Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The thrill of the hunt | An interview with Cheryl Cohen of WASTELAND

 Who is Cheryl Cohen? 

I’m a total LA girl. I was born here and will always call LA home. I went to UC Berkeley and lived in the Bay Area for several years graduating.. It was an amazing place to be the 80’s. We would go out every night to a different club, weekends, we’d go to an after hour’s clubs in Oakland to hear more music. We would get there at 1 or 2am, leave to go the Denny’s with the Bar or some other late night eatery, then come back and stay until the wee hours. So much great music.... it was a great place to be in your 20’s. 

In general though, I spend most of my time immersed in the Wasteland world, working with my amazing management team and all the store’s staffs. I just still totally love the whole gestalt of music and fashion.

 How did "Wasteland" come to fruition and what does it mean to you?

Wasteland was really born in the 80’s. Mods, Rockers, & Punks. It was a mix of music and fashion that drew me to want to start Wasteland. We used to drive around, in my business partner, now husband, Joe’s Blue Chevy Van and cruise around town to different yard sales, estate sales, and flea markets and just pick up things we thought were cool. For me, and I think for our shoppers, Wasteland always was about the thrill of the hunt.

 How would you describe your personal style?

I would describe my personal style as Rocker Chic, which is really Rocker Chick, if you think about it. I love to pair an expensive pair of designer shoes or a really great Ric Owens leather jacket with a really threadbare, looks like you partied it in for days, rock tee. It’s all about the designer bag and the jacket. I must have over 200 jackets.......leather, faux fur, long, short.... I’m obsessed!!

Do you have any personal style icons that inspire you? 

Alison Mosshart has an iconic sense of fashion. She looks amazing and at the same time, like she just threw on what ever was lying on the floor that morning. Grace Coddington is another. Our personal styles are polar opposites, but her sense of style is genius. Vivienne Westwood, of course. I was fortunate enough to be invited to her fashion show at this little boutique hotel off Sunset. When I met her after the show, she put out her hand, wasn’t sure if I should shake it or kiss her ring. 

What is it you love about vintage shopping and vintage style?

Honestly, to me, today’s vintage is not about any particular era anymore. It’s about finding a mix of designer and vintage that make you feel like you walked into the store wearing it. It’s about personal style and finding those one or two pieces...that speak to you. That you can’t live without, that you will kick yourself if you don’t leave the store with them in your hot little hands.

There is something very rock n roll about Wasteland so it’s little wonder it found a home in LA. What sums up LA for you?

The people. I’ve met and continue to meet the most interesting people in LA, mostly people in the entertainment industry, of course! 

What are your 5 staple pieces you cannot live without?

Leather jackets (too many to count) chunky platforms, those great long flowing skirts in florals and stripes with those great tall leg slits are high on my rotation for Spring and Summer designer purses (again, too many to count) and boots, lots of boots.

What makes Wasteland different to other fashion stores? 

All the items at Wasteland are hand picked by a staff of buyers that are immersed in the fashion trends of the moment and are individually trained by a team of truly amazing and dedicated Buying Managers. I always say it’s like a teaching hospital, because we are learning every day, because fashion changes everyday. Unlike other resale shops, we don’t have to specialize in vintage, designer vintage, designer or modern. We kind of pride ourselves in being experts in all of it. We aren’t locked into any one type of style or price point, so we’re free to buy the best and coolest pieces based on the quality and desirability of the piece itself.

Who would be playing on the soundtrack to your life?

The Psychedelic Furs 

When you're not running Wasteland what are you doing? 

Hanging out with my kids. I was pregnant with my son, Kyle when we opened the SF Store and then with my daughter, Tessa when we opened Melrose. We always brought them with us everywhere. They were going to garage sales and flea markets since they were babies. They heard Joe and I talking about the business around the dinner table and on road trips for their whole lives. So, they are both very entrepreneurial. Some little known Wasteland lore, the fetus painted on the front of the SF Store is actually my son, Kyle. My son wants to work in the gaming industry and will probably own his own company some day. My daughter, Tessa Rae, is 20 now, writing music and working with some really cool producers here in LA. So, I’m working on that business side of that with her, which I love. My kids are so, so the best!! I’m a lucky girl.

Who are some of your favorite brands and designers? 

I love Rick Owens, Vivienne Westwood, Ozzie Clarke, Comme de Garcon and Martin Margiela. Vanessa Mooney and Pamela Love for jewelry. I can’t live without my Frankie B Jeans! 

What can we expect from Wasteland in the future?

Our current just focus is on improving our retail operations, buying more great pieces, creating an even better shopping experience and really finding the best way to represent our brand online. We’re working this year towards selling more vintage and designer online. It just feels more holistic, getting back to our roots. There are plans to open other locations in other cities, but we’re not in any hurry, we kind of like the locations to find us. We always find our locations at just the right time. This year we started our own music label, Wasted for Life Music, LLC, so we are excited to blend those two worlds. Once again my life seems to revolve around Music, Fashion and of course, Wasteland.