I recently had the privilege of working with the DTLA Downtown Center Business Improvement District to write a special report on the Future of Urban Retail. If you haven’t noticed it yet, DTLA is quickly becoming THE place to go for restaurants, entertainment… AND NOW…SHOPPING! The report takes an in-depth look at DTLA’s 8 key districts and profiles what’s hot in DTLA retail right now along with what’s going to define the personality and excitement of these districts in the months to come. Stay tuned…the story just keeps getting better!
You never know until you walk in, what you might find in DTLA’s new retail stores which are popping up everywhere these days . At Parker & Barrow, which just opened at 814 S. Broadway on the same block as Urban Outfitters, I discovered that this store offers women’s and men’s PB brand jeans off the rack or the option of getting a pair made to order with a custom fit and color choice.
Parker & Barrow is the vision realized of Thelma Siguenza who describes herself as a “fit architect.” She’s been responsible for the fit that has made Joe’s Jeans such a phenomena and she also lends her expertise to a myriad of other jeans and pants companies. By today’s price standards for jeans, PBs are reasonable–around $125–plus a nominal add-on if you go with custom made options that can include a little longer leg, waist adjustment or maybe narrower or wider at the bottom. Once you have your first custom order, your specs stay on file making it easy to order in another color or fabrication.
Men can also get custom shirts made in fabric combinations selected from bolts on display. These aren’t your father’s custom shirts — the Xeres (pronounced “series”) label, designed by Tarek Akaweih, takes the shirt to a whole new dimension with the finished product making a significant statement of individuality.
I tried on one of the PB jeans and couldn’t resist the soft brushed cotton with a slimming stretch to the fabric. There were about eight colors to choose from and I decided on a faded military green. The fit was perfect but I opted for an extra inch at the bottom and Thelma suggested tapering the leg a little bit more. Stay tuned for next week and I’ll show you how they turned out.
I have a hard time finding scented candles that I really love but I think my search may be over now that I’ve discovered The Fenix Candles which are also found at Parker & Barrow.
The Candles come in scents curated for women and men and just smelling each of them can become addictive. I settled on Greek Currant but it wasn’t easy to narrow it down. Fortunately the store is just across the street from where I live should a whiff of California Redwood beckon! There are 182 scents to choose from on the Fenix website. Thank goodness there are only about 20 choices at Parker & Barrow.
Every shopping trip deserves a break and the perfect new place to take it is at Verve. If you’re walking (and you should be) the shortcut from Parker & Barrow on Broadway to Verve at 833 Spring Street is through the parking lot next to Two Boots Pizza then to your right on Spring.
Even though they weren’t officially open, Verve managers Malvina and Katie invited us in for a look around. They offered to test out their new high-tech coffee machinery on us but we could tell they were still unpacking boxes so we promised we’d be back. Verve is based in Santa Cruz, CA where they have four locations and this is their first one outside of Santa Cruz. With the proximity to The Fashion Mart, I can see Verve fast becoming the fashion industry hangout packed with designers and buyers collaborating on the next trend within this creative and spacious environment.
In addition to the coffee choices, Verve shares its space with Juice Served Here, a LA company. Lots of fresh raw juice choices and cleanse options for those getting ready for fashion week!
The other intriguing feature of Verve is the back room which is the headquarters for the company that designed the space: MAI Studio. Verve is completely aligned with MAI Studio’s description on their website that states, “Our material expertise allows us to push the boundaries of design, creating products, interiors and alternative methods of construction which provide innovative solutions to the built environment. Our team draws on a wide range of backgrounds integrating fine art, branding, interior, graphic and industrial design. Our International portfolio includes boutique hotels and restaurants as well as residential and condominium projects.”
While Verve has been in the build-out, I’ve seen the spectacular wall garden in the making. Week after week plants were being carefully mounted onto the facing walls on each side of the patio. The seating area is a conservatory of exotic plants where you can breathe in this welcome oxygenation in the middle of the city while getting even healthier with a bottle of Clean Greens Juice made of Coconut Water, Cucumber, Kale, Spinach, Parsley and Romaine. On the other hand, there are those of us who need of a surge of caffeine through our veins, so the cupping ritual of a Verve coffee, carefully brewed from beans sourced in remote global villages, might be just what the doctor ordered!
A walk around the block these days has become an adventure and, while everything new is exciting, I also want to be sure to support places like il caffé which is connected to Acne Studios, the Swedish clothing retailer located in the Eastern Columbia Building . When I walk into il caffé they know my name and I inevitably run into one of my neighbors which reinforces the sense of community that continues to make DTLA feel like home.
If you’re a boomer you remember the song that tells the San Francisco-bound to “be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.” That song, released in May 1967 and sung by Scott McKenzie and written by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, was pretty much the only memorable song that McKenzie ever recorded. It had the distinction, however, according to Wikipedia; of being “the unofficial anthem of the counterculture movement of the 1960s.” Having grown up in the Bay Area during those years, the song has a lot of memories and still goes with me on my iTunes today.
Now I just came back from a busy 9-day visit to San Francisco and flowers were the last thing on my mind–my hair was blowing wildly in the cold wind off the Bay and I was frequently freezing as I traversed from the City to the East Bay to Silicon Valley. No matter where I was, there was a chill in the air at night, but in San Francisco it was an all-day thing where the typical summer day looked like this:
Which made me think about these great scarves and shawls I saw at Unique LA at the Late Sunday Afternoon booth. I sure wished I’d had one with me! One of those fabulous shawls would have so easily folded into my briefcase and whenever the fog rolled in, I could have swirled it around my shoulders, my arms, even my head and been warm and cozy with no real added weight in my bag.
There’s also something very retro-San Francisco about Late Sunday Afternoon scarves and shawls- they consider each one they make to be a prayer shawl and they knot and bless each one for the individual who wears it to have Love, Adventure, Happiness and Mystery.
The guys (yes, it’s dudes that design and make these scarves) go beyond just their words–they are also creating a scarf/blanket/ backpack called “The Voyager,” that’s waterproof on the outside, with a pull string on the outer edge turning it into a backpack with straps and fleece on the inside for warmth. They intend to use a portion of their profits to provide homeless/houseless beings their own Voyagers.
So you can do a good thing for yourself and someone else by checking out the Late Sunday Afternoon website–or if you want to meet the guys behind this great Venice, CA-based company, you will find them July 26 & 27 at the free-to-attend Renegade Craft Fair in DTLA’s Grand Park. As long as we live on the coast, we’ll always (thankfully) have cool evenings–so why not look cool and be warm with a little something from Late Sunday Afternoon?
With Father’s Day coming up on June 15th, I started thinking about what I’d like to give Jay…that would make my life better…isn’t that what wives do? We buy our husbands new T-shirts when we can’t stand the old ratty ones, we get them organizers so they can clean up the mess in the garage, or we get them sessions with a trainer so we don’t have a panic attack every time they eat a bag of Fritos .
Living in a loft, though, has taken several of the go-to Father’s Day items off my list…the new set of barbecue tools, a lounge chair for the back yard, a new rake. But I have hit on an item that would give Jay the freedom to do something he really loves to do…but up until now I don’t allow…keep reading!
Here’s the deal…we love having lots of tall bottles of cold water in the refrigerator. At dinner you can grab a few and put them on the table –no ice needed, no filling a pitcher and they’re great for entertaining, too. We buy the bottles of Lorina Sparkling Sodas at World Market and then reuse them as water bottles. But note the bottle on the right in this photo I’m not saying this happened, but I have to wonder…did someone drink out of THAT bottle?
So I’m thinking the perfect Father’s Day gift would be a custom bottle from Spoken Glass that has either “Dad,” “Jay,” “El Jefe” or some other endearing term lovingly inscribed on the bottle. Then–anytime my wonderful husband, and devoted father to Nick, wants to chug from one of the glass bottles, he has his own personal bottle to down as much agua fria as he can guzzle in one standing.
Here’s a sample of a custom option
Spoken Glass also does some really fun things with wine glasses. You can customize them with your own inscription or you can choose from their clever creations. Here’s one that resonates:
I could see Jay liking this, too–and so would I. Depending on the pour level, I’ll know whether to let him leave SportsCenter on during dinner or engage him in a meaningful conversation about our relationship.
There are stories about water having its own energy and a theory that connecting it with a positive message gives off more positive energy. So maybe the message for Father’s Day will be I ♥ Jay!
Whether you’re looking for something different for Father’s Day or like the idea of customizing the vessel for your beverage of choice, check out the Spoken Glass website. Conor Gaffney, the founder of Spoken Glass, makes the bottles locally in Venice, CA with passion and purpose best stated by this quote on his website that he attributes to his momma “Keep The Positive Vibration”!
First you need to click on the door above and follow me to a place in Downtown Los Angeles where an ancient art form produces modern ceramics. After you watch the video, be sure to come right back–there’s more to see and hear.
Such as what the artist has to say when you click on his photo (but then come back again…there’s more!):
Robert Siegel Studio Handmade is part of the magic that is DTLA. Thanks, Robert, for making your art in my neighborhood! Great meeting you at Unique-You told your story so well. My blogging job is done for today.
Robert Siegel Studio is located at 3430 S Hill St. #105 DTLA Phone: 310.779.9577
Memorial weekend–the harbinger of summer–purple jacarandas blooming all over Los Angeles., fog rolling in from the coast, Vin Scully’s voice on the airwaves. If you’ve decided to take a long weekend drive up to NoCal, remember it’s THE 5 or (NO “THE”)Hwy 1 and DO NOT put “THE” in front of ANY NoCal freeway…even though we call it THE 101 down here. And one more thing to remember, once you do arrive in Big Sur, Carmel, or San Francisco you are likely to experience the kind of summer weather, that according to Mark Twain, was the coldest winter he ever spent.
So the question for us gals is: How do you dress chic when you have to deal with the California summer hot/cold dilemma?
The answer: Jacket Society! Nora Minassian’s made-in- L.A. collection of jackets curated for every season. Nora’s created the perfect look to complete any ensemble–whether it’s jeans and a tank top, a tailored skirt and silk blouse or linen shorts and a T-shirt. No more scrunching up a sweater or going with the 90’s passé pashmina. With Nora’s jackets, the look is comfortable and put- together at the same time.
I met Nora at Unique-L.A. and we instantly connected. She’s got sparkling style with an equally radiant smile. Her Jacket Society website not only gives you the opportunity to buy online, she also shows how to put the look together, accessorize it and where to wear it around L.A. as she blogs about; and her husband, Tim, photographs; favorite places to spend an afternoon or evening around town.
With Nora’s jackets in your closet, you have an easy wardrobe inspiration every day. Here’s a sample of just a few of her looks :
From imported Italian brocade:
To Italian Rayon blend with metallic shine:
to lightweight Rayon Poly Spandex blend:
To Rayon Tencel blend
Nora and I are talking about getting a group of gals together here at the loft where she can bring her collection and we can enjoy some champagne and strawberries while we update the look of just about every pair of jeans, skirt or dress that’s already in our closet. No need to throw out the old…it’s the jacket and the accessories that make everything new again.
Have a great Memorial Weekend and while you’re lounging by the pool (hopefully we’ll get some sun!) pull out your iPad and check out Nora’s website for the perfect way to look cool and not freeze whether you find yourself in A.C. or catching some of that summer L.A. breeze.
Truck culture is rampant– food trucks show up everywhere. In some neighborhoods you might even still see the random beat up ice cream truck at a park or, if you’re really lucky, you might just spot the illusive Big Gay Ice Cream truck and have the privilege of waiting in a 20- minute line for a cup of Salty Pimp. Of course, back in the day there was the milk truck with the guy in white pants and a white short-sleeved shirt who left milk and eggs on the porch. And if you’re a boomer born and raised in L.A. you have to remember the Helms Bakery Truck that pulled up in your neighborhood, sounded the whistle twice to announce its arrival, then dazzled you with the rows of every pastry and doughnut imaginable lined up in those sleek wooden drawers. Today , though, there’s a new truck in town to dazzle you– By the Bloom, a flower shop on wheels! Owner and Founder, Tara Grand, had a 1999 step van converted into a mobile flower shop where she creates, stores, sells, and even delivers, her completely unique floral art throughout the Los Angeles area. I met Tara at Unique-LA where I got to see a little bit of everything she makes– oh so seemingly random, but ever so carefully designed fresh arrangements, dried floral sculptures, succulent gift packs and even floral-wear: wrist cuffs and head crowns made from sustainable plants that were inspired by the pieces she recently created for her fans heading off to Coachella .
Tara has taken her experiences of living and traveling through Europe, where flowers and gardens are everywhere, and created a mobile studio that gives her the flexibility to take her creations everywhere in and around L.A.
According to her website, Tara has trained with various flower companies including London based Jane Packer, The Covent Garden Academy of Floral Design and Portland event florist, Francoise Weeks, which has allowed her to infuse her own style with traditional English and European designs.
So whether it’s a wedding, a birthday, a bridal shower, a hostess gift
or even something a guy might appreciate:
Tara has a bloom that fits every event, occasion, sentiment, customer or style.
You might find where Tara is rolling next by following her on twitter.com/bythebloom or just give her a call at (626) 371-3870 .
After her recent coverage by Hollywood Access and her appearance on KTLA she may be more busy arranging flowers than arranging where her truck will be next. My advice: get on her list now before all the celebrities get a hold of her!
As Southern Californians, let’s all tip our hats to California Chrome who might just show the world that a horse from the town of the stinky cows has a chance at being the first California horse EVER to win the U.S. Triple Crown! California Chrome’s win at the Kentucky Derby on May 3rd made him the only California horse to take the Kentucky Derby since 1962 –and the others were all the way back in 1955 and 1922. California Chrome’s next race is the 139th Preakness Stakes on May 17th which will be the 6th race in his 5 race winning streak.
Did I say, “Tip our hats?” What image better says “Race Day” than an undulation of remarkable hats? Yes–it’s time to celebrate with a hat! So to honor California Chrome’s Derby win and his prospects for the future, I headed straight to CLADE, Maya Reynolds’ downtown menswear store at 600 S. Spring Street, knowing that Los Angeles milliner extraordinaire (Azita) Ariane Azarpira would be there this past Thursday night during the monthly Downtown Art Walk. (Yes I know, it’s Saturday and I’m a day late on my Friday post!)
Owner/ designer Maya is a big collector/ wearer of Ariane’s hats and she introduced a men’s hat line to compliment her expressive menswear collections for clients that include musicians, artists, actors and others who don’t have to conform to tradition. And now Maya has added a few women’s pieces into her shop, which is akin to a Victorian- era closet on steroids. Happily, I discovered that Ariane brought all her new spring/ summer women’s hat creations to CLADE for Art Walk night. With wine to sip and cheese to nibble on–the men make quick decisions while the women turn the minutes into hours of exploring their alter-egos.
I think there’s something about a hat that makes a statement about the mood of its wearer, festive, intellectual, sporty, brooding, whimsical, hip, mysterious, edgy, or, in some cases, just plain goofy. Sometimes you’ll hear someone say, “I just don’t look good in hats.” I think the truth of the matter is you have to be willing to explore your personality with no preconceived ideas. While California Chrome pursues the Triple Crown, I invite you to sip a mint julep read California Chrome’s Wikipedia story to find out what DAP really means on the silks of California Chrome’sjockey, Victor Espinoza–and pursue your own crowning moment with a new summer hat!
And for the first 25 people that:
1) Comment below by telling me what hat you think I bought and which other one you think I should buy AND 2) You’ve subscribed to my blog
You’ll be invited to a hat party at our Downtown L.A. loft with Ariane to personally find the perfect hat for you! The choices are (these are just a few of the many that Ariane has created):
1) The Diane Keaton
2) The Wild West
3) The Purple Velvet
4) The Multi-Stripe
5) The Summer Floppy
6) The Hand Painted Floral
7) Ariane and me with a white Panama fedora
Hats are like friends–you make an instant connection…and you rarely have just one! Be one of the lucky ones to come to our hat party with the gorgeous, gracious and amazingly talented Ariane who will help you find that perfect hat for your personal summertime style-and she’ll show you just how to wear it, too! So let me know your favorites and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get on the invite list.
Whether you’re walking city streets in sandals or heading to the beach to beat the heat, this is the real deal to keep your feet sweet! The company is Gordon Brush Mfg. Co. and they make the Footmate System® at their 51,000 square foot state-of -the- art manufacturing facility in Commerce, CA, just 7 miles southeast of Downtown Los Angeles– which definitely puts them in the “Made-in-L.A.” category. Gordon Brush makes over 15,000 different kinds of brushes but this one is like no brush you’ve ever polished, cleaned or scrubbed with. It’s like a massage for your feet every time you step into the shower.
The website describes The Footmate System® as “A complete foot care system for cleaning, soothing, stimulating and massaging your feet every time you shower. It’s the ultimate foot massage.”
You squirt the cleaning gel on the brush and slide your feet across the bristles every which way–you get a little tingling with a lot of soothing–and you end up with soft, smooth, super-clean feet. And the gel keeps the brush clean, too.
Crazy as it sounds, I’ve given this as a gift… and everyone who sees it wants to know how they can get one, too. If you’re thinking you want one… and that your mom would, too, (my mom loves it), there’s a Mother’s Day special going on where you can order right off the Footmate System® website between now and May 11th and get 20% off and an extra 10% if your order hits $100. One for yourself, one for Mom and one for someone else and you have the deal of your life…OK…maybe it’s just the deal of your week. But you’ll have a new lease on your shower life, I guarantee it!
At the risk of sounding any more like an infomercial than I already do(and, no, Gordon Brush is NOT paying me for this post) I’ll leave you to enjoy your weekend…but with a plea on behalf of your feet–they want this brush!
I don’t know about you, but when I drink my coffee I want to know that the birds in the trees where the beans came from are happy. Maybe that’s why Urban Radish’s Mexico Custapec house- brand coffee tastes so good–just read the label on the air-tight silvery package. Happy brew–happy you! Maybe there’s ancient magic in these Rainforest Alliance harvested beans from the Finca Custapec coffee plantation that gets me happily fluttering through the morning. Maybe the colorful flavor comes from the way the beans are roasted–Italian-style. Maybe the fragrant aroma originates from the roots of the trees that reach deep into the fertile earth of the Finca Custapec coffee plantation established in 1911 in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas, a land of ancient volcanoes. But what I do know, is that this coffee absolutely makes it worth the extra effort to get out the electric grinder every morning and enjoy this little bit of paradise in my cup. These DTLA coffee beans are custom roasted in Los Angeles for Urban Radish.