"The thing I like most about pottery is that it's a learned skill," says Clay Wood, the owner of the pottery studio that bears his name. "It's something you can just sit down, and practice, and just learn it. You don't have to be innately artsy or creative, it's just something that's learnable and fun for everyone."
It's true that Clay has had a bit of a head start in the art form: he began developing his classically harmonious ceramic forms starting at age 12. But he also knows what it's like to be just another weekend hobbyist. Before starting the shop, he had established a career managing high-rise condos while dreamily spinning his desk chair like a pottery wheel. Now that he's dug his hands back into the clay, he and his fellow instructors design adult and children's classes to meet the needs of aspiring ceramicists and more casual crafters alike.
All the throwing, glazing, and hand-building goes down in a colorful creativity zone bursting with incandescent designs. The studio is equipped with eight electric pottery wheels, two large hand-building tables, an entrancing in-wall kiln, and a wellspring of stunning glazes for both handmade projects and prepared forms awaiting only a painter's brush.
Sip Lounge, inside the Renaissance Long Beach Hotel, is like a city with four distinct neighborhoods. Once guests walk past the lobby's large video wall, they're greeted by rows of wine bottles in the glass-enclosed cellar bookending the bar. Behind it, curtains billow beside a water feature that cascades along the wall like the zero-gravity streams found on the moon. Over in the dining room, large tables accommodate groups for gatherings over a local shrimp cocktail or cheese plate. The living room's plush couches cradle pairs for intimate conversations that can be shared over a glass of wine, a cocktail, or a craft beer.
Outside, the large patio embraces the busy energy of Ocean Boulevard without succumbing to it. Umbrellas, heaters, and glass walls separate its confines from the street's frenzy of beeps, brakes, and Model T hand cranks, and a focal fire pit warms both the temperature and the ambiance. The typical soundtrack of upbeat pop and instrumental music supplements Sip Lounge's live series, which hosts local artists from across Southern California.
On the sun-dappled streets of Long Beach, the broad glass windows of 2nd Street Beauty Boutique’s flagship store sparkle just as brightly as the rows of cosmetics that rest behind them. Inside each 2nd Street Beauty outpost, sleek white beauty stations hoist Stila blushes and rows of Smashbox lipsticks that stand in perfectly straight lines like soldiers at attention or British people queuing for the bus. With an elixir, serum, or solution for every hair, skin, and nail concern imaginable, the staff at 2nd Street Beauty guides guests through dozens of high-end products, and even performs facials and hair services in the adjacent salon.
Thousands of styles of shoes from cobblers such as Nike, Jordan, Converse, Skechers, Adidas, and Puma reside at WSS Footwear. A 62-store Southern California footwear chain, WSS allows customers to browse their extensive shoe selection online and find a store nearby. New styles, such as Nike Running shoes, arrive daily alongside classic Vans Authentics, which come in sizes to accommodate the feet of both adults and future adults. Women's fashion shoes ready feet for holidays parties, weddings, or walks in the park, and WSS also offers trendy clothing and accessories such as hats, backpacks, and sports balls.
The running shoe specialists at Runners High utilize a computerized foot-scanning machine to analyze arch patterns, weight distribution, and tickle zones in order to pair customers up with the right shoes. During 20–30-minute fitting sessions, customers stand on the scanner before running or walking in different pairs of shoes. Staffers can also examine wear patterns on the customer’s old sneakers to inform their suggestions. After analysis, Runners High can donate the used shoes to One World Running, an international program that promotes health, fitness, and nutrition by providing running shoes to those in need around the world.
A graduate of the Germain School of Photography in New York City, Sigal Ineno takes a photojournalistic approach to all portrait sessions. She recognizes and documents special moments while fostering a relaxed environment for her subjects. Her more than 20 years of experience and her laid-back, yet insightful, demeanor make each portrait session for newborns, children, families, and moms-to-be rewarding.