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Meet Raquel Kalina of The Pretty Eclectic in Los Feliz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Raquel Kalina.

Raquel, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Well, I’ve always been interested in the creative field. I was going to school for Graphic design but eventually felt that I liked working with my hands a lot more– designing and constructing things –so I got my degree in Visual Communications and Set Design and Decoration at FIDM. For a while, I worked as a Visual Merchandiser, Fashion Stylist, and assisted at a Fashion PR and Events Firm. I later started working in the Art Dept for film and TV, and I really loved all that creative energy on set. From there, I ended up meeting someone that wanted to collaborate on a few photoshoots so I found myself getting back into Styling. While I was doing all of this, I was always making things in my free time- like crowns and jewelry and repurposing old furniture. I started selling them online and then eventually, I was getting a lot of orders.

A friend who was selling her art at an event told me that I should do it too, and so I did, and it turned out really great. I had people loving what I made, buying my things, and it was such an incredible feeling. I’d do a two days event and I’d have customers attend the next day wearing a pair of earrings or something they purchased from me, and they would stop by my booth just to show me how they styled it with their outfit and then thank me again because it makes them so happy. I mean, that’s the best! There was just something about all the excitement around my shop that I knew I had to pursue, and that was about two years ago. So, I continued to sell at markets and festivals and just recently started to land some wholesale accounts.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Not really. I mean, I always thought it was going to be quite linear. That I was going to land my forever dream job with a great company and spend the rest of my life working my way up. But in my twenties, the reality was that I was all over the place. I did a lot of different internships and changed career paths but there was always something about those jobs that didn’t really stick. I enjoyed them, but then I’d sometimes find myself wondering if I could do this one thing or work for so and so for the rest of my life. And I feel really grateful that I had been fortunate enough to be able to explore my options. I feel like since starting my business, I’ve somehow been able to continue doing everything I love, but on my own terms, and it’s really gratifying. Having the knowledge I’ve learned from the different experiences and the contacts I’ve made along the way has made it a bit easier to take the leap.

I get to art direct my own shoots, style and merchandise, make all the things I want and stay creative, but there’s the entire business side of it, and I do everything. Process orders, shipping, finances, inventory, my website, product shots, customer service, etc. It can get a bit overwhelming sometimes. But I do have a great team of people that I love to work and collaborate with and people that I bring on when things get too crazy. Also, I think it’s like with any small business when you first start out there’s just so many challenges and financial risks you have to take to get your brand out there and not every investment produces the best results. It’s a constant learning experience. I love the small community that I’ve connected with my brand so far, and I just want to be able to build on that and really have something meaningful to put out into the world.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Pretty Eclectic – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
Well honestly, I just design and make things I like. I’m heavily driven by a celestial, desert, and coastal aesthetic. I love working with gemstones and metals but I use wood, shells and resin too. I think you can see the variety of influences in the styles that we have. Hence the word “eclectic” in our name. We have classic everyday pieces, but I believe jewelry should be something you have fun with so I try to create things that embody a dreamy and playful free-spirit. I want people to feel a connection to its symbolism, that by wearing my jewelry, it brings out the depth and personality of a woman, and imbues positivity and adventure into her life. The ethos of the brand is that it transcends beauty and is part of a much bigger picture.

Every stone has a meaning and every piece has a story whether it be personal, metaphorical or lyrical. I also make crystal and shell accessories like hairpins and crowns, which I often incorporate with recycled materials and vintage jewelry. There’s also candles, bath products, and art. A lot of our items are made-to-order, and so I want every purchase to be special with an element of surprise. Everything is meticulously planned out from the packaging to thank you cards and the extra goodies I’ll often throw-in. You’re getting a piece that was handmade just for you, and because of the natural and unique components, no two pieces are exactly alike. I also do custom orders, which is a popular request from brides.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I’m looking forward to when we can start doing events again. I really miss being a vendor at music and art festivals. I miss the good energy and meeting everyone. I just want to navigate through this journey by growing creatively and professionally and building lifelong genuine connections with people. We’ll see what happens. If I can continue to create things that make me happy and it makes other people happy too, it’s all worthwhile.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Veronika Grechman, Lili Duarte, Raquel Kalina

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