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The Seventh Heart

A Friendly Store and Art Gallery

Among the antiques and furniture stores of the Market Street "deco ghetto" area is a hip newcomer called The Seventh Heart. Opened in December 2005 by Jessica Cuevas and Mark Hoke, who met almost 14 years ago in a San Jose high school, the store specializes in clothes as well as new and vintage accessories for young urbanites.

Although the store is full of very different items -- gold-painted mannequin busts overlook displays of neatly folded shirts, a big heart hangs from the ceiling above the fitting booths, and different color pieces of furniture stand below various sketches and paintings -- it all seems to work together.

Personal Touches
When they decided to open the store, the two friends wanted something that reflected their personalities. They chose the name The Seventh Heart because Cuevas's lucky number is 7 and Hoke was born in July, the seventh month of the year.

They also included personal touches. High above the register, you'll find an old fan that belonged to Hoke's grandmother sitting on a shelf next to the two owners' high school yearbook and a pair of shoes that belonged to Cuevas's nephew. If you look closely around the store, you'll also find shirts designed by Hoke and baseball caps painted by Cuevas.

Local Designers
Premstar Santana, a local clothes designer and the face behind the Estrella Del Amor line, was helping out when I visited the store and gave me a tour of the local designers they carry, including her own line.

Two of her shirt designs are displayed on a table. Her "Listen to your heart" design ($33) is a white shirt with a heart on a chain that goes around the neck. On the heart pendant, it reads "Listen". The other design comes in different colors and reads "To Love Oneself is the Beginning of a Life-Long Romance", an Oscar Wilde quote ($33).

Next to the register are colorful hand-painted canvas earrings ($40) and cuffs ($40, thinner cuffs are $36) by Zachary Pryor. On some, you'll recognize sketches of Billy Idol and Brigitte Bardot while others show the designer's own creations. Hand-printed bandanas ($11) designed by Horseface are tied on a red painted ladder next to the
fitting rooms.

Juanita Moore, local drag performer and Grand Marshall of Pride in 2005 sells many items here. Moore mixes evening attire including black vests, dress pants and jackets, with over-sized and colorful details like bright orange flowers on pockets and printed satin belts. Her collection also includes black hoodies ($45) with a "MISS
MOORE" logo printed in yellow letters.

Best-sellers from across the country
Hoke and Cuevas are always on the lookout for cool brands that won't break the bank.

"We didn't want to be like the stores in Hayes Valley, we didn't want to be on that level, Hoke said, "Price point, price point, that's what it's all about."

Their best-selling brand right now is Modern Amusement, an international collective based in Southern California that makes clean-cut and sleek designs for men. Whatever the item, the brand is all about the details.

Hanging out of a drawer, you'll find a cool pair of boxers, with different color crows ($22) and buttons with patterns so detailed you'd think they were made for a woman's purse.

Alternative Apparel is another hot brand for men and women that makes very soft cotton tops including a women's thermal with small flowers and extra-long sleeves ($22).

A recent addition at Seventh Heart is Heavy Rotation, a hip line of vintage-inspired iron-on shirts ($27), also for men and women. And considering San Francisco's quickly changing weather, I wasn't surprised to hear from Hoke that two other best-sellers include
fingerless gloves and hoodies.

Art on the walls
The Seventh Heart not only sells cool clothes and accessories, it's also a rotating art gallery. In the front window, new displays are put up approximately every three weeks. Hoke is currently working on his first window display which will go up in April. It will include old photos of San Francisco as a commemoration of the 1906 earthquake.

Inside one wall is used as a showcase on which a new artist, usually someone who lives in San Francisco, gets to show off works for three weeks.

"The artists can have the entire wall, and do whatever they want with it," Hoke said.

Although it's booked through June, the owners are always open to talking to artists. In fact, most of the artists they've had have been walk-ins. When choosing art, Hoke says he and Cuevas look for something that fits with the environment. He says they prefer larger-scale art work because the wall has a lot of space.

Closing or opening receptions are organized for each artist and are announced via e-mail. Although the store doesn't have a website, you can easily get on the mailing list by calling or stopping by. They also have a Friendster and MySpace presence.