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If one were to reinvent the general store to serve a neighborhood homesteaded by a neo-boho generation -- a neighborhood like Silver Lake -- it would be Clover. Though it‘s housed in a mere 2,000 square feet of retail space, you can find an ”edited collection,“ as they say in the trade, of the same clothing you might find at Fred Segal or Barneys, and everything from fine furniture to cookbooks, dog toys to doormats, and dishes, kids’ stuff, fine art, Christmas cards, candy, pajamas, and art and architecture books.
These are the necessities of the hipster lifestyle circa 2002. Consider this predicament: You‘re on your way to a party but you haven’t got a present. Clover will have the right gift, every time. Or say you‘re not on your way to a party but you wish you were. Clover covers that situation, too. There’s a small art gallery in the back of the store with frequent weekend openings and neighborhood gatherings -- and everybody‘s invited.
And as in the days of yore, Mom and Pop live above their store. Well, not quite yet, because they haven’t built their apartment, but eventually Clover will become storegallerystudiofamily compound for owners Drea Kadilak, her husband Nelsen Valentine and their two kids. Kadilak, who is renowned for the hats she‘s designed, and Valentine, a painter and also a furniture designer, wanted to make money while at the same time being available for family life -- including mid-afternoon transport to soccer games and birthday parties and such. Perhaps, they schemed, they could do this by living and working together in the same space.
Kadilak and Valentine have long been business partners. When Valentine came into some money with his painting in 1991, he designed and built Kadilak’s first shop on Fairfax Avenue, where she began selling her hats, quickly attracting a show-business clientele before moving her shop to La Brea Avenue the next year. They also bought a house in the artsy Silver Lake--adjacent Solano Canyon, and Kadilak wanted to work closer to home. They found the right space in a dusty old liquor store with enormous plate-glass windows and a few apartments in the back on an undistinguished street zoned for both commercial and residential. It‘s back to the future, really: This kind of ”mixed-use“ urban neighborhood provides for livework arrangements that are the antithesis of the suburban separate-your-job-from-your-family kind of life.
Valentine again designed the space and built the fixtures, and put steel beams in place to support a second-floor home and design studio; he’s bartering with an architect to work that project out. Trading in the high visibility of the La Brea location for the minimal foot traffic but lower real estate values of Rowena Avenue has allowed Kadilak and Valentine to dare to express themselves, because they can afford to. They‘ve filled the store with things they make, and things they like, and things they can use at home if items don’t sell.
The furniture, some tables, ottomans and upholstered benches are Valentine‘s, and range in price up to $7,000. He’s designed furniture for Frank Gehry and Chuck Arnoldi, and the store reflects his minimalist sensibility and his love of art and architecture, and -- because he‘s a foodie -- there are cookbooks. But it’s really Kadilak‘s store, and hers is a much more playful aesthetic. She’s begun designing practical clothes tailored for the Silver Lake life -- and is energetically devoted to cultivating new talent, especially in the neighborhood: like the architect who lives behind the store and whose real passion is making handbags, or the woman up the street who creates austere live plant ”sculptures“ in clay pots.
But low-rent neighborhoods rarely stay that way when they‘re taken over by creative types, and Rowena is well on its way to becoming a ”shopping and dining destination,“ as a chamber-of-commerce type might tout. Clover is joined by other shops geared to serving the neighborhood, including Edna Hart and Islands, several vintage-furniture stores, the Coffee Table cafe, and soon the highly anticipated Edendale Grill and Mixville Bar. Kadilak and Valentine were caught off-guard when Clover became a neighborhood institution almost immediately after opening a year ago. ”Maybe it’s because it‘s not about an attitude or an image, which most stores are,“ conjectures Valentine. ”It just evolved out of our need to make a living, and our desire to do that in a way that’s reflective of our style.“
Clover, 2756 Rowena Ave., (323) 661-4142.