Highland Park & PlaceMaker Carla de la Cruz


woman face street art mural highland park laIt was kismet when we first met Zippertravel PlaceMaker Carla de la Cruz 11 years ago. She quickly became a member of the “Dream Team” staff at our Zipper store on West Third Street in Los Angeles, but at our very first meeting she quietly proposed, “Maybe someday I could show you my jewelry.” Impressed by her fresh new line of clean, delicate, modern designs, we soon stocked our display cases with Carla de la Cruz jewelry. But that was years ago and Carla now runs her own business, CDLC Jewelry, selling to boutiques and private clients nationwide.

When we searched for the perfect Listen Up — one that would suitably celebrate Carla’s entrepreneurial success — we found this classic performance by Sarah Vaughan. Enjoy Ms. Vaughan’s jazz version of Baubles, Bangles and Beads, originally written by Robert Wright and George Forrest for the musical Kismet. This performance by the “Divine One” was filmed live in Sweden in 1964.

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Tiny gold beads float in pools of aqua resin. Leaves — expertly hand formed in gold and silver — flutter across the chest, gently clasped by a whisper of chain. Her jewelry reaches toward the heavens bringing the moon and the stars down to earth to rest close to the heart. Jeweler Carla de la Cruz understands what it means to be a maker – the need to engage not just the hands, but the heart. Her talent and inspiration are second nature, rooted in her maker ancestors:  tailors, stained glass artists, and builders from Greece and Mexico, grandfathers and grandmothers, great grands and more, stretching back for generations. Her history, rich in purpose and patience, has filled her with respect for raw materials and the possibilities they contain, possibilities that are drawn out by time and craft and vision. Each piece of her jewelry is individual, marked by Carla’s wish to give of herself, to create exquisite talismans that speak of beauty and hope.

Carla de la Cruz moved to the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, California in the mid-2000’s with her husband, Dave. Soon her son, Julian, was born and the family roots in Highland Park deepened. Getting her business off the ground happened in fits and starts, but Carla quietly waited out the fits and took advantage of the starts. If a store said, “No thank you,” then maybe it was time to create a website. If the recession deepened, then maybe it was time to go directly to the customer through fairs and exhibits.

And she keeps at it, steadily building a business as Highland Park changes with her. More artists and makers continue to move into the community – people who are looking for a place to put down roots and reach for the stars. They renovate homes with sweat equity, look for places to make a dream into something concrete. And they work hard. Keep your eye on Carla de la Cruz and Highland Park – they’re a new Los Angeles in the making.

To view more of Carla’s work and to make a purchase, visit her website at carladelacruzjewelry.com.

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On the two commercial Highland Park thoroughfares of York and Figueroa, new restaurants, bars, coffee houses and shops have been opening with increasing speed, joining the taco trucks and latino businesses that have lined the boulevards since the 1960’s. Start your tour visiting the newest kid on the 5600 block of Figueroa, Highland Park Bowl. The oldest bowling alley in Los Angeles, established in 1927, Highland Park Bowl received an amazing refurbishment at the hands of the 1933 Group and reopened in April 2016. Eight lanes of pure bowling alley perfection, the exposed, gleaming mechanical pinsetters set the tone for the restoration which reveres and repurposes every element of the alley’s history. Meet up with friends for an hour or an evening of bowling, Neopolitan pizza, local brews, and classic cocktails with a twist. The Greyhound Bar & Grill is a neighborhood bar with what may be the best happy hour in Highland Park, seven days a week from 4-7pm. With 20 beers on tap and a tasty selection of Greyhound chicken wings by the bucket, Greyhound has a cinema-style big screen for watching a Dodger game or the Rio Olympics. Figueroa’s Highland Park Theatre, is one of the few remaining cinemas designed by architect Louis Arthur Smith and is now operated as a triplex showing first run films.

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Moving over to York Boulevard, a former escort club, The Hermosillo, was converted into a pub in 2014. Soon after, brewmaster and Highland Park resident Bob Kunz joined the venture, establishing the area’s first brewery, Highland Park Brewery, in the back room. Kunz’s goal was to create “a brewery that connects with the neighborhood around it,” and judging from the diverse crowd at the bar and seated at tables on a Friday afternoon, we’d have to say,”Gooooalll!”  Further east on York, Ba, serving French provincial classics since 2012, was founded by artist and chef James Graham and his wife, Julia Latané. A pretty restaurant with seating for 24, the food is excellent, bringing a friendly refinement to the Highland Park dining scene. Our favorite shopping destinations on York were  The Hunt Vintage and Shopclass, both offering collections of mid-century furnishings, accessories and oddities that contain some great finds for your home. Don’t miss the incredible selection of more than 700 flavors of sodas available at Galco’s Soda Pop Stop, a family owned business for nearly 120 years and a Highland Park landmark. If you can’t find the perfect soda among the collection of exotic, small batch, and hard to find pops, you can make your own at Galco’s Soda Creation Station.

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ring images shared from pinterest

There’s always something new on Zippertravel’s Pinterest. This week you’ll find 379 images on our board “Ring First.”


And while you’re on our Pinterest page, browse through some of the other 191 terrific boards dedicated to travel, architecture, fashion, politics, and design, along with some original photography by Elizabeth and Steven. You don’t have to be a Pinterest member to view Zippertravel’s boards, but if you enjoy pinning you can do so by clicking on the button in the upper left hand corner of this page or selecting the Pinterest icon below. It’s just that easy.

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