There are people they just have this sixth sense when it comes to identifying good design, quality work and trends. One of these people are Giselle and Phurba Gyalzen. While Divisadero is becoming the new Valencia in these days and the businesses are starting to fight for space, the smart couple has reserved a perfect spot and has moved their unique store, Rare Device, already in 2012. The store on Divsadero and Hayes is the must-go destination when seeking for beautiful, well-made, quality pieces for you, your home & your little ones. The assortment is carefully curated by Giselle herself, she chooses the items not only for their appearance but also for their own special stories. I’m so lucky that I live just around the corner so I can have a quick walk and enter the bright, modern & whimsical world of Rare Device every Saturday. I’m lucky too that I had the pleasure to speak to the lovely Giselle about her enchanting store so I can share a bit of its magic with you.
You bought the Rare Device from two gals. What led you to became a shop owner?
I had been dreaming of owning a shop for years before I bought RD. I worked with another shop owner, Kati Kim of Doe in San Francisco (now closed) to learn the ins and outs of owning your own small shop. She was so helpful and open and honest about everything. I learned so much from her! When I found out that RD was for sale, I swooped right in and took a big leap of faith. Rare Device was my favorite store in town so it just seemed like the perfect fit.
Describe the idea of your store? What is so unique about it?
We are a design gift store and gallery. Our aesthetic is modern with a touch of whimsy. Me and my assistant buyer, Jackie, hand pick each item that we choose to sell. We admire good design and pick items that serve a purpose. We choose to work with independent designers and artists that own a small, personal business just like ours.
The pieces at Rare Device are very well selected. How do you find all the designers?
We buy things that we would like for our own homes, selves or items that we’d love to give as presents. We seek designers out, we go to trade shows and we get a ton of submissions from all over the world.
What do you keep in mind when choosing the items for Rare Device?
We love great design, great packaging, attention to detail, usefulness and personality. We pay attention to each item’s story.
As every job, being a shop owner has also pro and con. What do you love most about your job? What’s not so great?
I love discovering new amazing talent, I also love interacting with our customers on a daily basis. I like to hear their stories, sometimes of how they relate to a certain item in the store or why they picked something to buy for their friend because it is just the perfect thing for them. What’s not so great – running my own business, being a wife and a mom takes up a lot of time and energy. It’s always hard to balance everything, it is a daily struggle. Luckily, I love what I do so that makes it manageable for me.
Have you any advice for somebody who would like to open a store?
Do your research, talk to other shop owners, get some experience if you can before taking the plunge. Also make sure you now the basics about running a business because in the beginning, it’s all you – you are the buyer, accountant, cleaner, merchandiser, marketing guru, etc. It took me years to prepare for this role and I’m glad I took my time because I learned many things along the way.
Can you describe us your day at the …morning…. noon…. evening?
In the morning, I make and eat breakfast with my daughter and husband. Then my husband goes off to work, I play with and dress my daughter for school, I drop her off, then I go for a long walk with our dog. I get ready for work, run errands if necessary, then I’m at the store by noon when we open. Depending on the day I either work the front of the store while going down my to do list at the same time. Sometimes, one of our employees is working the front and I take care of office tasks, meet with vendors and do general store upkeep. There are days when I stay at the store till we close, other times I leave in the afternoon to go home and have dinner with my family. If I am lucky, once in a while I have a free night out with my husband or sometimes with our friends, we usually go out to dinner and catch up.
Favorite pieces or designers right now?
I really love these mugs by Kahara from Japan. They are a gorgeous black textured matte on the outside and glazed in either white to green ombre or black on the inside. We also have these fun piñata eggs by Tiffanie Turner. She made these especially for Rare Device. They are hollowed-out chicken eggs, filled with confetti and finished with fringe. You can leave them as is or if you are courageous enough, smash them!
Currently addicted to…?
Bi-Rite ice cream. I’m in deep trouble.
(Me too. They opened a new store in our neighborhood)