LILY SPINDLE'S HOLIDAY GUIDE

We know the holidays can get frenzied and crazy and stressful. It’s now an actual thing - an identifiable state of being called “festive stress.” And here in Los Angeles, the traffic doesn’t help with frayed nerves.

In an effort to assuage some souls this holiday season, we’ve put together a little holiday guide of sorts - delicious food, jewelry, perfumes, self-care, philanthropy, and where to score yourself (and your four-leggeds) some awesome beds, leashes, pajamas and more.

Deep breaths. You got this.


WHERE TO GET GORGEOUS VEGAN SHOE + PURSE ALTERNATIVES:

Noah - Italian-made vegan pumps, boots, loafers, sneakers, oxfords - you name it, the make it!
Jeane + Jax - This Montreal-based company makes amazing, high-quality totes, backpacks, clutches, satchels, crossbody bags and more without the Stella McCartney price tag. ;)

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WHERE TO GET YOUR SELF-CARE:

Heather McCall Energy Work - In the midst of the holiday mayhem (or maybe as a treat once it’s over!), get yourself, your home, or your animals’ unmoored energy cleared and adjusted. She’s LA-based but does travel!

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Barbara Stransky, Massage Therapist - Sore from carrying around all those holiday packages? Nothing takes the ache out of those shopping muscles like a good massage.


WHERE TO GET YOUR GOLD BITS + BAUBLES:

A Stone’s Throw - Now in the Pacific Northwest, Kimberly Stafford’s line of jewelry is timeless and delicate. Her 2” hand-hammered gold infinity hoops are sexy as hell and super easy to wear!
Andrea Gutierrez - Bold, sexy, unexpected, unforgettable, provocative rings, necklaces, earrings unlike anything you’ve ever laid your peepers on.

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WHERE TO BUY SOME DAMN GOOD ORIGINAL ART:

Curatorial Hub - Works on paper, paintings, photography, sculpture and more - this online gallery introduces you to a ton of emerging LA artists but won’t break the bank. Holiday Pop-up shop happening Dec 9-15th!

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WHERE TO GET YOUR HOLIDAY SPIRITS:

Bar & Garden - This unusual booze bodega in the heart of Culver City's gallery district has shelves full of quirky, interesting wine and spirits from mostly small producers. The staff is enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and will point you to exactly the right bottle to take to a dinner party or to sip at home in front of the fireplace.

Silverlake Wine - Carefully chosen and always changing, the collection of wines at this eponymous shop and its DTLA artist’s district location will tempt you with intoxicating discoveries.


WHERE TO GET YOUR HOLIDAY CAKES + COOKIES:

Cakemonkey - Glazed chocolate donut cake? Butterscotch Pudding pie? Pumpkin Spice chocolate chip cookies? Yes, por favor. All of the above and more, gracias.

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La Tropezienne Bakery - Located in West Hollywood and also in DTLA on Main Street, this French patisserie will blow your damn mind. Their eclairs are unforgettable and it’s no surprise they won Best Croissant in Los Angeles this year. And their marbleized boxes don’t offend our picky aesthetics, either. ;)


WHERE TO GET YOUR ARTISANAL CANDIES, COOKBOOKS, AND UNUSUAL GOODIES:

Little Flower - They wrote the book on baking. Literally.

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GOODs LA - Masterfully and artfully combining global and local gifts that veer on the handcrafted, organic, fair-trade side of things, this little shop on Santa Monica’s Ocean Blvd is a total gem. Hot tip: for the holidays, owner Katherine Inglis wraps a MEAN GIFT, you guys! Buy it, leave it to be wrapped, get a latte, stop back in, and your gift-getting is almost complete!

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WHERE TO SCORE YOUR SIGNATURE FRAGRANCE:

Strange Invisible - You know that scent a stranger at the party’s wearing and you’re desperate to get through some small talk just to ask the name of this intoxicating fragrance and how to get your mitts on it? Get it - ALL their scents are divine. Based in Venice, CA.

Fiele - Totally gorgeous and sensual scents like myrrh, tonka bean, sandalwood, ylang ylang, bergamot, and cedarwood . Made in Santa Monica, CA.


WHERE TO BUY BOOKS FROM YOUR LOCAL MERCHANT (AND NOT THAT ON-LINE MEGA-RETAILER):

Diesel, a bookstore - Charming brick and mortar bookstore with a well-stocked collection of literary offerings.
Skylight Books - The bookstore that every visitor, newcomer, and die-hard Angeleno falls in love with immediately

WHERE TO REFUEL WHILE SHOPPING ‘TIL YOU’RE DROPPING:

All’Acqua - Almost like you’re in Naples…yes, the pizza is THAT good, but you’re in Atwater Village, CA.
The Wallace - Beautiful, delicious food. Fabulous wine list. Culver City proper.
Milo + Olive - Part of the “Rustic Canyon Family” of restaurants, this husband-and-wife owned and run spot is always busy and always amazing.

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WHERE TO GET YOUR GIVING GROOVE ON:

Pet Resource Center - DTLA’s Skid Row residents get much need support to keep their beloved pets healthy, well-fed and safe.

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California Community Foundation Wildfire Relief Fund - Let’s not forget those who have no homes for the holidays. CCFW supports intermediate and long-term recovery efforts for victims of the recent SoCal Woolsey and NorCal Camp wildfires.


WHERE TO GET YOUR PET’S STOCKING STUFFERS:

Ike & Stella - Give your pet a little bling this holiday season with bespoke dog and cat collars in luscious colors and fabrics from Ike & Stella. Handmade in LA by the talented Jennifer Herrera.

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Rosie Bunny Bean - Neighborhood shoppe with aesthetically awesome pet products. Check out their line of blankets and beds that are designed to be comfortable, durable, lived with and loved by both YOU and your four-legged beasties.

Animals Matter - Beds, blankets, harnesses, crate covers, car seats, furniture covers and more, all made in the USA using vegan, cruelty-free, organic, and eco-friendly materials. Go large and in charge with a gigantic puff for your Great Dane mix, or pare down your size needs with some little donuts for your wee ones, like we did with this custom velvet donut beds for a client’s pair of rescue shih tzus, Bruno and Nooks.

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Tooth + Honey - If you’re ever feeling blue or despondent or just want a reminder there are some things cuter than your wildest cute-o-meter imagination could conjure, check out Tooth + Honey’s Instagram to see literally hundreds of pit bull type dogs in pajamas. It’s quite possibly the most ADORABLE thing you’ll see all year. And if you’ve got yourself a pit bull type dog, get that baby some unicorn or donut or chocolate chip cookie pj’s STAT!

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM each OF US and our families AND ALL OUR rescue dog and cat weirdos!

xx - Rebecca + Debra

SHAPERS /// DRAWINGS OF DOGS

In an interview with Stephen Colbert last year, writer George Saunders was discussing his book "Lincoln in the Bardo" (which is exceptional, by the way) and in that conversation, he happened to so succinctly and beautifully state, "Empathy is a superpower." Those words have since been jotted down on a post-it and stuck on our desk since - a reminder that we all can be super heroes if we remember and attune ourselves to compassion and kindness. 

On this EXTREMELY salient topic of empathy and tenderness, we're thrilled to share the latest installment of SHAPERS with U.K. illustrator "Drawings of Dogs" (aka Henry James Garrett). We first spotted Henry's incredibly witty, clever, super smart, "politically punchy while somehow managing to remain playful" illustrations on Instagram and are beyond happy he took some time out of his work to answer our Q's with his A's. (By the way, Henry, major gratitude from us to you and your U.K. compatriots for your recent 250.000-strong march of resistance!)

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LILY SPINDLE: The writer Sue Monk Kidd once said "Empathy is the most mysterious transaction that the human soul can have, and it's accessible to all of us, but we have to give ourselves the opportunity..." Do you feel this is true? Is empathy accessible to all of us? And, if not, is its inaccessibility, denial, or nonexistence what's plaguing and poisoning the world at the moment?

So, I’m actually writing a book about empathy and kindness at the moment (there will, of course, be lots of drawings to accompany the text). This is a great question.

Empathy is accessible to all of us. In fact, because empathy evolved quite a while back, it’s not just humans that can empathise; some of our cousins in the animal kingdom can too. Rats feel other rats’ fear for example. We all have the capacity for empathy – the capacity to share in one another’s pains – but the problem is that we can accidentally turn our empathy off. 

The big problem right now (if I can grossly oversimplify for a moment) is that people are switching off their empathy toward certain groups because they have false beliefs about those groups, or they don’t know enough about those groups.

I’m not saying it’s an accident. It’s not. Lying about some group – like migrants – and stoking or redirecting hate toward them is a good distraction technique. And that’s what’s going on at the moment. But every time in human history we’ve turned our empathy off towards a specific group, atrocities have inevitably followed.

But there’s a really easy solution. You’ve got to listen to people and listen to them directly. Let people tell their own stories (don’t get Scarlett Johansen to play them in a movie). When we hear peoples’ stories directly, we will always empathise with their suffering.

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LILY SPINDLE: While you draw all sorts of animals, lending personalities and voices to them (all of which seem completely apt, by the way!), you began your illustration venture by drawing dogs (hence your moniker and ongoing project). And your pup, Billie, is your constant companion, yes? What is it about dogs that you so distinctly and intimately connect with? As dog lovers ourselves, we can think of a zillion reasons, but of course always love hearing everyone's own perspectives as to why dogs are SO AMAZING. 

I met Billie when I was 15. I was unwell and off school for a year and so my parents finally let me get a dog. They hoped she’d keep me company and keep me engaged in the world and she did. I love Billie so much and loving someone unconditionally and feeling completely at peace in their company is one of the best, most healthy, feelings in the world I think.

Dogs are fascinating to me from an artistic perspective because they reflect our humanity in really interesting ways. Here’s an animal that we bred, more than any other, specifically to function as an extra companion. So, dogs show what we want in a friend. And guess what: they’re super needy but super loyal.

                               Billie, Henry's constant companion and little heartbeat at his feet. 

                              Billie, Henry's constant companion and little heartbeat at his feet. 

LILY SPINDLE: If you could have lunch with one famous person, living or dead, who would it be? What would you order?

Hmmm, well I’ve made a super close friend through Instagram who I’ve yet to meet, so I’d use the dream lunch to do that. She’s my first proper internet friend and she also happens to be famous. So, I’d pick Alexandra Billings. I can’t remember how we first internet-met but she’s an incredible activist and actress, and Kitty (my partner) and I would be soooooooo happy if we could have lunch with her and her wife (we’re currently separated by the Atlantic ocean).

I would order so much vegan pizza, and burgers, and chips, and it would be delicious and wonderful.

 Henry + Kitty. Photograph credit to Tania Gardner Photography (https://www.instagram.com/exploredreams/

Henry + Kitty. Photograph credit to Tania Gardner Photography (https://www.instagram.com/exploredreams/

LILY SPINDLE: Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I’m a morning person. I go to bed at 11 every night and get cross/anxious if I can’t for some reason. Sleep is super important for my health – but then it’s also something that it’s easy to turn into a worry.

I wake up sleepy but if I’m going to get anything good done workwise it will be in the morning.

I also love coffee, and love breakfast. If Kitty and I can have avocado toast outside on a sunny but cold morning, I will be incredibly happy all day.

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LILY SPINDLE: What's currently on your bedside table?

We sleep on a mattress on the floor haha.

I always have a Harry Potter book to hand. I read it to Kitty if she can’t sleep.I also keep a book nearby so that if I have an idea in the night, I can write it down and go back to sleep.


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LILY SPINDLE: As a thoughtful, evolved, kind-hearted, caring artist, what's your key piece of advice to the nurturers, empaths, and do-gooders of the world?

Haha, if I answer this it sounds like I accept that beautiful compliment as true. I’m ok, but I’ve got a lot of room to be better.

But if I could give one piece advice to a group of people who are trying to be better, it would be this: there is no such thing as too much empathy, there is no one who can feel pain whose pain you shouldn’t empathise with. If you want to make sure that you do empathise with everyone, you need to be humble, reflective and willing to learn by listening. Your empathy can be exercised, and strengthened, like a muscle; you just have to find people who have lives very different from your own and listen to their stories (but don’t angrily demand that they tell their stories, or listen to someone else who claims to be able to speak for them).


PS - You can find and purchase Henry James Garrett's work by going to THIS LINK

Summer of Fun, Summer of Resistance

We've got a few exciting projects happening this summer and wanted to announce that ALL of our summer and autumn projects will be directly impacting our altruism, as throughout these summer months and into the fall, Lily Spindle will be donating regularly to the following amazing organizations: 
RAICES - The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services
ACLU - American Civil Liberties Union
SPLC - Southern Poverty Law Center
Emily's List
Planned Parenthood

This is, without question, a challenging time of upheaval and disruption, untruths and discrimination. We are believers in being a voice for those whose voices will not or cannot be heard, we're believers in defending the rights of women, children, and animals, and we're believers in kindness, compassion, and humanity. And if there was ever a time to foster kindness, compassion, and humanity, it's now. 

Go hug your kids, your pets, and your partners, speak up, stand up, and if you're able to do so this summer, volunteer to help unregistered, eligible voters get valid IDs to allow them to use their own integral voices at the voting booth. Spread the Vote and Everything You Need to Vote are two fantastic sites that make voting extremely simple and straightforward. ROCK THAT DAMN VOTE, Y'ALL.


On the topic of kindness and compassion, it makes perfect sense why we'd be featuring U.K. illustrator "Drawings of Dogs" (aka Henry James Garrett) in our upcoming SHAPERS q+a. We first spotted Henry's incredible illustrations on Instagram and it grabbed our attention immediately. Stay tuned for our talk with him about empathy, doing the right thing, and why dogs are so remarkable.

Happy July! 

xx - Rebecca + Debra 

SHAPERS /// KELLY NEWFIELD, Founder of DRESSMAKER + VOLUNTEER

Kelly Newfield is an artist, clothing designer, creator of bespoke cushions, and loving momma to Vida and Clara, two sweet old lady pit bulls, in no particular order of importance. Because Los Angeles animal rescue is essentially a massive Venn diagram and we're basically six degrees  removed from "that overweight black lab relinquished at South LA Shelter" (specific shelter dog reference subject to change), we frequently cross paths with others sharing our obsessions for all wonderful things dog and design. Naturally, Kelly's newest creative project, Dressmaker - designing and producing hand-dyed, cut, and sewn one-of-a-kind luxury pillows, immediately had us both intrigued and salivating like lunatics because we want ALL THE DRESSMAKER THINGS, people. 

Kelly graciously took a few moments away from creating her stunning, sophisticated pillows in her Pomona studio to divulge what's currently on her nightstand, how we can live a beautiful life with our dogs, and her theory on "trends." Thank you so much, Kelly, for agreeing to be a part of our ongoing SHAPERS profiles featuring extraordinary doers and makers ! We dig you and all your gorgeous textile ingenuity.

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Were you the kid always stitching up awesome outfits for yourself and your friends? How did you transition from clothing to home decor/pillows? Do you feel there's a comprehensive overlap of these two types of couture craftsmanship?

I did start altering my clothing from an early age, I think out of a need to create and self-express.  The cushion project came about out of necessity (as most things do).  I made some velveteen cushions for my living room, and thought, I like these, maybe someone else would like these, too.  Also the idea of being able to experiment with textiles, without the limitations that come with clothing (wearable colors, sizes, etc)…is very appealing.  Craft, quality and integrity of design are profoundly important to me.  Making things one at a time, slowly and thoughtfully.   Designing and making things has always been therapeutic for me.  It doesn't really matter what it is; a dress, a room, a meal, a garden.  I have this irritating habit of redesigning (in my head, of course) the front yards of the houses that I drive past in my neighborhood.  


        Just a coupla' cute old ladies from Los Angeles' animal shelters, enjoying their best lives. 

       Just a coupla' cute old ladies from Los Angeles' animal shelters, enjoying their best lives. 


As a dog momma, what's your advice to people who feel like they "can't have nice things" because they have a dog?  

Adopt adult dogs, and set boundaries.  Never give a new dog the run of the house, let them earn their privileges  Dogs are smart, they’ll get it quickly if it’s presented clearly.  

Also, being somewhat flexible (about everything, really) is helpful.  Don’t get upset if someone vomits on the rug, or sneezes on a freshly painted wall, just deal with it and move on.

                                                                  It's a beautiful life. 

                                                                 It's a beautiful life. 


Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Night owl but I've had to adapt.  My husband makes breakfast for the dogs.  It’s best (for everyone!) if no one tries to communicate anything important to me before 8am. 


What's on your bedside table right now?

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea and the Deep Origins of Consciousness, by Peter Godfrey-Smith, Being a Beast: Adventures Across the Species Divide, by Charles Foster, and The Developing Genome by David S. Moore.  I am fortunate that my husband  brings home a stream of fascinating books.


Name your three favorite textile colors. 

I favor cool, moody colors, my working colors could be considered a “bruise” palette: combinations of weird greens, chartreuse, blue violet, greys from dove to charcoal, and of course black.

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Do you foresee any particular, imminent trends in the home decor industry? 

I go out of my way to avoid trends. Even the word “trend” bothers me, and don’t even get me started on “trending”.  I am happiest when the things that I like (Victorian, Spanish Revival) are not in style and I can find them easily and marked-down in the antique shops.  The same goes for designing clothing.  Ideas will naturally evolve from season to season.  Try to incorporate trends and you will quickly lose your way and your own vision.


MORE KELLY SCOOP: I am from Los Angeles.  My husband and I moved from Mid-city LA to a historic home in Pomona, Ca a few years ago to be closer to his professor job at Pitzer College in Claremont. I went to art school and am mostly self-taught as far as clothing design.  I have been designing, manufacturing, and selling wholesale to specialty boutiques and better department stores for 25 years – mostly women's clothing, and mostly for my own label.  My current label for clothing is Volunteer, although lately I have been focusing more on the cushions, and working on restoring/furnishing/painting our old house.  My 98 year old mother also lives with us.   I have been involved with animal rescue in LA for the past 15 years and we have two seniors, Vida (from East Valley Shelter) and Clara (Inland Valley Humane Society).  My girls share my workspace. They are sweet and hilarious and good at reminding me daily about what is actually important.


*Lily Spindle's SHAPERS profiles the people whom we consider to be remarkable movers and shakers, doers and dreamers, trailblazers and big thinkers, the people who are doing things a little bit differently and unconventionally, with immense heart, passion, and authenticity. Artists, designers, writers, philanthropists, iconoclasts, artisans, heroines, voyagers, and all kinds of extraordinary extraordinaires will be interviewed in our SHAPERS series.

It's that time of year again, y'all. It's Punchlines for Paws!

Here's some mid-March musings for you lovely creatures! 

First of all, we're pumped the sun has come out again here in Los Angeles and, secondly, we are SUPER PUMPED for Punchlines for Paws next month! Who can resist gut-splitting laughs and adorable rescue dogs? Pretty much NO ONE. Whitney Cummings and Andy Richter will be gracing the stage, among many other funny, animal-loving folks (famous and otherwise). Crazy good silent auction items, to boot. We're talking crazy good - art, trips, jewelry, clothing, services...it's all excellent. Pssst....we'll be donating a free 2-hour in-home design consultation with, you know, US, so there's at least one thing you know you wanna bid on! All ticket and silent auction proceeds go to Home Dog LA and A Purposeful Rescue, as these two amazing (and entirely female-run) organizations have joined forces for this particular event. Buy your tickets ASAP! 

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What's the psychology and pragmatism and creative discussion that results in color creation of the Pantone sort? This fascinating read on color forecasting in NY Times Magazine blew our minds. How did Pantone create 1999's Cerulean Blue? What particular pink was 2014's color of the year (you product junkies will know this, no doubt)? In what ways does color subtly communicate? Yep. Minds officially BLOWN!

Get yourself to The Broad . . . "One hopes for something resembling truth, some sense of life, even of grace, to flicker, at least, in the work." Jasper John's epic exhibition at The Broad, featuring more than 120 paintings, drawings, sculptures, and prints, is on view until May 13th. It's been described as blissful. We can all use a bit of bliss, no? Get your tickets here.
 

The Fernish Effect

When approached by Fernish founders Michael Barlow and Lucas Dickey, we were intrigued. In part because their business model surprisingly abuts with our own in some ways, though at first glance it's glaringly dissimilar to what the Lily Spindle ladies do.

While Fernish seeks to help people feel unencumbered by the commitment of furniture and decor, we are huge advocates in finding the unique pieces of furniture, art, lighting and accessories you love and adore and procuring them for the long run. Fernish aims to make your living space changeable month after month, should someone so desire. We, adversely, want our clients to wholly love their space day after day, so much so that the option of switching it up for a few months wouldn't be terribly alluring.

However, when all four of us chatted it out over lattes and pastries in the Santa Monica sunshine, with an indigent dude banging a quarter incessantly on the metal cafe table behind us (Michael was kind enough to give him a scone, I think), it made sense! We may approach the livability and functionality and aesthetic of design differently, but we're on the same proverbial page when it comes to "short-term" furniture. The kind you screw together, the kind that smells dodgy and chemical-laden when taken out of its shipping box, the kind that has no real longevity to it and will surely be tossed in the trash when a newer, and significantly better, piece comes along. Fernish shares a similar disdain for the bane of "land-fill furniture" - sofas and chairs, dining and cocktail tables, beds and case goods purchased to fill a space for a short while but then, a year later, left on a sidewalk, alley, or somewhat clumsily broken apart and shoved into a dumpster.

What Fernish does is create a freedom of livability for the more nomadic creatures of city life - the 20 and 30-somethings who live and work in Los Angeles, for instance, but don't yet own a home, may not want to stay in the city for longer than their job requires them, will likely move into a new place within the course of a year or two, and don't wish to invest in the more sophisticated furniture and art they'll likely amass over time once they've (what's the word so commonly used? oh, that's right...) settled. Providing a design-inspired life to its subscribers while keeping the impact of landfill furniture at bay, Fernish rents its pieces a la carte to their subscribers for a stretch of time, cleans and restores them upon pick-up, and rents them out again. And again. And again! *Think "Rent the Runway," but with furniture.*

And SO, a few weeks ago, when they asked if we could help them fulfill a beta client's wishes to have a 1200-square foot apartment in a circa-1937 building outfitted for a "Fernished" showing in a matter of days, with a strict and extremely tight budget constraining all our decisions, we were like, YEAH. NO PROBLEM. LET'S DO THIS.

It helped considerably that the architecture was lovely as hell to begin with...the apartment gets loads of light, and the ceilings are just shy of 11 feet, but filling a dining room, living room, and bedroom in a matter of days with some pieces purchased online, others all over Los Angeles, was a cuckoo crazy endeavor. We brought in a few pieces from our Lily Spindle stash and our own homes to add to the intimacy and character of the space, but mostly everything you see in these photos was approved + purchased by Fernish to complete the space. Vintage credenza, dining chairs, and nightstand, most of the lighting is new, while the upholstered bed, tufted sofa, velvet accent chairs, rug, and coffee table are all new pieces purchased predominantly via Los Angeles-based retailers. 

Here are our BEFORE shots. Lots of measuring, y'all. LOTS of measuring. 

And our AFTERS...

xx - Rebecca + Deb

(By the way, while Fernish isn't officially live until the first week of March, if you're interested in trying out their services as an early beta customer, pop on over to  http://fernish.co, sign yourself up, and the Fernish peeps will get you started!)

Finding beauty + pursuing happiness


welp, 2017 was one heck of a year, wasn't it? Overbrimming with joy, angst, triumphs, setbacks, struggles, empowerment, excitement, rancor, compassion, creativity, unity. . . and throughout it all, LOTS + LOTS of beauty to be found. As 2018 launches itself into orbit, we're promising to bring more beauty into every day. Whether it's adoring the shape of one of our dog's snouts or seriously digging that first sip of an almond milk latte at the local coffee shop, donating more money or time to a cause we care about deeply or visiting an art gallery to expose our peepers and imagination to ever-new shapes, colors, and concepts...we're determined to find the beauty, people! (collage below is an assemblage of some of our work from last year, not always professionally photographed, so please forgive ;), but it was super fun to see a bit of our handiwork all cobbled together into an itty bitty square, and if you can't discern from the rooms shown, we ain't afraid of color)

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With regards to Lily Spindle and what we do, as well as how it relates to our own personal lives, Deb and I feel that beauty is an integral and vital part of a happy existence. It matters. It feeds the soul in ineffable ways. It inspires happiness. And beauty begets beauty, so the more we/you make, the more there can be in this world. Read this short TED Talk on the importance of beauty!

Speaking of beauty and power, it's been a whole dang year since the Women's March. And here we are again, thousands of us, sneakers on and signs in-hand, ready to gather together in unity, stand up and shout in defense of what's right, and rage against what's wrong. Assembling with solidarity gives us strength and bolsters our vehemence and makes our collective voice LOUD AS HELL. But it also makes us trust one another in a very unique and palpable way and, well, truly give a shit about each other. Last year's march felt like an awesome, energized convergence of 350,000 awesome, energized people. We had each others' backs, watched out for each other, and respected our fellow humans and their unquestionably valid worries, fears, indignations, and desire to pursue happiness, not just for one's own self, but for the happiness of humanity ...and if we all did more of that, imagine what kind of spectacular planet this would be? 


xx - Rebecca

The Lily Spindle + Rita Earl Blackwell photoshoot

We knew it was time to recreate our website. A lot had happened with Lily Spindle in nearly three years and I was like, "jeez, my hair is so much shorter now" and Deb was like, "yeah, my hair is so much blonder now" and, of MUCH greater importance than our respective coiffures, Lily Spindle had new/different projects we wanted to share! A vital element of the reboot was in finding a photographer in Los Angeles who was able to snap photographs of us, our dogs, and us WITH our dogs. The photographer would need to be 100% comfortable around multiple dogs of varying sizes and mixed breeds, would be able to capture the relationship of said dogs with their people, and would need to be gifted in snapping portraits in which the subject didn't appear strained or awkward (and, in my personal case, not looking like a strangely gesticulating, raging lunatic). Deb and I threw a few names around - all photographers we adore and revere, each of them gifted and talented and incredible. But one particular photographer's name kept coming up - Rita Earl Blackwell.

Here's a bit of scoop on Rita Earl Blackwell:
A native New Yorker, she's lived in Los Angeles for 25 years, but her accent is so strong people have a difficult time placing it (seriously - I overheard someone ask her if she was Australian). She says she's had a camera in her hand for as long as she can remember. A devoted animal lover and advocate (as well as a senior dog mom and hospice dog foster), Rita rescued her first dog in California back in 2006 and soon realized there was a way in which she could give back to the rescue community ("without adopting them all," she jokes). Thusly, she donates her photography services to "shelters, rescue groups, and any animal in need." Oh, and this is how gorgeous and sweet she is with the (now deceased) fur babes, Jujubee and Fiona:

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I was familiar with Rita's photography namely because I'd seen RITA EARL PHOTOGRAPHY watermarked on countless fabulous photos of adoptable dogs and cats available at various Southern California-based shelters and animal rescues (Angel City Pit Bulls among them - they're awesome!). Deb met her when Rita was photographing for Dawg Squad and Deb was handling a new Dawg Squad addition - South LA Shelter dog named Darwin (formerly Frankie). And, last month, I'd seen Rita's handiwork myself at an A Purposeful Rescue adoption event. In short, the two of us knew Rita's way with animals is truly magical. But her way with humans is pretty magical, too. Lively, carefree, enthusiastic, with what borders on Job-like patience...

Fast forward to now...and here are a few snaps from our shoot! It was madness. Hilarious madness. We were scurrying around in 4" heels and dresses, herding seven dogs (go here to see our respective crews!), sweating our chimichangas off in an oppressive heatwave, gulping champagne, and trying not to appear crazed and anything more than intentionally "dewy." Our husbands, by the way, were on hand to help handle the dogs, but mostly they sat together sipping beers, discussing art and surf. (Love you guys.)

Rita was amazing through it all.
Lovely. Joyous. Persistent. Unflappable. And every one of our dogs immediately adored her, of course. 

This fantastic woman deserves a medal.
Or some kind of shiny trophy.
Or a stone bench in Los Angeles's Grand Park extolling her gifts and altruism.

(PSSSTTTTT . . . you can contact her right here for your very own unforgettable, sweet, and hilarious photo session!)

And, as a tribute to our usual SHAPERS' q+a features, here's a lickety split rapid fire round of just a few questions:

LS: Who are your top three all-time favorite photographers?
Rita: Inspired by and in awe of: Amanda Jones, Kristie Lee, and Sophie Gamand.

LS: Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Rita: My dogs make me a morning person. ;)

LS: Could you share one special trick for getting an excellent pet portrait?
Rita: There's a few, but just one would have to be having soft + smelly treats on hand. And lots of 'em!

LS: Describe the traits of an elderly dog that makes them especially amazing. 
Rita: Their ability to chill and enjoy every minute of it.