Twice is luck, three times is a trend — but, what do you call it when every cute girl is wearing handmade shoes by the same designer? Investigation time! Turns out, local superstar Beatrice Valenzuela not only creates supremely comfortable and cool sandals and moccasins, she's also a master in la bella vita.
It was love at first sight when Bea welcomed us into her treehouse-style enclave in the heart of Echo Park, freshly muddled tisane in one hand and sumptuous leather goods in the other. We’re seriously digging how she manages to seamlessly integrate her living and working spaces (And those views? We’re digging those too!). Oh, by the way, we’re keeping her address all to ourselves — we called dibs on this new BFF!
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Photographed by Lani Trock
What is a typical day in your studio like?
“There is a lot of emailing and organizing of production. I try and take time to look at fashion and design magazines as well as arts & crafts books. There's always a candle burning and a delicious drink in my cup or mug. Sometimes, it’s a delicious chai with rose water or a lemon verbena and mint iced tea. I always keep flowers near me and all the windows open. All of this makes for a perfect studio experience.”
Isabel Marant dress, A Detacher shoes, Navajo cuff bracelet, and vintage Mexican filigree earrings.
How does your home and studio reflect the aesthetics of your shoes?
“There is a lot of color, texture and warmth in my work and living spaces. I also like some embellishing accents here and there — kinda like jewelry.”
Tell us a little about your handmade shoe line. What is your philosophy behind it?
“Our philosophy is to make a shoe that will be comfortable and unique. One can really see the hand that made each pair. The shoes are started by cutting out the rubber sole, made from recycled tires, with a knife. You can see the cuts if you look closely. Then, the shoes are built up from by glueing and sewing a suede piece for the bottom and the rest is assembled and perforated — all sewn by hand with curved needles, leather, and linen string. The result is a gorgeous shoe that will age beautifully.”
How did the line come to be?
“I met Ricardo, someone I collaborate with at an open-air market in Mexico City, and immediately had a great connection. He's been making shoes for two decades now, and has taught me everything I know about the making of shoes. The rest comes from life inspiration.”
We love all of your creative hobbies! Tell us about your favorite pastimes and how they influence your work.
"I love weaving! I sometimes weave on a big floor loom or a tiny, lap plank loom. I've been weaving with leather remnants from my shoe leftovers. I love the texture and dimension you can achieve when weaving. I also enjoy cooking and making delicious drink concoctions, with a little mescal or tequila!”
Tell us about some of your current sartorial inspirations.
“I am dreaming about making a small clothing line for women. I want to make some great, sexy and womanly staples with very flamboyant dresses inspired by Latin American women from the past.”
What pieces in your closet get the most use?
“I tend to wear my Isabel Marant pieces quite a bit, mixed in with Black Crane by the great Momo Susuki, Balenciaga heels, and our shoes.”
Isabel Marant top, vintage Girl Scout pants, Moroccan slippers, and Mexican market earrings.
You making living the dream look like a breeze! What's the best advice
you’ve ever received?
“The best advice I’ve ever received was from my dear friend and mentor, Heather Taylor de Cordoba. She asked me, 'How can you turn this situation around?' about some conflict I was having. To me, this says to find the solution and make it positive for yourself. Donna Langley, who is one of my biggest role models, said something once to me about 'looking at the same thing from different angles, because things look different from other perspectives.' I believe that we make a choice in every situation and I choose the fun, light, and easy one.”
How does being in L.A. affect your aesthetic and business?
“Living in L.A. is so inspiring. To be in the middle of so many cultures and their cuisines, all in one city, is heaven. Eating all the different flavors really bring happiness to my life. It also feels the most similar to Mexico, which is very comforting. Making business is easier when it's sunny everyday. The casual, laid-back style is really perfect for what I'm doing.”
You’re also a hair stylist and makeup artist. What are your current fave tips?
“Sea salt and shea butter is great for your hair, and apply organic coconut oil on your body, especially your elbows, knees and feet. I am obsessed with Tata Harper
's beauty products. Her aromatherapy treatments will change you.”
Zara scarf worn as top, crochet skirt handmade by Bea’s aunt, custom made bloomers, Beatrice Valenzuela shoes.
What are your favorite ways to get refreshed and rejuvenated?
“Going to Natura Spa
for a body scrub, following with a delicious bowl of yook gae jang
and then a nap on their hot, marbled floor is bliss.”
What is on your current studio playlist?
“Horacio Guarany, Chavela Vargas, Atahualpa Yupanqui, Frankie Ruiz and Devendra Banhart.”
Which magazines and websites do you read on a regular basis for inspiration?
, World of Interiors, Gather, Bon Appetite
What is next for expanding the Beatrice Valenzuela brand?
“Opening our store and importing goods from Mexico is the next step. I want to find artisans and collaborate with them in creating beautiful jewelry, textiles, and basketry. I know there will be a lot to learn in this process and I welcome it all!”
We’re so excited for your new store, which will open next month. How would you describe the space?
“Our store has great light and tall ceilings. I want to fill it up with color and treasures for everyone in Los Angeles. It's such an inviting place and I can't wait to share wit you all.”
Your new store is next to our favorite Echo Park market, Cookbook! What is your go-to lunch order?
“Tortilla chips, cheese, jamón serrano, hard-boiled eggs, hummus, pickles, and harissa — sometimes all at one time. That way, I can satisfy my cravings at once.”