Tag Archives: Berkeley business news

Berkeley startup job fair focused on diversity draws crowd

Line around the corner for the Berkeley Startup Job Fair. Photo credit: Passion Projects Productions
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The hot ticket in downtown Berkeley on the evening of Thursday Jan. 28 was arguably the gala opening party for the new BAMPFA, but if you had seen the several-hundred strong line of people snaking down Center Street and round the corner along Shattuck between 5 and 7 p.m., waiting to get into the NextSpace building, you’d have been forgiven for thinking there was an even hotter event going on.

More than 3,000 people signed up to attend the Berkeley Startup Job Fair, according to Ben Hamlin, co-founder and CEO of Localwise, the Berkeley-based job community which organized the first-of-its kind event. And of those, more than 1,000 showed up. The fair, which was focused on promoting diversity in tech, was co-hosted by the City of Berkeley’s Office of Economic Development. Other partners included 16 nonprofits, including the Kapor Center for Social Impact, Latinas in Tech, Telegraph Academy, Lesbians who Tech, Code Berkeley and the Level Playing Field Institute. (See the full list of partners).

The overwhelming response to the fair appeared to indicate the need for more opportunities for job-seekers to meet with young companies who are recruiting. Many attendees came from nearby UC Berkeley and Berkeley City College, but others had traveled from further afield, including from more far-flung colleges. For still others, their student days were far behind them. And it was a diverse crowd who formed lines and patiently waited to speak with potential employers inside NextSpace’s ground-floor atrium. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Gorgeous and Green
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WILLIAM STOUT CLOSES/RELOCATES Architectural bookstore William Stout has closed its Berkeley store, at 1605 Solano Ave., and is merging the business with its publishing arm on the Richmond waterfront. Owner Bill Stout told Berkeleyside the North Berkeley store never really met his expectations. “Moving means we can consolidate our inventory and service our mail-order customers quicker,” he said. Stout, whose flagship store has operated on Montgomery Street in San Francisco for more than 40 years, opened the Berkeley store in fall 2010. At the time, Bill Stout said he chose Berkeley because of the store’s publishing collaboration with UC Berkeley, and because he saw the Solano district as being “a more vibrant residential neighborhood than where we are now.” Stout also homed in on Berkeley because he believed there were more bibliophiles in the East Bay. “In San Francisco an interest in books is dying,” he said in 2010. Stout is hopeful that this latest decision”should be a good move.” William Stout‘s East Bay outpost is now at 1328 South 51st St., Richmond. Continue reading »

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Amazon opens new store on UC Berkeley campus

Amazon
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Amazon opened a sleek, modern, brick-and-mortar store on the UC Berkeley campus Thursday and it promises to ease package delivery and return for students, faculty, staff and the community.

But Amazon hopes the store, located in the refurbished Martin Luther King Jr. building facing Sproul Plaza, will be more than that. There are couches and chairs scattered around the 3,500-square-foot space, as well as a large television screen for students to watch movies or play video games. A large table holds Kindle e-readers, Fire Tablets and Fire TV devices, creating “an interactive Amazon device experience,” according to a press release.

The idea is to be such an inviting environment that students “turn into lifelong customers,” said Ripley MacDonald, Amazon’s director of student programs. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

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BAUBLES & BEADS TO CLOSE Baubles & Beads in North Berkeley will be closing its store, probably in March, after 25 years of serving the city. Owners Lisa and Jim Kaufman say the reason is partly due to rising expenses. As they write in a letter to customers: “We have struggled with this decision since the recession of 2009, the closing of our San Rafael location in 2012, and again today with rising costs of rent and operational costs. The success of our website, BaublesAndBeads.com, allowed us to keep our Berkeley bead shop open over the past several years. The decision to close the store was never taken lightly as we fully understand the impact it will have on the local beading community.” Meantime, there are lots of discounts being applied to merchandise. Baubles & Beads is at 1676 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709  Tel: 510 644-BEAD. Connect with Baubles & Beads on Facebook for updates.Continue reading »

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Berkeley start-up gives away profits. It’s Truly Mad!

The Truly MAD team (l to r); xxxxxx. Photo: Sarah Gerber
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You’d think that for a small, recently launched e-commerce start-up Black Friday would be a pretty important sales day. But Truly M.A.D. founder Abhi Vallabhaneni and his staff weren’t checking sales or patrolling social media last Black Friday. They shut down their site for the day and set off to volunteer with a local non-profit to decorate and write holiday cards for seniors living in support homes.

Vallabhaneni’s company, Truly M.A.D., is a new online retailer that sells everything from headphones to sweaters and gives anywhere from 20 to 100% of the profit it makes on each product to charity. It’s what Vallabhaneni calls a “conscious marketplace” and it joins a growing number of other companies who are balancing doing social good with a sustainable business model. (See website at www.trulymad.com and connect with Truly M.A.D. on Facebook.)

“Everyone wants to be part of something that’s bigger than themselves,” Vallabhaneni said. “That’s essentially what we’re doing, in an environment that works for us.” … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s Black Oak Books to close after 33 years

Gary Cornell, the owner of Black Oak Books, in the store. Photo: Black Oak Books
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Black Oak Books, which has had a presence in Berkeley for 33 years, is shutting its doors.

Gary Cornell, the math professor and entrepreneur who rescued the storied bookstore in 2008 during the recession and who is still subsidizing its rent, said the store no longer makes financial sense. Its location, at 2618 San Pablo Ave. near Carleton Street, does not draw enough foot traffic and sales have been generally flat the past six years (Although they did go up by 1% in 2015). In addition, Berkeley has raised its minimum wage to $11 an hour, with more increases to come, making it more difficult to run the business.

Read more stories about independent bookstores in Berkeley.

“I wish I could have kept it open,” said Cornell, 62. “But, in the end, you have to say it’s not working.”

The store will close at the end of January, he said. Until then, all the inventory at Black Oak Books — both new and used books — is 40% off. The store is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Totally Rad Gallery: opened on San Pablo Avenue in Berkeley. Photo: Totally Rad Gallery
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TOTALLY RAD ART GALLERY A new art gallery has opened on San Pablo Avenue in the old Leslie’s Ceramics building. Totally Rad, run by Amber Mueller, is dedicated to exhibiting contemporary works by emerging local and national artists. On Jan. 9, 6-9 p.m., there will be an opening reception for the gallery’s new exhibition, “Daft Affect: “Dear Volunteers” showing work by Tra Bouscaren and John Schlesinger. Totally Rad Gallery is at 1212 San Pablo Ave. ( at Harrison St.). Connect with the gallery through its website and on Facebook.  … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

side view of the Claremont Resort & Spa
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NEW RESTAURANT AT CLAREMONT HOTEL Twenty months after the Fairmont hotel group, FRHI Hotels & Resorts, acquired the Claremont, its multi-million dollar renovation is complete. The hotel (which has a Berkeley zipcode but is technically in Oakland) announced this week that Michelin-starred chef Dominique Crenn (who runs Atelier Crenn and Petit Crenn, both in San Francisco), will oversee a new restaurant in the space formerly occupied by the Paragon, when it reopens in 2016. Eater SF reports that it will be a French brasserie named Antoinette. The hotel and resort’s new owners, who include Richard Blum, Senator Dianne Feinstein’s husband, renovated 276 guest rooms (designed by Gensler), created a new Presidential Suite, and added a bar and tea room off the new, modern lobby. Now that the 100-year old hotel meets the Fairmont’s standards, it also has a new name: Claremont Club & Spa, a Fairmont Hotel. … Continue reading »

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Old and new media collide with Berkeley app Bookselves

Bookselves. Photo: Sarah Gerber
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This post is part of a series of business stories brought to you by WeWork Berkeley.

The Bay Area is home to both a booming tech scene and a long literary tradition. So it is fitting that one local start-up fuses old and new technology with an app designed for book lovers.”

With Berkeley-based mobile app Bookselves, users peruse each other’s personal libraries and can meet up to swap books.

“The twist is while you connect digitally, you meet in person,” said founder Yash Mahendra.

The app went live earlier this month, but Mahendra first got the idea for Bookselves while living in small-town Ohio several years ago. The Borders bookstore there was a centerpiece of the social scene. Mahendra witnessed kids learning to read and people of all ages making friends with fellow book lovers in the shop. When the chain shuttered, Mahendra felt it was a huge loss for the community.

The only information available in a Bookselves profile is the user’s name, location and titles of books he or she is willing to trade. Users can request the real books listed in each other’s virtual libraries, and, if there’s a match, they receive each other’s phone numbers. The database is searchable, so users can track down books they’ve been meaning to read. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

YJM Photography and Gallery of Fine Arts. Photo: Yves Mozelsio
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NEW: GALLERY OF FINE ARTS Yves Mozelsio has just opened YJM Photography and Gallery of Fine Arts at 1865 Solano Ave. (a few doors west of the Oaks Theater in the former KNA Copy Center). Monday was the first day for the gallery which, Mozelsio says, he opened as a way to provide people with an alternative to online shopping, as well as a space for him to continue practicing his photography (a third of the space is devoted to his photography studio). The gallery has a lovely turn-of-the-century style décor, with Mozelsio’s personal collection of European paintings (dating from 1850-1950) on the walls. The gallery sells paintings by local artists and Mozelsio himself, sculptures by Mozelsio’s uncle, and 11 Queen Anne-style cases of jewelry, mostly silver, crafted by local jewelers. “This is a dream space for me,” said Mozelsio shortly after he made his first sale of a bracelet to his first customer. He said he hoped he has created a feel-good environment for people to enjoy, surrounded by wonderful art. He is happy to hear from local artists who might want to collaborate. Connect with YJM Photography on Facebook. … Continue reading »

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Deepa Natarajan: Ethnobotanist and natural fabric dyer

Photo: Melati Citrawireja
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In the fourth part of a series on expert craftspeople in Berkeley, Melati Citrawireja, who was a photography intern with Berkeleyside in summer 2015, visits Deepa Natarajan, a natural fabric dyer and ethnobotanist. (Read Citrawireja’s stories on Klaus-Ullrich Rötzscher and the Pettingell Book Bindery, David Lance Goines at the St. Hieronymus Press, and coppersmith Audel Davis.)

“I call myself a plants person,” says Deepa Natarajan, a young mother, natural fabric dyer, and ethnobotanist. “Ethnobotany implies academia but that’s really what I love – plants and how people use them.”

I am chatting with Deepa in her softly lit, powder-blue living room while her two labradors excitedly compete for my affection with charming wet kisses. As Deepa talks, she keeps a wary eye on her adventurous 10-month old confection of a boy, Loka, to make sure he doesn’t knock down or swallow any of the colorful little objects that make up the household’s golu, an altar that celebrates Navratri, a South Indian holiday.

Deepa’s childhood trips to visit family in Southern India has inspired much of her fascination with plants, color, and textiles.

“The culture there is very much alive with using natural materials and plants … from simple things like eating from banana leaves to wearing jasmine flowers in your hair,” she says. … Continue reading »

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Shop Talk: The ins and outs of Berkeley businesses

Gina Fiorentino, assistant director
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TERRA FIRMA GALLERY: RELOCATED Terra Firma Gallery has moved from the Claremont Hotel Club & Spa to Shattuck Avenue in the Gourmet Ghetto. The gallery specializes in contemporary African art and features, among other things, a collection of Shona sculpture from Zimbabwe and works by “Smithsonian acclaimed painter” Wosene Worke Kosrof, who will be giving a talk about newly released paintings at the gallery on the evening of Nov. 12. There are also museum-quality masks, colorful Zulu wire baskets, as well as the work of several Bay Area artists. Terra Firma Gallery is at 1801 Shattuck Ave. (between Hearst and Delaware), Suite B. Tel: 510-486 9050. … Continue reading »

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In heart of Berkeley, making 3D printing accessible to all

Cyant at WeWork. Photo: Sarah Gerber
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In the past few years, 3D printing has moved from the stuff of science fiction to the mainstream — showing up everywhere from space stations to hobbyists’ garages. But for someone making his or her first foray into the 3D printing world, the design and modeling process can seem pretty tricky and even intimidating.

Barbara Hanna, founder of the Berkeley-based Cyant, hopes to change all that.

Hanna developed Cyant’s first product to be a simple experience that starts with something everyone knows how to do: draw. The platform, which she is still developing, lets anyone draw whatever they choose on a tablet — a flower, a cursive word, an elephant with sunglasses— and a 3D printer then rapidly prints it out in filament, a special type of plastic used by 3D printers. … Continue reading »

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