45Three is one of those places you instantly feel at home in – and not just because it has major “your grandma’s attic” vibes (in a totally good way). This store has got soul, and also really cool stuff. Owner Staci Cain has a passion for people and their stories, which is heavily apparent in the eclectic vignettes arranged throughout her shop – many of which contain multiple items from the same estate. It’s also why every person who walks through the door seems like an old friend of Staci’s. Although the shop is small, it’s still one of my favorite places in LA to get lost in.
Also, I’m pretty sure the amount of effort you put into decorating your tiny shop bathroom is directly proportionate to your success in life . . .
Be sure to read on to see how Staci left her coveted corporate career to follow her passion. So much good advice and inspiration for all of you budding entrepreneurs.
45Three Modern Vintage Home, Los Angeles
Staci Cain, Owner
1. How long have you been in business and how did you get started?
I’ve been in business for 6 years. I was a Marketing Executive at Warner Bros. On Mondays and Fridays I would work from my home office and try to finish up early so I could hit the thrift stores on Fairfax. I live in the Carthay Circle area, so it was a natural hop over to Fairfax — the Jewish Women’s Council on South Fairfax and a few others. I used to come into the coolest shop on Fairfax, the old Casa Victoria store owned by Isaac Gonzales and Robert Matteo. I would just plop down on one of his large comfy chairs and wonder what it would be like to have a shop where I could actually re-arrange beautiful things all day. It’s funny, that shop that I loved coming into so many moons ago is now my store. The owners allowed me to ask a million and one questions. They were so supportive of this girl off the street who would come in and “stalk” their inventory. I was always a hunter for a great vintage chair, a pair of pearls, or a super cool purse.
With my strong corporate background in consumer products, I never thought I would be able to pursue a living following my passion in design. I love when people come in and just want to dream a little . . . float around and get lost for a minute in the shop, because that was me: walking in, seeing a great piece, getting lost in the reverie hoping no rude sales clerk disturbs my new peace.
2. Why did you choose this location to open your business?
Well, it’s a long story but I remember the first day I saw the store. My Mom was visiting from out of town and we had taken a long route to walk my dog and run to Starbucks. We decided to take a weird way home to prolong our talk and then we came across this cool looking shop. It was new to the block and called Casa Victoria. We absolutely LOVE to hunt together. I was spellbound. I looked at my Mom and just announced out of nowhere, “this shop should be mine.” She laughed at me and said, “right!” very sarcastically. What did I know about having a shop? What she didn’t know was that I wasn’t kidding. I felt it as soon as I looked in. I got crazy goosebumps.
There’s obviously much more to the story, but I was right!!!! Took about 4 years after that before I left the corporate arena and jumped in. I’m so thankful to Robert Rubio and Issac Gonzales for taking the time to get to know me.
3. How would you describe your store’s style/aesthetic?
Anything fabulous goes! I really should pick a genre and stick with it, but I adore mixing and matching eras from the 60’s to the 80’s. I love certain things like pairs of chairs with amazing bones, ceramic lamps that are stunning, abstract art/paintings, ceramic animals, textiles, 1970’s needlepoint, great old portraits. But I’m definitely not just a Danish snob. I love a little Danish, but all Danish, all the time totally bores me.
4. Where did you get your name from and what other names did you consider?
My name is from an old testament scripture in the book of Isaiah. The scripture is Isaiah 45:3. It says, “I will give you hidden riches from secret places.” I was in France not quite sure what I wanted to do next. Having just left a lucrative position at Warner Bros, I was nervous. I was praying and this scripture was literally haunting me. “I will give you hidden riches from secret places” – I couldn’t shake it. What does that mean? Where are the hidden riches? What secret places? From Paris down to St. Tropez and then on to St. Remy Provence it followed me. I finally declared my next business will somehow reflect the joy I’ve had on this trip discovering great treasures and making great adventures from all these secret places. I considered the name HRSP for Hidden Riches Secret Places, but that’s way too difficult. So I went with 45Three instead.
5. What types of items are your best sellers?
We sell a lot of vintage abstract art, contemporary art from amazing local artists, ceramic lamps, and pairs of chairs.
6. What item do you have in the store now that you would want to have in your home?
I would want to take home this tall turquoise ceramic lamp that we have, a stone bust/vase head, and a giant wooden foot as a door stopper.
7. What have you been inspired by lately?
Lately I have been inspired by gorgeous Swedish vintage rugs. There is such a simplicity to the design of these rugs that I hope to have a container from Sweden for the holidays. I also love the baroque look that is making such a comeback. And lastly the early American/Colonial pieces, “rustic farm” I guess.
8. Is there something you thought would sell really well, but didn’t?
I have a real thing for crochet blankets from the 70’s. I look for perfect Missoni-like patterns and to me they are precious works of art. Old Grandmothers and aunts spent months making these incredible blankets to warm the people they loved. For years no one really showed much interest so I just collected them and had a sign up that said “Not for Sale.” Last year, people really started coming in with an interest in them, so I took the sign off and finally let them be adopted. My shop is like an adoption agency for the best home. I really care about where the items end up.
The other thing I thought would sell but didn’t was some amazing vintage linen napkins (another thing I love to collect). Beautiful linen napkins for dinner parties, or summer brunches absolutely bombed.
9. Where do you mainly source your items from?
All over – estate sales, flea markets, tucked away treasure troves, driving down alleys (why not?). You never know where you will strike gold! I can find treasures EVERYWHERE! I don’t shop in Los Angeles as much as I used to. I really try to go outside of LA. I go on trips to Palm Springs, Arizona, Las Vegas, San Diego, and Orange County a lot. Since I started this as a hobby, hunting always had to be fun. Now it’s even more fun knowing someone is going to love what I find. I have special places I eat at when I’m in a particular city – I may go to the See’s Candy Shop near a favorite vintage store as a guilty pleasure, or have great tacos coming back from my favorite stores in San Diego. When in Palm Springs I must go to get a cherry limeade from the Sonic Burger joint.
Hunting for me is not just finding the treasures but enjoying the adventures along the way.
10. What was the first big lesson you learned from opening your store?
First scary lesson for me was when I hired an accountant to look over my books and set things up. He was wondering what kind of flowers I sold because I had spent so much money on fresh flowers that he assumed I must also be a florist. I realized that having things looking beautiful is important, but within reason.
11. What would your one piece of advice you would give to small businesses?
The one piece of advice I would give to small businesses is to keep dreaming. You had the dream that opened the business. Too many business owners get locked in a cycle and stop dreaming. It’s important to expand on the initial dream and keep dreaming.
Specifically for people just getting into the design business, I would also say: trust your gut. I have a good “eye” but I didn’t always trust myself. When you know you’ve found something amazing, or you match up a color palette that shouldn’t work but does, trust your gut. For those in interior designers, work hard to be fresh and please break a few rules!
12. What stores do you shop at?
Anthropologie (house/clothes), Deco Home Fabrics, Charish, Zara, Casa Victoria for great vintage/midcentury pieces.
13. Do you have any plans to expand your inventory?
Yes, I have a personal friend who recently moved to Sweden and we are partnering up to continuously bring containers to Los Angeles from Denmark and Sweden. I am so excited to share some of his amazing treasures from that part of the world with my clients in Los Angeles and beyond.
14. What trends, if any, are you tired of?
•Gallery walls full of small tiny pictures
•Never thought I’d say it . . . Mexican serapes . . . well not really, recant!
•The overuse of the word “bohemian” (I’m guilty as charged)
•Lights being hung in the home
•Dreamcatchers of any kind
So much good advice. You can find 45Three Modern Vintage Home at 1051 S Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90019. Now go be inspired!
Here are a few of our in-store favorites…
1. Abstract Miro Painting | 2. ’70s Textiles and Blankets | 3. Industrial Stage Light | 4. Spanish Woman Portrait | 5. ’70s Woman Portrait | 6. Colorful Floral Rug | 7.Wood Tool Chest/Organizer | 8. Abstract Pastel Painting
Think your shop would be a great fit for our next tour? Contact us for info on pricing at [email protected].
*all shop photos by Jessica Isaac for EHD