Everyone’s business could use a little help these days, so we’re featuring some companies owned by local residents or located in Westchester/Playa to help promote shopping locally and supporting community members.
Here’s the scoop on Playa del Rey’s VAVERA Boutique.
Q. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. A. VAVERA Boutique is a collaboration between two long-time locals: Jim Iacono and Jennifer Hart Biagiotti.
Jim has lived in Playa del Rey since 1988 and loves the specialness of this charming town. He is a devoted and proud dad to his 18-year-old daughter, Juliet, who graduated St. Anastasia and Notre Dame Academy and is starting UCLA in the fall. Juliet works several days a week with her dad helping ship items. Jim loves sailing out of Marina del Rey, cycling, running and the beach life Playa del Rey lends. Jim is also a former drummer and music enthusiast. He hopes local music performances and karaoke return soon to the local haunts.
After a long career in magazine publishing, having worked for illustrious brands such as Travel + Leisure, GQ, Men’s Journal and Los Angeles Magazine, Jim decided to reinvent himself and struck out on his own in 2015.
Jennifer is also a Los Angeles native. She graduated from St. Anastasia and Otis College of Art & Design, slinging coffee at Tanner’s while working her way toward her fine art degree. She and her husband now reside in Santa Monica with their awesome teenage son.
When not creating things at VAVERA Boutique or designing in her home studio, Jennifer enjoys coffee, yoga, dancing, crossword puzzles, singing and combing thrift stores and estate sales for unique vintage pieces. Jennifer also worked as a portrait and event photographer for many years, and, similar to Jim, slowly became disenchanted with photography in the digital age. Still having a passion to make things, VAVERA Boutique has become a bit of a testing ground for her newest designs.
Q. Please tell us a little bit about your business? A. VAVERA Boutique is a collection of uncommon gifts. We carry luxury candle brands, vintage clothing, homewares, funky items, local “vetted” consignments and other finds for your home and well-being.
After four years in a Hollywood location with a very large retail space and seven employees, Jim decided to change it up again in July 2019 and moved the business close to home, downsizing the high-rent, high payroll retail operation into what has now become VAVERA Boutique in Playa del Rey on Culver Blvd.
The name, VAVERA, is Jim’s creation which he modeled after brands like Voluspa and Aquiesse. VAVERA is also the name of the private label brand Jim is developing in home fragrance, candles and uncommon high quality home goods, which he hopes to grow in the coming years.
Enter Jennifer Biagiotti…Jim met Jennifer through a mutual friend and quickly saw the potential for a collaboration. Jennifer is an exceptionally talented artist, photographer, designer and curator of the most amazing and exceedingly cool vintage and vintage-style items. Her vintage clothes and handmade masks are the best selling items in the store.
Jennifer is also a talented seamstress with a flair for the vintage, yet hip look. She can even make you a custom bucket hat out of your choice of vintage fabric from her collection.
We try to create a fun, welcoming, local vibe at the boutique. Anyone can come make candles at anytime at our community table in a Color-Me-Mine style set up. You can pick your scent, color and container, then decorate the container if you wish and pour your own candle.
If you need a gift of any type for any occasion, at any price range, you will find it here. We carry a wide-range of candle brands like Voluspa, NEST, Aquiesse, Tocca, Paddywax, HOMESICK, Agraria, Capri Blue, Decorware, WoodWick and our own VAVERA brand. You will find everything from wine and kombucha-making kits to Zuca Travel & Beauty Bags, Duke Cannon Soaps for Men, authentic Turkish towels, essential oils, high potency CBD flavored simple syrup for drinks, jewelry, and many other little “finds.”
We pride ourselves on finding unexpected items that scream “You know you want me!”
Q. What do you like about running your business? A. We love the local nature of this business, connecting to the Playa community and the beach- goers who stroll down Culver.
We especially love our neighboring businesses, Playa Place and Seaside Grooming. Ms. Vintage and Miracle Shoe Repair also bring fabulous locals to our block. July 1 marked our one-year anniversary here!
Q. How have you shifted your business since COVID-19? A. As you can imagine, COVID-19 has impacted our business greatly, and we truly appreciate all of our local customers and friends who have supported us in this difficult time. We have been able to maintain a healthy home delivery and online business and have introduced some new items in keeping with the times such as Jennifer’s handmade, custom fabric face masks. Thank goodness for Mailchimp, which allows us to connect with our loyal customers and show them what’s new and fun!
Q, What are some of your favorite local businesses? A. We also love to promote and patronize our fellow local businesses. We are fortunate to have wonderful business owners in Playa del Rey. We especially love Felicia’s, Playa Place, Seaside Grooming, Miracle Shoe & Leather repair, Cantalini’s, Playa Provisions, Bacari, Mo’s, Prince O’ Whales and Hacienda Del Rey!
Visit vaveraboutique.com for more info.
Photo: Jennifer Hart Biagiotti, Juliet Iacono and Jim Iacono pose in front of VAVERA.