Elizabeth Lass, Vanessa Gade, and Estrella Tadeo, three of The Mission Statement's designers

Shopping in the Mission is a quest for unique, eye-catching pieces you won’t see on every other person walking down Valencia. That’s not an easy task when everyone else is also looking to make a statement. If you’re starting to feel like originality is hopeless, head to The Mission Statement, a designer co-op on 18th and Bartlett, where no two pieces are alike.

I stopped by The Mission Statement this weekend and ended up spending an hour with three of the designers. By the time I left, I wanted to become a member of the co-op. If only I could be reborn a fashion designer!

I also found a dozen items I want to buy, but I’m waiting to make my purchases until this Thursday, January 21st, when the boutique will host its monthly Third Thursday event. This month the event is a huge sale lasting through the weekend with major markdowns.

Estrella Tadeo founded The Mission Statement two years ago with the goal of opening a lifestyle store and a supportive, creative community for local designers. Today the designer collective has seven members, and together they sell something for everyone.

One of Tadeo's handpainted suits
One of Tadeo’s handpainted suits

Estrella’s line currently features a large amount of menswear. Many pieces are reconstructed vintage that have a unique touch like hand-painted lines or asymmetrical, contrasting stitching. The effect is stylish, fashion-forward and one of a kind. Alterations and fine-tuning are included in the price of each piece.

I’ve always been intrigued by co-ops so Estrella explained the way The Mission Statement works. Members contribute to the rent, work three to four days a month at the store, attend monthly group meetings, and keep 80 percent of their profits (compared to 40 to 50 percent when selling to most retail locations). Designers are selected based on their work and whether it fits in with the aesthetic of the collective.

When asked if designers ever felt competition from one another, Vanessa Gade, metalsmith and jewelry designer said, “Surprisingly not at all.”

Vanessa creates beautiful pendants and earrings based on variations of the ever-popular circle shape.

Earrings from Gade's upcoming spring collection
Earrings from Gade’s upcoming spring collection

“It’s daunting to be an independent designer but here I have found a supportive group. We each feel invested and part of the success of the co-op. I feel just as excited when I sell a pair of Elizabeth’s earrings as when I sell a pair of my own.”

Elizabeth Lass is the other jewelry designer at The Mission Statement and her line, Elixir9, was so popular over the holidays that she’s rushing to work on her spring collection and keep up with inventory requests.

Other members include Sofie Olgaard, a Danish women’s clothing designer who relocated to San Francisco. Her Scandinavian roots are apparent in the clean lines and elegantly muted colors of her pieces.

Oda, created by sisters Maggie and Angie Kim and Mandalyn Begay, is another line with international inspiration. Their current collection of fanciful garments is inspired by traditional Korean and Native American costumes.

The shop is open daily from 12-7pm. Stop by the sale this weekend and find your own Mission statement. If you’re a local designer and interested in becoming a member, set up an appointment by emailing info@missionstatementsf.com.

Elisabeth Carr is a guest blogger for Mission Loc@l and the creator of missioncloset.com

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Elisabeth Carr is a guest blogger for Mission Loc@l and the creator of mission:closet, a blog about San Francisco fashion. She began her journalism career at Sunset Magazine where she wrote stories about caramels and well-organized pantries and ate a lot of food in the test kitchen. During the day Elisabeth works in marketing at salesforce.com and at night she scours fashion websites and blogs for mission:closet inspiration. She grew up in Berkeley, and currently lives by the Muni stop "Liberty and Right of Way."

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