As a visitor to Los Angeles there is no shortage of things to do and sights to see but for travelers who crave the path less traveled it can be hard to navigate such a large city. Those who love to find quaint places, tucked away that could only be found if you spent all your days walking around and discovering all corners of Los Angeles. A problem that Daniela Hummel hoped to alleviate when she thought to launch Via Los Angeles, a website dedicated to finding and featuring the hidden gems of LA. Daniela spends her days exploring the city, most of the time on foot, in search of the best of the best that LA has to offer. For anyone who has been to LA, you know that walking even to get from point A to B is unheard of. That’s dedication. From the necessities like finding your way on the subway and where to get free wi-fi to secret gardens and a killer comedy show, Daniela has done the legwork for you. All you have to do is take a peek at her website and you can be on your way. Daniela’s expertise, curiosity, and tenacity doesn’t stop at the locales. She also runs an e-boutique that boasts a curated collection of made in LA clothing, accessories, and skin care products. Some of our favourites? Mimot Studio totes, Aenon’s beauty elixirs, and Treacherous Minx tees and tanks. We met with Daniela, the driving force behind Via Los Angeles, at the darling Cafe Chez Marie to talk setting goals, shopping local, and pursuing her passion. Stylust (S): Tell us more about how Via Los Angeles came to be (the who, what, why, where of it all).
Daniela (D): I was in the place where I get all my best ideas — the shower — when the idea of Via Los Angeles came to me. I had been doing a lot of exploring of LA, literally walking on foot or stopping anywhere that seemed intriguing. It was really for fun and I started giving tips to friends. My “expertise,” you could say, has never been the hottest clubs or bars but rather hidden gems and places that give you a memorable experience. Then I thought, “I want to tell more people about this stuff!” so I created the website. I wanted it to be something simple and pleasurable to share with people beyond my personal circle.
Once that started, someone suggested that I open an online store. I had been meeting all these local designers, artists…people who were creating incredible products. I mean, incredible. So, I feel like the concept found me. The idea was two-fold: 1) create a place where new, local designers could be showcased and launch and 2) create a boutique-like e-commerce that appeals to people who like to find special items (especially before anyone else).
I picture Via Los Angeles as a little tidbit a person can look forward to reading with their morning coffee that will start their day off right. It’s dedicated to the curious, the explorers, the dreamers.
(S): Your passion for artisan products and supporting small business in LA is an evident tone throughout each article on Via LA. Why is shopping local important to you?
(D): There is something magical and charming about artisanal products and small businesses. That is where you find the heart of a city. It’s where you get to witness creativity and pure passion. A lot of the time, I am meeting people right on the brink of a moment of inspiration. That moment when they decide to take a chance on themselves and open a restaurant or a shop or start an app or offer some kind of unusual service. It creates a culture. Plus, it really gets under my skin when I hear about huge companies basically using slave labor. Meanwhile, these new brands are willing to make less money in order to make sure that their products are manufactured fairly. They are creating a movement. I feel like it is important to support that.
(S): Have you always had an interest in the e-commerce side of the fashion industry?
(D): To be honest…no! I had a random conversation with a woman who was giving me career advice and suggested I open an online store. She made it seem like it would be really easy and I thought, “Hey, that’s a good idea!” I had no idea what was actually involved but I must say, I absolutely love it now. It was a weird way to get there, but I think this is where I am supposed to be.
(S): As someone who is new to LA I find your site really helpful. It’s hard being new to this city or being a tourist to find true gems. Is that something you were conscious about catering to during the inception of Via LA?
(D): Absolutely. Unfortunately, Los Angeles can be difficult for tourists and newcomers to navigate. It’s a huge city, first of all, but you also really have to dig deeper to find anything beyond the average tourist attractions or places popularized by gossip magazines. I love traveling so much, especially in Europe, and there it’s so easy to just walk around and get swept off your feet. I feel like Via Los Angeles makes LA more like that, in a way. It makes the city seem a little less overwhelming…more like a European street with lots of secrets waiting to be discovered. That is why I named it Via. It means street or road in Italian. Tourists were also one of the reasons why I thought I should organize the site by location. That way, you can see what off-the-beaten-path-type places are in your area. Hopefully sometime in the future we will have an interactive map to make it even easier.
(S): It’s 2015 – a full new year lays ahead. What do you do to keep your goals in check?
(D): I make lists. Lots of lists. Long term goals, short-term goals, daily goals, small goals to achieve bigger goals. Eventually, you look at your lists and you’re like, “Hey! These are all done!” and you get to have that weird pleasure of crossing them all off, even though you know you can just throw the paper away. There should be a word for that particular type of pleasure. Completionfreude?
(S): On that note, what is something you are looking forward to for the year ahead? (D): Too much to say. I have so many more places and things to do that I want to share! I am also trying to find more things to feature that are free. Things people can do without worrying about spending money. If you’re in a phase of your life where you have to be more budget conscious, you also deserve some daily pleasures! Not always the same grind! Life is meant to be enjoyed.
As for the shop, I found a LOT of new brands, or creators, as we call them, right around the end of 2014 that are going to be in the shop. I only choose products that make my heart skip a beat. There has to be something really special. Plus, I am picky when it comes to quality. So everything we have in the store, I am really passionate about selling. I can’t wait to get everything online but that will happen over the next few months. We just started selling a custom, handmade lingerie line and a natural skin care line. They are divine!
I am also looking forward to doing some pop up shops so that people can come in and see our products in person. Try them on, test them out, find things they will love to use over and over.