San Francisco, the Little Beach Town

Two Bay Area businesses are turning SF’s shoreline into a killer place to let loose and be seen.

Wander over to the west side of San Francisco, where the city exhales its last breath before meeting the ocean. The ocean won out over here: It’s all chill surf town, where boards and bikinis come out to play. It’s also the location of the “Church of Surf,” HQ of San Franpsycho. In the building, Andy Olive and Christian Routzen create unique and highly sought-after shirts that feature designs from local artists.

Lindsey Hoell, whose Kinda Fancy line has sold in San Franpsycho, makes—wait for it—chic bikinis with pockets. We love these free spirits, who will gather by the pool at the Phoenix Hotel on March 28 to show off their latest for the summer (tickets here).

So… San Franpsycho? Great name. How did that come about?

Christian: We were down at the beach (in 2001), and I was going to film school. Andy and I thought, Let’s combine surfing and film, and make a surf video. Then, we needed a name for it. We thought, What’s a fun way to describe the everyday of the city? San Franpsycho. We made our first shirt in 2008. From that came a van we sold out of in 2009, and then shops.

One of the first shops was on Divis, and not at the beach. Why?

Ocean Beach and the Sunset (neighborhood) weren’t really destinations.

Are they now?

Christian: So much. As the city expands, it draws people west. There’s more street life and small businesses. For instance, there wasn’t much on Noriega Street eight years ago. Now, there’s a whole zone with The Pizza Place, The Devil’s Teeth Bakery, Establish, and Noriega Produce.

Kinda Fancy, that’s a brilliant name, too. And the names of the bikinis are intriguing, like Wesley Snipes’ Stripes and Nacho Grandma’s Floral.

Lindsey: The branding is playful. Basically, if something makes us laugh, we try to use it. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, my brother, Colin, in a bikini usually makes us laugh. We probably include it more often than we should. Here is one photo. The name Kinda Fancy was inspired by a girl Colin saw on Tinder, and her description made us laugh.

How did the two brands introduce their wares and connect to the beach crowd?

Christian: Andy and I really love to be a part of helping people with their projects, and giving time to nonprofits like Surfrider Foundation, Save the Waves Coalition, and Surf For Life. When we opened, wow, all the people we helped were now in our stores.

Lindsey: After a successful Kickstarter campaign, we threw a party at the Church of Surf. Since no one knew us and we promoted a bikini party, it was about an 80 percent male turnout. Sales were minimal. Luckily, bloggers and other surfers found us.

San Franpsycho’s shirts are collaborations with local artists. Why did you go that route? And does that make them art and collector’s items now?

Christian: We really feel it’s better to work with everyone, not just ourselves. And we like supporting artists. We’ve made designs with many, including Kevin Espeche, Jessica Carter, and Kevin Umana. People do ask for the older stuff, so we’re going to re-release a vintage design monthly.

Why did you want to make bikinis?

I was tired of the athletic swimwear options. I didn’t think they represented the style of the urban girl, nor were they flattering. The moment that pushed me over the edge was in 2011. My friend and I hitchhiked to Costa Rica from Nicaragua. We had to bury our beer money in the sand, because we didn’t have any pockets in our bikinis. And bam, I was like, I’m going to make a bikini with a pocket.

What do you love about the culture of San Francisco?

Lindsey: San Francisco is a bit like Neverland. When we were shooting at the Phoenix, we asked the models if they were cool shot-gunning beer for a video at 10:30 a.m. Not only were they down, they were stoked! In SF, anything goes. Which is great for our brand since, you know, we did a promotion for our dad’s birthday in which he’s wearing a Speedo. Our poor parents…

Christian: The food. Huge pride of coffee. There are so many new concepts for bars and restaurants. There’s more good music in this city now more than ever. You can see it at The Independent, The Chapel, Cafe du Nord and the Swedish American Hall… Every day is like Sunday. Playful. Our new coffee ice cream bar inside our 9th Avenue store (scheduled for April) is called SUNDAYS, with Three Twins Ice Cream and Four Barrel’s De La Paz.

Have your brands collaborated before this upcoming release party at Phoenix Hotel?

Lindsey: This is our first, although San Franpsycho sold our suits last year. We all met in Nicaragua. Andy and Christian were filming for Surf For Life, and we were out doing dawn patrol one morning. The surf world is very small!

Final question. Lindsey, I read you moved here partially for the Mission burritos. What’s your fave?

Lindsey: Taqueria Cancún is amazing. Meat. Cheese. Rice. Beans. Party time.

San Franpsycho, chime in? 

Andy: Shout out to our friends at The Little Chihuahua (on Divis). In the Mission, La Cumbre.

Christian: In the Mission, I still love El Farolito.