Grace Lee


I’ve followed Grace Lee‘s jewelry collection ever since I discovered her incredible lace ring online a few years ago. The ring took me by surprise, something that doesn’t happen that often with jewelry, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I saw it in person a year or so later, at Clare Vivier in Silver Lake – and the reality exceeded my expectations. It actually feels like lace – delicate, but still solid and durable. It’s timeless, simple, and so special.

I’m still waiting for the perfect reason to treat myself to a lace ring (which is made all the more difficult by the new variations coming out – like this lace arch ring Grace instagrammed recently!) but a friend and I bought these black diamond disc bracelets on a girls trip last year and I never take mine off.

Grace was so kind to meet me when I was in LA earlier this year – she’s wonderful, funny, and so thoughtful – and her personality shines through in her incredible work.



I have a finance background, but while pregnant with my daughter, I started to make simple pieces that I wanted but couldn’t find – the whisper ring was created because I wanted an extremely thin ring, but couldn’t find one anywhere. I made mine, and then people started asking me where they could buy them. I put them online, and the business was born… it’s been about six years and the business has grown very naturally over that time.


I draw on graph paper and then scan. From the computer image, we make metal or rubber molds and then we produce in 14 or 18 karat gold.


All production is done in-house or locally – this allows more control over the process. We’re more nimble because it’s local. It gives me more flexibility. It’s important to me to keep as much of it local for as long as I possibly can. But, it’s hard – labor is a bigger expense than gold! Being local also allows me to do custom work. I get to build and create relationships with my customers that can last a long time.



Life! The Lace Deco rings was inspired by the art deco ceiling at the El Capitan theater and the Sticks and Stones collection was inspired by rocks I saw one day.


Clare V. Handbags, some type of sneakers – I’m really into Stan Smiths right now. A lot of Black Crane, Steven Alan. Hansel from Basel socks, and my jewelry!


Lots of dark chocolate!

I love the time I get to spend with my kids – they will do one thing that will just make me crack up and it’s a great reminder that it’s all worth it. As a mom, sometimes you just have to roll with it – that transfers into my business as well.

Los Angeles has a real, natural community that supports each other.

Thank you, Grace, for meeting with me and for making beautiful jewelry!

Images c/o Grace Lee Designs.

Grace Lee Designs is on The TAE A LIST. Follow Grace Lee Designs:

The Edit : Capital Eyewear Acetate Sunglasses

There are few things I like more than a good pair of sunglasses – with the key word being good.

I’ve been a fan of Steven Kilzer’s handcrafted wooden sunglasses, Capital Eyewear, for a few years and when I met with him in January, he told me he was (finally!) working on an acetate line (plastic, for the lay-people reading). I love the wood glasses… but the acetate are just what I’ve been looking for. The price is incredible (right on par with the low quality, mass-produced in China brand everyone else you know is wearing) and the fit is amazing – Steven doesn’t release product until he is positive that the fit is perfect and adds elements to the design to allow for custom fit adjustments.

These sunglasses are handmade in San Francisco with Italian and Japanese acetate (in my past life, I sourced plastic goods – trust me, this is the best of the best) and Carl Zeiss lenses. Steven is committed to sharing his process, check out the site for more on how the glasses are made.

I know a lot of people are hesitant to spend money on sunglasses because of the fear of losing them. But once you buy a pair that is well made and fits well, you take care of them – and you don’t lose them. You love them too much for that to happen. If you’ve been looking for a new pair, you can’t go wrong with Capital Eyewear. (I’m loving the Morgan and the Forrest in Crystal Clear!)

Capital Eyewear is on the TAE A-list. For more, check out the previous TAE feature and follow along:

Heidi Merrick


I discovered Heidi Merrick a few years ago – I remember seeing the Huntington dress on Shopbop and falling in love. I don’t even know if I realized that the dress was made in America – but I still remember it, and I still wish I’d bought it. As I started to follow Heidi’s blog and instagram account, I fell more in love with the brand – and the thought and care Heidi puts into her work. I have since added several pieces to my wardrobe – each piece inevitably becomes a favorite, worn again and again.

Heidi graciously agreed to take some time out of her day to meet with me when I was in LA… I was more than a little overwhelmed as I walked into her studio – it can be scary to meet people you’ve admired for so long! But Heidi is amazing. She emanates positive energy – I could have talked to her all day (or just moved into her incredible studio!) and I think about our conversation often. Heidi is incredibly real, smart, gorgeous, funny, and thoughtful – If i didn’t like her so much, it wouldn’t seem fair. What’s more, everything she does is is done with hard work and integrity. She doesn’t pretend her work is easy, or overemphasize it’s importance, but there is a clear mission and purpose behind what she does, and she acts accordingly. I left our meeting inspired and motivated – and just wanting to be better.

I always feel good when I wear Heidi’s clothes – the beautiful fabrics, impeccable cuts, and perfect little details will make anyone look and feel beautiful. But I’m also proud to wear Heidi Merrick – and to support an amazing, inspiring woman and maker. Thank you Heidi, for all that you do, and for taking the time to share your story – and incredible advice – with us!



My dad makes surfboards – I grew up in a manufacturing family. My parents never compromised – I watched that and learned from it. We lived a beautiful, pure life that they wanted to live. I want the same thing. I want to live a nice life.


My wedding dress was the first piece I made – my mom sewed it. We draped it and then I shredded the silk organza! Then I went to LA Trade Tech where I learned to make clothes. The collection has grown really naturally over the last 9 years.



The juxtaposition of wearable and beautiful – it can be hard to find in fashion.


I know that I will only do this while I want to do it. Life is more important than work.

In fashion, you have a community that is working so hard to make things happen. There are people you’ve worked with over the years that are always so happy to see you – and you find so much in common with people that you wouldn’t have known otherwise. This is the place that I feel most useful – even though so much of my work is done by myself.



My idea of the elevated CA lifestyle. How I want the world to look. What I want women to wear. You can feel like you have a super beautiful, super relaxed life here. You can be resorty in the day and elegant at night.

It’s also always been important to me to have price points that my friends can buy.


You have to be ok with carving your own path. Responsible production takes a lot of constant assessment, you are constantly making and remaking a commitment to yourself.

The best investment you can make is in your domestic life.

Never buy anything less nice than than the nicest thing you own.


Follow (and shop!) Heidi Merrick:

The Podolls

the-podolls-burlingameI’ve always been obsessed with a story and meaning behind an item or a brand – that’s essentially why I started TAE – but as I interview more makers and designers, I’m starting to become even more interested with the way they combine their business into their lives – the full circle implications of what they do and how they do it. Because if you are working to build an ethical, responsible business, it doesn’t make sense to let your work consume you – we all know that’s not sustainable, but in this case, it is in direct opposition with the ultimate goal.

Josh & Lauren Podoll are my new shining example of partners – in work and in life – who are building a conscious life and business. Alexandra and I visited with them at their store in Burlingame a few months ago and I am so impressed by what they have built. The Podolls is a carefully (gorgeously!) handcrafted apparel line with a flagship lifestyle concept store in Burlingame.

Josh & Lauren met over 10 years ago in California – Lauren was a retail buyer and Josh was an abstract artist and painter who sold a collection of tee shirts to Lauren’s store. They started dating and working together concurrently – moving from vintage patchwork and screen printed tee shirts sold all over the the world to a high end label that they presented at fashion week. Over time, they saw an opportunity to connect their lifestyle and their work and, in 2008, launched The Podolls, focusing on everyday staples made with great materials and interesting details. Since then, they have launched a kids line, podots, to manage scrap waste from the women’s line, and opened their flagship store.

The gorgeous store allows Josh & Lauren to share their overall vision for the brand- they can make special products, such as leather jackets, and sell them without wholesale markup, and they can support their friend’s brands and brands with a likeminded ethos. There is strict criteria for what is carried in the store – as explained on each item’s hangtang – but other than that, they don’t call it out – while shopping, you just think you are in a beautiful, impeccably curated boutique.

Read on for a little question and answer session with The Podolls that proved to me that Josh and Lauren are living the dream – amazing style, surfing everyday, an awesome little kid, and a business that takes an immense amount of hard work but complements and evolves their lifestyle. And on top of that – they are incredibly generous, and are giving TAE readers a discount. Happy Monday!

the-podolls-kids-clothingWHAT INSPIRES YOU?

L: Textiles every season – sometimes we make our own for the collection. The lifestyles of the women I know – how will they wear our clothes and what do they want them to be? We want our brand identity to take a backseat to the clothes working for the people who wear them.

J: Textiles – you see a fabric and you think, “What does that want to be?” – you can’t force it. Contemporary art. Historical art figures. Living in San Francisco.


L: A Goyard tote – everyday. Diamond studs. Boots year round. Our wing blouse in all of the fabrics. RGB nail polish. bkr water bottles. Shawn Burke pouches in a Podolls print. Clare V. Leopard Pouches. A great leather jacket.

J: Engineered Garments jacket. Converse. Raleigh & Imogene + Willie Denim. A short, cropped hair cut. Westward Leaning Sunglasses. Fairends Baseball Caps.


L & J: Blue Bottle Espresso. Our son, Dashiell – who is also why we need so much caffeine.

L: Yoga

J: Surfing – every morning.


J: The Ocean. Whether or not it’s a good day for surfing, you are still in the ocean…with dolphins. You get 100 yards out and and it’s wild and free and amazing.

L: Being in nature and away from this material world we live in. Stay-cations. Discovering something new – like a new neighborhood restaurant.


It is so satisfying to be able to provide jobs and keep people in business. We love to support our local economy and fellow artisans. We appreciate the ability to oversee our manufacturing and quality. Also, the relationships we’ve made are the best part of what we do – there is a human side of manufacturing, and we believe that is translated into what you wear.


The store – it still feels really new. Some exclusive products – including leather jackets! – that we have coming in just for the store. The collection we are currently designing. The physical interpretation of our ideas as our samples come in – it feels like Christmas.


The Podolls have recently launched their new e-commerce site, and in celebration, they are giving TAE readers 15% off the entire site through the end of April! TROUBLE!!! Use code TAE 15 and stock up for spring! Tomorrow I’ll be sharing my favorites from the site… get them while you can! Thank you, Josh & Lauren!!!

Follow along for more fun: