Use Your Money- Oakollectiv
Oakollectiv is one of our Use Your Money businesses. Nwamaka Agbo spoke with Rachel Konte about this unique local business. Learn more about the Use Your Money campaign.
Tell me a little bit about you and what brought you to create a business like this?
I am Afro/Danish, born and raised in Denmark where my family still resides. I graduated from Danish School of Design in 1991 and came to the US in 1993 when I was working as a Designer for Levi's Strauss & Co. I got transferred to SF and ended up staying after I met my husband here. I worked as Design Director for Levis Women's Wholesale and Retail lines for more than 10 years, so Denim Design is my main background.
When my husband (Keba Konte), our friend Andrea Ali and myself opened Guerilla Cafe in Berkeley in 2006 I was working full time at Levis and could contribute best by taking on the design of our Graphic Tees and all the other material we needed like Postcards, menus and Decor of Cafe with danish vintage lamp's and Eames Chairs. To have a creative outlet, I started to design a small line of Graphic tees and Handmade Bags under my label AFROBUDDAH in 2004. After being laid-off Levi's in 2009 and I found myself looking for a new way to get creatively full filled as well as earning money. I was hesitant to go back to the cooperated life and had always had a dream of opening my own store.
Tell me about the store.
Oakollectiv opened in May 2011 as a Pop UP concept. We found the space and pitched out store concept to the City of Oakland. We wanted to create a Local Design store in Downtown Oakland where there are almost no retail stores left. There are a lot of new great Bars and Restaurants opening up, but to create a real area where people will come and stroll and hang out, you need small retail Boutiques too.
At Oakllectiv we offer selection of quality locally made products by local designers. The style and flavor of this store is unique in that is has more of a Gallery style. We have the products flow throughout the store and the clothes are displayed from free hanging racks in the space. We offer local and handmade design products to Oakland.
How does the business work?
Oakollectiv was created by the need for being financial self sustainable. It consists of a collective of 3 businesses in one shared space; Guerilla Cafe clothing line by Rachel Konte, NNEKA Womens Clothing by Penelope Adibe and the Afrobuddah Collection of Handmade Bags, Graphic Tops and Selected Vintage by Rachel Konte.
We (Penelope Afibe and myself) came up with the idea of sharing retail space due to the tough financial times and not being able to pay a high rent on an individual basis. It felt smart and simple to go in and create a space where we could all have our individual lines live together in a beautiful space. The concept was based on low risk and low investment. The style of the store is simplistic and holistic with a focus on "WABI SABI" re-using materials and furniture that has beauty and soul, to create a space without buying everything new.
By being creative and resourceful we were able to create and fill this large retail space with great products and good vibes. Oakollectiv also feature a small selected group of LOCAL consignors that compliments our own product lines and help bringing in additional cash flow to support the monthly rent and other small expenses that comes up to run the store.
How does Oakollectiv impact the broader Oakland community?
Oakollectiv features other local designers and businesses like; TYPE LITE Candles, BYLEE Note books, SURU Hats and Tees, Scarfs by Bella Abisinia Design, BLANK TEA (Locally and US made herbal tea), T-shirts by RED BIKE & GREEN and Knitwear by Michaela Greg.
We try to find local artist that make and produce their own goods and we like to bring LOCAL products of high quality to Downtown Oakland where most stores are Mainstream large Cooperations.
Due to our large space, we have also used the store to host small events like book releases and poetry readings. This way we can support local artists and gain new customers from the events. We were also part of the very successful event "IN THE BLACK" Nov 25th that supported local vendors and promoted shopping LOCAL on Black Friday.
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