Cynthia Harvey has been designing fashion-forward ensembles since she was a kid. “At 9 years old I literally and figuratively looked up to my aunt, a professional model who made most of her clothes. She encouraged me to use the scraps of fabric to make my Barbie doll clothes and eventually my own clothes," says Harvey. Her interest in current trends led Cynthia to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in LA, where she studied and eventually ascended to the post of professor. Though she's spent her time doling out fashion tips to the likes of George Clooney, Jennifer Lopez, and Janet Jackson, it was her time as an educator that inspired Cynthia to cofound The Sewing Studio. She aimed to counteract a decline in local arts programs, due largely to the great popsicle-stick and glitter fire of 1996. She explains, “I wanted to offer fashion sewing classes that are fun and affordable, with an emphasis on looks inspired by current fashion designers."
Her classes, which cater to the novice seamstress and advanced sewing student alike, achieve that aim. Led by Cynthia and other experienced teachers, the sessions range from introductory classes where pupils of all ages learn basics and stitch together totes or dresses to fashion design and sewing programs. Camps, workshops, and other learning sessions culminate in handcrafted apparel and accessories that students can take home and incorporate into regular wardrobe rotations.
For more than 60 years, Toys“R”Us has been helping kids be kids and grown-ups to revisit their childhoods by providing one of the largest selections of top-brand toys, electronics, games and everyday baby essentials. Founder, Charles Lazarus, revolutionized the toy business by modeling his stores after supermarkets, providing a variety of options to suit varying ages and interests and offering customers to help themselves and have fun in the process. Today, that sense of playfulness is evident at nearly 600 stores in the United States alone, including a flagship location in Times Square where kids are greeted by a 60-foot Ferris wheel, a 5-ton animatronic T-Rex, and a life-sized, 4,000-square-foot Barbie house.
Beyond everybody's favorite bikes, trains and video games, each Toys“R”Us store keeps its shelves stocked with the season’s must-have toys as well as nostalgic standbys that never go out of style. Time-tested brands such as LEGO, Radio Flyer, NERF and Fisher-Price share the shelves with an expansive selection of electronics for older kids, including Wii U and tablets. And though the company has inspired generations of boys and girls to try their hardest not to grow up, it also strives to ensure budding brains develop right on track by devoting a significant portion of its stores to “smart-play” with a wide selection of electronic learning toys and software.
Toys“R”Us—whose extended family of brands includes Babies“R”Us and FAO Schwarz—has earned a number of awards and recognitions through the years, including a spot on Fortune’s list of the World’s Most Admired Companies in 2012. The company has also drawn considerable recognition for its expansive charitable efforts, which include partnerships with the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation and Save the Children. This year also marks the tenth consecutive year that the company has partnered with the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to collect new, unwrapped toys and monetary donations in its stores to benefit the organization.
Beginnings Baby Store preps soon-to-be parents for stork deliveries with snuggle-worthy swaddlings, baby-sized bedding, and informational parenting classes. Clients can acclimate future acrobats to new heights with the elevated assistance of Phil and Ted’s Me Too hook-on high chair ($49.99) or get a head start on clown-college applications with the primate-taming experience afforded by the Tiny Love Gymini Monkey Island ($64). Lighting nurseries with the glow of a starry night sky, such as the constellation projections of the Cloud B Twilight Turtle Nitelight ($29.95), sends baby calmly to sleep and reduces the risk of boogeymen infestations by 70%. Cotton onesies ($17–$19) protect limbs from pea-purée fallout while keeping tots nattily attired.
When visiting the original Farmers Market next to the Grove, a stop at the iconic Bob’s Coffee & Doughnuts is a must, as it’s often considered the best doughnut shop in Los Angeles. The Tusquellas family has been churning out freshly-made doughnuts from family recipes since 1970, and has been the winner of numerous Best Doughnut awards throughout the years. Owner Bob Tusquellas still oversees the production of 30 different varieties, from cake doughnuts (buttermilk glazed, crumb, coconut devil’s food) to raised doughnuts (apple fritter, cinnamon roll, beignets, maple bar) and many more. A cup of java is the perfect complement to these sweet treats, and Bob’s offers more than ten drip brews daily, in addition to espresso drinks and ice blended mochas.
Opened in 2004 and named after the founder Ling Chan, La La Ling is a contemporary boutique children store that sells clothing, books and toys for children under the age of ten in Los Feliz. As a busy mother of three, Ling sold the boutique two years ago to the two managers of the store, Kara and Celine. It doesn’t have a GAP or big box store feel and the clothes are more on the line of what adults would wear or like to wear. The owners seek out hip clothing for children and keep a fresh perspective towards a unique style. Their clientele is mostly local, they they’ve also acquired a large number of customers from out-of-state. A ceiling with 3-D artwork and whimsical designs of animals and extra large pacifiers adds to the fun theme of the store.
Located on Sunset Boulevard, this Hollywood outpost of the popular video game retailers Gamestop is situated as the last option along a stretched block of storefronts, and right next to a huge lot that provides ample parking. Featuring posters of the latest video game releases in its window and interactive consoles allowing customers to demo games inside, Gamestop is primarily known in the gaming community for selling popular video game titles, gaming consoles, gaming tip books and other related merchandise. The store itself isn’t very big, but is packed ceiling to floor with colorful titles and other electronics, like headphones, power outlets and computer-based games.