Since Levi Strauss & Co. was founded in San Francisco in 1853–birthing the blue jean when it secured a patent for signature rivets in men’s work pants twenty years later–San Francisco has remained a hub for myriad innovators, crafters and producers of every stripe. The city is home to fashion-tech start-ups Stitch Fix and Everlane. Benefit Cosmetics, which opened its first makeup store in a louche Mission neighborhood in 1976, is still headquartered in SF, paving the way for beauty companies Credo Beauty, Tatcha, Proven Skincare and Madison Reed. While an argument can be made that popular goods from these brands–or even any local Apple store–qualifies as gifting something “made in the Bay Area”, here we’ve curated more options from independent outlets imbued with SF’s history, culture, maker and innovator spirit, with an eye to sustainability.
Bean-to-bar maker Dandelion Chocolate has been transforming organic sugar and cocoa beans sourced from farmers and producers into single-origin small-batch dark chocolate in San Francisco since 2010. Gift-worthy experiences here include chocolate making classes, guided tastings of five single-origin chocolate bars, and tours of its working factory and salon in the Mission District, where discovering the production process from a fresh cacao pod to finished chocolates is pretty extraordinary. In addition to multibar boxes and collections, Dandelion has curated a range of seasonal gifts, including a San Francisco Favorites box produced in collaboration with Bay Area based chocolatiers and confectioners NeoCocoa, FARM Chocolate, Feve Chocolates and Topogato ($135).
Shop instore or online: 740 Valencia St., SF, 415 349 0942; store.dandelionchocolate.com
For stocking-sized heirloom accessories, consider one-of-a-kind, hand-tooled pieces in leather, stone, and precious metals by local artisans. Alongside collections by other creatives, Nob Hill studio showroom Abacus Row (1256 Mason St, SF, 415 857 1518; abacusrow.com) stocks limited edition collections of bracelets, wraps, necklaces and earrings crafted in crystals, beads and 14k gold, informed by designer and founder Christine Trac’s multicultural upbringing and interdisciplinary background in ethnography and environmental conservation. In Hayes Valley, midnight blue jewel box Métier curates antique estate pieces and objets d’art from the late 1700s to the early 20th century, as well as new pieces by contemporary local brands Harwell Godfrey and Tara Sugden (575 Hayes St., SF, 415-590-2998; metiersf.com)
With roots in North Carolina, Counter Culture Coffee opened a roastery and training center in the San Francisco Bay area in 2015, and is proudly served at CANOPY locations. Counter Culture’s beans–available in stocking-stuffer-sized bags and via gift subscriptions–are sustainably sourced from cooperatives and villages around the world. For every pound of its winter blend Iridescent sold, a penny is donated to Seeds–a grant program which funds producer-driven initiatives that sustain communities, businesses and the environment, such as apiaries in Colombia, agronomy education in Nicaragua, and literacy training in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Shop online at counterculturecoffee.com
Sustainability is more than a buzzword at Rothy’s, a company which makes wardrobe-staple shoes and bags from eco-friendly materials and is striving to achieve a closed-loop production model by 2023. Shop pieces like The Slipper ($149), a blend of premium RWS-certified merino wool and Rothy’s signature recycled plastic thread and featuring a soft sherpa lining and sturdy outsoles suitable for both indoor and outdoor wear. Each pair, which requires around three plastic bottles to knit, is produced at Rothy’s fully owned and operated factory in Dongguan, China, which aims to be LEED- and TRUE-certified by the end of this year, validating the brand’s green building and zero waste practices according to TRUE’s requirements. You can shop via the site or at Rothy’s first store here in the company’s hometown on Fillmore Street.
Shop online or in-store: 2448 Fillmore, SF, 415-875-9898; Rothy’s
Rose Shattuck–with a little help from her four-legged muse-turned-product tester, Utah–founded The Foggy Dog in 2017 to answer a market need for dog products that are modern, beautiful and functional. Since then, the collection has grown to span dogwalk-ready collars, leashes and bandanas, and a sleek line of squeaky toys and beds in flannel and upcycled denim, filled with material spun from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles originally destined for landfill. Manufacturing partners are family-owned businesses where skilled craftspeople are paid fair wages and almost everything is made in small batches in San Francisco. For every purchase, The Foggy Dog donates half a pound of food to rescue shelters across America.
Shop online at thefoggydog.com
Located in SF’s Chinatown district, family owned and operated company KIM+ONO specializes in silk and charmeuse kimonos which feature original botanical prints sketched by hand, then saturated in rich watercolors using a traditional paintbrush. The business first launched 30 years ago as a small boutique in Chinatown named Old Shanghai; in 2004, sisters Renee and Tiffany, who spent their childhoods visiting silk villages to meet vendors and artisans with their parents, took over the business. KIM+ONO’s versatile T-shaped kimonos—a word that translates to “the thing worn”—are equally suited to the C-Suite office as the hotel pool.
Shop in-store or online: 729 Grant Ave, SF, 415 989 8588; kimandono.com.
Interiors boutique Yonder relocated from its original Pacifica space to a more expansive, light-filled in the inner Richmond District in San Francisco, securing more square footage to display its curated selection of international direct-made goods, as well as owner Linda Fahey’s ceramic teapots, trivets and minimalist “Wave” porcelain tableware made in-house at her open-plan ceramic studio (and which sells out quickly). This new location also provides studio space for artist Zai Divecha, who folds, rolls and pleats sheets of white paper to create intricate interplays of light and shadow in stop-motion videos, sculptures and wall art (purchase Zai Divecha’s work here).
Shop in-store or online: 701 11th Avenue, SF, 650 303 9216; yondershop.com
Oakland-based founder Melanie Abrantes works with a variety of unique materials to create handcrafted objects for the garden, home and office. Sculptural MARAIS vases are realized in various combinations of glass, metal and hardwood; some styles are hand-stained. Hand-turned walnut and cork bowls ensure stationary items remain organized and close at hand. DIY Kits–which include tie-dye vase sets and Japanese spoon and bowl carving tool sets–are the perfect gift for those who love to make their own pieces by hand on their own time. Mel’s Carving Club subscriptions, inclusive of carving blanks, wood butter, tools and the ability to carve along with Melanie in workshops.
Shop in-store or online: 155 Filbert St, Oakland, 713 401 7497; melanieabrantes.shop.
Subscriptions are available for pick up or with free domestic shipping.
Cookbooks from Bay Area chefs and restaurants
The San Francisco Bay Area’s pedigree as a dining destination is well documented–more restaurants here achieve The Michelin Guide’s coveted three stars than anywhere else in the country—and cookbooks are a great gift for those not able to travel here for the experience.
When not baking bread to die for, Tartine’s co-founders, pastry chef Elisabeth Prueitt and master baker Chad Robertson have been busy putting their knowledge into words, starting with Tartine Bread (2013). The late chef Judy Rogers offers cooking lessons and a guided tour of her eponymous restaurant in The Zuni Cafe Cookbook (2002). Chefs Evan and Sarah Rich translated their cozy, low-key yet elevated namesake concept in James Beard nominated Rich Table (2018). Chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinki share the culinary secrets of their pop-up turned Michelin-starred James Beard Restaurant of the Year in State Bird Provisions: A Cookbook (2018).
To begin at the beginning of California cuisine, consider the Chez Panisse Menu Cookbook (1982) by Alice Waters, the chef who pioneered the movement when she drew on her network of local farmers, artisans, and producers to open Chez Panisse in Berkeley in 1977.
Nothing says “Let’s celebrate!” more than gift boxes of sustainable, low-intervention beverages and tasty treats, and Cara Patricia and Simi Grewal, founder-sommeliers of women- and queer-owned SOMA bar and bottle shop DECANTsf, have personally curated just that. DECANTsf’s “Best of the Fête” boxes, inspired by their Winter Fête last Friday, feature the ladies’ favorite Champagne for the season and a selection of caviar by SF’s The Caviar Co. The two-month Holiday Gift Subscription ($88+shipping) includes a December Sommelier’s Selection Holiday Box, featuring three wines for Holiday dinners and New Year, and the Not-So-Dry January Box to help everyone ease into 2023. Looking for the gift that keeps on giving? Cara and Simi’s monthly and quarterly Bottle Clubs allow recipients to explore the wine world from a sommelier’s perspective through delicious wines that are blind-tasted and chosen to inspire conversation.
Shop instore or online: 1168 Folsom St., SF, 415 913-7256; decantsf.com
Literature from iconic SF bookstores
San Francisco’s arts scene and counterculture history has long informed the city’s culture and urban fabric, and many of the landmark hubs for music and literature are still in business. Based out of a maritime machine shop and warehouse in SOMA, independent publisher Chronicle Books (680 2nd St, SF; 800 759 0190; chroniclebooks.com) has been printing books since the Summer of Love, and continues to partner with artists, writers, and creatives to uplift people of diverse backgrounds and points of view. (It also incorporates Petit Collage, an SF-company with a sustainable ethos which produces toys, puzzles, games and lifestyle gifts for children.) A block north of CANOPY’s Jackson Square location, the iconic City Lights bookstore, co-founded in 1953 by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and a favorite haunt for local beatniks, stocks international bestsellers alongside books anchored to San Francisco, including more than two hundred titles under its own publishing label (261 Columbus Ave., SF; 415 362 8193; citylights.com).
Shop in-store or online
Art that invokes the Bay
While photographs of the Golden Gate Bridge, city skyline and parks abound online, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find beautiful artwork by local creatives that capture the Bay Area experience. Hayes Valley-based artist Rhonel Roberts’ work celebrates SF’s distinct neighborhoods and landmarks, particularly under his San Francisco Galerie (rhonelroberts.com). SFMOMA Custom Prints offers reproductions of works by California Artists, including Sunset Streets (1985) and Valley Streets (2003) by Sacramento painter Wayne Thiebaud, who moved to Potrero Hill in 1972 and rendered the city streets in works that master perspective, color and shadow (sfmoma.org, priced from $28). Visit SF Rock Posters in person or online to peruse more than 4000 authentic collectible posters, handbills and postcards–many signed–from San Francisco concerts going back decades. Historical monuments to the city’s counterculture music and visual arts include psychedelic poster pioneer Wes Wilson’s design for a 1966 Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead gig, and a 1967 Big Brother & The Holding Company with Janis Joplin, both held at Fillmore Auditorium (1851 Powell St., SF, 415-956-6749; rockposters.com).
Edith and Brian Heath founded their eponymous brand as a small-scale pottery in Sausalito in 1948. Now under new ownership, Heath Ceramics has evolved into one of the Bay Area’s most iconic homewares brands, where pieces are crafted with sustainability, integrity, and beauty in mind. This season, Heath’s Winter Collection is inspired by the majesty, resilience, and ecological contributions of California’s evergreen forests, designed by veteran glazer Winnie Crittenden–Edith’s niece–who began working at Heath in 1974. For in-person inspiration, visit the brand’s expansive Mission District location, home to Heath Newsstand, Clay Studio, Tartine Manufactory, and a collective of designer studios, or stay at Fisherman’s Camp, a small cottage retreat on Tomales Bay, where Heath’s co-owners have curated a living gallery of collections by Heath and local craftspeople and artists.
2900 18th St., SF, 415 361 5552 x13; heathceramics.com
From the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma
To SF’s north lies one of the world’s most lauded wine regions–an indisputable fact since French judges rated Napa wines better than French productions in The Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 (known affectionately as the Judgement of Paris). On the Napa side, cult wines include Screaming Eagle, Opus One and Harland Estate, while Faust, Matthiasson Wines and Beaulieu Vineyard are beloved by sommeliers. One valley over, Sonoma County’s more low-key, farmer-next-door vibe continues in the vineyard and cellar: you can’t go wrong with bottles from Iron Horse Vineyards, Flowers Estate and The Donum Estate. Buying for someone who doesn’t imbibe? Consider Vintner’s Daughter, a multi-award-winning beauty brand that harnesses the power of plants, inspired by the founder’s family winemaking heritage in Napa.