Monday, February 8, 2010

Bohemian Exchange

Bohemian Exchange is a uniquely great store on Abbot Kinney, that is - get this - a non-profit store. Meaning, proceeds from items you buy there go to non-profit organizations like Heal The Bay, The Sierra Club, Tree People, The Surfrider Foundation, and the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). How cool is that?

Proprietress Deborah Lashever, born and raised in L.A., has a background in fundraising for charities, mostly environmental ones. With the economy suffering as it has been, non-profits are hurting badly right now, and really need our help. Knowing this, Deborah decided to open a vintage clothing store, including new items from local designers and artisans, as well as accessories from Fair Trade organizations, and donate her share of all profits to the groups listed above. When the block has gotten so fancy and high-priced, it is truly a pleasure to find a spot that has its heart in the right place, and that you can feel good about purchasing from, knowing that you got a cute dress AND helped out the planet a little bit too.

Deborah and I were chatting, and she made a really good point that non-profits are pretty much the only way to get real information these days. You can't trust the mainstream media at all anymore, so when you want to get to the bottom of a certain topic, it makes sense to go to the sources that advocate for themselves, right? So that makes it all the more important to keep these organizations alive and thriving in every little way we can.

Deborah always had the philosophy that it was cooler when buying gifts to get five things that were unique and awesome from a vintage store, than one thing that everyone else around will be wearing, for the same price. She started accumulating a whole bunch of vintage clothes and would go to Street Fairs and various Festivals to sell her treasures, always for charity. When she came up with the idea to have a store for non-profits, she looked at the business model of Discovery Shops and Out Of The Closet, and went for it. Once bills are paid, 100% of the profits go to her chosen organizations, and get split up based on where the need is greatest.

Tired of shopping on Abbot Kinney and finding dresses that were 75% off and still $750, Deborah knew that she wanted to do clothes, and she wanted to be on Abbot Kinney. Timing and luck joined forces to enable Deborah to open Bohemian Exhange at 1358 Abbot Kinney, right next to the Liquor Store and across from Abbot's Habit, right in the heart of all the action.

The shop is lovely, filled to the brim with clothing treasures, beautiful beaded items from Paanissin (an artist's collective from Burkina Faso), jewelry and accessories of all kinds, a "Princess Dress Up Room" that kids can play dress up in (or you can when trying on something gorgeous), and Deborah's two cats, Truffles and Kallista, watching over the whole scenario.

Deborah is accepting clothing donations (call her first to make an appointment), so if you have tons of clothes you never wear anymore (like I do), you can get rid of them there, and know that the sales will benefit the community we all love. As non-profits are struggling, so too are shops and everyday people. We can all help each other out, and going back to the 5 items for 1 theory of Deborah's ... it's a really good time to economize AND help by shopping at Bohemian Exchange.

Community - there's that word again. And it came up a lot while talking with Deborah, when we agreed that Community is exactly WHY Venice is so special. You can feel it, if you've lived here even just a little while, and it's why Deborah says Venice is her favorite place in all the world. We spoke about the sunsets lately, and how really we should all stop what we're doing at that time of the day and go down to the beach and watch it. Every day. Doing that, and knowing that you just got a fresh hat, and that the money you spent went to help preserve the ocean you're staring out at, I suspect will make the experience even sweeter.

I liked it so much when Deborah said she starts each day by thinking, "I wonder what magic is going to happen today?" and reminding herself to be open and looking for it. It can appear in so many forms, especially here in Venice, so if you start every day thinking like that, your life can't help but be pretty magical.

Bohemian Exchange has also gotten into hosting fun events at the store ... First Friday parties, Trunk shows, and packed to the rafters Fashion Shows (the last one we couldn't even squeeze in the front door!), the next one being this coming up April 1st.

As Deborah also said, "It's time to give back. We've done the selfish, taking thing, and it didn't work. It's time to give." So stop in and say hi and give her a thumbs up, get something for yourself or a friend (But not the blue hooded cape. I want that.), and know that you've done something to help improve the world. OUR world.

Bohemian Exchange
1358 Abbot Kinney Blvd.


  1. FANTASTIC!! I am so glad you wrote this as I had no idea this place was affordable and doing good. Now I know there is one place I can go to again on Abbot Kinney. (I won't get the cape:)

  2. Great store, great owner, great mission, great cats!

  3. Nice piece! I plan on attending an event there this Saturday, April 10th, apperantly it's the 1st year anniversary! I'm glad to hear that such unique place exists, and it's for a good cause? We need more people like Deborah, and more stores similar to this!! KUDOS!! (^_^)

  4. I miss your store terribly - it was a place I immediately fell in love with. You made my stay in LA so much more magical. We were suppose to stay longer but decided that it was not yet the tiem to leave NY.
    The Jackie Robbins crucifix belt/necklace is my most precious possession.
    I miss the area and You. You were such a ray of sunshine in a crowd of eyes glazed over with Hollywood delirium.
    I hope to see you again soon.
    Hope all is well -