San Francisco, CA
Since 1989, Autumn Adamme’s business Dark Garden has specialized in making corsets and special occasion garments, both ready-to-wear and custom pieces. Her gorgeous retail/production space brings Dark Garden’s mission statement to life: supporting uncommon beauty one waist at a time.
“I learned to sew at a young age from my mother, and I always knew I wanted to make beautiful things,” says Autumn. In 2009, she received a $29,000 microloan from Main Street Launch (then OBDC), allowing her to upgrade Dark Garden’s machinery and and hire more talent: “When we got our loan from Main Street Launch we needed to hire staff as soon as possible to meet our demand.”
Currently, Dark Garden has 14 employees and Autumn’s two focuses are first, ensuring that her customers have a great experience, and second, ensuring that her staff feel supported and happy. “Many people on our staff have come to Dark Garden after working in jobs that just didn’t work for them. We’re a place where people can feel at home while making a living,” says Autumn.
“My first loan was through Main Street Launch, and it felt easy. I’d been in business for ten or more years, but this was the first time I’d written a business plan. It was great to feel encouraged to take that on, and Main Street Launch offered a lot of guidance and responded whenever I had questions,” reflects Autumn.
Dark Garden continues to grow and expand. This fall, Autumn expands her team to include Mr. Pearl, one of the premiere couture corsetmakers from Paris, enabling Dark Garden to expand its offerings. Their production is currently on-site at her store, and her team produces between 12-20 pieces each week. Dark Garden is more than a retail space – they create a safe space for everyone to explore their own ideas of beauty. Autumn’s business is really about creating community: “We make what may seem odd to some people, seem part of life to our customers.”
Follow Dark Garden’s blog to stay up-to-date on their events and offerings, and visit Dark Garden’s website for more about the business.