A State of Mind, the new shop on Ventura Boulevard, showcases handcrafted and elemental garden objects in a delicious retail mash-up that combines Southern gentility, Parisian flea market and farm-stand finds with an offering of psychic searches on the side.
Sisters Leslie Beers and Caron Hopkins imbue the shop with an outdoorsy “girl power” sensibility, according to co-owner Beers.
“The garden is something that’s always to the heart of a woman. To decorate your garden is to decorate your soul,” she says. “It’s prestigious. And for (goodness) sake, this is California, we should extend into the outside, use it as a canvas.”
Born in Los Angeles, Beers and Hopkins spent much of their adult lives in Georgia. Hopkins packed up her Atlanta antique store in the summer and moved back to L.A. to join forces with Beers, who was already living in Sherman Oaks. Happily for patrons, the pair retains plenty of the cordial Dixie charm they absorbed from their time in Georgia.
The sisters’ snob-free attitude is reflected in their choice of merchandise. Decorative pieces range from one-of-a-kind wood flowers made by a Georgia farmer to large-scale outdoor wrought-iron circular bench designed to wrap around a tree trunk. Outdoor chandeliers and “found” windows hang above concrete planters, a wrought-iron bird house and tiny clay pots from Paris originally used to collect tree sap.
Will these rustic beauties find a hospitable home on Ventura? The sister team hopes so. They only opened their venture in Studio City in October after exhaustive location scouting that included Santa Barbara, Ojai, Sherman Oaks and the entire 22 miles of the Valley.
“We were on a quest,” Beers says. “I walked blocks and blocks through so many neighborhoods. We wanted to be enterprising and at the same time we try hard to listen to our intuition.”
Ventura Boulevard in Studio City spoke to them. “It had just the right store mix,” Beers explains. “It has the right demographic, stretching over to Sunset, and then there’s its proximity to studios, not to mention all the stylists that live nearby and especially all the sharp, dynamic women we meet here.”
A State of Mind occupies the two rectilinear, all-white storefronts that formerly housed In Design. It took six months to revamp the 2,450 square-foot interior with arches, weathered and honey-colored walls, turquoise distressed concrete floors and homey sofas that invite you to sit awhile.
A black iron chandelier calls to mind outdoor dining rooms of Mexico. Those sap pots practically speak French by way of the arrondisements of Paris. Gigantic urns sit alongside folk art life-size garden angels. Toothy gargoyles share space with outdoor plaques engraved with muses for all seasons. Zinc planters boasting an industrial flair rub elbows with ornamental cherub fountains.
In the back of the store—behind a counter brimming with hand-made jewelry and crystals of quartz, calcite, pyrite, smokey topaz, and tourmaline—New Age-minded visitors can check out the lumia light therapy table. How’s it work? Color beams adjust your chakra as you lay on your back.
You can also opt for your aura to be photographed. Or in the "Knook and Corner" section, you can arrange an appointment with an “intuitive reader” to check out your future via Tarot cards.
Too far out for a home and garden store? Peter Tompkins' and Christopher Bird’s 1973 best seller The Secret Life of Plants describe the physical, emotional, and spiritual relations between plants and man and theorize that greenery are sentient beings. Then there’s the TV series hosted by David Attenborough where he posited in the episode The Private Life of Plants that “trees and bushes and grasses...are living organisms just like animals...we're seldom aware of [their] dramas [because] plants of course live on a different time-scale."
My right brain flunked science but as a nature lover, I can’t discount these possibilities. Luckily, for the avid gardeners who follow this column, I highly recommend A State of Mind both for its charms and hospitality. With or without the New Age trimmings, this store brings welcome relief from modern stress, a change of pace from “thankyou”less shopkeepers, and old-and-weathered, three-dimensional whimsical garden ornamentation.
Beers says, “It’s a metaphor. To be in the garden is a state of mind. Add to that crystals, beautiful objects, color, music, incense—trippy things that awaken your senses.”
A State of Mind is located at 12429 Ventura Blvd., Studio City (four doors east of Whitsett on the north side of the street. Street parking. Prices range from $15-$500. (818) 760-8330