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.

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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

Retail Therapy: {Le Labo, San Francisco}

You know us- we’re always on the hunt for new visual eye candy. That can sometime require a little manual labor…ok, by that we just really mean getting off our butts and out of the office,  but the effort is always totally worth it. One of our favorite things to do is to just walk a neighborhood to look at new window installations, check out the latest collections and  scope out any recent additions. Recently, Team Apartment 34 decided to take a trip Fillmore Street, to not only rejuvenate our minds, but also our senses!

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Amidst all of the beautifully decorated shops that line Fillmore, Le Labo, a boutique fragrance store, not only catches your eye with its gorgeous interior, but also lures you in nose first with the delicate blend of delicious smells. We’ve popped in and out of the store before, but this time we went with a mission of finding a signature Apartment 34 fragrance – that everyone on the team would love!

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Immediately walking into Le Labo, you’re met with sensory overload {in the best way possible!}. First the interiors- delicate bottles of tiny fragrances line the tin tile-covered walls {making up for a perfect #shelfie shot!} and the natural light by the window floods into the rustic chic but homey decor. Mixed materials, industrial lighting, a cardboard coffee table and the awesome campaign-esqe sofa are just the right mix of industrial charm and contemporary craftsmanship!

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Our main goal for the day was to pick out a signature Apartment 34 scent. We learned all about the intricate process behind Le Labo’s art of mixing fragrances- from the necessity of “human touch” behind the products {they pick each rose and hand pour each candle!}, down to the naturally compounded perfumes and individualized labeling that each customer receives. The label was the easy part- we’re packaging obsessed. But choosing a fragrance for one person is hard enough- so imagine the struggle we faced with an entire team- six different noses, trying to decide on a single favorite!

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Here’s what the tally came down to:

-We loved the Rose 31 {btw, the number indicates how many “ingredients” are in each fragrance}, a feminine-meets masculine scent named for- you guessed it- the Centifolia rose! Romantic and mysterious- it smells amazing.

-Santal 33 is another one of Le Labo’s iconic scents and a major customer favorite. It was no wonder that we all gravitated towards this one. With notes of cardamom, iris, ambrox, sandalwood, we definitely felt the “American west” vibes.

-Ylang 45 was a strong, darkly floral scent. We liked this one for its sharp, woodsy notes.

Pin 12 is a sophisticated and subtle blend of pine and amber – a perfect unisex fragrance.

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The verdict? We narrowed it down to the Santal 33 home candle and the Pin 12 fragrance. Being home decor obsessed, in the end, we found a way to get the best of both worlds- Pin 12 home scent- a light and woodsy breath of fresh air for any pillow or rug. We now keep it in the office and spray the sofa in our reading corner to refresh the air every time inspiration is getting stale and senses could use a re-boost!

Le Labo is the ultimate luxury, whether you’re treating your body or your home, it’s amazing how confident and sophisticated you’ll feel walking out of there with such a mature and luxurious scent on your skin. And if anyone ever tells you different, riddle them this: “Beware of those who have no weakness for women and perfumes.”

original photography for apartment 34 by Aubrie Pick 

Retail Therapy: A Zen-full Tea Shop

Next Tuesday is officially the first day of Fall. Can you believe it?? I KNOW. We can’t either. Good thing we’ve found the coziest haven from the ever thickening San Francisco fog; the most incredible tea shop you ever did see. Samovar Tea Lounge recently opened its newest location in the popular San Francisco Mission District and hipster hearts, including our own, are exploding all over the city!

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Walls of custom made ceramic vessels and caldron-like copper pots steam brewing tea. Black-washed floors make the already subtly lit stone walls seem beautifully cave-like and a single bench stretching the entire room just begs you to stay a while. But {if you can believe it} there’s something more than this instagram-worthy space that has us convinced we’ll be making tea trips over coffee runs all season long! The answer is yes and it comes in the form of two words: chai tea.

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We haven’t spied a space that does ‘cozy and inviting’ better than this one. Bundled up in a leather jacket and scarf, briskly walking down Valencia St., it’s pretty much impossible NOT to duck out of the chilled air and stop into Samovar. It’s something out of a movie, really. Tea is being stirred and ladled out of huge hammered copper pots and employees clad in crafty leather and canvas aprons are offering you a flaky scone and butter with your piping hot drink.

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But the real treat is actually the tea itself. We’re here to tell you that their chai tea is the best chai you’ll ever put to your lips. Rich and milky, it’s the perfect drink to make you warm inside -we’d take it over a cup of jo on a brisk fall morning and that’s saying A LOT. It doesn’t hurt that it comes in a gorgeous ceramic mug of which we’ve already tried our luck at purchasing a set for ourselves only to find out they’re a custom cup just for Samovar. Nooooo.

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Next time you’re in San Francisco, or if you’re a local and have YET to visit Samovar on Valencia, you need to move it to the top of your list. Fall is right around the corner and we promise, Samovar is tea-licious! —Bianca

original photography for apartment 34 by Aubrie Pick