Snapshot: Bob and Suzan, Stonemountain & Daughter

Bob and Suzan Steinberg's business, Stonemountain & Daughter, is one of the few independent textiles merchants left today. Photo: Pete Rosos

The father/daughter team of Bob and Suzan Steinberg represent third and fourth generations of textile business knowhow. Bob was born in 1933 in Los Angeles and started working for the family textile business at the age of ten. He’s been a “fabric man” ever since. With his 9-year old daughter, in 1967 Bob opened up Bob Steinberg’s Fabric Emporium which specialized in “counter-culture alternative style hippie fabrics.” In 1976 they both moved north to the Monterey Bay area where Bob opened up a fabric store with the intention of taking a classic Jewish immigrant family business (Steinberg and Sons) and modernizing it. With that in mind Stonemountain (Steinberg literally translated from German) & Daughter was born. In 1981 they brought Stonemountain and Daughter to Berkeley. Suzan manages the store with her father, and after 31 years of being in business in Berkeley, they’ve managed to remain one of the few independent merchants in the textile business today with customers in every state of the union.

When did you arrive in Berkeley?
Suzan: In 1979.

What’s your hood?
Suzan: South Berkeley.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Suzan: A therapist or a councilor.
Bob: A fabric man.

Where and when are you happiest?
Suzan: At the beach or in the mountains. In nature. Kissing a redwood tree.
Bob: In my car smoking a cigar.

Suzan cuts cloth at Stonemountain & Daughter at 2518 Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. Photo: Pete Rosos

Which living person do you most admire?
Suzan: Debbie Ford.

What drives you mad?
Suzan: I don’t really have an answer for that. I try not to be driven mad.

If you could change something about yourself, what would it be?
Suzan: To be more patient.
Bob: I’d have hair.

Who, or what, is the love of your life?
Suzan: The spiritual journey that I am on.

What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Suzan: I went to Maui in 1981 for a week and stayed for 6 months.
Bob: I’ve done so many things I would have to make a list.

What three things would you take to a desert island?
Suzan: A sarong, a flint, and a tarp.

What does Berkeley mean to you?
Suzan: It means individuality. It means the freedom to be who I am and who we are. It means respect and opportunity. Berkeley also offers an alternative feminist perspective which embraces the emerging feminine paradigm of creativity, vision and ideas.

Bob: Berkeley means freedom, hope, friends, success, “how berkeley can you be.”

If you didn’t live in Berkeley, where would you live?
Suzan: Maui.

Berkeleyside’s “Snapshot” column, inspired by the Proust Questionnaire, is an occasional series by Pete Rosos in which we take a moment to get to know some of Berkeley’s most interesting people. Rosos is a freelance photographer, husband, and father of two who lives in south Berkeley.

Previous Snapshots: Urban Ore founder Dan KnappJessica Williams, owner of Brushstrokes Studio; Doris Moskowitz, owner, Moe’s Books; songwriter and writer David Berkeley; Heyday Books founder Malcolm MargolinAngus Powelson, owner of Oceanworks; Arlene Blum, scientist, author, climber, activist; and Don Daniels, purveyor of balloons at Paper Plus Outlet

Let us know in the Comments who you would like to see featured here.

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  • PragmaticProgressive

    Funny, I never figured out the Steinberg -> Stonemountain translation on my own, though it’s obvious in hindsight — the shmatte trade is alive and well.  

    And I love Bob’s droll humor:  “I would have to make a list” — awesome.

  • Zelda Bronstein

    Stonemountain & Daughter is one of the best fashion fabric stores in the U.S. I go there at least once a week. You never know what treasure you might find. It’s a regular stop for sewing travelers who live in places that lack a good fabric store. Suzanne and her dad are to be thanked for running this business.

  • deirdre

    I love this local business.  And it’s so great to see the faces of those who made this cool place happen.

  • deirdre

    Suggestions for more great people to feature:  Matt Cantor of Cantor Inspections (he’d make a great interview); Jennifer Burke of YAWS (Young Artist Workspace…?); Ginger Ogle of Berkeley Parents Network.

  • MG

    SMD is such a wonderful part of our community. Every time I go there I run into people I know. I love the culture of making things.

  • Guest

    Their store is a treasure for our community!

  • another BUSD parent

    lovely people, lovely store. Thanks for the profile!

  • A Fan

    I am so delighted to hear the origin of the name of this store. I love your store, but only allow myself to visit when I have a specific project, lest I add to my stock of beautiful fabric that will be made into something…someday. ;> I love your store’s sign, I love your selection, and I’m so glad you’re there. (I’ve been in Berkeley a little longer than you (arrived in 1974 as a college frosh), so I remember Poppy Fabrics in its original location, the old downtown fabric store, the fabric section in the old five-n-dimes in downtown Berkeley.)

  • Nicole

    Yes!

  • TN

    Like most men, I don’t sew. So, I had never gone in the store. But one day I had to go to Stone Mountain to get some material to fix a bit of upholstery on one of my chairs. Of course they had the very large needle I needed to buy.

    As I was waiting in line to pay for my purchase, I was looking at the odd variety of stuff the woman in front of me was buying. Seeing my puzzled look, she said: “For women this is just like a hardware store is for men. I just know I’ll need this stuff sooner or later. Of course I never get around to doing anything with it.”

  • Sarahsez

    My feminist sexist self always imagined Stonemountain as Daughter’s mom and I’ve always wondered which one of the lovely older women behind the counter was she. Hmmmm. I’m going to miss that little mystery plus the fantasy the store always piqued of opening a business with my own daughters. Oh well–that’s a 35-year-old fantasy and if it hasn’t happened by now it never will. Besides, I’ve got piles and piles of fabulous fabric from there I need to do something with before I leave this mortal coil.

  • Pete Rosos

    I’ll add Matt Jennifer and Ginger to the list. Thanks.