"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.
Estro-Jen's mom told her that if she pursues her passions, happiness will fall at her feet. As a child, teenager, and now adult with her own business, that happiness has always been at her feet—in the form of roller skates. These days, between slingshotting around the rink during roller-derby matches or pulling tricks on the vert ramp, she spends her time designing skates for women. Expressing her innately fun personality, she slaps leopard-skin patterns onto skates, black tiger stripes onto red boots, and teal suede onto high tops. Pink or clear wheels with black spiral lines, as well as retro calf-high socks accessorize her line. Not wanting to neglect the upper body, she also outfits skaters in teal short-shorts and screen-printed T-shirts from Moxi apparel. For those who want to enhance their skills and impress passing school busses, Estro-Jen brings in her friend Brian Gallagher to instruct skaters on how to roll and master ramps.
Tucked away in a refurbished 1940s barbershop, Studio DeLucca founder Khobe DeLucca and her team of jewelers festoon baubles of recycled silver and gold with gems sourced from artisans and fair-labor suppliers. Collections of stackable jewelry, such as amethyst bracelets and turquoise-drop necklaces, add a subtle sparkle to wrists and décolletages. Cocktail rings decorate favorite fingers with stones such as ocean jasper and green chrysoprase, and diamond-paved cigar-band rings exhibit old-world craftsmanship that hearkens back to the sparkling sidewalks of ancient Rome. A workshop series teaches novice lapidaries basic techniques to craft their own necklaces, earrings, and enamel jewelry.
Port carries the sort of casual, unfussy menswear that characterizes southern California, from short-sleeved T-shirts in vintage washes to slouchy, earth-toned duffel bags. As noted by the New York Times, it “has a minimalist assortment of vintage finds and store-brand clothes inspired by the city’s nautical spirit.” Its wares include graphic-print tees that portray acerbic humor, cuffed shorts, and sweaters with stripey embellishments. In addition to its collection of clothing, the store’s cool-conscious staff maintains a blog and a Tumblr account, where they post images as inspirational as Mohandas Gandhi quoting himself.
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.