One of the things I love about my job is that I get to choose local, independent designers and artists to stock at the shop. Not only does this help make our boutique special -- you’ll find things here you can’t get anywhere else -- but it also carries a special bonus: getting to know the passionate, rad people behind these brands! We’re beyond excited to have six of them -- all women! -- popping up at Prism during our Shop Local Holiday Block Party on Saturday, November 25th.
This is our second year joining our fellow East 4th Street small businesses in kicking off the holiday season with a Shop Local party. We love participating in this this special day and meeting our neighbors and customers. And we’re especially excited this year to showcase so many local designers -- all of our vendors are from greater LA, and many are based right here in Long Beach!
I hope to see you on the 25th for shopping, sips, snacks and more -- and please read on to learn more about each of these incredible women!
SETTLEWELL | Laura Cornman
When you think about concrete, if you think about it at all, a lot of things come to mind: sidewalks, curbs, streets, and patios -- almost everything underfoot. But in the hands of SETTLEWELL designer Laura Cornman, concrete is transformed from an ignorable necessity into simple-yet-stunning home goods. With her unique casting process, Laura shapes concrete -- what she calls “the literal foundation of our lives” -- into hand-crafted, carefully considered pots, jars, trays and bowls.
If the pieces seem simple, well, good: “To me, functionality is inherently beautiful,” Laura says. “The first time that I saw a polished concrete table top, I saw incredible beauty in the handling of the material that enabled the form. We interact with concrete daily, but to see it applied with care and thoughtfulness, used to perform a function outside of typical application, took me by surprise. I was instantly inspired and wondered how far I could push that idea.”
“I was consumed with the idea of making concrete tableware and home items -- just as delicate, smooth and beautiful as ceramic or glass,” Laura continues. “It took me almost an entire year of experimentation combined with copious amounts of research and extremely detailed note-taking (on things like temperature, humidity, mix, water ratios, cure times, etc.) to finally arrive at being able to consistently pour exceptionally smooth and thinly walled concrete pieces.”
Since launching SETTLEWELL in 2016, Laura has seen her business -- and ambition -- grow. Working out of her Long Beach studio, located just a few blocks away from Prism, she has recently begun collaborating with other designers, including Long Beach furniture designer Eric Trine. Looking ahead, she’s excited to keep mixing it up (sorry). “I’m continually inspired by the possibilities of concrete as a medium,” she says. “I have a ton of new ideas, products and collaborations that I’ll be creating and launching over the course of the next year and I can’t wait to get started!”
Callahan | Michelle Callahan
A longtime Prism favorite, LA-based designer Michelle Callahan specializes in gorgeous, versatile knitwear that’s as timeless as it is practical -- like her oversized, comfy “boyfriend” sweaters, a must-have for those winter hygge hangs.
A lot has changed since Michelle’s early days -- Prism was one of her first wholesale accounts -- but even as the brand expands into retailers like Anthropologie and Revolve, she maintains the same core values that have guided her since the outset.
“As the business has grown, it’s been easy for me to stay true to my core values because they’re important to both me and the future success of the brand,” Michelle says. “The product and design has to be stellar, or customers will look elsewhere.”
That’s why, Michelle says, she designs with her customers in mind, whether they’re on the hunt for a relaxed, off-the-shoulder sweater, shaggy coat, or delicate, crocheted maxi.
“I’ve always value our customers first,” Michelle continues. “I’m so grateful for their support, so I make all product and design decisions with their needs and wants in mind. I want our customers to love what they buy -- and be able to keep it in their closet for many seasons.
Having recently made the switch to all-natural fibers -- no animals -- Michelle is excited to take Callahan in new directions in 2018.
“Right now I’m working on increasing the collections per year and adding in cut-and-sew knits to the assortment of our already existing full-fashion knits,” Michelle says. “I’m excited to be able to design into knit fabrics and look forward to seeing how our customers respond. The pieces will be very wearable, easy and fluid -- and suited for wear year-round.”
Midnight Rider | Mitra Khayyam
In an era of hologram headliners and copious cover bands, when it comes to rock and roll, few things are better than the real thing. Which is precisely what makes the pieces by LA-based designer and fashion industry veteran Mitra Khayyam so special: lived-in, vintage-feelin’ tees representing the best country and Americana musicians you’ve ever heard -- and maybe a few you’ve yet to get acquainted with.
From Waylon Jennings and Townes Van Zandt to Johnny Paycheck and Billy Joe Shaver, Midnight Rider’s licensed designs, many of which are considered collector’s items, are a reflection of Mitra’s dedication to her craft, her community -- all of her vendors are located within 30 miles of her office -- and her beloved country music.
With each collection, Mitra aims to satisfy music fans new and old alike. “I think a collection needs to both educate new fans who are drawn to the apparel for the vintage-feeling, great-fitting tees with perfectly distressed graphics and, at the same time, be co-signed by fans of the licenses I hold for authentically representing their influences and heroes,” she told Paste magazine last year.
At the moment, Mitra is working on new partnerships for 2018 while enjoying this particular moment in her career. “Right now, I think finding the perfect work/life balance has me the most excited,” she says. “I have the opportunity to travel far more than I have before, and each trip leaves me more inspired and excited to come up with new concepts and designs for my collections.”
As for her dream collaboration, Mitra has her eyes on one prize: “I would love, love, LOVE to one day make Willie Nelson tees,” she says. “We make licensed tees for a bunch of his contemporaries, but not Willie . . . yet! It goes without saying he’d be the perfect addition to the Midnight Rider family.”
Paradigm Design | Meg Sullivan
Handmade in Long Beach just a half mile from Prism by self-taught designer Meg Sullivan, Paradigm’s minimal, hand-forged jewelry is beloved by our regulars for its versatile simplicity. Working with brass, bronze, sterling and fine silver -- plus various gemstones and crystals -- Meg crafts gorgeous rings, earrings, necklaces and cuffs inspired by nature, architecture and repetition. Ideal for layering, the pieces work in harmony without ever overpowering your look.
After starting Paradigm at age 24, Meg worked part-time for an independent Silver Lake boutique while dedicating her free time -- and paychecks -- to building her brand. “I loved my position at the boutique, working closely with the owner,” Meg says. “It was there that I realized how much I love being a big part of something small -- as opposed to being a small part of something big.”
“I was able to continue working on Paradigm for a couple of of years until I felt confident in making the decision to fully go for it,” Meg continues. “I was pretty naive in realizing just how challenging it is to run my own business, but thankfully so. Now, a few years later I’m still continuing to learn and grow my business.”
And while that growth has led Meg to try on a few new hats -- “I’ve had to adopt many new job descriptions,” she says -- striking out on her own as an independent maker has been worth every moment.
“It’s been challenging but equally rewarding,” she says. “I feel extremely privileged to get to live out my dream job and work with all the amazing people, stores and brands I’ve met along the way!”
küdd:krig HOME | Kalla McGuire
Handmade in Long Beach just down the street from Prism, Kalla McGuire’s luxurious pillows and blankets are a true work of art. Crafted using ethically sourced materials including cotton, linen, wool and bamboo, these one-of-a-kind pieces make a statement while striking subtle notes of elegant simplicity at the same time.
“Küdd:krig is Swedish for ‘pillow fight,’ and I think this says a lot about what we are going for,” Kalla says. “We want to make bedding and home goods that are interesting, have movement, and make a statement without needing 18 throw pillows and 27 accessories to do so."
While designed for the home, Kalla’s pieces are informed by what’s going on outside it. “Sustainability is a big goal of ours,” she says. “We’re currently experimenting with a lot of new eco-friendly materials and shooting for their launch in 2018. We love the challenge of creating sustainable pieces without compromising our aesthetic, and with the hope of elevating how textiles are used in the home.”
Recent studies have demonstrated the overall impact that small businesses make within their communities -- including donating 250% more than larger businesses to non-profits and community causes. And küdd:krig is no different, supporting a number of charitable organizations. “I’ve got big ideas on giving back more and more as we grow,” Kalla says. In addition, she says, küdd:krig will increase its practice of purchasing fair-trade materials whenever possible in the coming year.
Other things she’s looking forward to in 2018? “The use of textures and materials in unconventional ways is so inspiring to me. I’m so excited about the direction of küdd:krig and how it’s evolving,” Kalla says. “Our response has been so positive, which only makes me more confident as a designer in taking risks and using textiles in new and different ways.”
Foxware Designs | Christine Schwandt
Equal parts earthbound and otherworldly, the handmade ceramic goods made by LA-based designer Christine Schwandt are mesmerizing, one-of-a-kind pieces perfect for modern and vintage-inspired homes alike.
From earthen-hued works to darker pieces shocked by rich cobalt, Christine’s unique pots, vases, bowls and jars evoke dusty, windswept trails and blue-black night skies, immediately transporting you to your favorite desert hideaway.
When it comes to what inspires her, however, Christine is rooted closer to home. “I find inspiration in my ceramics community and in the conversations I have with fellow artists,” Christine says. “In addition, I teach high school art and ceramics. My students always inspire me!”
“Plus, I attend art and ceramics exhibitions on a regular basis and continue to challenge myself to take creative risks in my work,” she adds.
After meeting us at Patchwork, Long Beach’s local maker’s festival, Christine landed her first wholesale account at Prism, where her designs fit right in on the store shelves. And, they make the perfect gift -- whether it’s for a new home or an old friend.
As for what the future holds for Foxware Designs, there’s no telling where Christine’s work will take her next. “The fluidity and endless possibilities that I can create excite me,” she says.