More and more small businesses within fashion and’ homeward’ are adapting the home away from home atmosphere for their shops that we’ve already seen in the’ likes of’ Electric Nest. They embrace natural materials, create cozy chaos, and yet stay true to style. They strive to make their shop environments as comfortable and individual as their own homes, putting a lot of effort on making customers feel at ease when they walk through the door. They go to great lengths to hunt out special objects, which are chosen with the heart. No mass-produced, soulless throwaways you will soon lose track off at the back of your closet, these are the the kind of clothes, accessories, children’s toys and home pieces that’ you’ll really care about.’
The more local Individual Medley, which can be found in Atwater, California is a’ favourite of these types of spaces. Husband and wife owners Monica and Justin Boyes opened its doors in February 2012 with a vision to offer a selection of goods for the whole family in a community space where visitors feel welcome and artists can share their creations.
The shop is a bohemian-modern space where industrial lighting and a parked motorbike harmonize with wooden mid-century furniture, plant life and apothecary. Even though the space is small you could spend hours rifling through the unique clothing racks and leafing through books on their vintage furniture. Smells from incense candles, wilderness fragrances and soaps add to the mood in the space, which is clearly inspired by nature.
The quirky name comes from Justin’s days as a competitive swimmer – his best event was the IM (Individual Medley) where you combine all four swimming strokes together in one race. This idea seemed like the perfect name for the store and what they were trying to convey – both a shop that speaks to the individual with the right mix of brands and a centre for the community: an individual medley so to speak.
Justin and Monica have successfully created a feeling of comfort and warmth with their carefully edited selection of products and layout of the store. They place the highest importance on making it a space that is welcoming and familiar for all where people can find what they’re looking for as well as somewhere you can linger.
Opening the store was no accident – both dreamed of opening a boutique store and have worked hard to get to this point; Monica worked in retail throughout high school and while getting her Marketing degree in college and Justin has his own degree in Retail Merchandising. A space came up at the right time and the couple went for it – Individual Medley was born.
Monica and Justin always wanted it to be both a men’s and women’s boutique, one that they would shop in themselves. This means everything has been about brands they love and would want to buy and a real highlight for them is getting to meet the makers behind the products. Individual Medley stock everything from hand-carved jewelry to ceramic mugs, vintage bags and hemp soap – the best part is Justin and Monica, and therefore, you know exactly who made it and where it’s come from.
When sourcing new items for the store, they take many things into consideration: “œwhat the product is, where it’s made, what kind of textiles or products go into the item, if it works with our current product offerings, the retail price and overall aesthetic. Then we do our best to research the quality and process so that we can fully stand behind the brand. We can say with certainty that we love’ every line we carry.”
Monica and Justin are inspired by the outdoors – the desert, mountains and ocean. Both of them grew up in California and its incredible natural landscapes continue to inspire them. But they are also inspired by their community – their customer base ranges from little kids buying temporary tattoos and crystals to their parents buying clothes. Meeting them and talking to them on a regular basis means they can better decide which items to carry, which is good for the business and also for the community.
They feel Atwater Village has embraced them, and one of their most enjoyable (and smart) things to do is collaborate with friends and other businesses in the area. A local caterer will bring in her sweet treats to the store as a pop-up and they’ve also done floral pop-ups and parties with Heirloom LA – it’s a great way to expand business and reach new customers, but also something fun and unique.
The owners have had a few surprises too – unexpected expenses and unpredictable disasters like water flooding the roof are things they’ve had to learn and work through as part of the business, but the great friendships they’ve made through the store more than make up for the losses.
It’s obvious Monica and Justin’s personalities are what have made Individual Medley such a success – whether people are returning time and time again for their friendliness or for their wonderful taste in clothes and design and urban-modern aesthetic. From clothing and accessories to beauty products and books and homewares, Individual Medley has rallied some of the most talented and respected makers in LA and across the country and made a real impact in Atwater.
Stay curious and inspired, browse through our selection of linens‘ and’ start on a new sewing project today.