Ever Wondered What It’s Like To Run A Indie Clothing Store?

I know that one of my personal goals is to eventually open up a IAMTHETREND bricks and mortar store in which I can help promote and sell all the indie clothing brands I believe in. Jessica Ybarra is already living this dream as the merchandiser and marketing assistant for San Francisco Indie Clothing store D Structure. We thought it would be interesting and informative to sit down and pick her brain about the inner workings of D Structure.

So could you first start out by introducing yourself and what you do with D Structure?

I am the merchandiser and marketing assistant for D-Structure. My job at DSSF consists of taking care of all the visuals and merchandising for the store. Also as the marketing assistant I help put together events for our store, online promotions, and other marketing for the store. Besides myself, we have such a great staff of people; Z: owner, Devon: Company Director, Kelly: Operations and Curator,
and our amazing sales staff: Paul, London, Ben, Larissa, Adriane and Ashley.

We are basically a big family, but with more drinking involved.

For those of us not in the know what exactly is D Structure?

DSSF is a clothing label, with it’s headquarters and flagship store in San Francisco. DSSF’s mission is to bring together like minded individuals, and through their collective strengths, passions, and efforts, create more then just a clothing line, but a community and culture that thrives on art, music and fashion. Being more than just a clothing label, gallery and retail store, DSSF hosts events monthly that range from live indie rock performances, hip hop album release parties, art shows,and Live DJ’s. We try not to think of ourselves as
tastemakers or the authority on cool. We don’t have a formula for deciding what to carry, it’s more an inherent feeling. We feel Art and Culture are a very important aspect of who we are, and fashion is what
we consider to be the most common form of art and culture. Our customers are the tastemakers and cultural influencers, they’re the curators. we’re just the medium.

Opening a brick and mortar store has to be a terrifying thing, what was the initial thought process for opening the store and some of the hurdles you had to overcome?

Haters. Everyone will pick on the new guy for a bit. Thats a big thing to overcome. People get so set in their ways with specific brands, and what is being hyped at the moment. When you carry a lot of
brands that aren’t “core brands” like RVCA, Volcom, and Adidas, you get seen as someone that doesn’t provide what’s “right now”. Too many brands get stuck in a stencil-like image, where you don’t have constant change occuring. Working with smaller brands provided us to do a lot more when we were just starting up, and helped us provide something new for our customers. Brands that you normally would never hear of, like Natures Mistake, Pop Cotton, Arka, and Conquer are what we carry in the store. When we started the store, we did it mostly because we were the small brand and knew how it felt to hustle everyday to grow and get the word out. We did it because we wanted to provide other small brands like ourselves the opportunity that we didn’t have.

I see you carry a lot of brands that we feature on iamthetrend.com, how do you go about finding new brands to sell in your store and how often are you approached by brands?

It’s actually a really funny story when it comes to most of the brands that we carry but I would say about 70% of the brands we carry have approached us. I think we’ve begun to develop a reputation for
this. It’s not uncommon for someone to come in with a duffel bag full of shirts and ask if we’d like to take a look. Every time this happens, Devon, the company director drops what he’s doing and checks out their gear. One time I saw him take the guys next door for a beer and he laid out their shirts on the bar’s pool tables and asked everyone in the bar what they thought. He’s a little eccentric, but he cares about smaller brands and artists.

The other 30% of the time,I’ll go with Devon to a trade show/convention or something he picked at random and we’ll walk around till we see something and say, “Holy shit that’s cool!”.

What is the most difficult aspect of running a store based around a lot of brands people might not be familiar with?

The most difficult thing about that is that people like the familiar, and when people find a brand they are familiar with they tend to stick with it. So this is difficult with anyone that carries small brands. What is great though, is that we have a lot of loyal customers who are always coming in and familiarizing themselves with all of our brands. And the fact that our product is exclusive and not mass produced makes them like it even more!

It’s no secret the economy is absolutely brutal right now, how has it effected your business and are you doing anything in particular to battle against the rough times?

Yeah, there is no secret there! At D Structure we try and make a unique experience for everyone that comes in here. Whether or not your purchasing something, we want people to feel welcome and comfortable in our store. We’ve decided to expand our business by having our our own screen printing in house. This way we can create or own merchandise as well as work with other artist who don’t have the means to screen print their stuff, and bring them on our label. We also continue to throw wild events to get people engaged with our store. The next morning people will wake up with a hangover and a memory of the cool store in the Lower Haight, and we’ve seen a lot of new customers come out of these parties.

I have always believed the music ties directly into art and clothing, it looks like you guys have live music in the store, how do you think that enhances the shopping experience?

Music is a crucial part, if not key to the d structure experience. When customers come into the store and hear live music it makes their shopping experience better because they are able to enjoy their time in the store, their not just shopping their enjoying their experience in the store as well. At D Structure we like to open up our store to local artist as well. We are always featuring live bands and DJs at all of our events.

In a world where people are shopping more and more online do you think there will always be a place for the brick and mortar store?

I sure hope so! In my experience I feel that for the most part shopping is an experience and people do it for enjoyment not as a necessity. So many more aspects contribute to the shopping experience
outside of buying a shirt. So I believe that there will always be a place for brick and mortar stores as long as we keep making the shopping experience an enjoyable one!

Any last minute shout outs or news you want to touch on?

Well we love all the brands we work with! From Pop Cotton, to Natures Mistake, Arka to Conquer, Punk Drunkers to the many, many more. Some exciting news though, is everything that we have going on these coming months. We have a fashion show with Arka the 16th in SF. Natures Mistake is coming up from L.A. of the 26th of March to throw a party with us at the store where their artists will be doing a live
painting of a corvette outside of the store. April 2nd we have a new art exhibition at the store featuring 15+ artists. The 3rd of April we’re having the Fixed Gear Film “INSERT” premier at the store, and so much more! But most importantly, a big thank you to our customers!

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