Nineteen Business Owners and Experts Discuss How to Sustain a Healthy East Bay Economy for All 

It's our annual Local Economy issue!

Regina Evans (center) with models Chinasa Porter, Olivia Krause, Jasmine Gaines, Mesiah Burgiaga-Hameed, Sarah Melekova, Nesbyth Rieman, and JahniahOmi Bahari.

Roxanne Pasibe

Regina Evans (center) with models Chinasa Porter, Olivia Krause, Jasmine Gaines, Mesiah Burgiaga-Hameed, Sarah Melekova, Nesbyth Rieman, and JahniahOmi Bahari.

If there's one thing you learn from this year's "Local Economy" issue, it's this: Screw Amazon. Seriously. How can you read about all these awesome local-business owners and experts, then later pretend that it's OK to ship that Amazon Prime package to your front door? The women and men we interviewed for this feature aren't just thinking local: They spend their lives hustling to give the East Bay its inimitable charm.

So, please, buy, think, grow, and live local. Take heed what these professionals have to say. And put your money where their mouths are.


A healing place

Regina Evans

owner, Regina's Door, a vintage store and sanctuary and healing place for victims of human trafficking (352 17th Street, Oakland; ReginasDoor.com)

Explain how your organization works.

My work is built strongly upon a foundation of love. That is first and foremost. My business is like two trains running: a beautiful vintage store and also a sanctuary healing space.

Originally, my intent was to only hire survivors of sex trafficking through a workforce-development partnership with the anti-trafficking organization Love Never Fails. I quickly learned, or remembered, that the provision of jobs is simply not enough, because the weight of responsibility eventually becomes too heavy for a shattered soul to consistently hold. The being needs to be healed. So, I developed a holistic healing approach, which includes creative healing arts such as painting, dance, sound therapy, yoga, etc.

What made you decide to make your store both a boutique and sanctuary?

When I decided to finally heal from my trauma from being trafficked. ... I used my boutique that I owned in Australia as my own personal safe haven. It worked for me and so I thought that I would give it a try for others.

Describe one of the most critical challenges facing the East Bay economy.

Housing is way too expensive. I have so many youth in my community who are either homeless or living very precariously.

How do you anticipate your industry will change in the next decade?

Well, in terms of vintage clothes ... it will always be here. How can it not be? I do have a feeling, however, that people will begin to tire of buying vintage online. Vintage is an experience. The stories, the history. All of this is something to be enjoyed up close and personal. Face to face. In a gorgeous boutique!

What are you hopeful for in the retail economy?

I love that the vintage industry possesses the ability to disrupt supply chains. We need to stop buying throw-away clothes that are made in factories [owned by companies] that do not look after the needs of their workers. I think that the vintage industry can help to disrupt this mindset. Buy vintage. Buy quality. Buy beautiful. That's real talk.

How can we get the next generation to care as much about "local" as they do "digital" or "online"?

Wow. The magic question. I think that we, as elders, need to be up close and personal in the lives of youth. In some ways, the answer is really simple. Two words: be there.

Goodbye, industrialized dinner

Charley Wang

founder, Josephine, an organization that provides cooks with education, tools and support they need to start their own local food business (Josephine.com)

How does your business work?

Through the Josephine platform, cooks can sell food to their friends and neighbors for home pick up. We provide online tools folks need to market, grow, and manage their business, as well as extensive business education and safety training to help them become more accountable cooks and better business people.

Describe one of the most critical challenges facing the East Bay economy and how your organization helps.

The reason we chose to focus on home cooks is because we believe the barriers to entry of our current industrialized-food system are prohibitively high, removing cooking as a basic form of economic empowerment. We believe in providing consumers who are increasingly reliant on industrialized goods with healthy alternatives. This has huge implications for all of us, but especially underserved demographics and communities, who often have a wealth of cooking culture and skills that are underutilized by the community.

The truth is, starting a commercial food business today not only costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, but also requires a lot of privilege.

What keeps you inspired?

The people. It's always and forever about the cooks that we serve. As often as possible I try to end hard days at Josephine by going to a meal and sitting down at a kitchen table, surrounded by people who treat each other like family. I'm thrilled to spend every minute at work doing what I do, knowing that we're creating those small-scale moments of compassion and community.

Screw Amazon!

Hut Landon

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