Against all odds, one S.F. boutique is thriving and transforming more than people’s outfits (2023)

Table of Contents
Most Popular Top of the News Videos

    Most Popular

  • Is elbow surgery in 49ers QB Brock Purdy’s long-term interest? A doctor...
  • California wants people to switch to all-electric appliances. But what...
  • Storm will bring rain to the Bay Area and snow to the Sierra Nevada —...
  • Jimmy Garoppolo deserved a better 49ers farewell than what Kyle Shanahan...
  • This power couple were behind the S.F. school board recall. Here’s what...
  • A ramen shop unlike any other in the Bay Area arrives next week
  • Recent rains are ‘nowhere near’ what California might see in the future,...
  • Hoeven: It was my first day on the job. A gun threat kept me home
  • Layoffs hit two multibillion-dollar S.F. tech companies
  • One of S.F.’s most unusual restaurants is closing after 40 years

Bay Area // San Francisco

(Video) Sam Kinison and His Legendary Scream at Dangerfield’s Comedy Club (1986)

Olivia Cruz Mayeda

This is a carousel. Use Next and Previous buttons to navigate


Against all odds, one S.F. boutique is thriving and transforming more than people’s outfits (12)
Against all odds, one S.F. boutique is thriving and transforming more than people’s outfits (13)

ReLove is more than just a place to buy clothes for many. The San Francisco resale boutique on Polk Street, which houses a narrow but mighty archive of vintage, designer and independent labels, is also where a brokenhearted regular rediscovered herself post-breakup, a now-married couple first met and a film stylist dresses his actors.

But before the business became a staple in the resale industry, with a two-story sequel opening in Oakland later this month, owner Delila Hailechristos had to first get past the dozens of “no’s” she encountered from prospective landlords and the banks from which she sought business loans.

“Every bank gave the same answer: ‘We rarely fund first-time business owners, but we wish you the best of luck,’” she said.

Hailechristos, who used her savings to open her business in 2014, isn’t the only Black entrepreneur to have received more best wishes than investor interest.

Against all odds, one S.F. boutique is thriving and transforming more than people’s outfits (14)

At public policy research firm Mason Tillman Associates in Oakland, President Eleanor Ramsey gathers data on racial disparities in the financial support received by businesses. Ramsey said it was telling that Black entrepreneurs across the U.S. are 28% percent more likely to be denied a business loan than white men with the same credit scores.

After renting the same office space on Harrison Street for 14 years, Ramsey herself had trouble renewing her lease in 2019.

“I was only able to secure the lease after I went through a Realtor anonymously,” she said. “I can only conclude their unwillingness was due to the color of my skin.”

More for you

  • S.F’s Stitch Fix to lay off 20% of salaried staff, CEO steps down
    (Video) Often Insulted for Being Ugly, A Búllied Student's Transformation Makes All the Girls Amazed
  • Could high-tech clothing combat climate change? Bay Area startup thinks so

Dozens of landlords also rejected Hailechristos before she finally found a space.

“I know to a lot of those landlords I did not look like what they thought a typical business owner looks like,” she said. “And they could not see me as a worthwhile investment.”

Against all odds, one S.F. boutique is thriving and transforming more than people’s outfits (17)

Tiffany Carter is all too familiar with these experiences as a business owner from the Bayview neighborhood herself and the co-founder of San Francisco Black Wallstreet, a consortium of Black entrepreneurs which seeks to strengthen the economic power of Black people in San Francisco.

“I think a lot of landlords, institutions and investors across the board don’t look at Black businesses as valuable,” Carter said. “They see us as charities.”

In spite of the structural racism that has failed so many Black businesses and entire communities in the Bay Area, Hailechristos is triumphing and bringing other entrepreneurs of color along with her. She has collaborated with the DeYoung Museum, Levi’s, a collective of Black creatives known as the Black Brunch Club, and provided a pop-up space for local vendors, photographers and artists.

“I love that we are a very visibly Black-owned space with BIPOC employees who are very much at the forefront of the resale industry,” Hailechristos said. “I think it’s also really important that what we do speaks for itself.”

Against all odds, one S.F. boutique is thriving and transforming more than people’s outfits (18)

Born in Ethiopia and raised in Southern California as a teenager, she attributes her fashion sensibility to her “extremely stylish” grandmother — the wife of Ethiopia’s ambassador to Yugoslavia at the time — who Hailechristos says dressed to convey who she was and what she believed in.

Also formative was the moment she entered high school in San Diego, shedding her middle school uniforms for outfits thrifted at second-hand clothing stores, where she later found work.

An ethos of storytelling and sustainability guides Hailechristos. Be it a customer’s eccentricity expressed through Issey Miyake pleats or the storied threads of vintage denim, Hailechristos wants to celebrate personal style.

“We have muses: our minimalist muse, our Berlin industrial muse, our avant garde workwear muse, the linen people,” she laughed. “I always want ReLove to be a place where a variety of personal styles can come in and find clothes they resonate with.”

Ruth Gebreyesus, whose relationship with ReLove started six years ago when she sold them a pair of shoes that didn’t fit her, said the boutique draws people who are thoughtful about their clothes.

Against all odds, one S.F. boutique is thriving and transforming more than people’s outfits (19)

“At any given moment, there’s a story to be told — one customer is having a transformative moment and another is drawn to the style choices they’ve made,” said Gebreysus. “I’ve sold pieces to ReLove that I’ve worn for years that I was finally ready to let go of.”

During the pandemic, Hailechristos saw a growing demand for more meaningful relationships between people and where they shop. After pausing in-store shopping in March 2020, ReLove started offering remote styling appointments. They also modeled individual pieces for sale on Instagram, where clothes were sometimes snapped up within minutes of posting.

ReLove’s Instagram following grew by 40% and its sales by 38% between 2019 and 2021.

Daniele Lucero was one of those people obsessively checking ReLove’s Instagram, despite living in New Mexico and only ever visiting the store once in person. The 29-year-old researcher says she wears something from her ReLove collection every day.

Against all odds, one S.F. boutique is thriving and transforming more than people’s outfits (20)

“You can see yourself in their clothes,” she said. “And they allow you to dream.”

Lucero’s relationship with ReLove has been transformative for more than her wardrobe, which was almost exclusively composed of neutrals. After a breakup, Lucero booked remote styling appointments with general manager Michael Hillard. He introduced her to bolder colors and vibrant prints like a red-netted Jean Paul Gaultier dress from ReLove’s “All About Love” collection that “feels like a moment, even if you’re the only person to witness it,” Lucero said.

(Video) Runnin' Down a Dream: How to Succeed and Thrive in a Career You Love - Bill Gurley 9/14/2018

“Michael told me, ‘You’re stepping into your power now,’” she recalled, laughing. “So here I am, and this is part of the story I’m telling post breakup.”

Film stylist and third-generation Oakland resident Ryan Thurston has a similarly close relationship with ReLove’s staff, who helped him pick out vintage silk shirts for Fairyland, a film that premiered at Sundance in January.

“I want to emphasize how accessible they make fashion, which is typically very elitist,” Thurston said. “Everyone can walk out feeling like they’ve elevated themselves.”

Against all odds, one S.F. boutique is thriving and transforming more than people’s outfits (21)

The month before its Feb. 18 grand opening, ReLove’s Oakland location was bustling with staff, racks of leather and silk, and Hailechristos’ pitbull Rosie. Salvaged Japanese denim curtains hung in the dressing rooms and Hailechristos’ signature sandalwood and cedarwood scent warmed ReLove’s new home on Grand Avenue.

“I was drawn to Grand because there are so many queer, femme and people of color spaces here,” said Hailechristos, whose new neighbors include POC-owned specialty beverage shop Akali Rye, pastry spot Bake Sum and cafe Red Bay Coffee. “One thing I’m gonna continue to advocate for is funding for small business owners who want to be here too.”

As ReLove expands to Oakland and starts offering homegoods in addition to quality threads, Hailechristos wants to underscore that what makes ReLove so special is community.

“If we boiled down our success,” she said, “it’s the relationships we have with the people who shop with us.”

Olivia Cruz Mayeda is a journalist based in Oakland. Instagram: @oliviacruzmayeda

Top of the News

  • Officials unable to catch mountain lion after attack in San Mateo County

    Jack Trexler, 5, was attacked Tuesday evening and suffered a fractured bone and several lacerations.

    By Jordan Parker

  • (Video) The Cranberries - Ode To My Family (Official Music Video)

    S.F. police arrest man accused of firing blanks in synagogue

    By Danielle Echeverria and Annie Vainshtein

    Bay Area officials discuss impacts of recent tragedies on Asian Americans

    By Annie Vainshtein

    Kayaker whose body was found in Tomales Bay has been identified

    By Joel Umanzor

    Native Son: A walk in the cloud — right in downtown San Francisco

    By Carl Nolte

    (Video) Asian Americans Debate Model Minority & Asian Hate | VICE Debates


1. Into the Wilderness | The Men Who Built America: Frontiersmen (S1, E1) | Full Episode
2. How to Influence People by John C. Maxwell & Jim Dornan: Make a Difference in Your...|| 4K AudioBook
(Listener Space)
3. Samsung Galaxy Unpacked February 2023: Official Replay
4. The History of the Seattle Mariners: Supercut Edition
(Secret Base)
5. Transforming Communities
(Imagine Cities)
6. Social Justice: Surviving and Thriving Amid the Pandemic
(Commonwealth Club of California)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Pres. Carey Rath

Last Updated: 05/05/2023

Views: 5915

Rating: 4 / 5 (61 voted)

Reviews: 84% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Pres. Carey Rath

Birthday: 1997-03-06

Address: 14955 Ledner Trail, East Rodrickfort, NE 85127-8369

Phone: +18682428114917

Job: National Technology Representative

Hobby: Sand art, Drama, Web surfing, Cycling, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Leather crafting, Creative writing

Introduction: My name is Pres. Carey Rath, I am a faithful, funny, vast, joyous, lively, brave, glamorous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.