I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Noella Teele in the new ISSUES location at Martin Luther King Jr. Way and 40th Street. We love working with Noella and Joe, the founders of ISSUES, and have had their #IssuesAnnex in the Viscera shop for almost a year now. Read more to find out how they started their business and what keeps Noella going.
Ari How do you describe yourself? What do you do?
Noella I am first and foremost the co-owner of issues, which means I'm here a lot. I take care of all the back end things and admin everything at ISSUES --and most of the magazine side of issues. Although, Joe and I do split that up as well. On my personal time, I’m interested in personal relationships with friends and family and improving myself as a person and I'm involved in a meditation practice and spirituality.
Ari Why and how did you start ISSUES?
Noella So we started issues as a team, Joe and I, kind of serendipitously. It started because the shop became available on the same street we lived on. That was the beginning, we became interested in the space and spoke to the landlords about it. The storefront was a tailoring shop that’d been there for 17 years and even before that, a different tailoring shop, so it’d been a tailor's storefront for about 35 years. We loved the space, but we didn’t really know what we could do that would be sustainable. The legend, which is kind of true, is that on New Year’s Day 2007 we were looking for a magazine Joe had been featured in because he’s a sound artist. The magazine was called The Wire UK-- we could not find it anywhere! We were at brunch in Berkeley and I was like, "I know what we should do-- open a magazine store." That idea was based on our experience, not completely out of the blue. I’d managed record stores for many years in the 90s. I had the management experience and Joe worked for Tower Magazines back when Tower had a whole magazine section in their home office. So, between the two of us, we had a lot of experience. We decided that’s what we could do! 6 months later, on June 1, 2007, ISSUES opened its doors.
Ari What was your dream job growing up?
Noella My dream job was to be a teacher because I was inspired by my 8th grade English teacher. What I liked about her was that she brought together students from all sorts of walks of life in my school. I grew up in Concord, California and there were students from different backgrounds and they all had their own friend groups and cliques. But, when we would come into the classroom, our teacher would bring us all together and all of our differences would slip away. We would just become one. Her name was Mrs. Dann. She ended up passing from breast cancer. Back then, I would go hang out in her classroom after school. She encouraged us to write about our troubled lives in poetry and things like that. She inspired me to want to be a teacher to help kids as much as possible.
Ari Where are you originally from/where have you lived?
Noella I'm originally from Concord, California. I have lived in Tampa Florida, for a number of years in my late teens and very early 20s. And I lived in LA for a little bit, and have been here in Oakland in the same apartment for the last 19 years. This is where I’ve been settled. I lived right by the old shop. Funny enough, my first job was delivering newspaper and for the Contra Costa Times. So, I like to tell people I've come full circle.
Ari What about being an entrepreneur brings you the most joy?
Noella Probably the people and the relationships I have made. Of course, it is with the customers but also with fellow entrepreneurs, and the sense of community I’ve built with other artists and people in Oakland.
You can visit ISSUES at 644 40th Street. #102 Oakland, CA.