Noe Valley Voice September 2007

Store Trek

Store Trek is a regular Voice feature profiling new shops and businesses in Noe Valley. This month we shine a spotlight on an eco-friendly hair salon on Church Street and a sparkling jewelry store and statuary garden on 24th Street.

Green Twig
1515 Church Street near 27th Street
415-642-9229 (Green Twig /
Dana Nelson)

415-254-3301 (Sheri Blevins)
415-642-9229 (Bobby York)

You won't find many pink heads, hair extensions, or extreme cuts walking out the door of Noe Valley's newest salon.

"We do contemporary classics. We're not super wild and crazy. We do a lot of wearable hair," says Dana Nelson, who opened Green Twig salon on July 3 in the Church Street space that formerly housed Jaboh.

Earlier this year, Nelson decided to venture out on her own after the Pacific Heights salon where she worked was sold. Along with her came longtime friends and fellow stylists Sheri Blevins and Bobby York.

But Nelson, Blevins, and York have more in common than their past and current workplaces. The three friends are San Francisco transplants who originally hail from Texas and have spent close to two decades styling hair. Nelson and York met while training at Toni & Guy International in Dallas during the late 1980s, and Nelson met Blevins at another Texas salon about 17 years ago. Over the years, they've worked together at at least six salons, Nelson estimates.

"It's great to work with close friends," says York, who is also a commercial photographer.

Before opening, Nelson closed down the space for a month to paint and update its interiors, which were designed by San Francisco's Zega Designs. One of the key goals of the redesign was going green.

"I wanted to design this place like I live at home, which is as eco-friendly as possible," says Nelson.

Low-VOC (nearly fumeless) paint was used to coat the walls in pale-green hues, and the orange storage units beside each station are composed of non-toxic, recyclable plastic. A panel of recycled glass tiles on the back wall glints in the sunlight that streams in from the salon's large front windows, whose blinds are made of bamboo and wheat material. To cut down on waste, Nelson rejuvenated the cabinets and shampoo bowls from the previous occupants.

The salon, which carries Australian product line Kusco-Murphy, offers cuts ($70 and up), highlights ($100 and up), and color services ($80 and up). Blevins also does wedding hairstyling and updos.

Green Twig is open by appointment, Tuesday through Saturday.

4068 24th Street near Castro Street

Anyone who has ventured into Bruno and Gilbertina Guarini's Qoio (pronounced "Coy-yo") boutique underneath Artsake on 24th Street knows there isn't room for a six-foot-tall statue of the Buddha or an ambitious potted bamboo plant to live inside the small store space devoted to Gilbertina's colorful, handmade jewelry.

But with the April opening of a second Qoio location on 24th Street (the third location in San Francisco), in the space formerly occupied by Cottage Industry, the husband-and-wife team--who live in the apartment behind the first Qoio with their daughters Kirsten, 12, and Natalie, 9--have created an indoor-outdoor showroom not only for Gilbertina's one-of-a-kind accessories, but also for Bruno's finds from Southeast Asia, Africa, and beyond.

"We like to specialize in [Gilbertina's] jewelry, but I've always carried statues from around Asia, and I wanted to expand that because of the space," says Bruno, who hunts for new objects, as well as beads, silver, and other materials for his wife, on his frequent trips abroad.

With the expanded store space, the Guarinis also have much more room to showcase Gilbertina's jewelry. Color-coordinated displays of her creations in silver, semi-precious stones, and beads ($79 to $1,400) line wooden cases inside the store, while artifacts, statues, and masks, such as an imposing Salampasu war mask from central Africa ($695), occupy the walls, floor, and other surfaces.

While Gilbertina's pieces run the gamut from the simple to the elaborate and her custom creations are tailored to her clients' specifications, many of her necklaces, bracelets, rings, and earrings feature bold color combinations and natural elements like flowers, twigs, and butterflies, inspired by her native country Guatemala.

"Most of my inspirations I get from there...the hand embroidery, the way they mix the colors. I come from a small village. What you see there is flowers, butterflies--not like the city," Gilbertina explains.

And that's not the only part of Qoio that's not like the city.

Inside the store, an open doorway in back leads to a terraced garden, whose widely-set brick steps--laid by Bruno himself--lead customers past a tree-shaded assortment of carved wooden furnishings, potted bamboo, stone planters, rustic outdoor accents, all manner of statuary, and the occasional metal sculpture or wooden bench. Though everything outside is for sale, visitors are welcome to stop by the garden not just to shop, but also to hang out with a newspaper, friends, or a cup of tea and simply relax.

Fans of the original Qoio location will be pleased to learn that the Guarinis are planning to reopen the space in the future as a studio and bead shop for customers who want to create their own jewelry.

Qoio is open daily, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

--Lorraine Sanders