2011 Small Business Awards - Page 7

The Guardian's annual small business awards celebrate the entrepreneurs who keep this city lively

The La Cocina crew: Daniella Sawaya, Natalie Conneely, Caleb Zigas, Margarita Rojas, and Matt Skov

That's likely the secret to the shop's popularity with our readers. Since Mission Statement designers swap goods through a fruitful bartering system, they're the experts — they wear a lot of the designs themselves.

The shop's hands-on approach also means that if you don't see the perfect Vanessa Gage architectural necklace or Bedouin princess skirt from oda, those designers will take custom orders or do alterations to create it for you. "It's the way of slow fashion," Tadeo says of this more personal, connective way of shopping. "We want to develop a relationship with our customers so that they can feel special, look special, and covet all that they purchase."

It would appear that the collective has achieved this goal. Even so, Tadeo admits that running a specialized boutique in a recession can be a challenge. But, she adds, "It's about staying positive and being the best we can be as business owners and people. We all want to get a good exchange of energy, and the best way to get it is to give it."

The Mission Statement's small business award pick: "Two definitely stand out," Tadeo says. "Wonderland/Chillin' Productions and Rag Co-op. Both stores have great concepts, amazing owners, and contribute so much to the local design community. Our three stores are different, but I feel they mutually enhance each other." (Donohue)

3458 18th St., SF. (415) 255-7457, www.missionstatementsf.com





Sharon Ardiana of Gialina. Photo by Ben Hopfer

"First and foremost, I always wanted Gialina to be a place that everyone — young, old, families, singles, gays, straights — would want to come," says Sharon Ardiana, chef and owner of the Glen Park Italian restaurant. Judging from the response of our readers, she's achieved her goal — Gialina got top marks for its neighborhood-focused dining room.

The first to own a business in her family, Ardiana spent 20 years in the restaurant industry until she says she "kind of got to a point where I realized that I needed to drive the bus, so to speak." Although she says she finds laying down the chef's hat to run the business to be the hardest part of her job, she's blessed with "an amazing staff in the front and back of the restaurant." Five employees have been there for Gialina's entire four years of operation, and Ardiana says the rest of the staff averages three years in the crew.

Such was the fervor over food like Gialina's Atomica pizza — a simple, flavorful pie with mushrooms, chilies, and red onions added to the tomato sauce-mozzarella base — that Ardiana recently opened Ragazza, another small Italian eatery that, in the words of a recent Guardian review, "brings haute pizza culture to a vortex of the Haights (lower and upper) and Nopa."

But for Ardiana's "fantastically loyal clientele" in Glen Park, a neighborhood that has managed to remain free from Starbucks and Denny's, it will always be about kid-friendly Gialina. "I want people to see the huge family photos on the wall and to connect with them and remember their own family members," Ardiana says. "I want everyone to walk out that door feeling like they just had a really great meal and that they want to come back again."