Were you always interested in working in fashion? What was the path that brought you to heading your own brand?
I’ve always had an interest in fashion, from the excitement of getting my first pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans as a kid to pouring over fashion magazines and taping pictures to my teenage bedroom walls. It’s this interest that led me to try and find a fashionable solution to the issue that I was having: I couldn’t find the perfect laptop bag. I knew how to sew and just started to make laptop envelopes for myself and my friends. I was convinced that there was a hole in the market for chic and functional work bags for women.
You run an ethical fashion company, why is that important to you? What is the message you’d like to put forward besides just aesthetics? We’ve taken great care as we’ve grown the business to ensure that we continue to be as responsible as possible in production. We try to use all parts of the hides of leather and perhaps most important to me, we make everything locally in Los Angeles, where I’ve been producing since 2008. I’m so proud to be able to create jobs in my own city.
What is one piece of advice you would give to someone starting their own company? Stay true to your vision and don’t get distracted by the competition. You’ll get easily sidetracked by paying too close attention to the competition. Just keep your head down and if you believe there’s a market for what you’re creating, there probably is.
How do you manage to balance work life, building and running a company, while still maintaining a social and home life? It’s a constant balance and juggling act. I’m very lucky that my husband has the flexibility to be so hands on with our son, Oscar, which has given me the freedom to continue working and have some slight peace of mind that I’m not letting that incredibly important ball drop. But it isn't easy, not for me nor any of the busy women I know.
You recently moved into an amazing space in Frogtown, can you tell us a bit about that decision and how it’s impacted your life? We outgrew our old studio in Atwater Village, and came across this gorgeous space in an industrial building in Frogtown owned by some cool architects. It's right on the LA River next to the bike path. It was a real dream to move in here. The space and location are very special to me, and I’m so happy with how it turned out. It’s filled with so much natural light and a big open floorpan, and La Colombe is opening their roasterie next door. It’s a 6 minute drive from my home in Echo Park, too, which makes it all the more desirable.
What are some daily rituals you follow? My days are extremely varied so rituals are few and far between. These days, I’m training for a half marathon so I try to run at least 3 mornings a week, and take hikes in Elysian park. I drink an espresso when I get to work and another around 4 pm which holds me through the evening. I eat healthy and will usually have a glass of red wine at night with my husband. On weekends, I try to stay in bed as long as possible and read, a book on Saturday and the NYTimes on Sunday. I’ve just described my ideal life to you, it's not necessarily how my weeks actually play out. However, washing my face at night happens no matter what the day was like. Right now I wash with Tata Harper Nourishing Oil Cleanser or a Su:M37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick. Then I mix Odacité Youthful Glow Booster with a light night cream.
How does your routine shift depending on what city you are in? My routines really get messed up when I‘m traveling. I generally have a lot of business dinners, the time difference messes with my morning exercise, so I just do the best I can!
You live in East Los Angeles. Why LA? What is it about the city that you find so appealing? My husband and I moved into our house in Silverlake in 2001 and it was before the city had the creative resurgence that it’s recently had. It’s such a great time to be here and I’m proud to have been here for a good while to feel a part of this cool, fun community.
Besides Clare V. (of course), where are your favorite places to shop in LA? I love Mohawk General Store, Creatures of Comfort and Lake. All close by in Silverlake.
Los Angeles is a massive city. How should a newcomer go about exploring? I love to go to the stores I want to check out and then I ask the workers there where their favorite places to eat and shop are. It’s always best to ask locals, I think. Or check the amazing city guides that are out there like the Louis Vuitton LA Guide (which we sell at our stores and is great). Also, there’s no better way to experience a city than by foot.