Technically Hollywood

As Haim plays in the background through record player speakers, we snack on some cheese at Devin’s dining room table.

Devin is the best host, always has been.

You can see the Hollywood sign as you come up the main road to her house just off in the distance – she dwells in a house just behind an apartment building. It’s a gem of a find in Hollywood.

Devin is the type of person that creates endlessly – creates the space she wants to be in, creates the life path she wants to be on, creates the outfits she effortlessly dons. She’s just real – real in the realest sense of the word.

This drizzly day in Hollywood is spent wandering in and out of her home. I take way too many photos before we head to Necromance to get an anniversary gift for her fiancé. 

She looks down at her black diamond engagement ring, and we chat:

How would you describe the day you were born? 

I was born on August 5th 1990. I was late…didn’t want to come out. *Laughs* Mom had gone to a BBQ earlier in the day and when they were walking there, she said to my dad “this baby’s gonna come out today!” …and I did. *Laughs* And then I almost died, so that’s cool.

On like a scale of 1-10 where 1 your baby is dead and 10 your baby is perfectly fine, I was a 2. So that’s good. I was also born with 12 toes, which makes it even better. *Laughs* 

So that’s how I would describe that!

Sounds eventful! So when did you move to LA and why?

I actually think it’s only been like 4 months since I moved, and I moved because 1) I was working in the music industry and, 2) I knew I wanted to find other opportunities to work in music. And being in LA is the place to do that. So that is that!

What neighborhood do you live in?

I’m not sure! Technically it’s Hollywood, and it’s on the cusp of little Armenia. And that’s all I know. It’s just before you hit Echo Park.

Like East Hollywood? It’s not Hollywood-Hollywood quite yet. It’s like a weird in-between neighborhood.

Why did you decide to move right here in “technically Hollywood”?

I was looking in Echo Park but parking is a big deal to me, cause I’m not a fan of parking 5 miles away and walking. But I was looking in Echo Park because there’s a bunch of people my age there, there’s a lot of events and venues in that direction.

But I just wasn’t finding anything and it was expensive. I found this place online and my dad was free one day so we waltzed down to the leasing office and talked to them.

It was really crazy because it’s my own little house with my own little parking spot and my own little backyard for my own little dog!

[She squeezes her pup in her lap]

And it should be more expensive than it is and it’s not so that is a good thing. It’s not exactly the location I wanted cause I wanted to walk to things and I’m not around things I can walk to. But there’s the occasional homeless person singing in the alley at night so it’s perfect.

[I snap away as we talk. I show her the photo I just took, “Oh I like the shadow on my face!”]

Is there any other place in LA you’d like to be?

I was looking up by Dodger’s stadium cause its above Echo Park with really safe neighborhoods and it’s not so hustle and bustle. It’s more like a neighborhood vibe. So that was really cool I was looking there too. Someday if I ever decide to stay in LA and make a lot of money I want to move to Hancock Park. Because it’s beautiful. And it has beautiful homes.

 

What would you say LA’s best feature is?

Diversity. Every neighborhood has its own feel. So you never really feel like you’re in the same place when you’re in all these different places. I think people think of it as a big city but there’s all these hiking trails and parks. It’s still very LA…with the health conscious people…and like snootiness…but for the most part people are nice that I’ve encountered.

…what was the question? *Laughs* I got so lost in my brain that I forgot!

Best feature!

Oh right, yes I’d say the diversity. I get much of it here – I live between two Starbucks and two Denny’s. And if you go out on Sunset to the left those are the sketchy ones but if you go to the right that’s where all the people and their little dogs and their Lulu Lemon gym outfits go. One Denny’s its very evident when you go there late at night they kind of section off the restaurant based on the people that come in. Brian and I went in one night and there was definitely a meth head section! *Laughs* So ya I’d say diversity. It’s great. Keeps life entertaining. So fun.

 

Do you have a secret spot?

Ive only been here for like three weekends, but there’s one place in Echo Park on Sunset called the Black Cat. It’s great and it's so good and it's an old lesbian bar. Now it’s a restaurant and I’m in love with it. I haven’t gone to the bar yet cause I’ve only gone for breakfast but I want to sit at the bar and have a cocktail cause it’s so cute.

You don’t really feel like you’re in LA-- it has a New York feel to it, just from the way it’s decorated. I just want to sit there all day and hang out there. Its cool.  It has a café vibe.

Do you have a love/hate relationship with LA?

Oh yes, there’s just too many people and it takes waaaaayyy too long to get anywhere. And too many of the people… either they’re like douche bag LA drivers or tourists and don’t know how to drive in LA *laughs* and its so annoying. So that’s my main hate for LA is it’s too crowded. And it gets expensive at times. Other than that, I really love it. I

t has more good qualities than bad I’d say.

What keeps you here?

My job. The industry I want to work in and Brian [her fiancé] is moving out here next month and he’s working to get into the music industry too. And in the long run we’d like to be in Nashville but in the mean time we’re here in LA.

And I mean we started our own event production…it’s not a company yet...but company is the word you would use. It’s called Meow City we had our first event the other night. So LA’s just a really great place to network and meet people. We had some girls at our event the other night that are in some big indie bands that just happened to show up, and we had a great turnout for the first event. So getting ourselves established and doing our own thing on top of work cause eventually we’d like that to be our main source of income. So ya that’s why I stay!

 

What do you do?

I work in music publishing. I am the licensing coordinator. We get a lot of searches for TV and film and trailers for movies so I assist in that department and manage the office. It’s interesting, its cool, and on the side I started Meow City. So hopefully that does as well as I hope it does. Eventually I’d like to do more event stuff.

Why is it called Meow City?

A while ago, it was just kind of an idea that popped into my head: that we’d start a record label and he [Brian] just kind of came up with Meow City and I don’t know. Brian is a weird person. He just came up with it so it stuck.

When did you know you were an Angeleno if you consider yourself one? 

I don’t know if its happened yet! I saw you ask people this and I was like thinking about it and I really don’t know that it's happened yet but it's gonna happen. I don’t know! I don’t know what would qualify for that. So I guess when it happens I’ll let ya know! *Laughs*

A Visual Floral Diary in DTLA

Step inside this visual floral diary. 

Bellatula is the brain child of self-proclaimed floral fanatic Stephanie Hall and her husband, Brandon

Watch Steph create gorgeous bracelets that transition to whimsical hair pieces as we play in the rainy streets of Downtown Los Angeles.

*Click on any image to be transported to the serenely stunning world of Bellatula

Lingerie and LA: Behind the Lace of Lencería Boutique

Walking into Lencería Boutique (whose name means “home linens and lingerie") is like walking into your own personal boudoir.  If your boudoir has a kind, smart, quick-to-laugh owner who can pick out incredible lingerie for you and make you feel insanely comfortable and sexy.

As I chat with boutique owner, Juliana Correa, over lattes that she so graciously made for us, we crack up literally just talking about life. Smooth music mix plays lightly in the background as we sip on our coffee. I know I’ve made a new friend, as we chat about our cats' odd behavior and how much we unconditionally love them anyway.

She is so fun to interview because she is always so interested in whomever she’s speaking with. It's rare: she asked me just as many questions as I asked her!

We sit on the luscious couches towards the back of her second store on Melrose (she moved from her first Sunset location just a few months ago).

As our giggles wane,

B: So, where are you from?

J: I’m from Colombia originally, but I moved to Miami when I was very young…I was like 12 years old. From Miami to New York. New York to Arizona, where I met my husband, and that’s how I moved to LA…my husband got a job here.

B: [Thinking, unsuccessfully, of ways to portray her incredible Colombian accent on my blog…] What was it that really brought you here?

J: The real reason was my husband got a job here *laughs.* We were in business school and he was looking for a job in LA and I was looking for a job in New York. He got his job in LA right away, so we moved here. And we thought it would be just a two- or three-year plan, but I think now it’s for the long run.

B: What’s the deciding factor on that?

J: I think the business. I’m not sure if I could have done what I’m doing here in NY…I think the store is made for LA. Also just work and friends and LA has been a lot better than we were expecting.

B: Did LA inspire your store?

J: Yes, I had only been to LA once. I was very, very young. And when I did the business plan for this boutique, I made the store in LA –very LA specific. And I had, in my research, put this store in the business plan two doors down from where I was in my first location!

B: Oh wow!

[While receiving her MBA, Juliana made plans to create this store in Los Angeles. Years later, when she was ready to actualize her dream plan from business school, she realized that she signed a lease for a location just two doors down from where she had hypothetically placed it in her business plan.]

J: The reason I made it in LA, even though I had not really been to LA, is that all the brands that I started with were not very well known in LA. Only in Miami and NY, which were the only two other cities I knew in the US. I wanted to bring this lifestyle and look to LA.

B: So you’re the pioneer for the brands you carry – that’s incredible.

J: A lot of these brands, yes. Nobody else had them and now a lot of people have them in LA. They’re brands that people seek out and know of them by the time they get here. 

B: I think its very cool that you have the whole “try on” experience [you can try on lingerie with your partner present] – a lot of your store is dedicated to being able to try on the lingerie. Is that intentional?

J: Yes, it’s a little nerve wracking to try on such intimate things and I think one of my biggest issues whenever I go lingerie shopping or swimwear shopping is this: the idea of like, too many people passing through or just not feeling comfortable. Also there is a sense of vulnerability, so I want to make it as comfortable as possible for the person who is in there. And if they want my help they have it and if they don’t, they don’t need me there.

B: That’s how I felt about the store – when we came you were so professional and kind. You have this chi about you – you’re here to support me. You were encouraging and giving suggestions and it was really helpful.

J: I always feel out the person. I really dislike when I feel like I’m being pushed with something that's not for me, and that’s what I try to be the most mindful about. That’s why there’s so much space and there’s a bell if you want to ring it [in the dressing room].

B: Why did you decide to open up a lingerie boutique, or what pointed you in that direction?

J: In a weird way, it just happened. Like when you ask your married friends “How do you know?” and you’re like “you just know!” That’s so annoying, I know. *Laughs* I did the business plan for a project and we needed to do an international component so I was like “Okay, what do I know? I know Colombia and they have a great textile industry,” so I did that.

B: That’s very strategic.

J: Ya and I thought it would be an easy business plan and instead it took me forever to do it and I was just pulling the all-nighters – everything I was trying to avoid by doing a business plan for this store! *Laughs* Then when we moved here it stayed in the back of my mind. The mature thing to do would have been to get a job that pays me money while we’re starting out, but it just stayed in the back of my mind when we were doing the whole move to LA, so I was like I have to do it.

B: So when he got the job in LA, were you just like “This is what I’m going to do!"?

J: Initially I thought, let me work for a couple of years and then I’ll do this. And then there was also the “If I work for a couple years, I’ll get comfortable and I’ll never do it.” So I just kind of threw myself at it and Joe [her husband] was really supportive so that helped a lot. I keep going because of the one-on-one that I can only get through this store: with the customer, which is great, and there are the people that you meet that own the brands. They are ridiculous… so talented and so driven.

B: You get to be in that creative world with them.

J: For example that crocheted top *points to swimsuit* it’s a brand called Entreaguas. The founder hires women who are coming out of the jail system so they have something in their résumé that’s recent. It’s a 26 year-old girl and she started it when she was 22 or 23 and still in school.  So you get that from a lot of the brands here: they all have that one passion. They’re really supportive of a cause.

B: I notice that you also have 31 Bits, and that’s a cause driven brand.

J: All the brands here I know through family or friends or just through being Colombian, and other brands you have to do research on, but they all have something. Some sort of cause that they’re supporting.

B: Oh I love that even more. So walk me through the search…what was the first thing that you did after you decided to open the store?

J: I was looking from Santa Monica to Los Feliz and everything in between! First of all, I didn’t know LA so I did a lot of driving and getting out and walking through the streets and getting a feel for people. I knew the kind of neighborhood I needed to be in. I tried getting a real estate agent but no one was willing to work within the square footage I needed because I needed too small of a space. So then I just drove around and found for-lease signs -- it took me like three months the first time around to find a place. Everyday. Just driving and looking.

B: It’s almost like apartment hunting!

J: Yes! I need to make sure the neighbors are not horrible *laughs* and in a good area and you want an area that’s like, up and coming enough. It wouldn’t make sense, something that’s too established. If people are walking from the very well-known stores to the little boutique it wouldn't make sense…it needs to be around people who are interested in something unique and that usually won’t happen in the very established areas.

B: How was the launch party for your second store?

J: That party was really nice. Before I moved out of Sunset I had a little party with 30 of the regular customers…and nothing can beat that. It was so nice. [Lencería has been open for three years now] Then I had the launch party here and there were so many more people who came, so that was really neat. I was also serving ---do you know Aguardiente? It’s a Columbian drink...probably 60% alcohol.

B: *Laughing* so you don’t really remember that opening night…

J: Well I don’t think anyone did! It was the clean up process that was an issue.

B: So you mentioned that you loved being able to work one on one with guests and with the designers – if you had to put your finger on the one thing you love what would it be?

J: It would be that, I know it would. You do need that deep conversation with someone, to learn from other people, and that’s where I get it. I don’t have immediate colleagues; my colleagues are the designers and the people that are selling the brands.

B: That’s not something you see everyday and it's great that you have the opportunity to do that and feel the way you do.

J: Right, I’ve always known I liked customer service but learning that it could be something that you could have a career out of was crazy. When I was little I would ask my mom “What am I good at?” Everyone has a talent that their parents can pinpoint and mine was like “You’re really nice!” *laughs* Mom! She’s like, “You’re really good with people!” and I was thinking, “That’s not a talent!”  

B: You know what, you’ve driven in LA—it’s a talent, believe me!

J: I guess what makes me really happy is that you can have a career out of just being nice!

B: So what does a day look like for you? When does it start and end?

J: A lot of my calls are to Columbia or the East Coast so I’m usually up at like 6:30AM on Skype doing the calls. I get here between 11 and 12 and then do what you would see every store owner do, which is the normal clean up and everything. I spend the rest of the day seeing customers, doing our social media, learning about new brands. Just kind of figuring out the rest of the seasons. I guess it depends if it’s buying season, then I’m on Excel trying to figure out the next six months' buys and shipments and trends. I pay less attentions to the trends that I see in a magazine than looking back to see what people bought. I chit chat a lot in the fitting room and see “Oh this person prefers this type of bra,” and I have all those notes to remind myself to buy what people are actually looking for. “Do they prefer underwire or no?”

B: So you’re like the little spy!

J: And its really neat to know the designers, that’s what’s great about working with smaller brands… I can tell them people really want the straps to criss-cross. And then they come out with straps that criss-cross!

[THE BELOW PHOTOS WERE TAKEN AT THE MELROSE LOCATION HOLIDAY PARTY]

 THE BLACK ONNING IN THE CENTER OF THE SHOT IS LENCERIA, NESTLED BETWEEN A GALLERY AND BEAUTY SUPPLY ON MELROSE.

THE BLACK ONNING IN THE CENTER OF THE SHOT IS LENCERIA, NESTLED BETWEEN A GALLERY AND BEAUTY SUPPLY ON MELROSE.

B: Is there something that you’re working on right now?

J: Christmas and shopping season is coming up and then Valentine’s. So I’ve finished buying all the lingerie that will come in through February. Every year I’ve had a charity that I focus on, so this December we’re working together on educating people on the charity. So it’s not just like, “Here’s some cash!” I work with the charity to see if they can come to the holiday party and will meet people so they see where their money is going.

B: What do you think is LA’s best feature?

J: You know I think I came in with not a positive image of it. And I was proven wrong so quickly. You just come in thinking everyone will be superficial and nice…but superficial. Then immediately you meet some of the smartest people you’ve ever met. But they enjoy their time off. So it’s the best combination between Miami and NY: where you have the smartest and brightest who work their butts off, but then you have the Miami where it’s like, "When I got to the beach, I go to relax -- I don’t go to do work." And that's a great mix.

You can also never pinpoint the style of LA…anywhere else I’ve been I think people have a specific style. And LA doesn’t have that, and that’s so fantastic. And the food here is ridiculous. It’s better than anywhere I’ve lived. Even though I’ve traveled so much, people here do it right and it’s easy to be healthy. LA also embraces individuality. People get excited about brands they’ve never heard of, whereas in other places you have to prove what it’s worth.

I think LA just kind of sees it, likes it, and goes for it.

B: Would you say you have a secret spot in the city?

J: It always changes. Right now I really love Euro Caffé. I was walking on Beverly and ran into this little café that’s just right out of Italy. It has two Italian guys talking outside about the neighborhood, and people come in and high five each other. It’s crazy. It’s like you’re in Italy. They have the best chocolate croissants because they’re made with Nutella. Its probably good you haven’t found this place because I have to have one or two croissants a week!

B: I'm really excited to check out that spot! So what was the day that you knew you were an Angeleno?

J: I went to NY with my husband for a wedding and while I was there, I went a little crazy. I needed to move back. I couldn’t handle living in LA. I missed my friends…I missed NY. Finally we got home and he was like “Let’s start setting up so we can go back to NY. We’ve been here for a while and it's been for me so we can start moving back and do it for you.” But immediately I was like, “Oh my goodness I’m going to miss my friends! What am I going to do without the weather?!” So I realized that if I didn’t have it [LA] I would really miss it. Then I realized okay, I can do this. I can sign up and be here. And who knows we’ll maybe move but while I’m here, I’m here.

Lencería Boutique is located at 7619 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90046.