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On the Move in the Mission

After less than a year in Western Addition, local cult-indie brand, Nooworks, has moved to the Mission. The new boutique premiered last Saturday with a grand launch party, drawing hundreds to the old Jack Hanley gallery space.

The new store, which is four times the size of the old one, is a true transformation. The jet-black floor and white walls of Jack Hanley have been stripped to their rustic wood core, giving the new space a nice warmth. The new boutique is showered with natural light, flooded with classic rock tunes and bursting with creativity.

We sat down with owner and designer Jennifer D'Angelo, for an update on Nooworks.

SFS: First thing’s first, where are you from and what is your background?

JD: I originally moved to SF from Montreal when I was 19, to work for Fat Wreck Chords. My boyfriend at the time was the manager of NOFX. It's kind of embarrassing now, but I'm actually the girl on the inside cover of their album Heavy Petting Zoo!

SFS: That's really awesome! How did you go from working for a punk label to designing clothes?

JD: After I left Fat Wreck Chords, I took a sculpture class. My professor there said I needed to go into product design because I wasn't making art for the sake of art. Product design was way too macho, but it was easy to switch into fashion design because I already knew Photoshop and Illustrator.

When you do product design you figure out how to manufacture everything. So even though I didn't have any sewing training, I could see something I liked and figure out how to decipher a pattern and source materials and everything. It helped that I worked at Fat Wreck Chords, too, because I saw how small businesses ran. I've never wanted to go and work for a big company.

SFS: So you already knew how to source and manufacture. Do you do that locally?

JD: I did one collection overseas, but when the market crashed, it seemed more important to keep everything local. I like working with other small business that I know. It makes business much more enjoyable. We use a factory in Oakland for sewing. Most of my business is wholesale.

SFS: Since you mostly do wholesale, did you always have a store?

JD: No, I was running everything out of my house and I decided I wanted to rent an office for $500 a month. Everyone said I was crazy, but I ended up finding two spots and took the one on McAllister Street [at Baker Street] last year. No one was there at the time so it was super cheap. Then the coffee shop opened across the street and I got Kelly [Malone] to take over the next-door space for Workshop! My office became a store because it was all of a sudden this weird hipster corner.

SFS: Why did you decide to move the shop to the Mission?

JD: It was a small space and I felt like I outgrew it. It was supposed to be my office and I thought, “What if I had a real store?” I started looking casually around and heard Jack Hanley was moving out. I found out, got the space in May, and we built this store in 6 weeks.

SFS: The space is so different now. Did you have a lot to do with the new design?

JD: My old shop was all Ikea, but I wanted to make it nicer by bringing in a custom shelf. I designed it in Illustrator and my husband's friend Paul Allen built it. That shelf is the only thing we moved into the new store. We actually went off that shelf to create the new store! I designed all of the other structures, too, and they are all from reused materials. We just got a truckload of old wood and built everything in here.

SFS: Oh, wow. So you were actually hands-on with the renovation?

JD: Oh yeah, lots of 16 hour days. I had friends come by and they didn't even recognize me because I was wearing a respirator and construction boots! It was only me, Paul, my husband, and my brother-in-law. After ripping off the floors I sat in my car and cried. My hands were cramped up and I was like, “Oh my God, I can't move!” If it wasn't for Paul I wouldn't have taken over this space. Paul had a real vision and it was good because he pushed it. I was always getting whiney!

SFS: Well the store looks amazing. Were you nervous about filling Jack Hanley's shoes?

JD: Thank you! And, yes, but I was really excited to take over a gallery space so I could show amazing artwork. My friends have been giving me artwork for years out of the kindness of their hearts. It's nice for me to have a space where I can help them, too.

SFS: I know you do artist collaborations, too. Tell me about that.

JD: I started doing the collaborations 3 years ago with my friend Diego Mannino. We just did t-shirts. Then other people started giving me art like Jay Howell, Audrey Erickson, Ferris Plock, and Kelly Tunstall. It was really organic. I would get art from friends and then did what I wanted with them. I just got these creepy paintings of heads from Diego and I didn't know what to do so I put them on pillows and they are great. It's all kind of limited edition.

SFS: How often do you do the collaborations?

JD: We do a new collaboration every three months. The next one is with Emily Glaubinger. It's for the new Fall Line, “Quadrophenia.” The line was inspired from the movie. Those mod kids on bikes had great style, and I just love The Who!

SFS: That sounds awesome. I'm excited to see it in the store. Where do you see the store and company in the next few years?

JD: The goal isn't to dominate every market. At that point you might as well license and sell your business and start something new. Right now, the collaborations and the designing are the fun part for me — I'm not a businessperson.

I don't know where this is going to go. I didn't know I'd be here a year ago. I said two things to my husband when I got this space. First, “That was so easy we need to set bigger goals.” Then I also told him, “Don't let me set any more goals this year because I need to spend more time at the beach!”

Nooworks prices range from $12 to $150. The brand is also sold online and locally at Park Life, Haight Street Tattoo, Candystore Collective, Arkay Workshop, Conifer and Urban Outfitters.