Let the party for Venice women continue! I recently had the chance to meet and chat with Lisa Boerner, fashion designer for local label, HOM Venice (which stands for House Of Mental!). I'm kind of surprised our paths haven't crossed sooner, as we've both been in Venice for about 20 years - but that's exciting because it means that there are still so many cool people to meet! Venice is alive and kicking ... but more importantly, creating.
Boerner is a Colorado girl, but came West to go to school for fashion. She first wound up in Santa Monica, but went through a phase where she kept attracting new animals and hiding them in her apartment. That didn't go over very well in Santa Monica, so she went looking for a home in Venice, and found the place she's been in now for decades, happily. "All I ever wanted to do was make stuff and sell stuff. That's it.", says Boerner, and with her entrepreneurial spirit, soon landed the licensing contract to create a line of clothes for Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The shirts weren't your regular boxy t-shirts, but ones with a fashion cut that a girl would be happy to wear. They were a huge hit, and soon led to a similar deal for The Pink Panther clothing items.
Just as things were really picking up, Boerner's husband, Jeff, got prostate cancer. (Man, I hate cancer.) While dealing with that nightmare in 2008, Paris Hilton was seen out and about wearing one of HOM's t-shirts (that read "I love shoes, bags, and dogs"), and things blew up. Though Jeff was dying, he encouraged Boerner to keep going with it all. Once Jeff passed away, Boerner rode the wave, and threw herself into the fashion line, and would show up at trade shows with her team in strait jackets and crazy hair to personify their House Of Mental ("There's really nothing else we could've called our company," explains Boerner with a laugh.
Boerner was interested in doing clothing lines that were comfortable, casual, but higher fashion, with better cuts and quality of materials, for a collection that is for the ladies "who we reflect, that are part of this neighborhood, and part of the evolution of the Southern California lifestyle - it's for where the asphalt meets the sand and sun." It certainly is as Boerner says, "Wearable West Side stuff to live in ... but having said that, every woman in America needs these." They actually do. HOM Venice's pieces are so soft, so comfortable, so effortless, you really can imagine everyone digging them, everywhere.
The lines have names like "Sunset on Windward", "Every Day In Venice", "Westside Blues" and "Winter Garden" - I love it. Each of these collections is always shot in Venice, from the beach to the back alleys, letting people know where they come from. Gorgeous, affordable (!) pieces that range from comfy yoga pants to floral cold shoulder dresses, all in styles and prints that feel not only very now, but very Venice.
"A sense of community is important to our lives, and in customer service, which is why I like my things to be in specialty stores - they are about their community," said Boerner when asked about where her things are available (which is pretty much all over the country in stores from our California to Connecticut - and online, of course). Her sense of community here in Venice dates back to the early 90's, when she had a little shop on Abbot Kinney called Pop Fizz, filled with her clothes and art. Her eyes twinkle as she remembered it, saying, "Someone magical came in every day."
About Venice itself, when I asked Boerner what she loved about it, she answered, "Are you kidding me?! What's NOT to love about Venice?! I feel incredibly lucky every day that I live here." Clearly my kind of neighbor. Boerner can be seen biking around everywhere, or maybe at her favorite spots like Gjelina, Abbot's Habit, and Heist, except that she's so busy spinning all of her plates that a sighting might elusive. "Lots of good things are coming ... shoes, bags, swimwear ... I just want to work with exciting people in this exciting place," Boerner told me. "And also create video games." Cool! So maybe also keep your eye out for a Venice video game one day.
So ladies, when you need something awesome and comfortable that will look great whether you're at yoga or dressed up with some heels (Seriously, it will), consider supporting your local purveyor of soft goods, Lisa Boerner's HOM Venice. You'll be seeing me smiling around town in mine.
*Photos courtesy of Lisa Boerner.