Laura was born in Kansas, "in a town so small I didn't even know you could have fashion be a career." Her parents had lived in California, but moved to Kansas to be near family, and Laura's Mom always said to her, "Get back to California for me." The family took road trips to the Golden State every year, where that request was solidified in the mind of young Laura. All those stops at National Parks and taking the Amtrak train instilled in her a love of travel, a love of nature, and on one particular trip to Albuquerque, a true love for turquoise.
She wanted to be a triple threat growing up, a singer/dancer/actress, and auditioned like crazy for everything, winning scholarships and chasing the dream. Fashion was always her thing, and when her Mom taught her to sew, Laura began ripping up things and putting them back together in her own way, which got her a lot of attention at school, "where I stuck out like a sore thumb." (We bonded over that, because I was the exact same way. Madonna gloves and a big hat to the football game? Of course.) The highlight of these times were when Laura exactly replicated Jennifer Aniston's fake dreads for her prom. I bet those Kansas kids are still talking about that one!
When it came time to decide on school and a career, Laura detoured on her way to California to Seattle to live with her Kansas boyfriend. She wound up staying a lot longer than she'd planned, splitting up with the boyfriend, but launching her fashion career as a buyer and model for the late Seattle boutique, Sway and Cake. This gave her a taste of the travel and trade shows, and pretty much cemented for her the industry that she wanted to work in.
New Year's Day 2011 found Laura finally making the move to California, to live in Venice - "And only Venice." (Again, my thoughts exactly.) Very soon upon her arrival, she met and fell in love with the equally darling Jonathan Strader, which again affected her life choices (and ensured that they will always win "Cutest Couple" wherever they go, no matter who's there). Now she was interested in a way to touch lives, support other cultures, watch Strader surf, and live a bohemian, gypsy life wherever the surf was good.
On one such surf trip, to entertain herself, Laura made herself a necklace of a skull and leather fringe. People immediately began asking her where she got it, and begging her to make them one, so she did. She was working for various stores and helping out other labels, when she started posting photos of the necklaces on Instagram. She immediately had strangers asking where they could get one. That led to stores and fashion websites placing orders, and soon, "When the side thing takes over your day thing, you quit the day thing and do that, so I did." Did she ever. One day, the actress Vanessa Hudgens was photographed wearing Laura's most popular design, "The Drifter", and she was off to the races. Requests to have the necklaces for photo shoots and fashion layouts began pouring in, and now it's all Laura can do to keep her materials in stock.
When deciding what to name her company, Laura asked herself what she was inspired by ... Native American culture ... family road trips across the West ... Riding horses across fields ... and the name "Turquoise And Tobacco" sprang to mind. Turquoise because she'd always love and been drawn to it, Tobacco because she never wears black in New York (ha!) and she loves the brown of an old, worn in cowboy boot, and she wanted to pay homage to the Native American aesthetic as well.
Laura is a friend who I can get really Venice-groovy with, like Full Moon ceremonies, dream manifesting, and drawing spirit cards and stuff. One such time, Laura drew the Whale card. The Whale is the record keeper, that encourages you to look at your past to create your future and find your own "whale song". When Laura looks back, she is inspired "from the Great Plains to the shores of California, and everything in between. Embracing freedom." Clearly, it is no accident that we are friends. Laura's whale song now sings of travel, surf, fashion and fun. "I'm in this to create the life I want. The whole goal is to have a simple life, travel the world, and do this." Amen, Sister.
Turquoise And Tobacco is available all across this great country Laura has traversed ... and abroad. New designs and materials are also in the works, just you wait! Get your special, handmade treasures here:
You can also find these gems in Venice at Animal House and The Golden State, so far.
You can follow Laura's travel and adventures and life in Venice at:
*Photos by Nico Guilis/@findyourcalifornia (black and white)
and Lauren Meyer, courtesy of Laura Genevieve.