When you walk into the newly opened Letters From LA boutique on Eagle Rock Boulevard, you're met with the shimmer of a disco ball hanging from the ceiling, the homey feel of such items as oak wood-carved eagle key chains and uber-chic stylings from some of the coolest designers around. And, if you're lucky, you’ll even get a lick from one cute little dog named Bailey who considers shop owner Sasha Martinus his mom.
Welcome to Eagle Rock's edgiest new boutique, which opened March 3 and had its official launch party on the night of April 9. The boutique features a cool mix of women's clothing and accessories, with an eclectic mix of home items, such as candles, note pads, piggy banks, and even a super cool cat home with faux bearskin rug.
If “Letters From LA” sounds more like the title of an epistolary novel than a shop’s name, Martinus wants you to know that the inspiration for her boutique was indeed grounded in numerous letters and other related forms of communication. "The name comes from conversations—letters, emails, cards, Skype—with my sister who lives in Norway," she says. "We are constantly talking fashion, blogs, design and books, but it generally always comes back to fashion—clothing and shoes.” Three months before she opened her store, Martinus visited Scandinavia. “The nature, design, and overall tranquility of Norway was a huge inspiration,” she says, adding: “I wanted the boutique to be simple—pared down, but still warm."
I sat down with Martinus (and her dog) to chat about Letters From LA—what's hot style-wise this spring season and, to confront the inevitable question head on: What makes Eagle Rock, well, rock …
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live in Mt. Washington. This is my first clothing boutique but I owned a restaurant under the same name back home in Oklahoma before I moved to Los Angeles in 2000. Before opening Letters From LA, I worked solely on my clothing line, Saffie, which I also sell in the boutique.
Why open a store in Eagle Rock now?
As I am resident of the area, I know that the community of Eagle Rock really supports local business. It's a great area to open a contemporary boutique because there is a wide demographic of women in search of a statement piece or a closet staple.
What's edgy about Eagle Rock?
The ladies in this area. I'm constantly seeing amazing styles and innovative ways to wear basics from the shop window.
What are some of your favorite places in The Rock?
I love for the veggie burgers and for the mango sticky rice.
Eagle Rock Boulevard has a few cool boutiques, such as and . How will you set yourself apart from the competition?
I've found some incredible designers, both local and international. I am the first in the States to carry a line of amazing handbags called Ellen Truijen. I found the line while shopping with my sister in Amsterdam and knew that women in Los Angeles would fall in love with the designs. I am also super proud to carry Highland Park clothing designer Popomomo and Mt. Washington jewelry designer Nikki Montoya. I also brought in an Australian line called Strummer and am the first in California to have the collection. Their line is so detailed and feminine, without being too girly— heirloom pieces that can be handed down. What sets me apart from other shops in the area is that we all offer the customer something different and yet complement each other.
Is it a friendly competition out there?
Absolutely. The business owners in this area are so supportive and we are really offering this area different types of products.
What’s hot for spring 2011 style-wise in general?
Layering light chiffon, silks and jerseys together, mixing textures and doubling up on stripes and prints.
What are a few of the spring must-have items in your shop right now?
Splendid has the softest easy jersey tees and my 'go to' tee is the 'circle top.' It works with everything from jeans to my new favorite staple, which is a banded mini skirt. I carry Pleasure Doing Business banded minis from L.A. designer Simone Gonzalez. The circle tops run around $60 and the banded minis are around $120. I also carry Strummer suede and wood sandals. They are the perfect mix of '40s and '70s and are so incredibly comfortable. They run around $270.
Letters From LA is at 5022 Eagle Rock Blvd., 323-340-1546.