My Way IS the Highway

By Cynthia Johnston

Love on Haight

When people think of San Francisco, they think of the Golden Gate Bridge, Pier 39, and a hippie on the corner of Haight & Ashbury. Love on Haight is proud to be that hippie on the corner…

~ Sunshine “Sunny” Powers, Founder / President, Love on Haight

Corner of Haight and Masonic. Photo by Cynthia Johnston

Dennis McNally and Sunny Powers. Photo by Susana Millman

“Skull and Roses means more than just music and happiness.  It means community, and the birthplace of that community was the Haight-Ashbury.  One of the very best parts of the Haight in 2023 is Love on Haight.” ~ Dennis McNally, author, A Long Strange Trip – The Inside History of the Grateful Dead, and way more…

Celebrating thirty-one years of tie-dye on the corner of Haight and Masonic, Love on Haight was officially designated a Historic Legacy Business by the City of San Francisco this past March 13th.

The Legacy Business Program of San Francisco — the first of its kind in the USA — exists to help small business make it in the big city.  To qualify for legacy status, among other things, a San Francisco business has to be in operation for at least 30 years and contribute to the history or identity of the city or a particular community.

Inside Love on Haight—In the spirit of a true artists’ community, famous Grateful Dead photo by Susana Millman occupies a place of honor on the wall at Love on Haight. Photo by Cynthia Johnston

One step over the threshold of this unique boutique is all it takes to “get” their motto:  Fashion that makes you happy. 

Vocal artist Lady Chi and Pamela Gerstein rock out to tie-dye.
Photo by Susana Millman

Love on Haight offers brilliantly colored tie-dye creations by more than 175 artists who make everything from tee shirts and yoga pants to dresses, overalls, onesies, face masks, kimonos and high-end silk coats.

There’s something groovy for everyone in the family at Love on Haight. Photo by Susana Millman

Beyond a need to serve the community, Love on Haight was inspired to create a foundation, Colors of Love on Haight, for personal reasons.  LOH’s President, Sunshine Powers has a close friend whose sister spent over 13 years in a Georgia prison, a trauma for her whole family and community.

Meanwhile, the Corona virus pandemic was shutting down whole countries.  On March 15, 2020, Love on Haight had to close its retail shop for the duration.  Undaunted, that same day they signed a lease at 854 Stanyan Street about ten blocks away.  The building belongs to and houses the offices of Dr. David Smith, also known as “Dr. Dave,” founder of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic, and much more.  It seems only fitting that Sunshine’s dog is also named Dr. Dave.

Ravan Webb, tie-dye artist and program director of Colors of Love with Sunshine Powers and two Dr. Daves (two- and four-footed.).


On May 25, 2020, as a nation, we witnessed the brutal, cold-blooded murder of George Floyd. It was a tragedy and a trauma not only for his family and community but for the whole country. “We had to do something,” said Powers, “if even in a small way.” 

Sunshine’s husband Afshin works with state and local governments creating prisoner reentry assistance networks of care, while also working with the foster care, domestic violence, homelessness, veterans and mental health systems – very much a part of the solution.  According to Afshin, women prisoners have the fewest programs available when they get out of prison, and the highest recidivism rate.  Most are heads of household and over 70% are African American.  And so began Colors of Love….

Ravan Webb, tie-dye artist and program director of Colors of Love, trainee Dominique West, Queen of Sparkles, Sunny Powers. Photo by Susana Millman

Colors of Love on Haight is a Women’s Prisoner Reentry Tie-dye Program.  Every year two or three women will learn the art of tie-dye and the business behind it. 

The concept started as a cut and sew program because 60% of women prisoners cut and sew as their job in prison.  That’s still part of the vision, including bringing cut and sew programs to places like Detroit where a living wage can change a person’s life.  But first, they would start with what they knew best: Tie-dye.

After reaching out to some of Love on Haight’s established tie-dye artists they brought in Ravan Alexandra who was living in Colorado and had just earned an MBA.  She moved to San Francisco in April of 2022 and they finished construction on Colors of Love.

Ravan at work. Photo by Susana Millman

Colors of Love is comprised of several elements:

~ A Tie Dye Education Training Center including an Artist Residency Program, where they fly in one artist every month to teach a class.

It all starts with white tee shirts… .Ravan Webb, Artist and Program Director; Damiela Braden and Dominique West, Colors of Love Trainees at work.
Photo by Susana Millman

~ A Women’s Prisoner Reentry Tie-dye Program where 1-3 women train for nine months in the art and business of tie-dying. Once they complete the program they have the option of joining the team as a full time artist or starting their own business.

Damiela Braden tie-dying. Photo by Susana Millman

Dominique West tie-dying. Photo by Susana Millman

~ A wholesale business that funds the program, including an online store.

Colors of Love finished products on the shelf. Photo by Susana Millman

If they change just one life, it will be a stellar achievement, but Colors of Love on Haight aims even higher. The program has been up and running for six months and the first participants have already become accomplished tie-dye artists in their own right. You can check out their work here: 

Last but not least, this Legacy thing is no flash in the pan.  One of the requirements for Legacy status is that the business be “committed to maintaining the physical features or traditions that define the business, including craft… or art forms. 

No problem there. The first thing Sunny announced after receiving Love on Haight’s official Legacy status was “a commitment to there always being a tie-dye shop on this corner!”

Corner of Haight and Masonic. Photo by Cynthia Johnston

Just as tie-dye helps define the Haight, San Francisco would not be San Francisco without the cultural revolution that came out of and still flows from Haight-Ashbury. Frankly, I can think of no better image of America than fashion that makes you happy and those good old hippie values of kindness, sharing, artistic and personal freedom, peace, love and rock and roll.

Love on Haight Community—Haight Street Voice Publisher Linda Kelly, Photographer Susana Millman, Queen of Haight Street Sunny Powers and LOH tie-dye artist. Photo by Cynthia Johnston

“We are all hippies on the corner in that our joy in the music and community bands us together in a compassionate and generous spirit.” ~ Susana Millman, photographer, author, Alive with the Dead ~or ~ A Fly on the Wall with a Camera.

In 1980 Cynthia Johnston was NORML’s Marin County coordinator for the California Marijuana Initiative. She needed help producing a concert and met Steve Brown, the new NORML production guy and a former staff member of Grateful Dead Records. They hit it off and for many music-filled years—especially Grateful Dead—co-produced shows at Pacifica Community Television in Pacifica, California. She was an active member of BAWIM—Bay Area Women in Music. Her first Skull and Roses Festival was 2018, and she’s stayed hooked. “It was like the beginning of the whole hippie thing when there was room to dance freely and take pictures of the band close-up. And the music blew my mind! What had been lost was now found. I needed a miracle and this was it.” She began blogging before even hearing the word “blog” and currently has a website, My Way IS the High Way