Jennifer Keith and Amy Sullivan are sisters and long-time Bernal residents. They’re the owners of Sheridon Keith Design and Photography. They’ve volunteered their services to market neighborhood events like the Hillwide Garage Sale, the Summer Stroll and Fiesta on the Hill. As an agency, they offer event photography, headshots, graphic design, and product packaging.
Like many Bernal residents, they built their home-based business amid the ups and downs of a growing neighborhood and changing city. Jennifer talked to us about some of the ways she’s witnessed the neighborhood become a safer place to live. And how their business has changed to accommodate a city that leads the way for its liberal lifestyle.
In 1993 I was working for a small design firm in the city when I got pregnant with my son. I decided to go out on my own hoping to have more flexibility with the baby. My sister Amy was just finishing college and she’s a photographer. So we decided to start a small agency together.
Our first client was a non-profit suicide hotline. The AIDS, HIV hotline. We designed some marketing materials for them and they referred us to people at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Over time people changed jobs and worked at different non-profits and continued to work with us. So our business grew by client referrals. I think in the early 90’s and 2000’s we must have worked with every non-profit and foundation in the city at one time or another. That was the bulk of our business.
I love Bernal Heights. My sister and I walk to Bernal Hill at least 5 days a week. That’s where we have our work meetings, talk about our families, life, and get our exercise.
I bought my house on Precita in 1991. What I remember most is a day in 1993 after my son was born. The day we brought him home from the hospital there was a drive-by shooting in front of our house. In the ’90s shootings were common in our neighborhood. And our house was in-between two gangs, so we were like “neutral territory”. They would fight it out, right outside our front door.
Now, with gentrification, it’s become very safe. The day the Precita Park Cafe opened was literally, the last day I saw a gang member on my street. It was like they fled. Now it’s a lovely place to walk around. Precita Park is pretty. The road work on Caesar Chavez has been a big improvement.
I realize some of the changes the neighborhood has gone through aren’t good for everybody. But for me, Bernal is a much safer place than when we first moved here.
My first experience volunteering was when I answered an ad on Next Door to help with the Annual Hillwide Garage Sale. Michael Minson was the organizer and I was going through a divorce and needed to meet new people. I felt like meeting my neighbors would be a good place to start. So I volunteered to do graphic design work for the garage sale.
And I was right. It was a great way to meet new people and that was the best part of the experience. I met Michael, and we really enjoyed volunteering together. At that time he was just starting his real estate business. As his business picked up, he asked me to design marketing materials for him. Now he’s a regular client.
We’ve become friends and he’s that person who brings people together to help out and have a good time. He really supports a lot of us and I know he takes this role seriously. It’s not just about being the best realtor but it’s also about building up his team, his vendors and his clients. It’s almost as if he thinks about team building like a woman. It’s impressive how much responsibility he feels for everyone on his team. Because he’s successful, it shows that this model works.
Amy does headshots, events and some product photography. I specialize in graphic design for product packaging, print collateral, and logos. At this stage, we only have a few projects that we work on together. We coordinate our marketing strategy together and love to be as creative as we can. Right now Amy has created a series of postcards for us that tell a story. We send out one postcard a month to our mailing list and each one tells a different part of the story. The main character is a young woman in art school and she sends a monthly card home to her mother to share her stories about life in San Francisco.
This year, Good Vibrations decided to redesign all their packaging so I’m working with them to create something entirely new. What I love most is getting into the details of a new design. Because their products have such interesting shapes, redesigning their packaging has turned out to be a fun project. I’ve also designed packaging for some of their cannabis-based products.
Because the cannabis market is opening up, I’ve been working on packaging for another company called Medicileaf. They’ve been a great client to work with creatively. I’d like to find more clients in the cannabis industry as it begins to grow.
You can find us online at:
Website: Sheridon Keith Design
Facebook: Sheridon Keith Design & Photography
Photos Courtesy of Sheridon Keith Design & Photography
Jen Baxter is a content writer and strategist helping companies creatively craft the story of their business online. You can see more of her work at JenBaxter.com.