Secret Sources: Rena Tom, Creative Powerhouse


Rena Tom is a powerhouse of talent, imagination, and dedication. From teaching small business owners the ins and outs of entrepreneurship, to wearing an editorial hat as Market Editor at Anthology Magazine, to opening Rare Device with friend and fellow artist Lisa Congdon, Rena’s making waves in the SF maker scene and beyond.

She also sits at the helm of Makeshift Society, a coworking space for creative freelancers and independent workers opened with SFgirlbybay’s Victoria Smith and Minted Creative Director Suzanne Shade. Thanks to the unwavering support of the creative community, Rena is expanding her artistic web from coast to coast and planning on opening a second location in Brooklyn with friend and architect Bryan Boyer. Learn more about her venture on Kickstarter – her team surpassed the $30,000 goal!

Today, Rena lets us in on her favorite resources that help her succeed in the creative world.

1. Chiosso Brothers

Makeshift Society is in a classic storefront space with bay windows. Victoria, who did our interior design, asked Chiosso Brothers, an upholstery shop in San Rafael, to create cushions for us so we’d have really comfortable window seats. I’ve caught people napping in the window so I think it succeeded. 58 Paul Drive, Suite 15, San Rafael. See opening photo.

Neon Works | Photo courtesy of Neon Works

Neon Works | Photo courtesy of Neon Works

2. Neon Works

I ordered a neon sign for Makeshift but it arrived broken. I was starting to panic but Jim from Neon Works, a neon sign shop in Oakland, came to the rescue and recreated it. I want to visit the shop someday since it is also like a museum of vintage neon signs. 967 Grace Avenue, Oakland.

Gourmet and More | Photo courtesy of Yelp user Ashley P.

3. Gourmet & More

Gourmet & More is another Makeshift neighbor; we pick up food for our events there. It’s like going to Paris – they even have a cheese cave! On a sunny day, I get my baguette and head to their back patio for lunch. 141 Gough Street, SF.

Rare Device | Photo courtesy of Rare Device

4. Rare Device

Handwritten thank you notes are pretty important in my line of work. I stock up at Rare Device, my former store, both to support Giselle, the new owner, and because she relocated the shop near my apartment. 600 Divisadero Street, SF. 

Bibliohead | Photo courtesy of Yelp user Kevin Y.

5. Bibliohead

Having a great reference library is important for me and for my members. We get donations from all over but I also like to peruse the great selection of art books at Bibliohead, a hidden used bookstore gem tucked away on busy Gough Street. 334 Gough St, San Francisco.

Esqueleto | Photo courtesy of Refinery 29

6. Esqueleto

I like a well-curated store that also features art. Esqueleto in Oakland’s Temescal Alley is a favorite, with a little bit of everything – home decor, cards, prints, and an awesome jewelry selection. 482 49th Street, Suite A, Oakland.

Glass Key | Photo Courtesy of Glass Key on Facebook

7. Glass Key

I have a weakness for both film cameras and root beer, so when I found a store that carried both, I was in heaven. Glass Key is in the Lower Haight in San Francisco and the space also houses an art gallery for photography. 442 Haight Street, SF.

Thanks for taking the time to give us the low-down, Rena! Check out what else this inspiring gal is up to on her website.

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