Noe Valley Voice November 2002

Store Trek

Store Trek is a regular Voice column introducing new businesses in Noe Valley. This month's Store Trek features two 24th Street shops: an elegant women's clothing store and a design firm devoted to kitchen and bath remodeling.


4028B 24th Street at Noe


When the trendy clothing store Getups departed Noe Valley last spring, after just two years on the commercial strip, it didn't take long for 24th Street mavens to start gabbing about who the next occupant of Star Magic's old spot might be. But the storefront stayed covered in paper for most of the summer. Then in early September, the mask was unveiled and a new fashion boutique named Yoya quietly opened its doors.

"It took about a month to remodel the space," explains owner Phoebe Chen Jacobson. "We signed the lease in July and wanted to open in August, but that was wishful thinking."

Whereas Getups was funky and industrial-chic, Yoya--which means "elegant" in Chinese--is sophisticated and stylish. Upon entering the store, one is greeted by a refreshing, organic scent. "I think it's the seagrass carpeting," says Jacobson, pointing to her woven-mat flooring.

Jacobson worked with designer Kathleen Chan, a silk artist she met at the Fillmore Art Festival, to create Yoya's interior look. The effect of their collaboration is a fusion of East and West. A classic, white column in the center of the store complements a crystal chandelier hanging near the entrance. On the back wall, an inset shelf, framed in dark teak-like wood and gold leaf, features a feminine bust garbed in a rose-colored blouse. The three dressing cubicles are reminiscent of Arabian tents. Sliding Japanese doors conceal the storage area, but the paper screens have been replaced with a sturdy mica.

As for the fashions, Jacobson describes her clothes and accessories as "stylish, practical, and a good value." She also hopes they will appeal to all tastes and ages--teenagers, active moms, and career women. There are dresses by Krizia D. ($59), blouses by Hot Sauce and Solo-Paris ($49 to $55), jeans by Lucent and Maxx Studio ($34 to $99), and sweaters from a variety of designers, averaging $55. The most expensive item in the store is a suede coat by Engine ($560), although all the other coats in Yoya are around $180. Jacobson also carries a few Italian unisex shirts, which she thinks could attract male customers.

Her fall inventory includes a large selection of tops, ranging from gauzy, sheer blouses to snuggly, mid-weight sweaters. Many are patterned in florals and stripes, or embellished with lace or beadwork.

Jacobson is proud to carry designer labels from around the globe. "Krizia D. is in South San Francisco, but she's originally from Vietnam," she notes. But she also enjoys promoting local designers and tracking down small new labels that are innovative as well as affordable.

Originally from Taiwan, the 36-year-old Jacobson has lived in the United States for 10 years. Before opening Yoya, she was a user-interface designer and engineer at Microsoft. She's always wanted to have her own shop, she says, and she and her husband, Michael Jacobson, are both enthusiastic about the project.

"We wanted to live here [in Noe Valley], but we have more room in the Inner Sunset," she says.

To Jacobson, Noe Valley is the perfect location for her store, with its many shops and restaurants, sunny weather, and residents who are committed to shopping locally. One of her goals, as she learns the ropes of retail, is to develop a close relationship with her customers and other 24th Street shopkeepers.

Another goal is to find designers who carry sizes for "real people," in colors and fabrics that are both stylish and comfortable. "It's my number-one issue," Jacobson says. "All boutiques should work toward that."

Yoya is open six days a week, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Tuesdays the shop is open by appointment.

In November, there will be a store-sponsored event before Thanksgiving, but it is still in the planning stages. Jacobson encourages those who are curious to stop by and ask for details.

Design Solutions

4291 24th Street at Douglass


The one area of commerce that may not have seen an economic slowdown in Noe Valley this year is building renovation, both residential and commercial. For Design Solutions, a full-service design firm that moved into the neighborhood in September, this is welcome news.

Design Solutions--located at 24th and Douglass, in the space recently vacated by the metaphysical arts store Array of Light--specializes in remodels of kitchens and baths, as well as home offices, closet systems, and entertainment centers. According to owner Joseph Pugliese, the firm can be as involved in the process as the client wishes.

"If homeowners already have their own plans, we can manage the construction for them," he says. "Or we can sell them cabinetry or lighting. That's easier for us, of course. But we are licensed to design and implement plans from start to finish."

Pugliese himself is a certified interior designer. Design Solutions has four employees, including architect Jeff Chusid, and has been in operation since 1986. Their previous location was at 1925 Hayes Street. Pugliese chose to move the firm to Noe Valley when Array of Light's space opened up, because he lives only four blocks away.

In fact, the 51-year old Pugliese will soon move into a new home at 815 Alvarado Street, which he designed and built himself. He says it has taken two years to complete the three-bedroom, 3-1/2-bath house. The unique thing about it is that the 3,500-square-foot, Arts & Crafts­style home will also be a showroom that customers can browse through.

Pugliese describes the house as "a project of love" and enjoys flipping through photographs showing off its features. It has warm wood tones and natural materials, such as bamboo. The home also has many of the same hardwood floors, cabinetry, and lighting fixtures that are on display in the store.

"We don't build museums," Pugliese says. "We build environments for people to live in. Some designers build a space that does not fit the people who are going to live in it. We try to bring out what's inside of people."

As for the shop on 24th Street, which opened on Labor Day weekend, it also functions as a showroom, and has a kitchen and a bathroom to explore. "People can touch the granite counters and feel the carpet. They can try the tracklights and see what we have available," says Pugliese.

Pugliese declines to give a price range for his firm's services, saying it all depends on the individual and his or her budget. But he says his typical client is someone who has bought or perhaps refinanced a home, and who wants to remodel a part of their house such as the kitchen or bathroom. Because Pugliese lives in Noe Valley, he knows the neighborhood and its various architectural styles.

The shop's hours are flexible, but someone is usually there during weekdays. Pugliese also can arrange to meet with clients by appointment, and in the evenings and on weekends.

"Someone is always around, working on something here," he says with a smile. "I've always been designing. It's my life."

This month's Store Trek was written by Olivia Boler.