Made in South San Francisco: Cavallini Papers & Co
There’s more than a maze of biotech companies beyond the 101. On the corner of Forbes Boulevard and Eccles in South San Francisco sits a quiet haven for creativity, craftsmanship and a unique collection of vintage-inspired gifts and stationery products. Founded by Brad Parberry, Cavallini & Co. has been delighting customers near and far for more than 25 years.
What’s in a name?
It all started after a particularly inspiring trip to Italy, where Parberry fell in love with an art calendar design from 1987. With just $200 in his pocket and a keen eye for old-world designs and details, Cavallini & Co. was born. Parberry named the business after his mother’s maiden name and set up an Italian product imports shop in the Ferry Building in San Francisco, selling calendars, picture frames and leather journals.
After moving around San Francisco a bit through the years, in 2004, Parberry and his staff found a forever home at 401 Forbes Boulevard, right in the heart of the biotech cluster in South San Francisco. Oddly enough, Parberry worked in the biotechnology industry in the early 80’s as an Accounting Clerk for Genentech, so the area was more than familiar.
“South San Francisco is a special place. We love it here; we’re able to spread out. We even have an Italianesque garden,” exclaims Parberry.
The products and the process
Postcards, rubber stamps, notebooks and posters, oh my! When it comes to Cavallini’s creations, it all starts with an image. A vintage image. The Cavallini archives, owned and maintained by Parberry, are a sight to behold, a true treasure trove. The archive grows as the company thrives, with Parberry finding and collecting his own vintage images and artifacts along the way.
“Sourcing images is a very involved process, it’s definitely a labor of love,” says Parberry. “Flea markets, estate and garage sales, vintage books and paper fairs are all places we find inspiration, but, inspiration is really everywhere.”
All Cavallini products have a charming vintage vibe, celebrating the days of the past.
“We take special care to maintain the integrity of the image and focus on looking authentic to always deliver a high-quality product,” says Sookie Koban, Product Development.
Products are designed on site by a team of graphic designers. Parberry, Koban and designers work together to brainstorm creative ways to breathe new life into images sourced from the Cavallini archives.
“Our wrapping papers and calendars continue to be our top sellers,” says Koban. “Our customers like to use them in creative ways, like posters, or even framing them as art,” adds Koban.
Newly launched product, Cavallini’s Vintage Poster Kits, allow customers to enjoy and display their Cavallini art right away by providing round oak dowels, cord and even a nail for hanging. Genius.
After designs are finalized, they are off to print and then production. Orders are assembled by hand with care in Cavallini’s on-site warehouse, another unique piece of the Cavallini puzzle. And the office staff and warehouse staff are a tight-knit group of happy, well-taken care of employees. Word is that Cavallini staff are known to attend a Sharks or Giants game together, too.
“This is our daytime family. We rely and count on one another to get the job done, but we like one another too,” says Gabe Prestol, (left) Warehouse Manager, who lives in town.
“We’re a true team here; I feel supported and encouraged,” adds Phil Fioresi, Jr. (pictured at right), Production/Shipping and Receiving, who also lives, and grew up, in South San Francisco.
Parberry stresses, “it’s about treating people well, it’s about the group as a whole.”
When not on the production line, Fioresi can be found on the baseball mound coaching Little League through South San Francisco Parks and Recreation. “I enjoy being able to give back to my community, it feels really, really good.”
Where to find Cavallini & Co. products
Cavallini & Co. products are available in stores throughout North America and across the globe. But, Cavallini does things a little differently. There are no Sales Representatives as they prefer to work directly with stores and retailers, building and maintaining relationships the old-fashioned way. Associates help fans of the brand find stores that carry the Cavallini & Co. line. Visit: www.cavallini.com for the latest in new product launches, annual warehouse sale announcement and more.
TIP: Mark your calendar now for the Cavallini & Co. warehouse sale – it happens once a year in November! Read more about that here.