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

Retail Therapy: {Jessie Black, San Francisco}

It seems like everyday there’s a new restaurant or boutique to check out in San Francisco – it’s one of the things we really love about the city- it’s ever evolving. But it’s not everyday that a new spot opens up with THE sweetest shop owner of all time. Because, really, a space is only as amazing as the people inside. Jessie Black, Pacific Height’s latest luxury retail haven, is our fave new boutique, not just for the luxuriously soft lines of cashmere they carry, but for the lady behind the brand, Ms. Jessie Black, herself!

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This sweet boutique is truly one of the most unique shopping experiences in San Francisco. In the store fragrant coconut wax candles burn, french music plays, piles of purposefully “not-too-neatly” folded cashmere scream “feel me!” – every sense is brought to life.

We love the fact that Jessie designed her store around luxury textures and they are indeed everywhere! The space is beautifully accessorized with chunky knit blankets, plush woven rugs and the softest cashmere pullovers you’ve ever felt. And with a plate of macarons often put out for guests- the store is a treat, in more ways than one!

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Our favorite element has to be the fact that the shop is home to one of San Francisco’s most unique changing rooms: “the boudoir.” Jessie wanted to create a space where guests would feel right at home so her dressing room includes a bed, armoire, and gorgeous accessories- everything to make the room feel like a real bedroom. When you’re ready to try on a cozy sweater, you draw back the curtains and have the entire boudoir to change in! Jessie even encourages guests to throw the clothes on the bed {just like you would at home!}, rifle through the drawers where you’ll find fine silk lingerie and open the cupboard where the latest cashmere jacket and folded cotton t-shirts are hung- all for sale!

And if the boudoir isn’t enough, there is a beautiful patio where you can enjoy the sunshine and stay awhile- truly making Jessie Black your home away from home!!

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If you get a chance to chat as you comb through the shop’s sweet details you might get to hear Jessie’s infatuating story. A true world traveller {she’s lived everywhere from Paris to Monte Carlo, London to New York and happens to be Australian!}, her work embodies the places she’s been:

“I have been lucky enough to live in Paris, London, New York and Monte Carlo. Working in each of these great design capitals has been an incredible opportunity and really shaped my design aesthetic. Each city has its distinct style and energy. I took a slice of inspiration from each of these cities. I love the chic minimalism of Paris, the classic nature of London, the boldness of New York, the old-world sophistication of Monte Carlo and the freshness and diversity of San Francisco. Sydney for its natural beauty!”

We asked Jessie about her road to opening a luxury retail store. Early on with an MBA in the luxury goods sector, she learned opening a boutique is no easy feat. So Jessie hired on Parisian boutique manager, Carla, who has quite the resume herself, working at Christian Lacroix and Chanel and is especially grateful to her husband, whom would work her trade shows {Maison et Objet Paris, to be exact!}, ironing bed sheets and serving coffee to guests for days straight. Talk about a keeper!!

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Jessie’s love and passion for her craft, her sweet-as-pie personality and her gorgeous store are three things everyone should have the pleasure of experiencing. If you are shopping in San Francisco be sure to pop in to feel some of the softest cashmere you’ll ever touch {get thisshe uses the same atelier as Chanel!} and of course, bite into a scrumptious pistachio or passion fruit macaron! — Bianca

For even more of our San Francisco favorites, CLICK HERE!

original photography for apartment 34 by Aubrie Pick