For our second installment of In Stock, we get to know Chelsea, owner of San Francisco's Anomie. While her style may change here and there, (she's currently into denim, hair dye and special effects makeup) Chelsea's passion for the Bay Area storefront remains strong.
Tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you & where are you from?
Hi, I’m Chelsea, the owner of ANOMIE. I’m a Bay Area native and currently live in San Francisco, a few blocks from my shop, in fact!
What are your hobbies? How do they relate to your shop?
Shopping was always my (bad) habit and I figured out pretty quickly on a college student budget that I needed to find a career/outlet for my desire to buy stuff. Thankfully, constantly buying for the shop takes care of that!
I went to school for Criminology and Sociology and I’ve been into reading crime stories ever since I was a kid. Thankfully there are tons of true crime podcasts popping up so I’m often deep diving into some decades old murder mystery, as if my part-time googling will solve anything. People are always surprised to hear that anomie is the name of a theory I studied in school; naming the store after it was a nod to my past life. Because I felt so guilty for abandoning a career of service in social work, I’ve worked really hard to maintain a connection to social justice through charity donations and make sure the store never turns into “just a store.” I may want the freedom to do my own thing and wear funky pants to work, but I still deeply care about the same issues I devoted a lot of time to studying, namely inequality.
I tend to enjoy all the various aspects of running a business and so I get my fill of left brain / right brain exercise on any given day. I’m sort of in a very business obsessed phase of my life!
When was your shop opened?
We opened the online store on January 2014 (and P.F. Candle Co. was the first brand I contacted to stock!), but the brick and mortar shop in San Francisco opened in September 2015.
What inspired you to open it?
It just felt like what I was always meant to do. Besides being a private detective, I don’t think there is anything else I could imagine myself doing day in and day out. My dad opened his own brewery business when he was my age too, so I guess it’s in my blood to go out on your own.
How does the location play a part in the shop’s identity?
Even though we were a legitimate business before as an online store, the physical storefront really made it all free *real* (and having a place to go where I’m not alone all day is a huge plus). I was finally able to set up a space that best represents the vibe of ANOMIE, which we’re always improving, since a website can only do so much. When in comes to deciding what I want to buy for the shop, the physical location has allowed us to be so much more adventurous with shapes and fabrics that might not necessarily have translated easily online. Some things just have to be seen in person! Plus, as you guys know all too well, being able to smell things helps!
What goes into the process of curating the shop?
Since ANOMIE is a reflection of almost all my personal style wants and interests, we are sort of a mini department store. As lazy as it sounds, it’s all about what I want and what I like. If I’m into drippy, bright ceramics like Brian Giniewski, the shop is suddenly full of them. But then I might have a moment with 14k gold choker necklaces and then the display is full of sparkly Winden and GJENMI pieces. It all feels very intuitive — no mood boards or buying spreadsheets. Obviously I try to keep everything in balance, but there are definitely moments where certain items or styles dominate the narrative.
Do you have any advice to those dreaming of one day opening their own shop?
I actually get asked a variation of this via email a lot and I typically don’t give the answer I think people want to hear. I feel like if you want to open a store and be an entrepreneur you need to be someone who solves problems and finds your own solutions …and if I tell someone how to file for an LLC or report their sales tax, I believe I’m doing them a disservice. So, I guess my advice is be proactive and don’t expect people to teach you how to get what you want. But on a broader scale, only do it if you absolutely love it. When you own a store, and especially one open seven days a week, there is NO time off. Get ready to eat, sleep, and breathe your business.
What is the most rewarding thing about being a retail owner?
Seeing something you worked hard to build be appreciated by others. It’s very validating. Makes up for the “what am I doing, this is awful!” moments that creep up every few months.
If a maker or brand is interested in being carried at your shop, what is the process to do so?
Reach out with all your info if you truly think that we would be a good fit together. Jenna, one of the @ShopGirlsofANOMIE, is my assistant buyer and screens all pitch emails before they go to me. Include all line sheets and information someone would need to place an order (minimums, production times, payment methods) — we get a lot of requests and don’t always have time to chase down info if we are on the fence about a brand. I love it when we totally vibe with a product that lands in our inbox and get to email back with an order quickly.
Shop Anomie + P.F. Candle Co: Where it Began
How did you find out about P.F. Candle Co.?
I met Kristen at Renegade Craft Fair in SF in the summer of 2013. I became fully obsessed with Teakwood & Tobacco after the first sniff and bought a few.
What made you decide to make us a part of your shop?
There was no question when I was working on opening an online store back in 2013 that P.F. Candle Co. HAD to be featured. They turned me into a candle person, and I really wasn’t one, so I knew everyone would love them as much as I did.
What’s your favorite scent?
This is a very hard question, one that I’m asked almost daily by customers. The truth is that it really does depend on my mood, but I think Copal might be my new favorite. I’d always been a Teakwood & Tobacco super-fan and we even have a custom scent (Vanilla Plum) that Kristen and I developed together that I adore, but once Copal came out it spoke to all my woodsy and spice loves. When Spruce is in season, I’m a huge fan of that one too. It’s my favorite winter burner for the store and is lit next to me right now!
Shop Teakwood & Tobacco
Thanks so much for taking the time to highlight ANOMIE! I had a great time chatting with Alyx and discovering our love for the same crime podcast, haha! SSDGM ;)