Baba Yaga is owned and run by a family team, Lisa and Paloma. The store opened in April 2017, but has been a dream in the making for both of us for a long time.
Situated on the end of Caledonia street, a downtown destination for locals in Sausalito, Baba Yaga offers curated vintage clothing, jewelry, accessories as well as a small selection of new indy designers.
The name Baba Yaga was inspired by a witch in Russian folklore and the mystical motif is reflected in the gift items such as a variety of artist designed tarot cards (both new and vintage), books, taxidermy and other talisman.
“As a woman approaching 50 I am inspired by finding power in aging and refusing to let age dictate what I wear. For me fashion is transformational.”--Lisa
What is your background and what inspired you to open the store?
Lisa: I was born in the late 60’s and had kind of a hippie childhood. My mom used to sew my clothes and I hated that--the fabrics were itchy and the clothes always felt too tight in the wrong places. From a very early age I was really particular about textiles and the style and fit of clothes.
During high school I started working in retail at Nordstrom. Then, after high school, in the 80’s, I got a job managing a high-end clothing boutique in LA called Ecru A lot of celebrities shopped there and I really got an education in high fashion. That was when the dream of opening my own store really started.
After college I started working in the tech industry and I veered away from fashion. However, over the years I still spent a lot of my spare time visiting vintage clothing fairs, and collecting interesting pieces. Fashion continued to be my side interest and passion.
Paloma: From a young age I was experimental with fashion and liked to express myself that way. I've always been interested in the arts--illustration, film, writing. During my Sophomore year at Tam High, my mom and I decided to start an online vintage clothing store and that was when we started talking about collaborating on a physical store.
I graduated from Tam in 2015 and took a gap year off in Seattle and got some experience working in retail. I decided to move back to Marin in 2016 and started a fashion design program at Apparel Arts in Oakland and also started attending College of Marin. It felt like the timing for collaborating on a store was now--before I decide where I want to go next with my education.
"I think all clothing is unisex and I want to encourage people to experiment and mix pieces in their own unique way. "--Paloma
What do you carry in the store and where do you do your buying?
Lisa: We carry a mix of vintage clothing as well as some new indy designer clothing. We define vintage as clothing that is at least 20 years old (1990's and older). We are not a consignment store--we get a lot of questions about that! The difference between our store and most vintage stores is we personally select every piece in there.
I am the primary buyer, but I try to get Paloma’s input on most of what I buy if I can. For the vintage pieces we buy from all over. We go to antique fairs, we search for pieces online, we buy things from other vintage clothing dealers or individuals. I also travel quite a bit and every city I visit I check out all the vintage sellers--even internationally.
For the new pieces we tend to focus on unisex pieces--simple jumpsuits or knitwear that can be worn by anyone. I try to look for international designers or small Indy designers that are not carried in other stores on the West Coast or even in the US.
Paloma: In Marin County, there are mostly consignment and donation based thrift stores. These places are great and may have some vintage, but you have to dig through everything to find those pieces and there’s never a guarantee that you’ll find what you’re looking for. Furthermore, you will most likely have to wash, repair or tailor what you are able to find. At Baba Yaga we provide a boutique experience with beautifully curated, unique vintage pieces are washed, repaired, and ready to be worn.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Lisa: Our styles are pretty different, although there is some overlap. Paloma is more attracted to 80’s pieces--bright poppy colors, boxy shapes, androgynous looks. I am more attracted to the 70’s and bohemian and international pieces. We both love jumpsuits though! I would describe our combined aesthetic as “modern bohemian”.
Paloma: I love pieces that have unique prints and can be easily worn in a more modern context. I think all clothing is unisex and I want to encourage people to experiment and mix pieces in their own unique way. As a gender neutral person, being able to provide this kind of shopping experience is important to me and hopefully it is to others as well.
What's the story behind the name?
Lisa: Baba Yaga is a witch in Russian fairy tales that I remember reading as a kid. She lived in a house with chicken legs and this image of her house moving around on these big chicken feet really stuck with me. I thought about this character when we were thinking about names for the store because she was this old woman, but had the power to transform herself into a younger woman. For me fashion has this same power and magic to transform us and to transform our image.
Paloma: When we were brainstorming names for the store we knew we wanted something that connected to powerful femininity. We also wanted to keep a little bit of the mystical element to the store. We're both interested in astrology, tarot, numerology, and palmistry and wanted to include that element in the store.