The husband-and-wife team of Lindsay & Raan Parton stand poised and collected amongst a whirlpool of bustling bodies and swirling energy within the walls of the newly established Lido Marina Village location of their Alchemy Works store
Inside of the modern, all-black façade, that was originally a 1940’s beach bungalow, is a myriad of new and old treasures. Alchemy Works is a flavorsome cocktail that is part boutique, a splash of a neighborhood hangout, and a heavy shot of design and fashion inspiration. When meandering about the space, coined “The Harbor House”, you get the sense as if you have snuck in the house of a well-traveled and highly stylish friend who may have gone on fishing trips with the Kennedys, drank perfectly aged whiskey in Barcelona with the likes of Hemingway, or shot the ruins of Ocean Park Pier in Santa Monica with the Z-Boys. It seems that from such adventures, thoughtfully curated items like elegant timekeepers by Weiss Watches, iconic black and white surf-photography by Will Adler, convertible leather bags by LA’s Vere Verto, and superb examples menswear have been assembled in lifestyle vignettes that tempt you throughout the hand-painted black and white stripped floors of the tantalizing space.
Together, the couple forms a dynamic force, where Raan takes pride in vision-casting and design conceptualization while Lindsay is crucial in execution of every last detail of the endeavors that the two inevitably smash.
What first drew you to the Lido Marina Village location as something that would compliment the direction you were hoping to take Alchemy Works?
LP: We’ve always had a coastal aesthetic with a “California-golden-era” sense in what we’ve done, so it seemed very fitting. What drew us to this location specifically was that these were homes that already had the history of California and this very nostalgic vibe that had not been activated. It’s fun for us to be a part of something that has been brought back to life.
What are some things that differentiate the Lido Village Alchemy location compared to the LA site?
LP: Regionally we want each space to feel like they have their own thing but have a good through-line. Many of the brands are the same, but the edit for each brand is more specific towards the clientele in each store.
What distinguishes that “edit”?
LP: We describe the edit down here as being “elegant-indigenous”. This includes elements of gold, bronze, and brass related to this notion of “found objects” combined with new objects. This creates a notion of a lived in approach, where together these elements make the store feel like a house with each room having its own character.
RP: I think that’s a part of why we’ve been able to be successful in retail, in that we’ve taken a very residential approach to our layouts so that it feels very comfortable. Whether it is the creation of our map room or the café/wine bar we’re looking to install in second part of house that will create an immersive hospitality element.
LP: We’ve realized that someone should be able to find something that fits into their home very well. Mixed high-and-low is something we’ve always loved and try to achieve – where you can find a $20 item and take that home mixed with expensive fine art or diamond rings. People will always want good value, good product, good design at whatever price point and you can find both here. That idea of the hunt has always been key to us. No matter what it is, we put it through the lens of asking ourselves if we would want this in our home and if it is special enough. When being limited in the number of items we purchase, it creates a uniqueness and urgency where things turn over quickly and regulars can get the sense that there’s always something new to discover.
Is there anything about the client base that you’ve been surprised by?
LP: We’ve been pleasantly surprised with how welcoming everyone has been especially considering a lot of the brands we are carrying or not from Orange County. Being based in LA, we weren’t certain how we would be received, but we’ve been gratefully welcomed and that has meant a lot. Secondly, it surprises me how broad our audience is. I think this has to do a lot with bringing Warby Parker into the store that creates a magical mix of service and retail that helps put peoples’ guards down. The Apolis section (their globally minded menswear collection) has also been a great surprise in how much it has out-sold anything in the store which has made us realize there’s a big missing element of a men’s independent market.
What is distinct about the experience of visiting Alchemy Works and within the things you will find in the store?
RP: I think the assortment and the pricing being all over the map. We are combining fashion, home goods, fine art, and found things at a range of prices so that anybody coming in can find something. That helps to create a sense of ownership in Alchemy where you can buy even a simple notecard and feel like you are coming along for the ride. By having that ecosystem of pricing we can have a wider audience that can graduate into different categories with us. This notion allows us to think of ourselves as a “shop-able Tumblr”. We take joy in the fact that sometimes our customers aren’t exactly sure what they want until they come in. It’s like looking at content on the web, you scroll through stuff, but you don’t really know you want it until you find it. So we don’t have a premeditated approach, it’s more like how retail used to be in creating a sense of discovery.
LP: It becomes the retailers job to introduce you to a brand, and that has become harder and harder to do with technology because you have costumers price shop in the store scrolling on their phones trying to find the best deal. The diversity, the uniqueness, the limited number of things is part of it because it gives you that change over and challenges us to find new things.
RP: It’s that urgency to find something that no one has in the US that often drives us.
As a couple, what are some life habits that you’ve formed that has helped you in creating this brand, discovering new things, and to grow?
LP: That yearning to travel and discovery that helped give birth to that founding creed of our Apolis brand in being a global citizen.
RP: Travel not in the sense of leisure though. Rather as an investment in a bigger world-view to educate yourself very quickly in real time into a wider perspective.
LP: I’m really bad at sitting on a beach … unless he’s out surfing. Whether we’re going to Denver or Mexico City, we are always on the lookout for cool little shops, or a new brand, or exploring different parts of the city.
Where are local places of inspiration or where do you like to go and just hang out?
RP: What we like here is the sense of normalcy, it’s nice to have a neighborhood shop and we enjoy when our customers can be our sense of community. If I were to choose one place though, I would have to say Bear Flag, it’s one of my favorite restaurants in the world.
LP: Yeah, well – I’m more of a Javier’s margarita person and that’s a definitely a good people watching place. Beyond that though, is Amaree’s. There retail experience is world renown. They are on another level even while having a family feel with extremely high quality items in a magical space. I appreciate what they do and how they’ve done it, and the clientele they bring in is very complimentary to what we are trying to do and we love being neighbors with them.
RP: It’s one of the best stores in the world and it happens to be in Orange County. They have just killed it and taken unique ownership of this cult-Californian lifestyle aesthetic in a beautiful mid-century building. But for me, when I come to Orange County, I just want to be this 15-year old grom who surfs and eats poke all day and doesn’t change out of his board shorts – I want to do what I love doing down here, which is a big motivation of why we are here.
How has your chemistry as a couple helped you to be successful in your collaboration in the running Alchemy?
LP: It’s not a clean division of exactly who does what, but I think we are good about what we show each other and what we pull out of one another. Raan is much more visionary and has the design eye not only to design the brand but also to design the space in how it will flow and sit. Then my strengths come into play once that is established to create the visual with merchandising and assembling these collective moments that is helpful in selling really unique items. So we are both very complimentary to each other in that he’s very much more vision casting and I’m much more involved in the actual execution. When it comes to picking product we are very much in collaboration along side each other. But beyond that it takes two and we can’t always be in the same place at the same time.
RP: Those roles mimic how my brother and I work with Apolis in that I’m heavier on the design aspects and he’s heavy on the execution of the business side. So that similar balance that I have with Lindsay allows us to accomplish a lot more as a couple.
“We take joy in the fact that sometimes our customers aren’t exactly sure what they want until they come in.”
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:
What are your sources of sartorial inspiration?
RP: Nostalgic images always inspire me, lately been inspired by photos of early-mid 1900’s African leadership, along with military issue items like watches, jackets, utility items.
How would you grade yourselves as being engaged with social media?
RP: C+ I track it and we use it for the companies but am not super accessible through it.
LP: A- I have learned some valuable tips to growing the following of our brand and store though the use of social media and personally stay engaged on a few channels also. However, I’m usually a late adopter for new platforms for lack of time and capacity.
What is the latest article of clothing you personally purchased that didn’t have any correlation to the store?
RP: A rain jacket from Japanese outdoor brand Snow Peak for my time spent recently in NY opening our new Apolis store.
Worst fashion mistake you wish you could take back in last ten years?
LP: All over embroidered denim pants that were $300 and wore them once.
RP: I designed a pair of wool cargo pants for a store that cancelled their order so we made 300 pairs and only sold about 5. I thought they were actually a good idea so I guess that is definition “fashion mistake”
Best people watching venue in Orange County?
LP: The bar at Javier’s over a spicy margarita
Favorite part of your day?
RP: Early mornings, before the phone calls start when I can get ahead of my day and have a coffee with Lindsay or check the surf.
LP: Early mornings as well, I have always been a morning person but now appreciate that first few hours even more so I can plan my day, work out or drive to work with Raan.
What is the oldest item in your wardrobe, that you still wear the most?
RP: Vintage Breitling panda watch from the 1960’s.
LP: Vintage YSL tuxedo dress.