Meet the Former Vogue Editor Changing Sf’s Retail Scene
It’s not often you get to count two dream jobs under your belt, but Emily Holt is one of the few who can. After a successful career as a Vogue Editor, she decided to pursue an idea that had always called to her: opening up a concept shop that would connect a local fashion community. Now, as the entrepreneur behind SF’s recently opened Hero Shop, she’s doing just that. With an assortment that reflects the mix of Holt’s background as a native Californian and connected NYC editor, she hopes to attract and build the city’s fashion community — a group that, when not maligned, is often claimed to be non-existent.
For Holt, that sense of community extends to Hero Shop’s Tenderloin neighborhood. When we asked her to show us around, we were able to experience first-hand the camaraderie among shop owners. Clearly a regular at the spots we visited, Holt is quickly making herself a fixture, and with any luck, customers will follow suit. Read on to learn more about the California and cult NYC designers on offer at Hero Shop, the best spots to visit in the neighborhood and Holt’s advice for consigning and editing your closet (major wisdom coming from a former Vogue Editor).
What is the story behind Hero Shop? How did you come up with the idea?
I was lucky enough and worked hard enough to have a very satisfying career as a magazine editor, and I was thinking about what I might like to do next. Opening a store was always interesting to me because I wanted to build a community. And I like things, so I wanted to surround myself with things and share these things with the people around me.
The Local Lunch Spot: Jane on Larkin
I’m here at least twice a day for their coffee, delicious freshly baked baguettes, toast piled high with avocado and killer kale salad. I always run into someone I know.
Which designers will shoppers be able to find at Hero Shop?
I’m thrilled to be working with New York-based brands (and friends) like Creatures of the Wind, Adam Lippes, Gabriela Hearst, Suno, Edie Parker, Marc Alary, Jennifer Fisher and Pamela Love. There will be a great mix of California labels too including Vans and Levi’s as well as San Francisco designers like Stevie Howell, Lola Fenhirst, Tempest & Bentley, Nu Swim, and Future Glory.
What have you learned about fashion by becoming a retail entrepreneur?
It’s an interesting balance between buying things that you know people will buy because they’re familiar or safe and buying things that are a little more exciting and might push people a bit further. It’s a riskier purchase for me, because what if it doesn’t sell, but I think some customers want the push and the challenge and maybe even the permission to try something new.
The Cool Confectionery: Mr. Holmes Bakehouse
The Cruffin line extends down the block every morning but I’m addicted to their chocolate chip cookies. The photogenic pink, white and gold packaging also makes for a nice accessory.
Are you a closet minimalist or maximalist? Do you have a strategy for keeping your wardrobe edited?
My personal style is not minimalist but I do keep a pretty edited closet. I only buy things I really love and my style doesn’t change much, so I wear things for a really long time. I have skirts and dresses from 10 years ago that I still wear. I also tend to buy from a handful of the same designers, so oddly enough, everything ends up working together. This is not to say I’m totally immune from misguided purchases or things that just have a short shelflife. I do a closet clean out pretty often. When I was in New York and had to turn my closet over from summer to winter, that was a natural time to do it. Now that I’m in California and have the same closet year round I admit I’m doing it a little less frequently.
The Coffee Shop That Sells Hand-Made Men’s Accessories: The Family Room SF
I admire anyone who can pack that much customer service and creativity into such a small space.
What would be your go-to piece of advice for women on editing their closets?
Ask yourself a few questions: Do you love it? It sounds very Marie Kondo, but she’s kind of right. Your clothes should make you happy. You should love them. They should help you feel empowered, confident and like you’re best version of yourself. Is it stained, falling apart or somehow not in great shape? If you love it, send it to the tailor or dry cleaner. If not, toss. Also be honest about fit. Does it now or will it ever? Have you worn it in the last year? And listen, some things are hard to get rid of. They’re attached to specific memories or times in our lives we’re nostalgic for. Don’t punish yourself, you’re allowed to keep some of those. I have a pair of ivory, wool, bootcut Katayone Adeli pants that are very 2000 that I fit into for about 8 months of my life that I’ll never fit into again but I can’t get rid of. They remind me of a really fun time in my early 20s and they don’t take up too much space in my closet, so they get to stay.
The After-Work Cocktail Spot: The Owl Tree
I went here a few times in college so there’s some nostalgia to it, for sure. It’s more polished than I remember, but maybe it’s just because I’m now there at a more civilized hour.
Who are your style icons?
You know, I’ve never been able to answer this. Not because I’m that individualistic or imaginative as a dresser — I’m not — but rather when I’m standing at my closet trying to figure out what to wear, I’m thinking more about myself — whether I’m warm/cold, feeling fat/skinny, need to dress up/dress casually, haven’t worn something in a while — than a vision of someone else. I guess I’m just narcissistic that way.
Visit Hero Shop at 982 Post St. in San Francisco
Photos by Anna Alexia Basile