Shop Talk: Living Urban Prep with Natasha and Daniel of Seldom Seen

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Much can be said when walking into Seldom Seen, the curated jungle at 522 Octavia Street. Carrying both local and international designers, both Daniel Lee and Natasha Wong (co-owners of Seldom Seen), agree that style transcends a price point but here is the real question, what is Urban Prep?

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Walking into the Seldom Seen shop at 522 Octavia, you’re greeted with a warm smile and even warmer hospitality. Co-owners Natasha Wong and Daniel Lee pioneered their successful online store into a full retail space last November–curating some of the best Bay Area bellwethers, internationally acclaimed brands, and even well… us. Growing up together in the heart of San Francisco, longtime high school friends Natasha and Daniel believe that the universe brought them together to create their highly coveted shop, “I learned that she (Natasha) wanted to open up her own boutique after a conversation before she left to work for lululemon in Vancouver and that had stuck in mind along with the fact that she had all these years of merchandising experience,” Daniel said about the match, “I still had the itch to start my own business and Tash was the one person I wanted to work with.”

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The two created their business from the ground up and the authentic appeal that exudes can be visibly noticed from the minute you walk in.

Though the path to Seldom Seen and to open a retail store came with a learning curve, both Natasha and Daniel held highly respected job titles before deciding to move forward with the store. “I started my career at Levi’s and then the Gap, and most recently lululemon Athletica.  I managed their women’s bottoms business from HQ in Vancouver before deciding to move home to SF to open the lululemon store in the Westfield Mall,” said Natasha, while Daniel also came from a retail background, “I was a partner in a menswear boutique called Department Seventeen. It was early on when Americana and heritage workwear was starting to gain in popularity.“

Both Daniel and Natasha agree that the aesthetic of their store speaks to a specific Bay Area customer, “As it turned out, we both have a very similar sense of style and we wanted to open a store that represented our particular viewpoint and aesthetic. We call it Urban Prep,” said Daniel, Natasha added, “we’re both also born and raised in SF so it was also a goal of ours to open in our hometown.”

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The shop’s insides are just as lovely as it’s outsides, laying camp in (arguably) the cutest district in San Francisco, Seldom Seen prides itself on an image that reaches a relaxed sophistication. Whether you’re off Sunday brunching or preparing to overhaul your entire wardrobe, the store caters to a vast audience. Daniel agree’s that the store gives it’s customer a new outlook on style, “we always explain it (the store) as a juxtaposition between two things, clean streetwear meets classic prep or East Coast sophistication meets Westcoast ease.” Bay Area denizens such as AYK; Sachi Jewelry stock their beautiful shelves–not to mention the Bob Cut Mag.

“Urban Prep, It’s inspired by streetwear, which is influenced by music, art, and design–mixed in with classic prep.  Casual Cool, easy to dress up or down and to take an outfit from day to night.  You’re looking put together without trying too hard” Natasha said.

From what we’ve seen and experienced, it’s better than trending streetwear but it’s more than business casual–all in all, we’ll take it.

But when you’re in the shop and taking a stroll around their highly stocked wares, take a moment to get to know these splendid SF dwellers–we asked how these two like to get down on a Saturday night. Natasha enjoys an evening with the girls and a dash of spontaneity, “I’m usually enjoying a glass of wine at a girlfriend’s but on those rare occasions, I’ll go to Trick Dog for their good vibes and unique menu or Brass Tacks as my neighborhood go-to.“ For Daniel, he chimes to the same idea, “When I want to go out-out, Monarch is my go to. They have great bartenders. The vibe upstairs is more low key but then they have the rave cave in the basement.“ When it comes to the foodie culture of the Bay Area, these two longtime residents know their classics, “The only place I find myself revisiting on a regular basis is Taqueria Cancun, usually at 2 in the morning. I’m not ashamed,” says Daniel while Natasha can be found casually fine dining, “when I want to venture out of the hood, I’ll stop by Trou Normand for their housemade charcuterie, wine list, and beautiful outdoor space.“

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// Seldom Seen, 552 Octavia St, (Hayes Valley); seldomseen.co. You can visit their shop Monday thru Friday, stop by and have a chat because they’ll talk your ear off for hours in the best way possible.

Written by Anthony Rogers, photographed by Ashley Tarr, styled by Sho Tatsuishi, meet more bay area business owners, get to know your backyard. And while you’re at it, you’re probably want to score an amazing cocktail at one of these best Bay Area bars.