Berkeley designer Stella Carakasi just opened her store selling her collection of stylish, comfortable clothing for women of all sizes.”
Sounds exciting and impressive.
In addition to shops, there is 12,000 square feet of flexible office space and 103 parking spaces.
We are curious how this all got started. Let’s visit the shopping district’s home at fourthstreet.com. They educate, “The roots of the Fourth Street shopping area began in the mid 1960's with a vision to develop the area into an Industrial Park; thus, a redevelopment area was declared by the City of Berkeley. The area is bound by Cedar Street, Sixth Street, University Avenue and Frontage Road. As many as eighty old homes were moved or destroyed in the process. In time, the redevelopment agency's vision failed to attract industry. Berkeley's business image was so tarnished during the 1960's by the endless news accounts of political turmoil and activism that businesses just passed on Berkeley's new industrial park.”
That sounds like a very challenging start. But things did improve.
They continue, “During the 1980's Abrams/Millikan & Kent and later Drew Properties developed several additional properties on the East side of Fourth Street creating the nucleus of a vibrant shopping corridor. Slowly the street started to move beyond crafts and services, while still keeping its focus on shops devoted to the environment of the home. In the last phases of development, extending shopping North and South, the focus on design has broadened to include a number of independent shops devoted to fashion and food. Throughout the development, a philosophy has been maintained of trying to attract retailers that provide unique, interesting and high quality merchandise.”
They are doing an exceptional job in attracting the right retail friends.
One of the many retailers located there that caught our eye is Stella Carakasi.
Stella Carakasi creates luxurious, smart, and affordable designer wear for women who strive to live well, consume responsibly and believe in feeling comfortable and stylish no matter her size, shape, or age.
Her company is a direct-to-consumer luxury designer brand with competitive pricing because they’ve cut out the middleman and passed savings on to their customers.
A longtime resident of Berkley and very involved in the community, you should meet her. You’ll love her style and she has plenty of it.
It’s laid back Berkley so we’ll casually visit her website for a closer look. At stellacarakasi.com she opens with some intriguing history, “In 2012, Stella Carakasi launched her namesake label with a personal vision for creating luxurious and affordable designer wear for women who want to dress with purpose. With a fashionable and eco-friendly approach, Stella created a collection made for women everywhere.
The Stella Carakasi Collection offers a fresh perspective, pushing designs for women with silhouettes that flatter, fabric combinations that seduce on sight and touch, and unexpected design details. It is the line where European architectural design meets casual elegance.”
We love the sensual appeal and creativity.
Femcompetitor Magazine has long been an advocate of making styles available for shapely, everyday beautiful women and Stella embraces body shape diversity. Her team carefully engineers every detail of every style to ensure that the fit is consistent, comfortable and fits beautifully on women size XS-XL (sizes 2 to 16).
They are not content with that. Her company’s goal is to expand their offering up to size 20.
With the current popularity of Fast Fashion and its throwaway culture that has many concerned about the fashion industry’s major contributions to global pollution, Stella’s approach is very environmentally friendly.
She designs her clothing line with longevity in mind by creating unique silhouettes crafted with premium fabrics and impeccable quality that customers will love season after season.
They work directly with their mills to pioneer innovative fabrics using eco-friendly fibers like Tencel, Modal, Organic Cotton, Hemp and Alpaca that are soft, beautiful, durable and sustainable.
Sustainability is at the core of everything she does. Manufacturing in small batch productions allows the company to maintain the highest quality standards with the lowest possible environmental impact.
She has an in-house team of highly trained technical designers drafting patterns and sewing proto-types under Stella’s direction. Each garment goes through an extensive development process to ensure that it is constructed with longevity in mind and that the fit meets their standards.
We’re really glad to hear that. Others in high places are happy to hear that as well. Stella has been voted into a very special alumni as San Francisco Business Times "Top 100 Women-Owned Businesses"
The launch of Stella Carakasi DTC, Inc. in late 2018 marks the company's departure from the traditional wholesale model and is the latest exciting iteration in a series of successful businesses driven by a team of entrepreneurs boasting 25 years together.
We are so impressed. We sense that you will be too when you shop at her online store.
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Opening photo Stella Carakasi photo credit