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Lauren and Josh Podoll have been creating eco-friendly clothing for men and women since 2003, bringing their modern, casual pieces to 55 stores across the nation. But none of those stores was in the South Bay, where Lauren grew up. So they opened their own Podolls boutique in the increasingly-hot, formerly sleepy town of Burlingame.
The result is a beautiful 900-square-foot storefont that would be at home on any street in San Francisco, but The Podolls are happy where they are. Neighbors include Drybar, Margaret O'Leary, and Marine Layer—all good company for this growing, made-in-the-Bay label that continues to prove eco-fashion is the coolest fashion. Learn how it all started and what they have up their sleeves for spring in our interview below. Oh, and did we mention they're ridiculously good looking? Get an eyeful in our gallery!
How did you and Josh meet?
"We met in San Francisco when I was working as a buyer at A-B Fits in North Beach. Josh came into the store hoping to sell some t-shirts he was making, and the rest, as they say, is history."
How did you decide to start a business together?
"It all happened rather naturally. We went out on our first date about 6 months after we first met and throughout dinner we discussed ideas about expanding the group of tees Josh was making. I had been in the fashion industry for several years and had secretly dreamed of being a designer so lots of ideas just came bubbling out of me. We're both passionate about aesthetics, design, textiles and creating. We started collaborating right away and really enjoyed working together. Things started to grow and I was feeling a bit torn between our business and my day job so I decided to jump in full time and go for it! Luckily we're compatible as a couple and as business partners."
How do you divide up the decision-making and work? Is it tough working together as a married couple (and with an adorable little one, too!)?
"For the longest time we weren't very efficient about dividing up tasks. We were both involved in virtually every aspect of the business. I used to say we were 'happily codependent'! When we had our son Dashiell 2 years ago, we knew things had to change because I took some time off to be with him. It's hard for me to give up control and delegate tasks, but I'm learning. We are both equally involved in the design process but I tend to do more merchandising and marketing and Josh manages production. Early on, we received advice from another entrepreneurial couple that we should set a time each evening beyond which we wouldn't discuss 'work'—we try to adhere to that as much as possible."
How did you decide to open your first storefront in Burlingame rather than San Francisco?
"We realized we didn't have any stores that represented our collection on the Peninsula and we already have several wonderful accounts in San Francisco and the East Bay. I grew up down here and we actually had our first 'office' in my mom's basement in Burlingame. Fast forward 10 years and we were able to open our first retail store! We're proud to be one of the few independent retailers in this area and bring a unique perspective."
What are some of your favorite items in the store at the moment?
"Lauren favs: Jessica Niello's ceramic bead necklaces, 6397 jeans, Freda Salvador boots, and our Uniform Blouse in a limited edition chambray stripe—perfect for this transitional weather
Josh favs: Westward Leaning sunglasses, new Mini Rodini collection for kids (wish it came in Adult sizes!), our shirtdresses in a special embroidered stripe textile and Elizabeth Peyton's latest book."
Can you give us a preview of some things coming in for the spring that you're excited about?
"We can't wait for Spring! There are several exciting prints on the way, one is an indigo shibori inspired silk that looks incredible in our Winged Blouse and Kaftan Dress. We continue to utilize hand loomed Khadi fabrics in the collection and for spring we used a black and ivory ikat Khadi that has the most incredible texture. We're excited about one-piece dressing—keeping life simple and carefree with chambray jumpsuits, shift dresses and linen tunics."
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