If you go thrifting down Valencia Street, you might just meet Shaelyn Dalziel, who will greet you with a smile.
The 22-year-old, who works curating clothes and art at Valencia Street Vintage, just graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, as an art practice major. She moved to San Francisco from Mill Valley in June, when she started working at the Mission thrift store.
“It was, like, a perfect fit,” said Dalziel. “I worked in retail before, but I wasn’t interested. I’ve always had a love for vintage clothing, and there’s something about this space that’s just very magnetic.”
For someone new to San Francisco, the Mission feels like community. Dalziel admitted that she also loves Haight Ashbury, the most vintage and thrift store-concentrated area in the city, but it also seems to her to be “a very big attraction for tourists.”
Valencia Street is different.
“It feels like a bunch of friends that work here, and the vintage community here in Mission is super supportive,” she said. “You have Dead Ends on 19th, and they are amazing and they come in all the time, and you have people at Afterlife.” She found out about her current job from a worker at Afterlife Collective, in fact.
Dalziel said when new pieces arrive at Valencia Street Vintage, it feels like “Christmas morning.” Over time, she gets accustomed to the pieces and develops “muscle memory,” she said, by curating the items on the shelves and racks.
So far, Dalziel’s favorite items are two salt and pepper shakers in the shape of mini Coca-Cola cans, as well as a vintage Betsey Johnson dress that was “just to die for.”
“I love dressing up the mannequins and making outfits with the pieces,” Dalziel giggled. “I’m like, which piece do I want to highlight today?”
Dalziel has always found herself thriving in creative spaces. She recalled her favorite part of attending Cal: Studio time, where she could learn and make art — painting, printmaking — sometimes in collaboration with other artists.
“I feel like that love for special pieces of clothing has always stuck with me,” she said. “Even though I’m personally so much more function-over-fashion, I still have a high appreciation for, just, funky pieces of clothing.”
Dalziel recently took up sewing because of the vintage store, and has been doing alterations for pants and jackets. She hopes to make clothes with vintage patterns, she said. Dalziel’s grandmother was a tailor, and she feels like she is following in her footsteps.
In five years, Dalziel sees herself traveling and making art in creative specs, whether it’s still fashion or an art gallery. Top of the list are London and Scotland.
“I’m a strong believer that life is about experiences and you just gotta do what you gotta do,” Dalziel said.