I've been holding out on you with the last post from my trip to Los Angeles this Spring. However, I wanted to keep this post to tie in with my theme of festive gifting this week (stay tuned for my Bumper Christmas Gift Guide online on Wednesday!) and share with you a little look around probably my favourite store in Los Angeles: Urbanic Paper Boutique, located on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice. If you happen to be stateside (or shopping online) for your festive gifts anytime in the next month or so, Urbanic is where it's at. I also had the chance to sit down with the store owner, Audrey Woollen, to chat about the store and its neighbourhood.
For those of you unfamiliar, let me introduce you. I first stumbled on Urbanic on my very first trip to Venice in September 2012, when I was living on the other side of West L.A. in Westwood Village. I was already fascinated by some of the beautiful paper brands that were emerging across the pond such as Sugar Paper L.A., and finding Urbanic was like finding all of the paper and stationary I dreamed could be found here in England all in one place. And they don't just sell cards, stationary and paper; the carefully curated paper store is the perfect place to find gift, party and home fixings, too.
Audrey explained to me how they curate the different themed displays in store. She and her team choose choose absolutely everything in store. They do get a lot of submissions from designers and brands who'd like their products to be featured, but Audrey likes to discover most of it herself, shopping around everywhere from Etsy to Pinterest to indie craft fairs. Audrey's finds are how the ideas for the different themed displays that change every season come about, and once the themes have been chosen, it is then time to source more items to compliment them. Audrey has a particular love for stocking items that would otherwise be hard to find, so she also looks out of the country for stock. Lots of the products that made up the displays when I photographed the store in the Spring show that she's working with a lot of suppliers in Japan at the moment.
We spent a lot of time talking about how their location both on Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, and in Los Angeles in general influences the store. After moving from a tiny store they had on Main Street in Santa Monica (just to test the waters, to see if there was a market for the sort of store Audrey had in mind), Urbanic has been located at 1644 Abbot Kinney Boulevard for the past 9 years.
From Audrey's descriptions, the Abbot Kinney that Urbanic moved into almost a decade ago was nowhere near as glossy as the street that I know and love. In the days before all the big (but still achingly cool) designers moved in, it was a place for smaller, indie stores to congregate. While it really put Abbot Kinney on the map and helped make it such an oasis of cool stores and some of the best eateries in Los Angeles, the fall of the smaller independents on the street Audrey credits to GQ magazine, who named it the coolest block in America; that is when the bigger stores started to move in. Interestingly enough the next location in Venice that had begun to gentrify in similar way that Audrey pointed out to me I'd already noticed the transition in, from when I lived in the city to when I was visiting two years later; Lincoln Boulevard. I asked Audrey if she'd be moving up there with the masses, but I was happy to hear that she'd be staying put on the Boulevard.
So what is next for Urbanic? Well, they would like to expand, but Audrey is very aware of how specially curated the store is (there is a reason it is one of my favourites!), so she's going to take it slow, both so she's sure to protect their really strong and unique brand, but to make things easier on her young family, too. She'd love to sell more home and kitchen products, as well as jewellery, but all of that is in the future; again they're happy with what they're doing at the moment. What I am jealous of for people who live in L.A., is that they're looking to do more events in store, classes (their gift wrapping class is a sold out success), book signings, getting artists in store, and to throw Summer and Winter socials. Talking to Audrey I got the real feeling of how important the Venice community is to the store, so I think it is lovely that these events will help them become even more a part of it. If you're local, be sure to swing by for one of these.
You can visit Urbanic Paper Boutique at 1644 Abbot Kinney Boulevard (preferably after brunch at Salt Air just a few doors down, or The Tasting Kitchen that is right across the street, and my favourite brunch in the world ever), or you can shop Urbanic online here. Some of my favourite items from their online store include this Frenchie note book, this pretty copper soy candle and this Telegram notepad. In keeping with my gifting theme for this week, if you're shopping for any friends you might happen to have in L.A. and you can't make it to the store to pick something out, you can order them a $10, $25, $50, $75 or $100 in store gift card, which you can have delivered to them in pretty wrapping.
I always get asked on Twitter for recommendations for places to eat, stay and visit in Los Angeles. You can find all of my picks here, which include my favourite restaurants and street food picks, hotels, bars, farmers markets, places to visit, and which tourist spots are worth visiting or not. But as ever, if you're planning a trip to L.A. and you need a bit more guidance, feel free to get in touch!