20 Questions: Windy Chien

Windy Chien // via Spotted SF

For over two years now, I’ve been featuring favorite spots I’ve discovered in SF and on my travels. And during that time I’ve met so many amazing local business owners, makers, bloggers, influencers and bunches of inspiring folks along the way. I’ve also kept up my FT job as an project/events manager while maintaining this site + photographing and collaborating with others. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it, but that often leaves little time for new weekday and weekend discoveries. Rather than just sharing my faves from my perspective, I thought it’d be fun to switch it up and introduce some local folks who I absolutely love, respect and admire and have them share their coveted spots + thoughts on things around the city. I’ve always enjoyed playing 20 Questions—it’s a good icebreaker and you uncover many interesting things this way. So I’m starting this new series to: 1) introduce more local talent to this site, and 2) learn more about them and this crazy, ever-evolving city we call home and love so much.

On that note, allow me to introduce the vibrant and very talented Windy Chien.

Windy is a product designer and maker living and working in the Mission neighborhood. Previously she studied filmmaking (even presenting her work at Sundance), owned and operated SF’s Aquarius Records on Valencia Street for over a decade, and also worked for Apple’s iTunes and App store. Her interest in elevating the daily rituals of life has led to the design of her first collection of beautiful and functional handmade products, including ergonomically handled “fat bottomed girl” wooden spoons, brass rings that go with everything, stylish and durable macrame dog leashes, and macrame corded lamps without the plastic-covered wiring. All these pieces are made by her in her backyard studio. I stopped by to reconnect with Windy (we were recently introduced in Tulum!), to see her work up close and get a glimpse into her colorful, art + design filled world.

Windy Chien // via Spotted SF

Windy Chien // via Spotted SF

Windy Chien // via Spotted SF

20 Questions for Windy:

1. How long have you been living in SF?

26 years!

2. Where are you originally from?

Honolulu, Hawaii.

3. Describe SF in a few words.

A paradise of a city where new ideas start and free thinking rules.

4. Describe a perfect day in SF.

On weekends, it’s a great yoga class at Yoga Mayu, visiting the Alemany Farmers Market and Avedano’s butcher, then cooking for friends and an evening bbq in the backyard. During the week, a perfect day always involves creating, whether it’s carving spoons, knotting rope, or experimenting with materials to make another great product, even if I don’t know yet what it is.

5. Favorite places to escape to outside of SF?

Foster’s Bighorn in the delta = taxidermy heaven + steak. Driving up Route 1, through Point Reyes towards Guerneville and the Russian River.

Windy Chien // via Spotted SF

Windy Chien // via Spotted SF

Windy Chien // via Spotted SF

6. Favorite bars/watering holes?

20 Spot for wine and deviled eggs. Terroir natural wine bar.

7. Signature cocktail/drink of choice?

A light, dirty red wine, like Gamay.

8. Favorite places to shop for fashion?

Reliquary for their perfect taste in everything, Mill Mercantile for Black Crane and Apiece Apart, and Tigerlily for perfume.

9. Favorite places to shop for home stuff?

Heath Ceramics, General Store, and Aquarius Records for vinyl LPs, the best kind of decor.

10. Where do you go for inspiration?

Discount Builders Supply, the friendliest hardware store.

Windy Chien // via Spotted SF

Windy Chien // via Spotted SF

11. Brunch spots you absolutely will wait in line for?

Foreign Cinema for their persian bloody mary, and Ton Kiang on Geary for sit-down dim sum.

12. Last meal on earth and in SF, what would you have and where do you get it?

The daily uni dish at Commonwealth. Last meal? Ten servings of it!

13. A few favorite local makers you’re currently admiring?

Branden and Madeleine of The Young Never Sleep, April Rose of Rainbow Kimono, and Tania Skevos’ superlative color beading.

14. Local taste makers or influencers you’d like to meet?

The fine folks of Heath Ceramics, General Store, and the home goods store March.

15. A place in SF you haven’t visited yet but have been meaning to?

After 26 years, I’m not sure such a place exists!

Windy Chien // via Spotted SF

Windy Chien // via Spotted SF

16. Three foods you constantly crave in the city. What are they and where do you get them?

Chive and shrimp dim sum at Good Luck Dim Sum on Clement, nopales cactus omelette from the Red Cafe, and everything from Una Pizza Napoletana.

17. If I gave you a $100 right now to spend within the next 5 min in SF, where would you go and what would you buy?

I’d get a really great bottle of natural wine from Terroir, my favorite wine bar and shop on Folsom/7th.

18. Any hidden gems in the city we should know about?

Cynic Cave, the comedy club in Lost Weekend Video’s basement, run by the inimitable George Chen and Jeremy Wheat.

19. How do you feel about the fog?

When you see it roll in from the sea and over the Golden Gate Bridge . . . it. is. glorious.

20. If you could change one thing about SF, what would it be?

Equally balance out the technologists with the artists, freaks, and old-timers of all races and ages that made this city a paradise. We should all be able to live here and enjoy each others worlds.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know more about Windy and the city as much as I did. I love that we share many favorites AND that she mentioned many places I haven’t yet visited or even knew existed. There’s plenty more exploring to do in SF and I’m excited!

Have a happy 4th of July weekend everyone!

* * * If you’re interested in learning more about Windy and getting a peek inside her vibrant and very colorful home in the Mission, check out this feature I did on SF Girl By Bay. * * *

All images by me, Leslie.