On the search for the hottest 'hood of the moment? Look no further than Oakland's Temescal district, which seems to be getting cooler by the week. You'll recall our first look at the rad, old-school Temescal Alley Barbershop that opened in the area a couple of weeks ago, and now it looks like there's been another awesome addition in the form of a bauble boutique, courtesy of Bay Area jewelry designer Lauren Wolf. The dreamy new shop, which features vintage jewelry hutches filled with indie designs, along with plants and creepy-cool skeletons of horned animals, is called Esqueleto and sits on the mega-hot 49th Street strip. To find out more about the inspiration behind the brand-spanking-new venture and what's (literally) in-store, we caught up with Wolf, below.
You studied jewelry making in Mexico and also lived in New York for eight years. Why did you decide to relocate to the Bay?
"Traveling has always been incredibly important to me. So, while I loved living in New York, I felt like it was time to change things up. And the fact that my boyfriend lived in Oakland helped! I had also been thinking about opening a store for a while, and I thought it would be great to showcase so many wonderful designers in one place on the West Coast."
Why was opening a store so imporant?
"Having a retail space to sell our work and the work of other artists has been a longtime dream, so we are very excited to finally have the opportunity to open Esqueleto. We seriously considered opening the boutique in Brooklyn while the company was based in New York, but being able to bring the work of so many talented designers to the West Coast has been incredibly rewarding! It has also been great to meet the individuals who walk into the store and have been long-time supporters of Lauren Wolf Jewelry."
How would you describe the design of the shop?
"The space has a lot of windows and we decided to paint the floors white, so when you are in the store it's incredibly bright and inviting. Along with the brightness, it was important to keep the space minimally decorated for a gallery feel, but also important to throw in a raw aesthetic, which was added with antique displays, tables, succulents, and animal skulls. When we're working at the store we often feel like we are in a white-washed, desert abode surrounded by fabulous jewelry!"
How would you describe your line and your "girl" so to speak?
"The line is accessible to a wide range of men and women of all ages. We find that our customer is fashion-forward, but also looking for a piece of jewelry that he or she can wear time and time again. And our 'girl' is looking for a substantial piece of jewelry that can stand out above all the trends, and is something she can treasure over the years. She wants to be bold and confident with her look, but deliver this sense of style in a subtle way."
What else, besides your own line, is carried in the shop?
"While I was interested in a retail space to showcase my work, it was important for me to be able to showcase the work of the many talented people I’ve met in the industry over the past eight years. We have several local jewelry artists like Rebecca Overmann, Sarah Swell, and Jessica Winzelberg, and we also brought in a few of our favorites from Brooklyn, like T.Kahres and ALLFORTHEMOUNTAIN. Plus, we have artwork from local Oakland artists Patrick Dunaway, Ally Maser, and Bella Bigsby."
What are some of your go-to spots in Oakland when it comes to shopping and grubbing?
"Well it does help that our store is located behind some of the best restaurants in the Bay Area! We try to make a point to eat at Bakesale Betty at least a few times a month since their delicious fried chicken sandwiches are around the corner. And I have a major weakness for pizza, so Pizzaiolo and Boot and Shoe Service are high up on my dining favorites! And while I'm guilty of doing a lot of online shopping, I do like to visit the Valencia Street shops in San Francisco and Curator on Church Street is also one of my favorites. I also love stopping by fellow jewelry designer and longtime friend Melissa Joy Manning’s new store in Berkeley where I always find great gifts!"
What's up next for you?
"We’ve been busy opening Esqueleto all summer and we just had our opening party, which was a great success! We do plan on bringing in a few other jewelry lines in the next month along with bags and pouches by Clare Vivier. So the space will constantly be changing with new merchandise and artwork. Patrick Dunaway created new work for the opening with shellac-based ink that will be up through the end of September. And another local artist, Ally Maser, who created the limestone weave sculpture for the opening, will be showcasing new wood sculptures during October and November. So definitely count on another party in the beginning of October!"