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Jewel of The LAB: The Shangri-La

July 27, 2012

Rings and bracelets have been my accessory obsession as of late.  So when I visited The LAB a couple of weeks ago (post here), it’s no accident that one of my first stops just happened to be a quaint boutique called The Shangri-La.  Owned by the beautiful Karen Hsiang, this little jewelry paradise appealed to my indie and gothic sensibilities at every turn, as you can see by my choices above.  Dominic even spotted a jar filled with candy Ring Pops, the only jewelry a three-year-old boy seems to be interested in.  I had the chance to chat with Karen about her boutique and how she began her mystical journey into jewelry design and starting her own business.

How did you make the decision to start your own business and how did you get started with jewelry specifically?

The start of the boutique came on a whim. I had an online jewelry boutique for a while as a part-time hobby, but it did not garner as much traffic as I wanted. One day I e-mailed The Lab, Anti-Mall in Costa Mesa to see if they had an any open retail spaces available just to get an idea of cost of rent, and lo and behold, a little Shasta trailer was available. I had to take that opportunity and I quit my full-time job to live out my dream. 

When we chatted, you mentioned that you create your own jewelry, but that you also have designs by other jewelers.  Do seek out designers, or do they come to you?
I am trolling the internet 24/7 to bring unique designers and pieces into the store. I have many local designers who also were just shopping in The Lab who stumbled upon the boutique.

What would you say is your “style”?  How is that reflected in what you have to offer at your boutique and in your own designs?

 I have a very schizophrenic way of dressing. I dress by mood, so one day I will be in a white lace dress, and the next day I can be geared up in combat boots and in all black. I honestly buy pieces to put in the store for myself, and hope that other people will take a liking to it. Since I don’t really have a specific style, I offer jewelry for all kinds of styles from bohemian to utilitarian and everything in between.

How long have you had a space at The LAB?

It has been 5 months already! Time passes by way too fast. I remember the day I signed the lease like it was yesterday.

Some of the boutiques throughout The LAB are situated in Air Stream trailers, and your boutique has a unique ceiling.  What is the story behind the chalk illustrations?

There really isn’t any specific story behind the chalk illustrations. I just thought it would be fun for my customers to leave a little bit of themselves behind in the store. I have all my friends and family leave their mark when they come and visit me.

What do you enjoy best about what you do?

The expressions on people’s faces when they see the store is pretty priceless. Honestly, I am so grateful for all the kind words and encouragement that complete strangers give me everyday. It makes my day when people tell me that they have never seen anything like the selection of jewelry that I carry. It makes all the blood, sweat, and tears worth it.

(Thank you Karen for taking the time out to chat with me and no doubt I will visit your shop whenever I’m in town!)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 10, 2013 10:41 pm

    OMG, I want to go here now!!!!!!! So cool!

    • March 11, 2013 8:19 pm

      You would love it. It’s so unique and most of the stores are indie (the “chain” store is Urban Outfitters). I was bad and went shopping…I may have to extend my Lenten service to after Easter!


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