Oakland Trendsetter Sherri McMullen On Life and Style Across the Bay
Sherri McMullen is the owner and tastemaker of McMullen. Since she first opened her shop in 2007, Sherri has moved up from the original Piedmont Avenue space to the store's current airy and sophisticated space on Grand Avenue.
With fifteen years experience in the fashion industry, Sherri has a keen eye and colorful perspective that allows her to take the best of New York and Paris fashion and make it wearable for us cool Californians. And Sherri's style is not the only on-trend thing about her; she experiments and takes risks with ideas, like the store's popular pop-up shop in Old Oakland this past year. Here, we pick her brain about East Bay fashion and more.
How does East Bay culture influence your personal style? How has it shaped the concept of McMullen?
I would say that East Bay culture doesn't necessarily influence my style. I'm influenced by artists, designers with a strong point of view, beautiful textiles, the way a woman carries herself.
How would you describe East Bay style and how is it different from SF style? Who is the McMullen woman?
East Bay style is eclectic. We love mixing our vintage pieces with indie designers. We really don't think about labels as much as we think about the design of an interesting piece.
The McMullen woman is a woman who wants comfort in her wardrobe, but never sacrifices looking (and feeling) pulled together...effortlessly. She likes mixing it up, finding unique pieces to complement her existing wardrobe. I love introducing her to these wonderfully talented designers and hope to bring more of that talent to Oakland.
You just got back from fashion weeks in New York and Paris–what blew you away? What trends did you see for 2013?
So many favorite moments. I really connected with the Fall collections. I absolutely love that classics are back in full force, but with a twist, of course. I love the texture and rich colors, oversized sweatshirts paired with pencil skirts. Plaid jackets at Roseanna and 10 Crosby Derek Lam, jumpsuits (which I love) at Nellie Partow, leather dresses by Malene Birger, single-sole, sexy heels at Jerome Rousseau, textured bags and statement necklaces at Lizzie Fortunato. There were other favorites; Rag & Bone went back to a place where they started–classic, sharp and always with that cool girl vibe. I have grown up with some of my designers, like Rag & Bone. I've carried the collection since the beginning and we have grown together.
I was blown away by Maison Rabih Kayrouz in Paris. I discovered the label while there, went to the show, the designer was greeted with standing ovation for his incredible collection. It was spectacular and I picked it up for Fall. I also loved what Vanessa Bruno did for her runway collection.
Now that you are home in Oakland, how do you plan to take the trends from the runway and make them work for your store and your customer?
Now that is always tricky! I am inspired when I travel, and especially when I go to NYC and Paris. When I'm back, I'm in my store, I'm with my customers, and I know what will work. I know the items that will sell, the ones that may be risky and the ones that just won't translate. At the end of the day, it's about knowing what my customer wants and introducing her to collections that inspire me. I only hope that she loves the pieces I select as much as I love them.
After so many years of hearing just about SF, the East Bay seems to be finally getting the attention it deserves! What are a few of your favorite East Bay haunts, any favorite stores, restaurants, cafes, places to hang out?
Yes! I love Oakland. I am inspired by the people, the community and the pride that we have for our city. I'm happy that others are seeing that as well. Some favorites are Flora, Boot & Shoe Service, and Camino for great food! They tend to be my go-tos. I also love the Alameda Antique Fair the first Sunday of each month. I can stay for hours and get lost in that place. I have found treasures there and many of my store fixtures are from there.
What about local designers? Are there any particularly inspiring you right now?
I love our local talent and I'm always looking for more. I currently carry Ali Golden, Erica Varize, Melissa Joy Manning, Marisa Haskell–all from Oakland. Erica Varize is inspiring me right now. I love her passion. I love her spirit for her collection and what she gives women. She is a wonderful mentor to young women studying design.
Describe your Bay Area dream day from start to finish.
I love this question. My day would start off with a trail run at Redwood Trails with my dog Peanut. Next, coffee from Monkey Forest on our way home. After checking emails and doing a little work, I would head to Wood Tavern for lunch and a glass of wine. Then I would head over to the Oakland Museum to see what beautifully curated artists were on exhibit. Afterwards, I would go to Old Oakland for coffee at Cafe 817 and sit outside on a nice day. I'd visit Marion and Rose, Crown Nine and Umami Mart, all in Old Oakland. Afterwards, I would go to McMullen to meet a client and help her find the perfect little dress. As the day winds down, I'd get ready for a neighborhood dinner at Xyclo and a movie at Piedmont Theatre. To top it off, I would indulge in late night ice cream at Fenton's...half cookies and cream and half strawberry shortcake. And that ice cream sums up my day–rich and sweet
After the success of the McMullen pop-up store, what is up next for you?
You'll soon find out!