Longtime Mill Valley resident and interior designer Kress Jack has done just that, putting five unique-yet-complementary businesses under one roof at 11 Locust Ave., and she’s done so by keeping it in the family – her incredibly artistic, imaginative family, that is.
The result is a swarm of creativity inside a 1,200-square-foot-space that includes:
- Kress Jack at Home, the interior design and color consulting business that is the foundation of it all and brings in the lion’s share of the revenue. Jack defines her style as “relaxed, eclectic, chic,” saying she wants the spaces she designs to be “cozy, fun, whimsical and full of surprising pieces.”
- Kress retail shop, which showcases Jack’s eye for vintage housewares and accessories and her restoration of vintage furniture. With the help of longtime Mill Valley resident Denise Carletta, widely known locally as one of the co-founders of the former Showroom retail shop downtown, these two businesses are on the rise. “She has an artist’s eye and a balancing nature and has been a great asset,” Jack says.
- Kobra Furniture, the line she and her boyfriend, contractor Boris Cobra, recently launched to display his knack for creating stone and marble pieces on steel bases.
- Miles to Roam, the fast-growing collection of vintage clothing curated by Jack’s 26-year-old daughter, Natasha Garrett.
- Jean Jack, Kress Jack’s mom and an artist who exhibits at galleries all over the U.S., showcases her minimalist paintings of barns and houses, work that serves as the perfect backdrop for everything else in the shop.
The aforementioned family affair also encompasses friends: Jack’s longtime friend Bea Johnson, the Zero Waste Home blogger and media star who is also an artist, creates “amazing pieces of art” with the very few disposable items her family uses, like butter wrappers.
It also includes mask maker Rachel Pozivenec, an artist who creates life-like animal masks that have taken off over the past year.
Born and raised in Greenwich, Conn., Kress Jack moved to the Bay Area in the late 1980s for an internship at San Francisco Studios, then the city’s first full-service movie production studio.
“I originally wanted to be in the film business,” Jack says.
But as she started having kids – she also has a 24-year-old daughter who now lives in New York and a 14-year-old son who goes to Tam High – and juggled stints representing different furniture and product lines with raising children, she realized that she was intensely drawn to design.
“As my kids got older, I knew that design was always going to be a part of my life – interior design in particular,” says Jack, who also had her own store in San Francisco more than a decade ago.
Jack spent time in the home staging business, a move which helped her understand the logistics and financing around buying and selling furniture, a critical component to her current businesses.
Coupled with her knowledge of colors, her developing furniture expertise gave Jack the sense that she was ready to launch her own business in 2007. As she grew Kress Jack at Home steadily by word of mouth, she eventually rented office space in the ICB Building in Sausalito.
“Then I realized what I loved to do most is collecting vintage furniture and fixing it up and selling it,” she says. “I wanted to have a place in Mill Valley closer to home that could function as a home to all of those interests.”
About 18 months ago, Jack found a retail space on Locust Ave., a “street that I was hoping that was going to become something funky, and it really has – it’s become a center for design, art, fashion.”
With neighbors like 7 on Locust, Elena Calabrese Design and the Poet and/the Bench – not to mention nearby Henrybuilt on the other side of Miller Ave. – the Mill Valley Design District has indeed emerged on a street that was largely dormant less than two years ago, and Kress is right at the heart of it.
“It’s our own little cul de sac of creativity,” she says.