Finding the perfect gifts for family and friends can be a daunting endeavor, but the key is knowing where to look. This small business Saturday, we're highlighting some of our favorite women-owned small businesses, according to KCET readers and staff.
Amid COVID-19, the 21st-century expansion of online shopping and dampened holiday spirits, brick-and-mortar small businesses have definitely taken a hit. Factor in businesses that are women-run, and it's clear to see who has been affected most by the pandemic.
According to a 2020 report by Fairlie published by KCET, a nationally-representative survey showed a 25% reduction in women-owned businesses during COVID-19. According to the Los Angeles Times, COVID-19 exacerbated obstacles disproportionately affecting women entrepreneurs, such as having to scale back or leave their jobs as primary caretakers of children — all while forging through legacies of unequal pay, discrimination and higher rates of unemployment. However, the moment also spurred a new wave of women's entrepreneurship, giving space and opportunity for many women to make their dreams a reality while also uplifting their communities. We highlighted a few in our latest season of "SoCal Wanderer," and here are a few more our readers and staff say you should add to your list this holiday season!
Arts & Crafts
The Altered Stitch
12443 Magnolia Blvd, Valley Village, CA 91607
At the Altered Stitch, knitting is a joyful, collaborative process that brings people together. The Altered Stitch not only offers walls of vibrant indie-dyed yarns for purchase, but the artist owners also provide a warm, inviting space for customers to kick back and create together. They even host classes and workshops in knitting, crochet, weaving, spinning and macramé. The yarns at the store themselves are also sourced from small businesses that are mostly women-owned.
Cobalt and Clay
2017 Riverside Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90039
Founded by Nicole Reyes, Cobalt and Clay is ceramic studio in Frogtown that focuses on community building. The Latina-owned shop is part of a growing number of studios in Los Angeles that offer more access to ceramics, an artform that can provide tactile mental health benefits especially in this pandemic. More than one respondent raved about how they appreciated the studio's atmosphere and sense of community. "Cobalt & Clay is an amazing local community of people who love pottery," says Meghann M, "Nicole always finding new ways to work with other local businesses to create broader community support and connection." During the pandemic, even Reyes rented out her studio's wheels, knowing that many of her customers would need it for their sanity. Other respondents talked about how Reyes consistently offered smiles and her wealth of knowledge." I had so much fun playing with clay that day. It made for a perfect first," says Kim Gonzalez.
Books & Printed Matter
Operated by Teena Apeles and Andrea Richards, Narrated Objects is an independent book publisher whose projects and pop-ups give an inside scoop on life in Los Angeles. Recent projects include a coloring and activity book celebrating the public parks of Los Angeles and a collection of heartfelt letters penned by Los Angeles homebuyers to sellers that document the emotional investment a home purchase entails especially in Southern California. They work with a number of cultural institutions around L.A. include USC's Pacific Asia Museum, the Autry Museum of the American West and Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions to name a few.
Leanna Lin's Wonderland Eagle Rock
5024 N Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041
The creatives on your holiday gift list will love Leanna Lin's Wonderland wares. This kitschy, whimsical store needs no introduction with its bright teal-painted storefront and canary-yellow door. Stocking everything from hand lettered thank you cards made by local L.A.-based artists to collectors' delight Tokidoki dolls, as well as Filipino-themed cards and Genevieve Santos' Le Petit Elefant brand, this shop truly lives up to its name.
Fashion & Accessories
Carol Young Los Feliz
1953 1/2 Hillhurst Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90027
As consumers become increasingly aware of the ecological footprint of fast fashion, brands like Carol Young Undesigned have stepped up to innovate the fashion sphere. A self-described "conscious" clothing brand, its designer draws inspiration from her time studying architecture in New York, and immersing herself in urban nomadism and traversing Asia. According to the website, "undesigned" refers to the process of transforming recycled-clothing and active-wear materials into new urban nomadic apparel. Long-lasting quality and modern style lives in the durable performance fabrics, sustainable organic and recycled blends and designer surplus fabrics. It's a huge plus that Young's designs are easy-to-wear and pack for those who find themselves frequently on the go.
Nobody Jones Boutique
5593 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019
This women of color-run clothing boutique is curated by a bold and loving personality, and it shows. Nobody Jones offers a wide range of women's fashions, from witty reimaginings of designer logos on hoodies to elegant party and evening-wear. Head over to their Instagram to find not only photos of their gorgeous ready-to-wear pieces, but glimpses of the store owner's humor in motivational and funny quote posts in-between.
SGH Apparel LLC
6600 CA-27 Unit 1058-C, Canoga Park, CA 91303
This mother-daughter run business is on a mission to empower women through athleisure. SGH stands for "She's Got Hustle," embodying the spirit of their versatile garments for powerful women on the go. The women of color entrepreneurs take pride in connecting to customers and community through social media giveaways, a red carpet grand opening and a social feed full of glowing Instagram customer testimonials.
Food & Drink
3123 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90057
Genever is Historic Filipinotown's iconic women of color-owned gin bar. Don't be intimidated by their impressive legacy though — they're a self-described "friendly and intimate lounge" welcoming you and your friends. Their menu is handcrafted with special attention to sourcing local produce and designing house-made syrups and shrubs. Gin is their menu headliner, but they serve a wide variety of cocktail creations featuring artisan ingredients from saffron and ginger to pandan. According to Gerlie Collado, the owners are passionate about celebrating Filipinotown's culture and history, often collaborating or hosting special events rooted in their community, and they are all about community, having been founded through crowdfunding efforts. Not quite ready to go barhopping yet? Genever offers cocktails to go, a monthly membership and an online shop where you get wellness kits that might include honeysuckle jasmine tea, dehydrated mangoes or sago pandan tinctures.
J's Bar & My Ramen Bar
321 1/2 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
The owners of My Ramen Bar have a long history of being loved by their community. In the wake of the recent passing of Jason Easton, one of the owners, the family-run business has continued on with the support of the community. Easton's wife, Mayuko, is honoring her husband's legacy by continuing to operate Little Tokyo's beloved "My Ramen Bar," which serves up signature Japanese noodle soups, gyoza, fried rice and more.
You might have already heard about the world traveling-inspired ice cream shop that's taken Los Angeles by storm. It's no surprise, given the diversity of L.A., a city of immigrants itself. Aside from their popular stints at Smorgasburg, they operate five L.A.-based brick-and-mortar shops, where customers line up to sample flavors from around the world. Their long-awaited holiday menu includes Philippines-inspired "Food for the Gods," brown butter and Muscovado ice cream topped with gooey Philippine-style fruit, and "Okinawan Mont Blanc," a swirl of Mascarpone vanilla bean ice cream and Okinawan sweet yam potato. Nationwide shipping available.
12355 Moorpark St, Studio City, CA 91604
Afterschool Village stemmed from the idea that children should have a village of support to grow and work through emotional problems. This non-profit's approach combats traditional therapy and the "overmedicalization" of social, emotional and behavioral issues young people face and rather cultivates community among peers. From teaching environmental sustainability through their "Happy Planet Kids" program to hosting writer's workshops with writers of color, Afterschool Village aims to create a safe space for young people to thrive.
Teach to Reach
2314 W Jefferson Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018
Looking for an interactive, innovative after school program for your young ones? Teach to Reach LLC founded by AyEsha Leonard McLaughlin is woman of color-run educational program offering seasonal Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math camps to give children of all ages exposure to hands-on experiments and activities. Teach to Reach also at-home learning kits that help parents bring the learning home.
Honey Scrubbed products sound just like their name — bringing together non-irritating, natural ingredients to cultivate self care. The owner started the business to combat her own issues with eczema. This Black-owned female-helmed brand specializes in face and body scrubs in a variety of fragrances.
Violet Botanical Skincare
Formulated for people with sensitive skin concerns like eczema in mind, Violet Botanical Skincare products are made with a personal touch. Their products, ranging from Queen of Flowers Body Butter to Marula Body Oil, contain premium, sustainable, plant-based ingredients sourced from rural female harvesters in southern Africa. "My skin is so dry it flakes and literally peels," says Nancy Vescovo. She recommended Violet Botanical's Body Butter and commends the owner's first-rate service. "[The owner] Robbin was in my neighborhood and did a special drop off. She is that wonderful."
For those on the hunt for a go-to tech support store in L.A., Melrose Mac is your place. This Apple Authorized tech retailer stocks all the newest products, provides repair services and caters to the needs of Los Angeles' film production and media professionals. According to our recommender, Melrose Mac has been their most reliable "tech partner" for over 15 years, handling everything from their work to personal tech issues.
6614 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90038