Intimate boutiques selling locally made, sustainably sourced cacti, candles and sundry craftiness are familiar sights from the Boardwalk to Eagle Rock, but it's a rare blossom in the bit of downtown east of Main Street. The Downtown Women's Center has been improving the lots of homeless ladies since 1978, when it opened a “safe space” downtown that's part-residence, part–community center. More recently, the DWC's adjacent space opened Made by DWC, an arts and crafts–oriented boutique featuring handmade work from the center's residents, who've been encouraged while living there in discovering, nurturing and marketing their own creative skills. Besides a colorful assortment of textile, sculptural, wearable and decorative arts, there's a café with organic coffee, tea and fresh foods that's open for breakfast and lunch. There's a kind of motherly vibe to the place, an urbane yet rustic quality that's a true oasis amid the occasionally tumultuous surroundings. Products are affordable, and the good karma is priceless. 438 S. San Pedro St., dwntwn. (213) 680-0600, madebydwc.org.
—Shana Nys Dambrot