Retail Therapy: {Social Studies, Berkeley}

If you’re one of those people that continues to associate Berkeley, CA with dreadlocks, hacky sacks and patchouli, you’re actually missing out. Not only is Berkeley one of the warmer micro-climates in the Bay Area, it’s also a design lover’s dream. Aside from the tried and true block of 4th Street filled with some of my go-to design stores (such as CB2, The Gardener and the Crate and Barrel Outlet), there’s lots of excitement happening a few blocks up on San Pablo Ave. Case in point: Social Studies.


The boutique Social Studies was opened towards the end of 2014 by Lauren Woodward and has since expanded with the recent debut, a men’s store (also located nearby on San Pablo). In addition to the two shops, Lauren and her husband Shawn Weiland recently launched Form + Matter—an all-natural skincare line being carried in their stores as well as online! 


As a former gallery curator, Lauren has an innate eye for good design. Social Studies carries an array of gorgeous goods, including some of my favorites like Riudavets sandals, Wary Meyers candles, Hasami Porcelain and goods from Yield Design Co.

Insider Tip: If you’re a former Southern Californian like myself and sometimes find yourself nostalgic for lazy beach days, this candle basically transports you to the beach. I’m serious. It’s the perfect antidote to “Fogust”. 


On top of the incredible product mix, the retail presentation is truly one of a kind at Social Studies. Putting their architectural and design backgrounds to work, Lauren and Shawn handcrafted all of the display structures from scratch. Suspended tables are hung from the rafters while custom wood fixtures create eye-catching product displays—making the ambiance of the shops as equally alluring as the products inside!


And as if there’s not already enough reason to pay Social Studies a visit, Lauren, Shawn and the rest of the staff could not be nicer. They cheerfully engage with anyone that walks into the shop and won’t hesitate to recommend other local businesses to check out in the neighborhood (ahem, Flowerland). True to Berkeley form, the folks at Social Studies are some of the most humble and down to earth people you’ll encounter in the Bay Area.


In the end, what I love most about this shop is that it gives off a totally Modern California vibe while still paying tribute to its Berkeley roots and the surrounding neighborhood. If you find yourself in the neighborhood, be sure to pay a visit to Social Studies (and then follow it with a drink and a bite at Bartavelle).

Copy and photography by Ali Hartwell for Apartment 34

Retail Therapy: {Oakland’s Best Decor Store}

We do our fair share of running around our cities exploring, perusing, eating, shopping and drinking. We call it “work,” but really, it’s what our life goals are made of! It’s an especially good day when we stumble upon something so good, we name it the best. We discovered this sweet shop over a year ago and have been loyal to it since. Every couple of months we pop in to see what newly curated treasures adorn the shelves and every time, every time, we fall in love with it all over again. Properly named and popularly adored, I Love Neighbor is the best decor store in Oakland and here’s why!


You’re strolling down Piedmont Ave on what’s likely a gorgeous day in Oakland. The East Bay is always good for sunshine! On any particular day, the City Across the Bay is at least 5 degrees warmer and the sky much sunnier than fog-ridden San Francisco. As you pass all of the usual suspects, some that have occupied the street for years – decades, even – Fenton’s Creamery, Lost and Found Antiques, Issues, you mosey past something new, fresh, young: I Love Neighbor. You go in {duh!} and your eyes become as big as saucers as they proceed to soak up every little nook and cranny of this gorgeously curated space.


Brass chandeliers made by local artists, glass and ceramic mobiles, vintage paintings and antique taxidermy all hang from the walls or soar from the tall, wood beam ceilings above you. Black and white Icelandic sheepskins, classic striped foutas, colorful Moroccan rugs and handmade textiles from artists in Brooklyn adorn a mid-century chair or spill over a dip-dyed ladder.


Locally made candles, cocktail syrups and shrubs, organic soaps and detergents {peach oil laundry detergent. hello!} line the chic shelves. Grey washed live-edge bowls, smoothly carved horn spoons, unique candlesticks, tiny leather coin pouches, brass scissors in every size and rope dog leashes all make the cut in their well-stocked cabinets.


And, the staff! Well, they’ll become your new best friends not only because they are so friendly, but they’ll also indulge you as you jabber about loving everrrrr-y-thing. They’ll likely tell you about the item in your hand and somehow convince you, in a way your best friend would, that you need it. The store is inviting, never stuffy or intimidating and there’s a backyard luring you in for “just a peek through the back door” yet it enticies you to sit down and stay a while – a neighborly Oakland mentality if we’ve ever seen one!


So if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by Neighbor. And if you’re not, do yourself a favor and be in the neighborhood! To all our buddies in San Francisco who rarely find themselves breaking out of their norm, I Love Neighbor is worth the quick drive over the bridge and we dare you, just dare you, to not fall in love!

original photography for apartment 34 by aubrie pick

Retail Therapy: {The Podolls, San Francisco}

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.


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.


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.

PodollsSelects (4 of 15)podolls-2podolls-10podolls-6

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!


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.


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