For streetwear and custom prints
by Jess D Taylor
One Christmas, when he was a young teen, Mob$ta Myk and his brother got only one present for the two of them, a Boss eight-track mixer. “It was all we needed,” he says with a big smile, taking it down from a shelf. After some begging, his mom, who threw karaoke holiday parties, let him convert a closet into a recording studio with egg cartons on the wall. Now, we’re sitting in a recording studio that his teenage self could only dream of—album covers dominating one wall, shelves stacked with keyboards, a big black desk supporting sleek equipment—that sits at the back of his clothing store, Slick Bridge, on the second floor of Santa Rosa’s downtown mall.
Myk sells all manner of snapback hats, beanies, sneakers, shirts, hoodies, pants, decals, posters, and other accessories. He also makes custom prints—any design on any garment—and rents the studio for $50 an hour. There’s a basketball hoop, and for every $100 spent on merch, customers have a chance of winning a pair of free sneakers by making a shot from the shoe line.
When I ask Myk to characterize his style and offerings, he informs me that Google will reduce the adjectives he uses, thizz and hyphy, to slang for getting high on ecstasy; his explanation is undoubtedly more poetic: “It’s like catching the holy ghost.”
The 36-year-old artist and entrepreneur has been rapping with his group City $uspects since he was in the fifth grade, the year he moved to Santa Rosa with his mom and brothers from San Francisco. Despite having to adjust to being one of the few black people at his school and a slower pace of life (“I was like, the bus stops running when?!”), Myk found himself connecting to people and the world through music. When I ask if he remembers any of the speech he rapped at his high school graduation, he launches into a full rendition. He’s always got an album project in the works. Dozens of other hip-hop artists join him on the compilation album, Santa Rosa 95401, available on all streaming platforms; 95402 is in the works right now.
Family is important to Myk: his store is named after his older brother Slick and cousin Bridget, both of whom died of heart attacks in 2019, the year before he took the chance to open a new brick-and-mortar during the early days of the pandemic. As we speak, his dad is up front working the cash register and his daughter is attending classes in her third year at SF State, “Doing way better than me,” he says with pride.
Sundays in the Slick Bridge recording studio are for “library sessions,” free studio time for anyone to gather and make music—something he’s been doing since the store’s original location in Railroad Square. “We’re just studying,” he tells me, continuing, “When I turned 18, I didn’t have Chops (Teen Club) anymore. I needed something. So I want to give the same to these kids, give them a focus. We like not turning our back on you.”
Slick Bridge Clothing
1071 Santa Rosa Plaza #2035, Santa Rosa
For handmade functionality and beauty
by Ursa Born
“The clothing we wear tells a story about who we are and how we feel,” Saint November’s Theresa Hughes says. Her story begins with high-quality, texturally rich fabrics and revolves around themes of utility, beauty, and celebration. Citing an eclectic mix of influences, like historic Japanese textiles, Parisian aesthetic, workwear, ’50s and ’60s mod and beatnik à la Brigitte Bardot, and even turn-of-the-century prison uniforms, her designs are equally at home working outdoors during the day or attending a play in the evening. “I’m inspired by simple, highly functional items that also feel beautiful.”
Inundated by fast fashion and its avalanche of low-cost, low-stakes options, we are encouraged to rapidly cycle through identities like manic chameleons. These items rarely last beyond a season, whether because we bought on a whim or were swayed by uber-trendiness. Even if we do find a piece we love, it is likely to fall apart before we are done with it. Among the heinous social and environmental impacts of fashion production, 85% of all textiles go to dumps each year, according to Earth.org.
Saint November’s heirloom-worthy slow fashion is the antithesis of this churn-and-burn model. With a direct-to-consumer exemplar focused on tasteful and timeless closet staples impeccably made from fine fabrics, “I focus on really wearable, washable things that still feel a bit playful and will go from season to season,” Theresa says.
At her charming storefront workshop in Santa Rosa’s South A neighborhood, typically invisible aspects of the industry are out in the open. “People see me working, the machine and patterns and fabrics and threads,” she says. Every step of the process—from conception and design, patterning, prototyping, and fitting to cutting and sewing—is done by hand one piece at a time. She also custom alters her garments for those (most) of us whose bodies are decidedly not off-the-rack. “You don’t often get to work directly with a designer when you buy a piece of clothing,” she tells me. “In fact, that’s very rare.”
320 South A Street, Santa Rosa
Wed. & Thurs. 10-5:30, Fri. 10-5, Sat. 10-3
For formal dresses
by Jess D Taylor, photos by Paige Green
A former thrift store in Railroad Square has been transformed into a sea of satin, silk, sequins, organza, tulle, and lace in shades ranging from deep ocean navy to the palest pinks, lavenders, and creams. These elaborate gowns, which look good enough to eat, can be found adorning the county’s newest 15-year-olds every weekend. At the helm of this long-running enterprise is Esperanza Rico, who, despite never having a quinceañera of her own, loves helping others create theirs.
“Nothing is impossible,” Esperanza says more than once during our conversation on a weekday afternoon, the shop quiet but thrumming with the energy of a woman making alterations in the back and a tech guy named Carlos who helps to translate from her native Spanish.
Esperanza was working at Lucky grocery and Agilent and raising three kids when, in 2006, a fall landed her in bed for months. Depressed and stir crazy, “I had to use my mind and my hands,” she recalls. It was through selling flower arrangements and other handmade crafts to the Princess Boutique, then located off College Avenue in Santa Rosa, that Esperanza found herself on the receiving end of an offer: the business is yours for 20 thousand dollars.
But she didn’t have that kind of money. Months went by, her back continued to heal, and then, one night, she and her husband, Gustavo, turned 50 dollars at the casino into thousands. After taking over the business, she received a mysterious free shipment of dresses. Almost two decades later, they’ve moved twice and expanded into the Little Princess Boutique, located across 4th street and run by Gustavo.
They sell more than just dresses: sparkly heels, crowns, chokers, earrings, bracelets, teddy bears, flower arrangements—this place is a one-stop shop for all things glam and glittery. “I still don’t have much money,” Esperanza says. “But I am lucky to have this store.”
116 4th Street, Santa Rosa
Sat & Sun, 10am-5pm