Professional Gifter Simone LeBlanc Shares Her Secret SoCal Spots

Considering the sheer volume of shopping research that went into building Tinseltown, many R29 staffers now feel qualified to moonlight as professional gift givers. But, when we crossed paths with L.A.'s top personal shopper Simone LeBlanc, we knew we were about to experience some next-level stuff. It's one thing to have guests ooh and ahh over your festive finds, but it's quite another to leave 'em wondering, "Why didn't I think of that?"
The latter is why we enlisted LeBlanc to take us on a tour of her secret gift-finding spots. From Silver Lake to Venice and everywhere in between, here's the scoop on local joints you need to hit, stat! Whether it's a Secret Santa situation or a baby shower, it's time to say sayonara to the snoozy standbys (another gift card, really?), and hello to personal presents that pack a serious punch.
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"This matte-black wood candleholder is like a piece of functional sculpture. It's a great gift for the design-minded person in your life. It works for both men and women, and would look fantastic displayed on a mantle in a group."
a+r, 1121 Abbot Kinney Boulevard (near San Juan Avenue); 800-913-0071.

Y'a Pas Le Feu Au Lac & FX Balléry Les Perles Candleholder, $75-$150, available at a+r; Germanmade G2 iPad 2 or 3 Cases, $128-$178, available at a+r; IDEA International Gold Playing Cards, $15, available at a+r; Normann Copenhagen & Herbert Krenchel Krenit Bowl, $16-$129, available at a+r.
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"a+r is full of unique decorative and functional design pieces from all over the globe. There's always something new to find here."

SCP & Farrow Wall Clocks, $225, available at a+r; Balance-Wu Design Recycled Paper Pulpop MP3 Speaker, $6, available at a+r; Glodos Bit Bike, $150, available at a+r; Germanmade G2 iPad 2 or iPad 3 Cases, $128-$178, available at a+r; Geografia Sectional Globe, $36, available at a+r; Karl Zahn Wooden Animal Box, $49, available at a+r; Hay & Hee Welling Stackable Hee Dining Chair, $325, available a+r.
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"Give succulents in a way that feels fresh, casual, and effortless. These Woolly Pockets in bold colors are cute and useful even beyond just the holiday season. They're a great gift for a friend who loves to entertain outdoors!"

PAD Droplet Planter, $78, available at a+r; Woolly Pocket Recycled Felt Planters, $29-$59, available at a+r.
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Church Boutique
"I'm all about going bold when it comes to giving to someone whose taste and sensibilities you know well. This armor-like cuff bracelet feels like strong totem pieces, and would be an amazing gift for a powerful woman in your life. The mix of silver and gold with neutral-colored stones works really well with every type of skin tone and physique."
Church Boutique, 7277 Santa Monica Boulevard (at Greenacre Avenue); 323-876-8887.

Diana Garreau Medium Silver Cuff With Quartz Crystal And Rose Gold Drops, $2,250, available at Church Boutique. Diana Garreau Large Love/Hope Medallion cuff with Quartz, $2,950, available at Church Boutique.
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Church Boutique
"I just love these! Each pouch is made with painted fabric inspired by Japanese patterns. The detailed pattern along with its curved fit-in-the-palm-of-your-hand shape makes it the perfect decorative, useful catchall. They're a great little gift for a sister or a friend. Plus, the leather-wrapped ceramic tray underneath is such an interesting juxtaposition of hard and soft materials. It would be fabulous with embossed initials or a significant number or symbol. Perfect for an important client with amazing taste — or the person in your life who has everything."

One-Of-A-Kind Pouches, various prices, available at Church Boutqiue.
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Clare Vivier
"For feminine, simple jewelry at its best, it doesn't get better than Oli + Me. Designer Grace Lee's pieces have such a light, ethereal touch and are so lovely layered for every day. Delicate and intricate, they're beautiful additions to jewelry collections for daughters, sisters, and all of the ladies in your life."
Clare Vivier, 3339 Sunset Boulevard (at Micheltorena Street); 323-665-2476.

Grace Lee 14K Yellow Gold Signet Ring, $685, available at Clare Vivier; Grace Lee 14K Rose Deco Ring VI, $685, available at Clare Vivier; Grace Lee 14K Rose Snake Ring, $385, available at Clare Vivier; Annie Costello Brown Leather and Bronze Necklace, $340, available at Clare Vivier.
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Clare Vivier
"Clare Vivier's bags are great for every type of woman — from the chic and understated to the younger set, as well. Her mix of patterns, stripes, and classic shapes all work together. I love the idea of gifting a set that covers your recipient from day to night, from business meetings into evening cocktails. Monogramming of course adds that personal touch that takes it up a notch. This set or even just one of these pieces would work great for employees, bosses, and best friends!"

Clare Vivier Flat Clutch with Blue Neon Stripe, $165, with $50 Monogram, available at Clare Vivier; Clare Vivier Wallet Clutch in Jaguar, $108, with $50 Monogram, available at Clare Vivier; Clare Vivier Card Case with Neon Yellow Stripe, $75, with $50 Monogram, available at Clare Vivier.
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Strange Invisible Perfumes
"Beeswax candles have been used since the Middle Ages, so why stop now? I love stocking up on these to keep in the house for grab-and-go hostess gifts and stocking stuffers. They are simple, useful gifts and appeal to all different types of people. You can never have too many."
Strange Invisible Perfumes, 1138 Abbot Kinney Boulevard (near Aragon Court); 310-314-1505.

Tall Beeswax Votive in Glass, $22, available at Strange Invisible Perfumes; Hand Dripped 8" Beeswax Large Pillar, $60, Strange Invisible Perfumes; Gold Beeswax Tapers, 8" for $10 and 11" for $16, available Strange Invisible Perfumes.
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Strange Invisible Perfumes
"Blended from organic botanical extract and designed with a different element of the astrological signs in mind, these perfumes make a fabulous personal gift. That touch of customization really shows the extra thought you put into finding something just right. Gift one of these scents with a pocket astrology book and choose a wrapping paper inspired by the color of the receiver's sign."

Strange Invisible Perfumes Eau De Parfum, starting at $150, available at Strange Invisible Perfumes.
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Burning Torch
"Everybody loves a little sparkle during the holidays! I'm no exception, especially when it means giving a holiday gift that they'll want to pull straight out of the box for New Year's Eve."
Burning Torch, 1627 Abbot Kinney Boulevard (between Rialto Avenue and North Venice Boulevard); 323-733-7700.

Shangri-La Bed Jacket, $488, available at Burning Torch.
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Burning Torch
"Antiques are such a unique way to highlight design details and fabrication of eras past. This Art Deco cocktail shaker set is perfect for the sophisticated client, boss, or man in your life who loves a good bar set up. It's a great conversation piece! Don't forget to add a bottle of their favorite spirits and share the details of the maker or period with your gift recipient."

Art Deco Sterling Silver Martini Set, $250, available at Burning Torch; Art Deco Brooches, $350 each, available at Burning Torch."
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French General
"I can't help but feel inspired the moment I step into French General. It's my favorite place to go for the extra-special little details needed for wrapping and actual gifts themselves. These copper plates are for antique monogramming, perfect for the crafty person in your life that appreciates beautiful found treasures."
French General, 2009 Riverside Drive (near Knox Street); 323-668-0488.

Vintage Letters, Scissors, Copper Plates, and Towels, various prices, available at French General.
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French General
"Karrie, the owner of French General, has a treasure trove of items that she's carefully gathered over the years. I love the ideas of using these shimmering patches paired with grosgrain ribbon as a gift wrapping detail."

Vintage Patches, various prices, available at French General.
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"Men are all about straightforward simplicity when it comes to their grooming. For your brother, boyfriend, or other significant man in your life, this kit is an easy, all-in-one gift that's presented in a smart and dapper way."
Garde, 7418 Beverly Boulevard (near North Vista Street); 323-424-4667.

Imperial Barber Supply shave and hair bundle, $45, available at Garde.
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"I love this twist on the classic domino set. These are playful and festive, and look chic pulled out on a coffee table for game night or a relaxed evening at home. These handcrafted dominoes make a great classic gift for guy or gal friends."

Fredericks & Mae Dominos, $80, available at Garde.
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Kneeland and Co.
"Antique linens, like these from Kneeland and Co., are fantastic works of art to be appreciated and treasured. I love the idea of collecting antique tablecloths and napkins with print and pattern details to inspire the receiver. It's also a great opportunity to show how well you know someone by selecting a piece that is reminiscent of their heritage or specific tastes. This is a lovely gift idea for your mother or mother-in-law."
Kneeland Co., 3191 West Casitas Avenue (at Carillon Street); 323-632-8710.

Vintage Textiles, $200 to $500, available at Kneeland Co.
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Kneeland and Co.
"Decorative baskets make lovely gifts for your sister or friend. These are handmade in Mexico, perfect for holding crafts or as an interesting catchall in any home."

Medium Woven Moroccan Pom Pom Basket, $62, available at Kneeland Co.
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General Store
"General Store has a great selection of simple, well-crafted home and housewares of all kind. I love it for its well-curated, thought-out collections by under-the-radar artisans. These simple jotting notepads by Postalco are great stocking stuffers!"
General Store, 1801 Lincoln Boulevard (at Superba Avenue); 310-751-6393.

Baggu Drawstring Bag, $60, available at General Store; Sioux Barrettes, $36, available at General Store; Sioux Keychain, $45, available at General Store; Otter Wax Canvas Cleaner, $10 per bottle, available at General Store; Baggu Leather Pouch, Small for $22 and Medium for $45, available at General Store; Postalco Notebook, Small for $15 and Medium for $21, available at General Store; Liza Reyes Leather Napkin Rings, $6 each, available at General Store.
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General Store
"When it comes to couples, one of my favorite ways to give a gift is by finding pieces that create an experience that they can both enjoy. This set has all the tools needed for a cozy evening of entertaining, from prepping to serving and sharing among friends. These would look gorgeous in a basket alongside some of your favorite edible treats and a few favorite recipes you know they'll love."

Flaros Tea Towel, $55; Jonathan’s Spoons Children’s Chopstick, $10; Jonathan’s Spoons Tong, $22; Jonathan’s Spoons Spoon Rest, $22; Jonathan’s Spoons Ladle, $42; Jonathan’s Spoons Coconut Spoon Wax, $8, all available at General Store.
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"The best thing about gift-giving is creating moments that show people they're considered and thought of. With gifting, the idea is to match your knowledge of someone's taste with your own idea as to what will be right for him or her. It's as much about you as it is about them! The giving and receiving of gifts is about sending a message to the recipient and that age-old adage of simply showing that you care."