Visit: 482 A 49TH St Oakland, CA 94609
Story by Rachel Schwartzmann – Shop Esqueleto – Photos by Bridget Badore for The Style Line
“The ESQUELETO woman has her own style and knows
how to wear it well,” says designer and shop owner Lauren Wolf. “She absolutely doesn’t follow trends but she often sets them.” After our recent visit to ESQUELETO’s Oakland flagship, we believe it. With Lauren’s endeavors as a jewelry designer in mind, the shop carries an assortment of designers from around the world, as curated through Lauren’s thoughtful lens. These makers have built their brands on the pillars of quality, thoughtful design and having a distinct and creative point of view. As Lauren put it in our interview below: “What I love about the jewelry we sell at ESQUELETO is that it’s the perfect mix of fine jewelry and artistic expression, which used to be hard to find. Our customers can have both the lifetime, heirloom quality coupled with more unusual, artist-driven design.”
Furthermore, ESQUELETO’s Oakland origins also contribute to the store’s dynamic clientele and inclusive approach to personal style. So with our penchant for great design and interest in the city’s growing small business hub we were thrilled to meet with Lauren who kindly gave us a tour of the space.
During our time together she also shared her experiences as a serial entrepreneur, her mission to champion fellow makers and the important role community has played in all of her professional endeavors thus far. Discover our full conversation below which features exclusive moments from our visit beautifully captured by Bridget Badore for The Style Line.
*THIS STORY WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN SEPTEMBER 2016 AND REFLECTS UPDATED CHANGES TO THE LAYOUT
I’m a mom first, to my two and a half-year-old boy,
Jimmy. Every Friday we go swimming and then get lunch at the Oakland Museum. When people ask him where he’s from he says, “Oakland Museum.” As a family, we love taking our travel trailer on adventures (Yosemite and Death Valley are two of our favorite destinations). Before motherhood, I was very focused on my business and growing the ESQUELETO brand and designing for my jewelry line, Lauren Wolf Jewelry. I’m very proud of having a woman-owned and women supporting business, and being able to champion so many artists who I know and admire. Home and family are very important to me. We just bought our second home, and working on the design of that space for my family is a top priority for me right now. I love to travel, though I don’t get to do as much as I’d like anymore. I love clothing and personal sartorial expression; I prefer smaller, independent labels like Ali Golden and Michaela Greg. My favorite online retailers are Frances May and No. 6 Store.
How would you describe your relationship to jewelry and in terms of ESQUELETO why do you think jewelry is the best vehicle to express your point of view creatively?
Jewelry is something I’ve always loved, ever since making friendship bracelets in elementary school. When I was older and getting into artistic expression, I was attracted to sculpture over painting or drawing because of the tangibility. What I love about the jewelry we sell at ESQUELETO is that it’s the perfect mix of fine jewelry and artistic expression, which used to be hard to find. I think culturally we are in a more casual time, where the relationship to fine jewelry is not as formal as it once was. Our customers can have both the lifetime, heirloom quality coupled with more unusual, artist-driven design.
Tell us about Oakland. How and why do you think the city best caters to small businesses like ESQUELETO and how much differentiation would you say there is between the Oakland shop vs. Los Angeles?
Having started my business in New York and then relocating to the west coast, I can say that there is nowhere like the Bay Area for fostering small businesses. There is a real sense of community – the people in the Bay really believe in small businesses and supporting them by shopping locally. We were so fortunate to start in Temescal Alley, which is such a unique shopping destination that encourages amazing camaraderie amongst so many small makers. Though Los Angeles is a completely different market, we were able to find a block that had the same spirit as Temescal Alley in that it feels very neighborhood focused. We also love that we are so close to DTLA and the energy that is happening there right now. One day I hope to be able to take the bullet train nearly door to door between the two shops!
What has been the most surprising discovery in making the transition (or finding a balance) between designing your eponymous line and running two shops?
I had no idea what to expect when opening a retail location, and how that would change what I do on a daily basis. I do find myself devoting more time to ESQUELETO than Lauren Wolf Jewelry. However, it has also transformed my line and the way I design for that.
It’s been very satisfying being able to sell what I want to sell, having a showcase for my own work and being able to be more experimental in my designs without having to worry about what a retailer might want to order.
What is one question that you wish people asked you more often?
I wish that I was asked more often about the future. What is on the horizon for ESQUELETO and Lauren Wolf Jewelry? We are always looking to what’s next. Right now we are excited about launching our in-house private label collection for ESQUELETO next year.
Who is the ESQUELETO woman and how does the community encourage and foster celebrating personal style?
The ESQUELETO woman has her own style and knows how to wear it well. She absolutely doesn’t follow trends but she often sets them. Casual attitude meets luxe sensibilities.
I think jewelry is the most personal expression of style; it goes beyond clothing in that you never have to take it off. Fine jewelry has a permanence in that it lasts beyond one season (or many); it gets passed down, old mixing in with the new. The scale of jewelry is so intimate; jewelry is for you, not others.
How would you advise the next generation of makers, creative/fashion professionals to leave an imprint in the world just by doing what they love?
My only advice is to challenge yourself to make something that is truly different. We live in a world of over saturation, of product over saturation, where everything can start to look the same. To make a career out of doing what you love you have to truly offer something different and well-made.