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The LAist Interview: Lyvonne Hill

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While big box stores are turning the retail landscape of this country into an undistinguishable monolithic entity, creative retailers like Lyvonne Hill, owner of Grometville in Silver Lake, help beat back this trend while adding to the character of our neighborhoods. Seemingly superficial activities and consumer choices nevertheless are tied to the texture and appeal of life in Los Angeles (even though we all know opportunities to shop and consume are not the end all and be all of life in major metropolitan areas). Come holiday season we’re additionally thankful to live in a city with many unique, local small businesses where we spend our hard-earned cash. Lyvonne’s shop for kids and babies (i.e. their weak-willed friends and relatives) on Rowena Avenue fits the bill.

1. Age and Occupation:

I’m 36 years old, I own a children’s boutique in Silver Lake and work freelance as a Post Supervisor in film and television.

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2. How long have you lived in Los Angeles, and what neighborhood do you live in?

I have lived in LA off and on all my life. I was born here. I lived in San Francisco and Santa Cruz, California for some years. However, now I live in the Silver Lake neighborhood.

3. Grometville has been noted as helping to jump-start the hipster moms scene in LA that was featured several months ago in the Los Angeles Times. Have businesses such as yours increased the demand for alternatives to Carters and its ilk? In addition to the stores, are there more producers of creative kids' wear now, too?

I guess we may have given a slight jump start to this “hip” scene – however I think personally that there’s been alternative parents around for a number of years and now there’s stores catering more to their taste.

Yes, there are definitely more producers of great kids stuff, I know that Grometville has had the wonderful opportunity to work directly with many of the creative parents/people in the community and outside the community to help them get their lines out to the public. We feel honored to have been a part of helping a lot of these amazing people get their lines out there. That’s probably my favorite part of this business. And, watching the faces of the customers when they find products that make their day or just give them a good laugh!

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4. What’s your response to people who accused the moms in the LA Times article of using children as accessories?

That’s ridiculous, everyone – be it the mom who dresses their kids in “Winnie the Pooh” to the mom who dresses their kids in “P is for Punk” are choosing to dress their children in clothing that somewhat reflects the lifestyle of the parent/parents. Sorry that some parents might have different taste, but the accusation has no validity. We just have a bit of a sense of humor when it comes to life, love and family and choose to share that with our children. No harm done.

5. What are the pros and cons of being a parent in LA?

Pros - Much to do, many public places that are "kid-friendly", diverse communities and families, more choices in every aspect of life, ocean, mountains, city all in close proximity.

Cons - Public schools (not sure...), air quality, too many people, too much traffic, medias effect on people very strong.

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6. Why is it that it's often easier for some of us (speaking for myself, of course) to drop $25 for a t-shirt that a baby will wear maybe four times than it is to buy grown up stuff?

It's love and fun! Why not? They look so much cuter in a $25 shirt than I do. Plus, I don't know about you, but now that I'm a parent my wardrobe doesn't change much anymore.

But really I made the commitment when I decided to be a parent; it's all about the little person now. I have what I need, I've traveled, I've had fun, I've done much of what I felt I had to do before being willing to give up my selfish needs. Now, it's all about my kids! $25 bucks, if I have it, why not? If anything, it's good for a laugh, and what's better in life than a good laugh!? Nothing.

7. What's your preferred mode of transportation?

Preferred? That's a complex question. I would love to say bicycle. But, that would be impossible considering the amount of stuff I have to pack with me everywhere I go. And, the air I would be breathing as I pedaled up hills. Or, it would be nice to have a hybrid vehicle. However, here again none are big enough for all the stuff I end up carrying everywhere!

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So, ultimately in my perfect world I will live in a city with better air, ride my bike when ever I can, have a hybrid car to help the environment for my city driving and an SUV type car for big family trips to the mountains to go snowboarding. That's a touchy subject for me.

8. What's your favorite movie or TV show that's based in LA?

Suburbia circa 1984.

9. What's the best place to walk in LA?

Rowena Avenue! Where else?

10. It's 9:30 PM on a Thursday. Where are you coming from and where are you going?

Probably dinner with good friends, and home to get my little one ready for bed.

11. If you could live in LA during any era, when would it be?

1920's when it was just beginning here.

12. What's your beach of choice?

South - Laguna, North - Zuma or Point Dune (Malibu) Gotta be up for the hike at Point Dune though. Zuma is easier access for having kids and stuff. Plus, there are more families on the beach.

13. What is the "center" of LA to you?

Silver Lake. I try not to go outside of this area if I don't have to.

14. If you were forced to live in a neighboring county, which
would you choose? Ventura County is a wussy answer.

Is San Francisco not neighboring enough? Well, if not - I guess it would have to be where my family lives...yuck...behind the Orange curtain. But, at the beach!

15. If you could live in any neighborhood or specific house in LA, where/which would you choose?

Oh, I really love Silver Lake, too many friends and too much history here. I would choose to stay here. There's this beautiful house on the top of the hill just west of the lake, I forget the street name or the house name, but it's this beautiful Spanish villa on a great big piece of property with an amazing pool, veranda's and a private drive. They rent it for weddings and films. I want that house.

16. What is the city's greatest secret?

If I told you, I'd have to kill you.

17. Describe your best LA dining experience.

Real Food Daily has my favorite menu, but I prefer the restaurants with ambience for an "experience". Like Moun of Tunis in Hollywood off Sunset and Gardner, the private rooms and belly dancers are lots of fun. Plus, it's always fun to eat with your fingers!

18. Where do you want to be when the Big One hits?

That's not fair. I care about more people than just me.