The 2019 Good Food Mercantile in San Francisco last month brought together crafters and enthusiasts from throughout the food industry. Through the shared celebration of doing good and making extraordinary food, the show show has become a sort of best-kept-secret “un-trade show” bringing cheese- and charcuterie-makers, chocolatiers, and specialty food folk from around the country.
GDS Cloth Goods stood out among the pack, though, for its decidedly inedible offerings. The burgeoning East Bay brand showed its aprons and Ebb cloth coffee filters—apron featuring natural and organic textiles and filters that offer the same pourover experience craft coffee fans love without filling up landfills in the process. I spoke to GDS Founder and Owner Geana Sieburger to learn more about the company and its products.
“It started about five years ago. At the time, I was an assistant textile buyer at Britex Fabric and really enjoyed my job, but I needed to pursue something else that felt more creative. So…I started selling at my local farmer’s market,” Geana told me. “I built a pushcart out of repurposed materials, and I used to push that, almost every week, to the farmer’s market and sell my goods. That’s how the business started—a pushcart at the Temescal Farmers’ Market.”
From these humble beginnings, though Geana had design and textile bona fides, the company began increasingly to gravitate toward a culinary focus.
“It was a really perfect way to begin because I was able to test out a variety of different products. It was all textile-based and there was a little more clothing at the time, and it felt like, for the customers, what really resonated were the things that came back to and connected to food a little bit. Or at least that’s where I was able to connect with the customer and get more excited,” said Geana. “That’s just where things gained traction and also where I felt really at home with the other vendors. And that’s something that still feels true to me. I’m very much in the design world, as well,” explained Geana. “We sell at shows that are very design focused—West Coast Craft, for instance—and every time I’m surrounded by food people, I feel so much more at home.”
GDS began slowly, transitioning from a labor of love to a part-time project to a full-time occupation for Geana.
“Initially the focus was really on aprons and working business to business, offering something that was a little bit different from what restaurants and cafes were used to seeing in the industry—clean lines, sophisticated design, with a focus on reducing waste and using not only durable textiles but natural textiles and organic materials as much as I could,” Geana said. “And just in the last year we launched Ebb.”
The Ebb brand is the product of Geana’s latest preoccupation and boasts some big-name fans including Blue Bottle Coffee Founder James Freeman.
After experimenting with fabrics to create a coffee filter, Geana became fascinated with the challenge of putting together a product that was at once beautiful and functional from a specialty coffee perspective.
Working in conjunction with Blue Bottle’s Director of Quality Control Benjamin Brewer, Geana developed a cloth filter that would stand its own in a specialty coffee space and offer home brewers and professional baristas alike the opportunity to employ a reusable natural fabric filter rather than an endless supply of paper filters.
All of GDS’s products are made with natural fabrics, and Geana tells me the company is currently in the process of transitioning to 100 percent organic materials sustainably sourced from mills with which the company has a personal relationship.
GDS currently offers a variety of apparel designs—including aprons customizable and catered to the needs of restauranteurs, cafe owners, and other interested parties.