Oh Joy

{field trip} zuzii studio... 15 Jan 2015

Zuzii Shoe Studio

Zuzii Shoe Studio

As a designer and small business owner, I have a true love and appreciation of seeing how other small businesses are run. Whenever I have an opportunity to visit the studio of a fellow maker, it’s a serious treat. In partnership with American Express, we recently visited the new Downtown LA studio of Zuzii, a family-owned and operated shoemaker that makes beautiful, handmade shoes. I brought along my little sidekick (and shoe-lover) so she could see the shoe-making process in action.

Zuzii Shoe Studio

Zuzii Shoe Studio

Zuzii Shoe Studio

I first learned about Zuzii last year and have loved following their growth ever since. What started as a kid’s shoe line has now evolved to a brand with items for grown-ups, too. Ruby loved seeing all the shoe samples and all the materials that go into making the shoes.

And because I am always so fascinated by how each business runs differently, I asked Ryan, Alex, Nickie Campbell (a mother and two daughters) a few things about how it all comes together…

Zuzii Shoe Studio

What’s your biggest joy in being a small business?

We love our connection with our customers. All of our management and production is done by the three of us, so we really get to be consumed by the entire process including interacting with our customers. We have so many wonderful customers that show us love on a daily basis. Our favorites are those wonderful customers who take time to send us a photo just to tell us how much they love their new shoes. It truly is a special experience for us to be able to take the order, craft the shoes, pack and ship, and a few days later be able to see them on the customers feet. I know it is said often, but we really couldn’t do it without them. As a small business we also have a unique opportunity to really get to know our customers (especially thanks to social media). We have so many long-term customers who have been around since the early days. Zuzii has basically grown up along with some of them, it makes it such a sweet experience considering our start as an infant shoe brand. 

Zuzii Shoe Studio

What are the pluses and minuses of having a family-run small business?

We are all equal co-owners of Zuzii, which is a great thing but at some points also makes things a little challenging. It was really important to us that we make collective decisions between the three of us. We have many commonalities that can sometimes overlap and make things tricky, but for the most part we all have our own strengths that complement each other and allow us to work together to figure things out and get things done. It took a couple years to get used to working together inside this setting, but it has bonded us in a way I think most families don’t ever get the opportunity to. 

Zuzii Shoe Studio

Are you inspired by customer feedback/requests when creating new designs?

This has been a key part of growing our business. When we began Zuzii we only had intentions of creating infant shoes, it was a lot of thanks to our customers who pushed and drove us to continually expand our size range. It was funny, every time we launched a new size we would immediately have customers coming back and asking us for even more! We launched our Women’s line this past summer, and almost immediately we had requests for a men’s line which is now in the works for this coming summer!

Zuzii Shoe Studio

Thanks so much to the Campbell family for giving us a peek into their wonderful world!

This post is in partnership with American Express – committed to connecting small merchants to more customers through the Shop Small® movement. 

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

{los angeles} top 20 bites of 2014... 18 Dec 2014

Salt Air

As my mind and body prepped for a new family member this year, 2014 included a ton of places I simply craved (which meant lots of sweets and lots of carbs). Here are my Top 20 Bites of 2014 in Los Angeles {in no particular order}...

1. The lobster roll from Salt Air is like the runway model of lobster rolls. It's not the meatiest out there, but it sure is pretty.

Good Girl Dinette

2. The blistered corn from Good Girl Dinette. I don't know what they do to this corn, but it has this amazing mix of crispy, sweet, and soft that is unlike any corn on the cob I've ever had.

Black Hogg Cookies

3. The Cap'n Crunch Chocolate Chip Cookie from Black Hogg (recipe here) has become my favorite chocolate chip cookie in the city.

The Hungry Cat

4. For a meatier lobster roll, the version from The Hungry Cat with those amazing fries surely satisfies (we love their Sunday brunch!).

Dinette

5. The best waffle I might have ever had is this one with a poached egg and bacon from Dinette.

Hart and the Hunter

6. Because toasts are the new black, this Trout Toast from The Hart and the Hunter is one of my favorites.

Eggslut

7. The "slut" (a coddled egg over potato pureé) from Egg Slut makes for a comforting and cozy morning meal.

Republique

8. The double chocolate cookie from Republique (middle) is gluten-free but you'd never know it was missing anything—it's chewy, sweet, crunchy, and simply out of this world.

Faith and Flower

9. The kimchi deviled eggs from Faith and Flower take deviled eggs to a whole new level.

Sweet Rose Creamery

10. Cinnamon Buttermilk Sherbet from Sweet Rose Creamery offers a fun twist on a cold treat.

(see the other 10 below the jump...)

Continue reading " {los angeles} top 20 bites of 2014... " »

{oh joy eats} dinette in echo park... 1 Dec 2014

Dinette / Los Angeles

Sometimes you come across a new spot that has a combination of a close proximity, casual service, and delicious options that make you go back...every...single...week. You're worried the guy at the counter will think, "You again?" (But then again, that's not a terrible thing to see repeat customers, I suppose.) That newish spot for me is Dinette in L.A.'s Echo Park.

Dinette / Los Angeles

Dinette / Los Angeles

Dinette / Los Angeles

By the owners of Cafe Stella in Silver Lake, it's basically a mini restaurant tucked in a street corner with a fancy take-out window in an up-and-coming area. There's a mix of beautiful baked goods that sit in the window that tease you and tempt you to buy a cookie or slice of pie along with your breakfast or lunch.

Dinette / Los Angeles

Dinette / Los Angeles

Dinette / Los Angeles

But my favorite is the simple, yet beautiful, breakfast which includes the lightest, fluffiest waffles I've ever had topped with bacon and a poached egg, a ham and egg topped toast, avocado toast, and mini quiches—all perfect for sharing. As a milk tea lover, I also love the cardamom iced milk tea for a morning pick-me-up at my new go-to spot.

Dinette | 1606 W. Sunset Blvd. | Los Angeles, CA 90026

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

{oh joy eats} donut snob... 13 Nov 2014

Donut Snob Los Angeles

I've been eating like a 14 year old boy lately with my nursing mama's appetite! All I want is a ton of juice and water to drink and sweets of all kinds. So I welcome these seriously amazing donuts from Donut Snob.

The dough is light and fluffy and topped with just the right amount of glaze and toppings. With flavors like Chai Toasted Almond (chai tea glaze with almonds), Berry Best (cinnamon glaze with mixed berry coulis), Campfire S'mores (chocolate ganache and marshmallow), Pistachio Orange (orange zest glaze dusted with pistachios), and The Oinker (maple cinnamon topped with bacon), my sweet tooth is very happy indeed. 

P.S. Donut Snob doesn't have a retail store yet, but you can find them at cafes around Los Angeles or order them to be delivered or picked up locally.

{Photo by Casey Brodley, styling by Julia Wester for Oh Joy}

{field trip} reykjavik outpost in eagle rock... 29 Oct 2014

Reykjavik Outpost Los Angeles

We always love it when new, inspiring shops pop up in the area and recently stopped by Reykjavik Outpost in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of LA. Everything in the shop is sourced from Iceland-based artists and designers. With hand-drawn fabrics and hand woven shoes, every piece is beautifully made by hand.

Reykjavik Outpost Los Angeles

Reykjavik Outpost Los Angeles

Reykjavik Outpost Los Angeles

Reykjavik Outpost Los Angeles

Reykjavik Outpost Los Angeles

Inspiring and lovely and full of amazing colors, patterns, and textures, it's a place to go for a truly special treat for someone.

P.S. Here's a special Oh Joy reader discount for their online store for 25% off through November 5th. Simply enter RVKOHJOY25 at checkout and see more past field trips right here...

Reykjavik Outpost Icelandic Design Store | 4680 Eagle Rock Blvd | Los Angeles, CA 90041

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

{oh joy eats} honeymee ice cream... 16 Oct 2014

Honeymee Ice Cream / Los Angeles

Honeymee Ice Cream / Los Angeles

Honeymee Ice Cream / Los Angeles

Some days you just need a refreshing, cold treat (well, for me that's like every day). So yesterday, we stopped at Honeymee in L.A.'s Koreatown to have an after lunch snack. Sometimes simple is better, and Honeymee makes all-natural vanilla soft-serve ice cream with a just a couple topping options like a honey swirl, honey comb chip, or chocolate sauce with sea salt. It's creamy, refreshing, and not too sweet. We loved the honey comb chunk on top for a little extra chew and sweetness...yum!

Honeymee | 3377 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 116 | Los Angeles, CA 90017

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

{oh joy sips} home brewed bar in pasadena... 14 Aug 2014

Home Brewed Bar

I'm not a big coffee drinker, but tea is my jam. One of my cravings lately (well, maybe always) is a great boba milk tea. Boba tea can be hard to find if you're not in an area with lots of Asian eateries that usually sell them, but in Los Angeles, more and more places are offering the chewy addition to their existing coffee and tea menu.

Home Brewed Bar

Home Brewed Bar

Home Brewed Bar in Pasadena has fun options like Salted Caramel Milk Tea, Vietnamese Iced Coffee, Vanilla Berry Truffle, Plum Oolong Tea which you can add regular or mini boba tea to. Just talking about it gives me a hankering right now...

Home Brewed Bar | 39 N Arroyo Pkwy, Pasadena, CA | 626.397.2887

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

a farmer's market haul... 31 Jul 2014

Farmer's Market Fruit on Waffles

Farmer's Market Fruit

Some people get excited about a makeup haul or clothes haul, but one of my favorite things to bring home is a big 'ole batch of the fruit from the farmer's market. This weekend, I found green figs, golden raspberries, and cherriums (a mix of cherry and plum), and I was in fruit heaven... 

What kind of summer gems have you guys found at your local markets?

{Photos by Casey Brodley and Styling by Julia Wester for Oh Joy}

choose your own adventure... 30 Jul 2014

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

Sometimes we find ourselves stuck in a rut where our weekends are catered around Ruby's activities or doing the same thing every single weekend. Recently, we decided to switch things up and just spend the weekend doing things and going to places we had never been. So, I decided to have a "Choose Your Own Adventure" day inspired by my friend Audrey who is one of the most creative moms I know.

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

Simply surprise your kids one morning by telling them they’ll get to choose whatever they want to do that day. Bring a little bell or something that makes noise (we used a maraca), get in your car (or bike or walk), and as they spot things they see and want to do, they simply ring the bell and you go and explore it!

When Audrey did it, her boys chose to go to a Harley Davidson shop and have pancakes at IHOP. So, we told Ruby we'd go on an adventure and gave her a maraca to shake it whenever she saw something cool from the car window. If you have more than one child, you can let them take turns or bring one of their friends along to make it more fun and interactive.

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

To be prepared for wherever the day takes us, I always keep a tiny pouch of Band-Aids and Neosporin in my bag. Ruby had gotten a scrape on her knee the day before from a fall, so it reminded me to have my little kit just in case.

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

Our first stop was the Petersen Automotive Museum. Ruby saw the pointy architecture and the car on the roof of the building and her interest was piquéd.

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

With vintage cars of all kinds and really unique cars from movies or driven by celebrities, it was like going back in time. The best part about coming here is that it's not a place I would have ever picked to go. Ruby's never played a ton with cars at home, so we were delighted to see how much she loved it. And Bob loves cars (a lot) so it was a fun treat for him as well.

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

Next, was Nick Metropolis Collectible Furniture. You pretty much can't miss this from the street with all the signs and over-the-top, random things sitting on the sidewalk. People go here to find vintage things of all kinds, to shop for movie sets, and it's just a cool (and crazy) place to explore.

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

Ruby got a little scared after seeing some random, slightly creepy statues and was ready to head out, but we had a fun time trolling through all the quirky treasures.

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

Finally, no day is complete without a little treat and Ruby's favorite stop was probably into this white building full of candy at Sockerbit

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

She has never gone to a bulk candy store before and was pretty amazed that she could pick whatever she wanted and mix them all in one bag. She held her bag of candy so tightly on the way home. We had such a fun day that she took the longest nap she had in months, and we all felt like we had really gotten to know our city better by discovering places we wouldn't have normally been.

Oh Joy / Choose Your Own Adventure

We loved it so much, we're planning to do this more often. Sometimes it's nice just letting the day take you by surprise...

*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson Consumer Products Company Division of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, Inc. See how to make your very own First Aid kit right here. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and special content like this for Oh Joy.

{Photos by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

the cutest party foods for kids... 14 Jul 2014

Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches by Heirloom LA

When we threw Ruby's little ice cream social, I wanted to make sure the kids ate a healthy meal before filling their bellies with the special ice cream treat. So I called upon my crazy-talented friend, Matt Poley from Heirloom LA, to come up with healthy and kid-friendly foods to feast on. What he came up with blew my mind and gave me so much inspiration for future meal-making for Ruby.

Fruit and Cheese Skewers by Heirloom LA

Almond Butter and Banana Sandwiches by Heirloom LA

Mini Crudite

Mac and Cheese Nuggets by Heirloom LA

The menu included (from top to bottom): mini grilled cheese sandwiches (in heart and star shapes); fruit, cheese, and mouse melon skewers; baby vegetable crudités (with ranch dressing for dipping), almond butter and banana sandwiches topped with sea salt, and finally, mac n' cheese nuggets (shaped like kids!). I mean, have you ever seen food look so cute?! Even the parents were chowing down on these beautiful morsels of goodness.

Oh Joy Mini Ice Cream Social

Matt made these mac n' cheese nuggets for the first-time ever for our party, and they were such a hit that he has kindly shared the recipe with us today. Thanks so much to Heirloom LA for these amazing treats and for giving me a serious dose of kid food inspiration!

See below for the recipe...

Continue reading " the cutest party foods for kids... " »

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