Owner: Patty Alvarez
Business: Dore Studio
Address: 2442 Mission St.
Type: Retail
Product: Photography

What gave you the idea to start your business?
I grew up here within the Mission District. In fact, my mother owned a home on Guerrero Street and worked for the previous owner of Dore Studio. The owner later decided that she didn’t want her business anymore and my mother bought her out. Dore Studio has been around for over 100 years now. In the beginning, the business used to be on Market Street, but after the 1906 earthquake they relocated it to the Mission. So, technically the business has been in the family for many years. It wasn’t my first choice, but having the option of being my own boss was important to me.

What has your experience been opening a business in the Mission?
Having a business in the Mission has changed. Before, there were many Latinos in the Mission, but many of the families have left. I understand changes in a big city happen all the time. I mean, I have seen it first-hand. Many businesses in the Mission have also left and it’s really sad. You know, it is hard for businesses to make it nowadays.

How does your business/business idea relate to your life?
Realistically, being a business owner was never my first choice, but this business has been in the family and taking over the ownership from my mother felt like I was carrying on the handiwork and dedication of my mother. The fact that I also hire locals in the community makes my job feel more communal and a part of what the Mission was known to be: family friendly.

Why should potential customers invest in small businesses?
Like I said, I grew up on Guerrero Street. Many of the business owners who left before or are still present have families that live in the Mission. Customers who choose to invest in small business are providing the community wealth because it’s going into the pockets of the members of this community. Many local businesses hire local, and that provides more opportunity for families to work, thrive and make a living. It’s important to invest in members that are a part of this community.

Where do you see your business in five years?
Open. I want to maintain my business in this vibrant community for as long as I can. You know, it is not the most lucrative thing, but I get to stay in a district in which I grew up and love. Not only that, but interacting with customers — who have been my customers for many years — or other members in the community are what makes family-owned businesses important.

What do you love about the Mission?
I love that I get to continue to provide a service to this community. With all of the changes to the Mission, I feel that the neighborhood still has its vibrancy and can continue to prosper. I just hope families don’t continue to flee as rents rise.