Made in LA
Made in LA
By Kira Hessler
Kira Hessler is a writer, actor, and filmmaker in Los Angeles. A native Chicagoan, she has become an expert in all things donut-related since moving to Los Angeles six years ago. You can see more of her writing and filmmaking at www.kirahesser.com.
The city of Los Angeles is predicated on the idea that identity is malleable. Desert was adjusted to be livable, precarious water sources were plundered, and an industry based on the Art of the Lie was founded here. It’s no wonder, then, that this city has of course no singular identity but a storied array of identities as voluminous as its landscape.
We asked several LA-based independent business owners the following question about Los Angeles, and this is how they answered:
HOW DO YOU THINK LOS ANGELES (AND PERHAPS ITS ACCOMPANYING “ONE-INDUSTRY TOWN” MENTALITY UNDER THE SCEPTER OF “HOLLYWOOD”) HAS SHAPED THE CHARACTER AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF YOUR BUSINESS?
THE ATTITUDE HERE IS DIFFERENT. IT’S NOT, “WHY ARE YOU DOING THAT?” RATHER IT’S, “HOW CAN WE MAKE THIS HAPPEN?” THAT IS THE REASON WHY CREATIVE BUSINESSES THRIVE IN LOS ANGELES. AS A PHOTOGRAPHER AND ARTIST, THE COMMUNITY I’VE FOUND HERE IS FULL OF MENTORS, COLLABORATORS AND INSPIRATION, ALL OF WHOM ARE ALL JUST A PHONE CALL AWAY.”
-Michelle Alexis Newman, Los Angeles Fine Art Photographer
“ VANITY IS A BIG PART OF HOLLYWOOD AND IT ALWAYS HAS BEEN. THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH VANITY. YA KNOW WHY? BECAUSE EVERYBODY’S VAIN IN ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, WHETHER THEY BRAG ABOUT THEIR COLLEGE DEGREE OR THE MANY CRAZY FOODS THEY’VE DARED TO TRY OR THE PLACES THEY’VE BEEN OR THEIR ATHLETIC ACCOMPLISHMENTS. EVERYBODY WANTS TO BE PROUD OF SOMETHING. HOLLYWOOD’S VANITY IS MERELY ONE SMALL PART IN THE VAST SPECTRUM OF THE HUMAN EGO.”
-Van de la Plante, Owner of Gentlemen’s Breakfast Eyewear
"LOS ANGELES IS THE BLOOD IN THE VEINS THAT PULSES THOUGH THE HEART OF MY BUSINESS. NOT ONLY DOES IT SUPPLY ME WITH ALL THE BASICS FOR MY BUSINESS (FABRIC, SUPPLIES, ETC), IT FUELS ME CREATIVELY WITH ENDLESS THINGS TO EXPLORE... EVEN FOR A TRANSPLANT THAT HAS CALLED LA HOME FOR 14 YEARS. IT IS WHERE I “GREW UP” (THOSE FORMIDABLE LATE TEENS/EARLY 20S) AND FOUND MYSELF, HARNESSED MY CREATIVITY AND HAD ACCESS TO MANY PEOPLE/PLACES/ THINGS THAT HAVE MADE ME & MY BUSINESS WHO I AM TODAY.”
-Tashina Hunter, Custom Wedding Gown Designer
“LOS ANGELES IS MORE THAN A ONE INDUSTRY TOWN TO US: IT IS THE HIVE OF MEDIA OF ALL KINDS. MUSIC, ART, FILM, TV, ALL INFLUENCE OUR LIVES AND OUR BUSINESS, AND THE INFLUENCE IS CHANNELED DIRECTLY THROUGH OUR CLIENTS. MANY OF THEM ARE ACTIVE PLAYERS AT EVERY LEVEL IN THIS LOS ANGELES MULTIMEDIA SCENE…IT ALL CAN CREATE A LIVELY DIALOG IN OUR STORE. IT IS OUR COMMON GROUND…AS FOR OUR BUSINESS: WE FIND THAT THESE CREATIVE CLIENTS ARE SMARTER THAN US. THOUGH WE MAY KNOW A LOT, IT IS OFTEN THEY THAT TELL US WHAT IS INTERESTING AND STYLISH TO THEM, AND WE ALWAYS LISTEN. CREATIVE PEOPLE CRAVE WHAT IS NEXT- WHAT HAS NOT BEEN SEEN. THERE IS A FEARLESSNESS. THESE DESIRES MOVE OUR CHOICES FORWARD IN PLACES WE MAY NOT HAVE CONSIDERED. IT IS A GIFT TO WORK WITH THEM. SO TOO, OUR MANY VENDORS WHO ARE FROM LOS ANGELES CARRY THROUGH THIS FORWARD THINKING SPIRIT : THEIR INSPIRATION FROM OUR CITY IS EVIDENT IN THEIR CHOICES AND THEY BECOME THE ESSENTIAL MAGIC INGREDIENTS FOR OUR BUSINESS.”
-Katie O’Connell, Owner, Society of the Spectacle
"AS A BESPOKE EVENT VENUE NESTLED BETWEEN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES AND PASADENA, THE FIG HOUSE POSSESSES A MIDCENTURY STYLE ECHOING THE HERITAGE OF OLD HOLLYWOOD, WHILE ALSO EMBRACING A MORE CONTEMPORARY MODERN GLAMOUR. WHEN YOU THINK OF QUOTE/UNQUOTE “HOLLYWOOD”, THE CONCEPT OF COMMUNITY MAYBE ISN’T WHAT IMMEDIATELY COMES TO MIND, BUT THE CHARACTER OF THE FIG HOUSE HAS ABSOLUTELY BEEN SHAPED BY BEING A PART OF A CITY THAT BOASTS ONE OF THE HIGHEST NUMBER OF WORKING CREATIVES PER CAPITA. FROM THE CURATION OF OUR INTERIOR DESIGN BY EMILY HENDERSON, WINNER OF HGTV’S DESIGN STAR, TO HAVING THE PRIVILEGE OF PROVIDING THE BACKDROP FOR A PRIVATE INDUSTRY LAUNCH OF JAY-Z’S NEW MUSIC STREAMING PLATFORM, TIDAL, THE FIG HOUSE IS PROUD TO BE A PART OF THE CULTURE AND INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY.”
-Ferris Monge, Marketing Manager of Fig House
WE THINK OF LOS ANGELES AS OUR PROTAGONIST WHEN DESIGNING PRINTS, MOREOVER TO WEAR CLASHIST IS TO PLAY A PART IN THE LA STORY.”
-Heather Lipner, Clashist Creative Director & Founder
It’s clear that while not everything in Los Angeles is about the movie-making business, the accompanying hunger for making a distinguished something out of nothing is embedded into the bones of this city. All of the above businesses thrive on the search for offering an interesting, desirable product that is relevant to the interests of the consumer, and to do so that requires the business to remain enthusiastically on top of what its consumers are hungry for. There’s no resting on laurels in Los Angeles, because there’s always another “It Girl” around the corner, waiting to be discovered. As an actor and a writer, I know that the practically unattainable key to success in Los Angeles is to make sure that enough people know about you that you’re familiar, but not so many that you’re tired or overexposed. And always, always, have another trick (pilot script, way to brew coffee…) in your back pocket.//