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Meet Trailblazer Diane Staples

Today we’d like to introduce you to Diane Staples.

Diane, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Having moved from Maine 3 years ago, I hadn’t found quite the right fit in any way to plant myself happily in Los Angeles. One day, I stumbled upon an endearing little community that made me instantly feel happy. South Pasadena felt like a haven from the hustle and bustle of Los Angles. While strolling Mission Street and adjoining neighborhoods, I came across a sweet little flower shop that was moving to a new, larger space in town. I contacted the leasing agent and within a few weeks, my dream of opening a gift shop came to fruition. Serendipitously, an apartment directly above the shop became available. I moved my life and created my store simultaneously. I was literally catapulted into a new beginning.

Retreat is a culmination of 20 years experience in retail. I have been a retail manager, buyer and business consultant but my passion has always been art in all forms. Having been a buyer of handmade jewelry, pottery, glass and so many other beautiful works, I decided to create a space containing as much of my favorite work from various artists as possible. I named the shop Retreat because it felt like a time in my life that I was retreating from a hectic lifestyle to a place of calm, creativity and beauty. Also, I wanted to create an environment where customers could feel the same way when they walked through the doors.

Retreat is an artisan craft gift shop with beautifully crafted jewelry, leather goods, greeting cards, candles and so much more but it has also had some of my favorite fun gifts that I can’t resist. I have a propensity for edgy items which I didn’t realize I had so much of until the shop came together. The card line is out of the ordinary with a lot of humor. I love to laugh every day and I love it, even more, when my customers have a chuckle with the more provocative merchandise.

It’s so important to me to offer extraordinary merchandise to set the shop apart from other stores. It’s also extremely important to me to make a meaningful connection with every person who walks through Retreat’s door. South Pasadena is filled with people who cherish living the same existence I was seeking – that of connection and balance. My customers are mostly neighbors who enjoy stopping by to see what’s new or even just for a chat. The business has grown in its first year mostly through word of mouth as my advertising budget is tight but Retreat has happily made a little niche for itself in the community.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My personal journey is mostly smooth when I allow the natural flow of life to reveal itself. I try to follow the path of least resistance. I feel most empowered when I feel I am in the right place at the right time for the right reasons. Being in the natural flow of life allows this to happen. Whenever I find myself in a place of resistance or tension, I take time to regroup and redirect. I believe that as long as you follow your passion and stay true to yourself, your journey will unfold in beautiful ways.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about RETREAT – what should we know?
During the quiet times of the day, I find myself drawn to my first creative passion as a kid – making greeting cards. I use to make them for friends and relatives but now I have the perfect platform to sell my work. I named my card line BOOMM PRESS. The acronym stands for Bored Out Of My Mind Press. I decided to turn the sometimes challenging long gaps of time in-between customers in my 9 hour day with creativity. I fall into card making and the time passes beautifully. Card making also allows me to fill a card niche I may be missing in the shop’s lines. I also design custom cards for customers as needed. None of my cards are printed. They are all hand drawn usually using colored pencils so each card is truly an original work of art.

Do you recommend any apps, books or podcasts that have been helpful to you?
The interactions I have with a lot of my customers are my inspiration. I have met so many wonderful people. I am inspired by their being and willingness to share experiences. Oftentimes, I feel like Retreat is more than a shop. I feel it is a bit of a vortex that draws people in who may just need a place to escape for a bit, a person to talk to or just a quiet stop. It has been a year of truly magical stories and connections. I look forward to learning and growing personally with more of these inspirational encounters.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 950 Mission Street
    South Pasadena, CA 91030
  • Website:
  • Phone: 626-639-3365
  • Email:
  • Instagram: @retreatlifestyle
  • Facebook: @retreatlifestylejewelrygifts

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Audrey Waite

    April 23, 2018 at 18:06

    Nice write up on the S. Pasadena store RETREAT. Can’t wait to visit.

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