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A+R's Rose Apodaca on Her Best Career Advice and Life in LA's Underground Scene

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Those who glance at Rose Apodaca's prolific writing resumé—LA Times news reporter, Women's Wear Daily editor, fashion journalist, design consultant, to name a few bullet points—would be most surprised by what they don't see. In addition to co-owning modern home goods mecca A+R with husband Andy Griffith, the master multi-tasker is wrapping up her latest tome with burlesque icon Dita Von Teese, Your Beauty Mark: The Ultimate Guide to Eccentric Glamour, out December 8th.

Born in Spain and raised in SoCal, Apodaca spent her youth soaking up the Rockabilly and punk scenes in the 1980s. "I was really lucky to have parents that believed as long as I kept my grades up, I could go to nightclubs starting at age 13," she recalls. "There was the Cavern, this little club [a block] behind the Palladium where we would see X, the Blasters, and the Shakin' Pyramids from Scotland on any given night."

Her childhood dream of being a writer was well under way by the time she was a junior at CSU Long Beach, where she was earning her journalism degree while reporting full-time for the LA Times. There, Apodaca covered everything from City Hall meetings, the skateboarding and underground music scenes, fashion and retail, and more.

Apodaca went on to write for pubs like OC Weekly, Harper's Bazaar, Paper, W, and WWD, where she served as West Coast bureau chief in the early- to mid-2000s—all while co-owning Hollywood hot spots Beauty Bar, Star Shoes, and Vine. In late 2005, Apodaca and Griffith opened their first A+R store in a 200-square-foot space on Silver Lake Boulevard, eventually outgrowing their digs and opening in District La Brea and Venice.

"I never imagined myself going into retail," Apodaca reveals. "We found the [Silver Lake] space [first] and then decided what we were going to do with it. It was literally a five-minute decision."

We sat down with the veteran fashion journalist and author at stylish monochrome coffee shop Graffiti Cafe—across the street from A+R's La Brea HQ—to find out the most memorable career advice she's received, her favorite LA hangouts, and much more.

What are you drinking today?

Juicelove's green juice with ginger.

Brigitte Bardot or Marilyn Monroe?

I prefer Audrey Hepburn!

What's your theme song?

Grace Jones's version of "La Vie on Rose." [Fun fact: Apodaca also penned a column named after the tune.]

If you could interview any designer of the past, who would it be?

I've been fortunate to have interviewed a lot of major designers—[but] I would've liked to interview [Elsa] Schiaparelli; [she] seemed like she was such a charismatic, eccentric, and intelligent woman with a lot of revolutionary thoughts, but also someone who didn't take herself too seriously. She took her work seriously but I like her biting wit at her work.

What living designer(s) would you love to sit down with now?

Stefan Scholten and Carole Baijings, who, despite selling so much of this Amsterdam-based couple's work at A+R, we've yet to meet in person. Like Andy and me, they live and work together, and we love their celebration and exploration of color and pattern.

Favorite smell?

There was this vinegar-y, garlic-y smell that reminds me of boquerones, these little white silver fish that I would get in Spain when I was little; now you can get them in Whole Foods.

Which retail stretches excite you the most?

I'm excited about District La Brea, where our store is. I'm very intrigued by the fact that this street is populated by so many men's style stores; that obviously says something about where men are right now with their appearances. I suppose the other given that I'm excited about is what's happening in Downtown, but I don't think every hyped corner has it going on.

Best piece of career advice you've received?

I think someone told me this, but I certainly tell those that I mentor this: "Luck is being ready when opportunity knocks." I've often been told how lucky I am, but I just was willing to work really late or wake up really early and be ready.

Favorite LA brunch spot?

The Hollywood Farmers Market. We shop there every Sunday—Andy, me and [our daughter] Nina. We either eat at the farmers market restaurant that's always changing or we get tamales from Corn Maiden and sit on the curb. That's my favorite because we're together and we run into friends there all the time. It's the same but always changing.

Favorite place to relax and find inspiration in LA?

Because of its all-inclusiveness, Griffith Park—for the hiking, for the observatory, for the concerts at the Greek, for the pony rides. There's so much to do there.

Besides your family and purse, what top three things would you grab if you had to get out of your house during a fire?

I would grab as many photo albums that I could fit in my bag, an ostrich egg my mom carved, and these bronzed hands and feet of my daughter that a friend of ours, Gorden Bowen, made; they were my first Mothers Day present.

In a parallel universe, what would you be doing now?

I feel like I live in a parallel universe and I'm doing everything I want in those universes. I'm [doing] A+R, I'm a book writer, I'm a mom—I'm a Gemini, so I'm always saying that I'm multiple people as it is. I do believe that I'm living multiple lives and I'm very happy doing that.

5am or 5pm?

I love 5am when the sun is coming up and I love 5pm when the martinis are being poured.


180 South La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036 323-936-9726