At the end of March 2020, Jacques Oskanian found himself with around $30,000 worth of wedding invitations that no one had come to claim sitting in his showroom. His award-winning business, Hyegraph, specializes in invitations and calligraphy for weddings as well as corporate and private events. They carry a wide selection of designer brands such as Crane & Co., William Arthur, Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier, Arlene Segal Designs, and many others. While the city’s shelter-in-place orders were in place, the events that his business catered to had all been canceled or put on hold indefinitely.
During this time, Jacques struggled to access emergency relief funding. As a sole proprietor, he didn’t qualify for the Payroll Protection Program because his business technically didn’t have any employees. He kept the business running on just his savings for two years. Finally, he attended a seminar for small business owners by the City of San Francisco and got connected to Main Street Launch.
Jacques had never sought financing for his business before, so he didn’t immediately have all of the documentation that was needed for a loan application. He worked with Karla De Leon – EVP, Chief Credit Officer, through the application process. After registering his fictitious business name and taking care of all the paperwork, Hyegraph received a $100,000 loan from Main Street Launch as part of the California Rebuilding Fund. The loan provided working capital for Jacques to keep the business afloat while sales slowly started to pick up again as pandemic restrictions eased and in-person events began to come back. The funding proved to be a lifeline for this San Francisco Legacy Business.
Hyegraph has been serving the San Francisco community for 35 years. Jacques founded the business in 1988 at its original location in the GiftCenter in SOMA (the business has since moved to the Embarcadero Center). Jacques came to the US from Lebanon in the 1970s and studied computer science at the University of Massachusetts Boston. After studying and working on the east coast, Jacques felt pulled to the west coast and fell in love with San Francisco when he visited. After that trip, he decided to pack up everything and drive across the country to move to the city that had stolen his heart.
When he arrived in San Francisco, Jacques connected with the local Armenian community and became involved with the Armenian Scouting Organization. One day, the group needed to create an event flier, which required the use of an Armenian typewriter in Los Angeles or Fresno. Jacques decided to create an Armenian font on his Mac SE so that he could produce the flier more quickly with desktop publishing. Then, an Armenian priest asked if Jacques could produce the church publication. From there, he was asked to create invitations for a wedding, and then the referrals kept flowing. He loved working with paper and calligraphy, so he continued to grow his business and never looked back.
Jacques provides a personal touch to his boutique calligraphy and invitation services. He has worked with the San Francisco Ballet, the San Francisco Opera, the Giants, the Ritz-Carlton, Fairmont, Four Seasons, and many other hotel catering directors and event planners, and even local socialites. Hyegraph is a true mom and pop operation. Jacques’ wife, Hilda, supports the business with her marketing expertise. Jacques knows that his customers are his most valuable referral sources and makes sure to treat everyone who walks into his shop with warm hospitality. Stop by to browse his beautiful selection of invitations, stationery, and greeting cards at Hyegraph’s showroom at Three Embarcadero Center, conveniently located a short walk from the Ferry Building and the Embarcadero BART station.