I first learned of The Podolls, the clothing line created by husband and wife design duo Lauren and Josh Podoll, not long after arriving in San Francisco. At the time, their designs – both their hand-designed fabrics and clothing made out of said fabric – were entirely online. But I was immediately smitten. This is my kind of style – oversized tunics, cozy sweaters, super soft tees all in a nice neutral color palette. So when they opened their first boutique in Burlingame I knew I’d love the brand personified and they certainly didn’t disappoint. And now they’ve gone one step further – opening a second shop in Noe Valley! We made an immediate beeline to the perfectly curated and beautifully designed space. From custom displays (made by Josh no less!), and an in-store playhouse – Lauren and Josh have outdone themselves with this space – and I couldn’t be happier for them – and for my closet!

We sat down to pick Lauren’s brain about her passion for fashion, launching a fashion line and how she balances work and family life.

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The Birth of Josh + Lauren + The Podolls

Josh and I met in 2003 when I was a buyer for ab fits here in San Francisco. I had been working in the fashion world for about three years and loved buying, but secretly always wanted to design! When I met Josh, he was making t-shirts with silkscreened artwork and I bought some to carry in the store. Six months later we had our first date and immediately started brainstorming about new designs and working together. We grew the collection over time and educated ourselves about textiles, pattern making, and production. We’ve maintained our commitment to using organic and natural fibers while we’ve expanded the array of styles well beyond the original graphic tees. The line has always been sewn locally and we’re very proud of that.

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Shopping In The Store + Highlighting Other Artisans

We have been fortunate to partner with some wonderful retail stores, including local favorites like MAC (Modern Appealing Clothing) and dish, and yet we always dreamed of having our own retail store for our brand. The process of opening a store and running it day-to-day has brought me full circle back to the days of working at ab fits and I’m grateful for those years of experience. The Podolls retail stores showcase our collection along with the work of independent designers we admire and who complement our line. We don’t specialize in denim or accessories so, each season, I curate pieces around our collection from the lines we sell. Over the years we’ve met so many talented designers and artisans at the trade shows we attend so it was easy to select from makers we admire.

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We designed a hangtag for items we sell in the stores that are not our label and we explain on there why we chose the item— possible categories are: made in the USA, artisanal production, natural fibers, recycled, locally produced, family-run business, philanthropic, and fair wage labor. Everything we sell hits at least one of those distinctions. Some of our favorite lines for women are: Ryan Roche, Micaela Greg, Closed Denim, Freda Salvador, Martiniano, Ampersand as Apostrophe, Marisa Mason, Reinhard Plank and Ariel Clute. We also have a children’s area of the store for our podots line as well as Bobo Choses, Mini Rodini, Cabbages & Kings and Mini & Maximus.

Right now, I’m spending a lot of time on the floor of the new SF location as we acclimate to the area and meet new customers. I love meeting new clients and introducing them to our line. The personal interactions inherent to brick and mortar retail are a big reason we opened the stores; you just can’t get that sort of intimate exchange when shopping online!

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On Professional and Personal Balance

In terms of balancing professional and personal, I just try my best at it every day. Our son is in preschool now so we have a big chunk of the day to dedicate solely to work. Then we try to put all our attention on him in the early mornings and evenings. We love morning family dance parties and reading stories in the evening. When I prioritize my yoga practice, the days and weeks are much smoother—it’s so important to find those minutes for tuning in and turning off the mind. I have also found that becoming a mother has made me more efficient— I no longer have the luxury of over thinking things so I repeat the phrase ‘Done is Better than Perfect’. That’s a good one for all of us with perfectionistic tendencies.

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Lauren’s Final Words of Advice

Cultivate experiences. Don’t settle. Strive towards your dream job. Realize that your work is your life so enjoy it.

Curious about the lovely design choices in the space? They’re just so gorgeous, especially in person!

Lauren tells all: the cash wrap/jewelry display case was made by Danny Montoya of Key & Kite, the playhouse was made for us by Jay Nelson {with indigo dyed curtains by Matt of Flint Outdoors!}, the maple and concrete chandelier was made by our LA based friends Airi and Ryan of wrk-shp and the built in cabinets, shelves and dovetail walnut bench were made by Josh. We wanted to create another light and open space like we enjoy at the Burlingame location so we painted the walls white and bleached and tinted the wood floors for a calm Scandinavian feeling!

Needless to say, it all came together perfectly! Check out the brand spanking new The Podolls San Francisco space in Noe Valley at 3985 24th Street!

original photography for apartment 34 by Charles Redding

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