we like it wild: the making of a shop

Since so many of our posts here on design*sponge share with you the everyday-ness of our flower business lives, we thought it only fair to finally share with all of our readers a new big part of our lives in the past few months. You may have noticed a few months ago we started talking about “the shop” in our posts here. After a soft opening in February, we just recently celebrated the “official” grand opening of our brick-and-mortar shop: Prairie Collective.

CLICK HERE for the rest of Studio Choo’s post + more images of the new shop after the jump!

Although technically Studio Choo consists of two people (Jill and Alethea) everyone knows everything is a bit easier with a little help from our friends, so we took this approach when we first started thinking seriously about opening a store at the end of 2009. As circumstances would have it, we had a few amazingly creative and motivated friends that had the same idea at the same time, and Prairie Collective was born. Running three businesses (Studio Choo, Magpie & Rye, and the Cloak & Cabinet Society make up our collective) under one roof has endless advantages, both financially, creatively, and emotionally.

When we found the space it needed serious help. It was basically a big white box with a teeny sink and an awesome window. We called in all of our favors from family, friends, and friends-of-friends (and with the help of the guys from shameless design and lots of our own elbow grease) and managed to transform the box into a barn. Lia’s dad, Tom, provided us with some great salvaged pieces including all the amazing lumber that acts as our rafters as well as the large cast-off cast-iron sink, a necessity if you’re working with flowers. The place was covered in dust for a month as we stripped a hundred years’ worth of paint from our window, added drywall and molding, and replaced old fluorescent lighting. Trips to the local salvage yard Urban Ore yielded our lovely counter and grand old double-sided display unit.

The finishing touches included a big red screen door by our artist friend Michael Christiansen (we had to keep out the pesky flies), and our hand-painted signs by Derek at Golden West Sign Arts. Our pride and joy is the recycled windowpane* gilded gold glass sign he made us using a very complicated leafing technique. It casts a golden reflection on the sidewalk in the afternoon.

*As most shop owners know (and we quickly discovered) large glass windows are graffiti magnets. The hanging windowpane let us have the fancy lettering we wanted without having to replace it if the window was damaged with scratches or etching.

Each business has an area of expertise, ours being flowers, naturally, but we don’t pigeonhole ourselves. In addition to running a flower shop out of our little storefront on Divisadero Street, Studio Choo also sells artwork from Jill’s “side project” small stump, Saipua soap, vintage blankets, interesting vases, Swedish clogs, and a variety of other things. Basically if it makes us happy, we want to bring it to the neighborhood and have it in our store. And that’s been one of the best things so far about running a brick-and-mortar shop: the neighborhood. We’ve found an amazing community in our little Lower Haight hood and have had nothing but positive feedback. We look forward to visits from neighbors and regulars, and Lil’ Boy looks forward to visits from his new bestest friend, Buddy.

As for the rest of our collective partners, Magpie & Rye is run by our amazing friend, Annabelle. In addition to selling home goods, she also curates an inspiring collection of jewelry and keeps our case well stocked with pieces that make our customers drool. She also just launched her online shop so if you can’t visit the collective you can still check out her lovely selection. The Cloak & Cabinet Society is run by Lia who, when not working as a full-time librarian and helping us with we like it wild, finds time to bring in vintage curios and odd scientific accessories. The combination of all our styles may seem like strange bedfellows on paper, but somehow all of our unique tastes and sensibilities come together in the store and just mesh. Most people can’t tell that we have three businesses sharing a space. Bernie and Lil’ Boy fit in too.

On the flower side, we’ve been busier than ever. Now we have a space that people can come and meet us to talk about flowers for weddings and events, and it’s great to get to do flowers for walk-ins, too. There’s nothing cuter than a gal popping in the store for help with a bouquet for a dinner party, or a dad and son dropping buy for an arrangement for mom “just because.” This new location has given us some great exposure in the press and a chance to do fun things like teach flower classes (our first class on dahlias is next week!) and have art openings. We like it wild, yes, and we like it ridiculously busy, apparently.

So there it is. Now that you know about Prairie Collective “officially” you must come and visit us. Consider this an open invitation to stop by and say hi. Be sure to let us know you’re a d*s reader because we are delighted and grateful that there are so many people out there in internet-land that like what we’re doing. Come by anytime Wednesday-Saturday, 11am to 6pm, or Sunday, 12pm to 4pm and we’ll show you around.

Prairie Collective
262 Divisadero Street (between Haight and Page)
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 701-8701
Weds-Sat, 11-6
Sun, 12-4
Closed Mondays & Tuesdays (flower deliveries excepted)


Congratulations Collective! The brick and mortar shop looks terrific. Can hardly wait to visit!


So nice. What a lovely store! I just adore the installed rustic wood. I would love to do something like that for my home.


too bad I don’t live in SF anymore…
best of luck with the store

Shannon Mac

congrats! The shop looks amazing — next time I’m in San Francisco, I’ll be sure to stop by and get some flowers!


It looks AMAZING!!! If I’d lived closer, I would come shop right away!! You did a great, great job!! Thanks for sharing!


The shop looks gorgeous! I especially love the ladder, the sign out front, and those two adorable dogs.

alys bryan

I love this, it is amazing the transformation and the design vision for such a plain shell to a very atmospheric shop. Brilliant stock.


stunning, inspiring. i absolutely love how you designed the space genius simple and beautiful! makes me want to open another shop!


I love that I didn’t know at first how the shop turned out..so I was intrigued from the photo of the empty store…and thought “what did they do with this place?”. Beautiful result. LOVE it. I’m sorry I don’t live in SF anymore but when I’m there…will TOTALLY visit your shop!

Nickie Frye

Wow, great job refurbishing the space. What a great location! I’m in Marin, but I love an excuse to shop on the Haight. I’ll definitely stop in!



I am in the fetal stages of my own business and I long for nothing more than my own place where I can do what I love to do. Congratulations on achieving something so monumental. Your store is beautiful, and has such a wonderful vibe. Next time I’m in San Fran I will most definately stop in!


Used to live nearby
… I think I will come back and check out the new shop. A great addition.


can’t wait for an excuse to come to San Fran to visit – how amazing (and smart) to combine all 3 stores. Looks like my idea of heaven!


Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Amazing how adding the barnwood framing made such an enormous difference. Definitely an inviting place, where I could picture myself lingering and browsing :-)


don’t forget to revise the San Fran city guide to include this must-see destination!!


The shop is beautiful! I agree with one of the other posters that there are many inspirations for the home as well.


huh. right up the street from me and i’ve never seen it. the divisadero artwalk is next thursday – i’ll have to stop in then.


It’s inspiring to see such courageous, fun, and talented people finding fantastic ways to do what they love and share it with the world. Your shop? It’s a beauty, keep up the cool :)


oh shop of my dreams. wonderful display solutions! makes me want to open up shop even MORE. loving all the succulents everywhere, gorgeous gorgeous.


Could you tell me how you planted the succulents in the tree branches? I would love to do this, but not sure how?? any special care for this planting??I’m moving back to San Fran and this shop is on the top of my list to see.amazing!


I just bookmarked this particular page! It is so inspirational to see documentation– from blank, tiny looking room to fully decked out retail space!!! It is amazing what a vision and some elbow grease can do. Congratulations, best wishes, and thankyou so very much for giving us a step by step peek at the amazing transformation!!!!


I wish you weren’t on the other side of the country!!! I adore your shop- if I’m ever in the neighborhood, I’ll stop by!


this shop is SO amazing. i’m literally planning a trip to SF right now just so i can come visit! congrats and well done! xo


Congrats on your shop! Its really beautiful! Very inspirational.


GORGEOUS space! congratulations! what a wonderful idea, to share the space with friends… i’ll have to talk with some of my nearest and dearest about the possibilities this raises… ;)


this is beautiful, what a fun and creative way to make a space your own!


Everything about this shop speaks to me. Congrats to them all! I may have to cohort to SF to see them.


inspiring amazing and beautiful
congratulations to everyone who participated and worked hard to make this a reality!


Congratulations! Your store makes me want to move back to the Bay area! Just beautiful.


Wow, I would love to visit San Francisco just to come to your shop!


AH! This is awesome. I love the shop, name, and look! It reminds me of the unique shops in my favorite spots in Seoul.

kelsey louise

this is absolutely my dreams coming true! I am in the process of renovating a building for my small boutique (in kentucky) and literally everything that i’m trying to do is what you have done. i’m completely mesmerized. i even have the moss covered stumps sitting at my home waiting for the rest of the work to be completed. my space is not so nice–low ceilings, crappy tile floor, etc.–but i am still going to do my best. my heart is really skipping beats because i saw in photos what i’ve been seeing in my head for so long. congratulations and it’s really, truly, the most cozy and lovely place i could ever imagine.


I love seeing the before photos! Your shop is so perfectly executed & seemingly effortless that it’s especially fun to see the beat-up white box you started with.


Fantastic. A lovely shop. I realy want to visit you some day…good lucky and many hugs from Brazil.


what a great idea to join forces…humm…that gives me some ideas! beautiful transformation of space.


so cool to see those step-by-step images, it gives a better idea of what has happend…so beautyful.


Really fantastic transformation and use of a small space. Congratulations and best of luck!!


Wow. Absolutely beautiful. You guys did an amazing job & all the passion & attention to detail really shows!


Wow! I love this post, I would love to see more start to finish shop posts, brilliant idea. Beautiful shop and beautiful post G!


You guys have done what I’m anticipating….after 22 years in mail order, going into a brick and mortar, so I can teach and sell finished work (jewelry and assemblage). Viewing the process through your eyes was amazing….and so helpful! Thanks for the adventure chronicle! Best wishes in your future endeavors!


That really is an amazing change from a simple white box… love all the plants and flowers as well.

kimia ferdowsi

I was just there the other day, and it is as gorgeous in real life as in the photos! The flowers are tucked into every little corner and the jewelry is displayed in beautiful wooden and glass cases. Love it ladies!

Farmgirl Susan

Your store is lovely! What an amazing transformation. Thanks for showing us the before and during photos. Congratulations on your glorious new enterprise. Wishing you all tremendous success!


Wow, I love the concept of this new shop…..several businesses with one business front. Great ideas…..I can’t wait to visit your shop, since I live in Half Moon Bay it shouldn’t be a very long journey.


Opps I forgot one thing. I would like to submit some photos for before and after. What email address should I send the photos to?


My best friend and I just recently purchased a flower shop.. we love it! I’m so glad to find this post.. truely inspiring!. I’ve been reading designsponge for a few years but had no idea this is also what you were up to. How do you have the time??? Love it all!