I Never Met a Shop I Didn’t Like

Century City Plaza

The reason I like writing store profiles so much is they include everything I love about fashion, retail and writing in one package. Creatively there’s the colorful, adjective-laden prose, photos, and illustrations that visually make it appealing. Economically there’s the thrill of discovery and journalistically there’s the joy of flexing my brainstorming, researching and interviewing techniques.

My first exposure to writing store profiles happened when I was taking a Retailing class as part of my Fashion Merchandising program at CSULA. I had to write a three-store profile for my Mid-term paper, so for the assignment, I chose three furniture businesses,  Civilization for the high end, Plummer’s for the mid-range, and a discount store for the low end. Throughout my writing career, I’ve duplicated the process I was taught to use, in this class, of researching a company before interviewing the owner or owners and sales staff, describing the interiors and exteriors of the site, describing the merchandise and displays, and explaining how they fit into the current retail climate.

Fabulous L.A. Store Displays

Bolts of fabric in front of FIDM store 1
FIDM Student Store-Bolts of fabric for sale

David's Bridal window display 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lasta Icelandic Fashion Shop

While working as a fashion columnist for Culver City News, in 2014, I wrote a store profile about Lasta Icelandic Fashion Shop (Lasta Icelandic Fashion Shop is a wonderful source for an individualist. It remains one of my favorite experiences as a writer.

Iceland was really “trending” in 2014, and the co-founder and major proponent of Icelandic and Nordic fashion, Helga Olaffsson, was a fascinating interviewee and businesswoman. Besides being a big fan of mystery writers Steig Larsson, Henning Mankell, Jo Nesbo and Karin Folsum, the other pop culture element that influenced my decision to write about Lasta were the T.V. shows, The Killing, Wallander, and Borgen. Finally, the reason this profile really stood out for me is the individuality of the designs represented and the lovely way they were displayed.

Testing Out My Hunter x Target Outfit at the “L.A. Zoo”

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My Zoo Outfit

Countdown to the Fieldtrip:

At first, I couldn’t believe it when I heard that the majority of the class I’ve been working with, as a Special Ed Instructional Assistant at Leo Politi Elementary School (LAUSD), had never been to the zoo. How could that be when going there is such a childhood rite of passage? When I was their age, in Kindergarten through Second Grade, my mother insisted on taking my brother and I to the L.A. Zoo, nearby Griffith Park, Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus, Farmer’s Market and The La Brea Tar Pits. 

“For the kids around here, it’s a totally new thing, to go to the zoo,” said one of my co-workers. “They aren’t used to going to places like that.”

But this new generation, where constantly diddling on cell phones, wearing leggings as pants, and dropping out of school are the norm, the zoo is a foreign concept. As a representative of the baby boomer generation, whose childhood was far from perfect, I still felt it was my duty to share this one experience with them.

You Can Never Ask Too Many Questions

The L.A. Zoo

“Can we pet the animals?,” asked one of the students before our fieldtrip.

 Following a series of obstacles, our class finally started the countdown to our trip at the end of March. To prepare the students, for what they were about to see, I bought an animal board book at the Mar Vista Library Book Sale and gave it to them to read and study.

“Will we see spiders and snakes there?” asked a student one morning.

“Can we pet the animals?” another one asked.

The questions were endless, with the book becoming old before its time, from beloved overuse and rough treatment.

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Dressing Comfortably for the Big Day

Simultaneous to the field trip, I had to do an assignment for my FSH 628: Mobile & Social Media Journalism class on “Social Listening”. I chose the internet feedback about the Hunter x Target collaboration. For my research, I went to check it out, as an event at the Target on LaCienega and Jefferson. There were plenty of clothes available, in my size and style, so I ended up purchasing quite a bit.

The first outfit I wore was perfect for our big field trip day- a red, pink and white striped windbreaker over a white and orange sleeveless top and orange and white track pants, accessorized with a pink sun visor, cream cat-eye framed shades, white Levi’s sneakers, a white and pink flamingo print tote and an orange leather hobo bag.

In addition to walking long distances, at the zoo while looking at the animals, I also had to help maneuver one of our student in a  wheelchair when she needed to sit down, making comfort a necessity.

L.A. Zoo

“We didn’t get to see the hippos and the leopards!” some of the students complained at the end of our trip.                                                                                                                           

Walking in a well-organized, but a curious and active group, we saw the meerkats, a swan, ducks, lions, giraffes, snakes, spiders, exotic birds, turtles, tortoises, alligators, gorillas, chimpanzees and more.

“We didn’t get to see the hippos and the leopards!” some of the students complained at the end of our trip. “You’ll have to visit them the next time you come back, with your families,” I told them.

While waiting for the tram, after our lunch break, I met a little boy wearing a Junior Zookeeper outfit, complete with binoculars. He jumped up on the seating area and insisted on waiting for the tram despite his mother’s protests.

“He really knows what to do, and where to go at the zoo, doesn’t he?,” I said. “Oh yes, he’s been coming here ever since he was little,” his mother said. “We have a membership, so we can come any time we want, and stay for an hour or longer. It’s a great place to hang out.”

“It was the best day of my life,” said one of the teachers who went with us to the zoo.

Leo Politi Elementary School (;AUSD) (42)

Leo Politi Elementary School

A few days after the trip, I asked one of the teachers whose class went too, did he enjoy himself. “It was the best day of my life,” he said. I hope that’s how our students felt too, and it joins their other happy memories from this time.

Are African-American Women an Endangered Species?

Is there still hope for the female “hopes and dreams of the slaves”?

Rosa Parks Sculpture
Rosa Parks Sculpture

 

Naomi Wadler: Activist for our Times

“I am here to acknowledge and represent the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper, whose stories don’t lead on the evening news,” said Naomi Wadler.

Someone once told me the lowest person, in our society is an African-American woman, because her looks are constantly being insulted and her magnificence isn’t recognized in popular media as consistently as Caucasians, Hispanics, and Asians. If I used myself as an example as an African-American woman and talked about the areas in my life where others have tried to hurt me culturally, psychologically, emotionally and creatively, I’d agree and give in to this assessment. But when I square my shoulders and remember how I’ve used my profound inner strength to overcome these obstacles I’d say it’s a misconception that needs to finally be addressed and rectified by one of our own.

Naomi Wadler, “an 11-year-old fifth-grade activist who organized an elementary school walkout on March 14, 2018, in an homage to shooting victim Courtlin Arrington” might be the one to do it. Through her “March For Our Lives Speech,” she not only started a dialogue, about this issue but opened a societal Pandora’s box with her actions.

“I am here to acknowledge and represent the African-American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper, whose stories don’t lead on the evening news,” she said.

The “Most Vulnerable” In Society

Along with the incidents Wadler speaks about, Christine Pelisek, author of The Grim Sleeper: The Lost Women Of South Central, eloquently writes about the 10 “women of color” killed by serial killer Lonnie D. Franklin Jr. with the same compassion. “These women, societies most vulnerable, were the collateral damage, easy pickings for a serial killer,” she writes in the book’s Prologue Winter’s List.

Gun violence isn’t the only mortal threat to African-American women, they are also being killed in epidemic proportions for trying to protect themselves from disrespectful males. Rachell Davis, writer of 11 Black Women Who Were Killed For Saying No, (www.essence.com), claims these ladies were murdered because they “refused the advances, requests or orders of men.” By standing up to violence, specifically against African-American women, Essence magazine also hopes print and internet awareness will help halt the problem.

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Leo Politi Elementary School Garden (LAUSD)

 

All Students Should Be Safe At School

Another dilemma, of equal importance, Wadler pointed out is every student’s right to be safe within their school. For young African-American females that’s becoming harder, with the decrease of diversity, the increase of racism from Hispanic and other non-Black students, and the re-segregation of urban schools plagued with crime, poverty, and violence within and without the classroom.

The options for a life, in the future, away from such a dangerous and toxic climate becomes nonexistent, as they become trapped by insufficient educational and professional job skills, drugs, pregnancy, and other inner-city obstacles. Unfortunately, they become the prey to the predators in their environment.

So what’s the solution? Constant vigilance by leaders in the African-American community to start, and more voices like Wadler’s, among our younger generation. If this is achieved, maybe the next speech she gives won’t be about also honoring other shooting victims, Hadiya Pendleton and Taiyana Thompson, but about promoting the achievements of girls like them instead.