Brilliant Spools:
A San Francisco Ribbon Shop


Shoppers along Sacramento Street in San Francisco’s Presidio Heights neighborhood are often struck by a spectacular visual attraction called The Ribbonerie. A dream destination of infinite possibility for designers, crafters, seamstresses, and brides, the eminent boutique brims with brilliant spools of ribbon from around the world, in every imaginable color.


After twenty-three years of flying, Paulette Knight translated her air miles into yards upon yards of ribbon that decorate her San Francisco shop, The Ribbonerie. A former flight attendant for American Airlines during the industry’s fabled golden era, she wandered the arrondissements of Paris between flights, repeatedly drawn to the enchanted trimmings that festoon the city’s candy stores.

“I was a real Francophile and went to France on all my vacations,” says Paulette. “I saw this extraordinary French wired ribbon hanging in the windows, but it was just decoration—you couldn’t get it even if you bought a box of bonbons.” Following successive trips, she happened upon a place that supplied the Paris confiseries and was able to purchase a few coveted satins and grosgrains to take back home. Eventually, her keen eye for embellishment (she was a student of fashion design prior to her jet-setting days) would shift the direction of her career and lead her to a new venture within the French marketplace.

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  1. Great article! I lived in the neighborhood and went in her store many times. She was always aloof and unhelpful. We both owned Cavalier dogs and that didn’t break the ice either. I wish my experiences had been as lovely as your story

    • Lol, that happens with artists and artist types sometimes!! It’s one of those conundrums, I have seen that often in artistic arenas. It never made sense to me, as I’m an artist and love people too. I used to own a bead store here in Davis. Absolutely loved it – art, craft, teaching people, meeting people, my heaven! Had to sell it though, my partner had to get out of it to hospice her roommate and I never got around to finding a replacement. I may still make the trip to city to check it out but keep the nature of the owner in mind!!!

  2. Love your passion, I have always collected lace, sewing supples, ribbon. So glad you got to make it a thriving business and could work among your favorite items. jeannie


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