Ayesha Curry’s Sweet July Store Is an Ode to Oakland

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Carly Olson
·4 min read
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A few years ago, Ayesha Curry had a vision. The restaurateur and best-selling cookbook author had already established herself as a force in the culinary world but wanted to take her talents to a new realm: brick-and-mortar retail.

Quickly, the concept for Sweet July was born as a one-stop-shop of sorts—a lifestyle and home-goods store, a café, and a community event space. Visitors to the Oakland, California, storefront might pick up a morning coffee, pop back over to grab a hostess gift at lunch, and return for a book signing in the evening. (Though the latter may not materialize until after pandemic restrictions fully lift.) The space’s name—the same as her lifestyle magazine that launched with Meredith last April—honors an exciting time for the Curry family; it’s the month of her three children’s birthdays and her wedding anniversary with Warriors basketball superstar Stephen Curry.

Sweet July offers a range of wares, from jewelry and candles to throws and tableware, and even nail polish and body butter. The store also carries cookbooks, all of which are written by Bay Area women. Many of the brands are Black- and female-owned (including Sweet July’s own brand), and all products are personal favorites hand-picked by the team.

Custom counter stools by Oja Design—a local, San Francisco-based woodworker—pair with the kitchen’s dusty peach cabinetry, which is painted in Benjamin Moore’s Fox Run. The pendants are by the Future Perfect.
Custom counter stools by Oja Design—a local, San Francisco-based woodworker—pair with the kitchen’s dusty peach cabinetry, which is painted in Benjamin Moore’s Fox Run. The pendants are by the Future Perfect.

Curry called on Christine Lin of Bay Area design firm Form + Field to bring the Sweet July dream to life. “When it comes to aesthetics and making places feel warm and inviting, that’s my jam,” Curry says, “but I needed Christine to help me execute that vision and bring her expertise to the table.” This isn’t Lin and Curry’s first rodeo together—the pair worked together on a pop-up shop in 2019. “Our styles just really clicked,” says Lin.

Sweet July’s living room area features a curving Tomlinson sofa, which was originally designed by Vladimir Kagan.
Sweet July’s living room area features a curving Tomlinson sofa, which was originally designed by Vladimir Kagan.

For Sweet July, Lin pulled together a store concept that centered wood, marble, and a soft color palette, and utilized the talents of local designers and artists. (Curry initially wanted an Apple Store–esque design, but found the result too cold and sterile.) The result is a modern, light-filled space that feels elevated thanks to clean lines and luxe finishes, but remains warm and welcoming. “It’s really meant to be this beautiful, curated experience,” says Lin.

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Though it's an open concept, Lin arranged the space to still feel like a series of distinct “rooms,” so customers can visualize the products in their own homes. In the shop’s living room section, a wooden gallery wall serves as the backdrop for a sexy, curved sofa and custom coffee table by Jeff Martin Joinery. (Oakland-based artist Micheal J. Lopez created the hanging portraits of 16 Black female heroes in the gallery.) In the dining area, a long wooden table by Oakland-based Jacob May is piled high with books and ceramics. The kitchen features Calacatta verde marble countertops and peachy cabinetry, with open shelving displaying all the chic wares, mugs, and books for sale.

“We dedicated a lot of space for hanging out,” notes Lin, a departure from most retail experiences that seek to maximize sales per square foot. Most seating areas aren’t filled with products—people can feel free to just gather.

Ayesha’s brother Jaz painted the Lignum vitae mural to honor their Jamaican heritage.
Ayesha’s brother Jaz painted the Lignum vitae mural to honor their Jamaican heritage.
Sweet July’s cafe is a space for neighborhood regulars to grab a morning coffee and pastry.
Sweet July’s cafe is a space for neighborhood regulars to grab a morning coffee and pastry.

Plus, Lin and Curry added many touches to the space that make it feel truly personal. As a nod to her heritage, Ayesha’s brother Jaz painted a large-scale mural of Lignum vitae blooms, Jamaica’s national flower, on one wall. She calls the joyful art piece a type of “family heirloom.” And lest we forget about food, the cafe even serves Ayesha’s own bread pudding recipe. As Curry says, “it’s really just more of a creative space—beyond the store.”

The store’s dining area will serve double duty: by day, a retail display, and by night, a space for dinners and events. The arched front doors were inspired by Fritz Hansen.
The store’s dining area will serve double duty: by day, a retail display, and by night, a space for dinners and events. The arched front doors were inspired by Fritz Hansen.

Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest