Emily Holt is a former Vogue fashion news editor and owner of Hero Shop, a carefully curated boutique with strong community ties that showcases local and emerging talent from around the world. We recently visited the shop to talk about Emily’s top particulars.
Melissa: So you came from the editorial world—Vogue to be specific—and parlayed that into being a savvy, successful, small business owner. There are a lot of former Vogue women from your ‘class’ who have since started incredible businesses, La Ligne, Maisonette...etc. What was in the water when you guys were all working there?
Emily: I can’t speak for the others, but working at Vogue was incredible training. You can learn so much from just osmosis, by being around some of the smartest and most influential people in the industry. Also, you’re exposed to so many businesses, both fledgling and established, and are expected to think critically about why they work—or don’t. I know I took a lot of those lessons into consideration when starting my business.
Melissa: You’re from Northern California, spent a lot of years in NY, and are now back here in the Bay Area. Did California seep into your NY style and vice versa. Did you bring a bit of NY back here with you?
Emily: I mean, I love an open-toed shoe. I hate wearing socks, which is probably the Californian in me, and so I’d wait until the temperature dropped to just above freezing before putting on a boot. In terms of bringing NY back with me, I wear skirts and dresses during the day probably more often than other people living in the Bay Area.
Melissa: When you came back to San Francisco, you had this idea of opening a store that was more than just a place to pick up clothes. You always had a vision of it being a place to gather and wanted to foster a sense of community. How has that evolved since you opened your doors?
It’s pretty much the same. Community is still very important to me, both building one within the store and being part of the larger community of the city. I love hosting events at the store. It’s really satisfying to be able to support and celebrate something or someone I believe in and then introduce that to our clients and friends.
Melissa: I’ve heard you speak about stores having a ‘sense of place’—how does Hero Shop reflect that in SF and now in Marin?
Emily: The most obvious way is that, in SF, we have cashmere sweaters on the floor in summer. I also seek out local makers and designers and love bringing their work into the store. Or making sure that if any of our NYC or international vendors make anything that says California on it that it ends up on our sales floor. It’s about having Golden State Warriors sweatshirts in the windows during the NBA Playoffs and displaying a look on loan from a local drag hostess during Pride. Just connecting to and being aware of the community in which you’re doing business.
Melissa: I’m still learning about Marin, but during our pop-up, we made sure it felt sunny and easy, much like the lifestyle up there. What does a typical day look like for you?
Emily: Nothing’s typical—the minute I think I’ll have 30 minutes to work on a specific project, some person or shipment will arrive at the store unplanned and I’m diverted from whatever I was doing. But mostly, I arrive at the shop about an hour before it opens, read my horoscope in the NY Post and then respond to emails, pay invoices, figure out our social media, and work with clients throughout the day.
Melissa: Since switching from a traditional office/desk job to retail have you noticed your day-to-day bag game is different?
Emily: I don’t have an office desktop, I work off my laptop, so I’m lugging that around more often now than I used to. Which means my bag is bigger and sturdier and not always as sexy. I have to admit I miss carrying just a purse.
Melissa: We love that you support and boost independent designers from San Francisco and beyond. What are some of the best selling “particulars” in Hero Shop?
Emily: Stevie Howell is an artist from SF who recently moved to LA and her silk robes and eye masks have always been best sellers. There’s also a small business called CULK based in the city that creates the softest graphic sweatshirts and we’re constantly reordering them. Farm Fresh Clothing based in Sebastopol makes our logo tees and Tina Frey is an SF based artist whose minimalist resin pieces for home I’m absolutely thrilled to have in store.
Melissa: I’ve always thought that San Francisco style had a specific vibrancy to it, similar to that of London (i.e. people are not afraid of color and pattern)—how would you describe it?
Emily: There are a lot of small style microcosms in the city. You definitely have a tribe that’s unafraid of color and pattern, and, yes, you have your hoodie and yoga pants 24-7 tribe, as well as your earthy, indigo-dyed twill tribe and your tribe who travels the world and is very interested in high fashion. So, like the population of SF, the style is very eclectic.
Melissa: Summer is coming, but as we know, summer is notoriously chilly in SF. What can a San Franciscan do to combat the chill but still keep it seasonally breezy and appropriate?
Emily: You’re gonna need a knit, but wear something in a light color like Co’s ivory high collar peasant sweater and maybe add some summery accessories like bright Alison Lou hoop earrings or floral bouquet earrings from Of Rare Origin. And since it won’t be raining, or really freezing, you can always wear an open-toed sandal.
Melissa: San Fran is the land of fleece, but tell us, can fleece actually be chic? We’re dying to hear your expert opinion!
Emily: I’m sure it can, there are a lot of talented designers and stylish individuals in the world, but, at the moment, we don’t have any fleece in store.