By Jeremy Martin
Son of a textile merchant and namesake of San Francisco, Saint Francis of Assisi dedicated his life to charitable works and to fighting poverty in his homeland and abroad. So it should come as no surprise that a Bay Area start-up textile retailer should take the name of St. Frank.
Not to be confused with the cafe and coffee roaster of the same name, which is owned by veteran barista competitor Kevin Bohlin, St. Frank specializes in framing vintage and contemporary textiles, all of which are crafted in and purchased from low- and middle-income countries.
œWe source those from multi-generational textile vendors around the world. These are generally folks who have a really rich knowledge on textiles in their area. We work with them on an ongoing basis to procure our vintage collection, says St. Frank founder Christina Bryant. œBut the bread and butter of our work is the contemporary textiles, those are crated at a range of artisan workshops and collectives around the world.
With offerings as diverse as mounted and framed West African mud cloth and vintage Guatemalan blouses, St. Frank deals in art forms that are as exotic to us living stateside as they are traditional to those that created them.
After nearly a year in business, St. Frank is beginning to grow its portfolio and is now offering a products a little bit more commonplace to those of us who make a living with coffee: framed burlap coffee and cocoa bags.
œWe are beginning to move in to other home product categories and we recently launched this collection of cacao and coffee bean bags which is still in line with our mission. We re-purpose these bags from local bean-to-bar and bean-to-cup chocolate and coffee makers. All the bags are sourced from developing counties, small batch coffee and cacao farmers who have a really rich history, Christina says.
St. Frank is making sure to acquire the bags from San Francisco area roasters and chocolatiers who work exclusively with fair trade importers and farmer-owned growing collectives.
œThese artisinal businesses are supporting coffee and chocolate farmers and recycling what would otherwise be discarded cocoa and coffee bean bags, Christina says. œWe have relationships with local coffee and chocolate makers in San Francisco, and are forming new ones, folks who source from ethical, sustainable, small farming communities.
Of course, in working with other small area businesses, it goes without saying that the bags that St. Frank are framing are not only a link to the growing communities over seas but also to the very coffee that Bay Area community is currently drinking. It also means that there is, for the time begin, a very limited number of bags and designs to choose from.
œIts a small collection but we loved the stories behind the farming cooperatives and we like to be able to support other local business as well. It gives us something that is fun for folks to hang in their kitchen, it has that great food and drink connection, Christina says.
For more information on St. Frank’s decorative collections or its mission to help support artisans in low and middle income communities visit http://stfrank.com/
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeremy Martin is a freelance writer and photographer who has reported on coffee, craft beer, college sports, and business for a variety of publications over the past six years. A veteran of the café industry and graduate of Western Michigan University, Jeremy lives in Seattle where can often be found making sandwiches from whatever is left in the fridge and cracking wise for the amusement of his adoring wife Amanda.