Carving out a gallery within their Jackson Square investment firm, Julie and Sébastien Lépinard, under the threat of a ho-hum paint roller, christened the space instead with street art from British graffiti activist Banksy. Haight Street Rat, stenciled on the exterior redwood planks of a Haight-Ashbury inn, was painstakingly extricated and is now displayed in a window at the couple's new gallery, 836M.
With a calendar chock full of artist lectures and film screenings, the nonprofit gallery represents an opportunity to participate in all that kumbaya jazz SF is famous for: bridging disciplines, sharing resources, and fostering a diverse community. In fact, it’s this spirit of collaboration and creativity that brought the Lépinards from Paris to San Francisco nine years ago: “We wanted to raise our children in an environment rich in culture and diversity,” says Julie. “San Francisco is a no-brainer for that."
Sébastien helms Next World Group, the international investment company credited with growing local French bakery chain La Boulange before Starbucks acquired the pastry purveyor in 2012. He and Julie also founded the Erol Foundation, a philanthropic endeavor to fund economic equality and sustainability efforts abroad—the org has awarded grants to such good-deed projects as the Amazon Conservation Association and Room to Read; the last works to increase literacy among girls in developing countries. Needless to say, the couple’s portfolio leans toward fresh innovation and thoughtful teamwork. “If we end our day having learned something new, that’s really exciting for us,” says Sébastien.