Graffiti Beach is celebrating its second Holiday Season in South Park San Diego! Amid the indie-holiday music, twinkling lights and excitement in the air, we slowed owner and founder of Graffiti Beach, Melanie Michaud, down just long enough to share some insight on her life and style. We even asked a few questions about how the vision of Graffiti Beach began, where it is today and the future! Melanie also shares her personal favorites; from dresses and accessories, to a peek at gifts her loved ones will be finding under the Christmas tree this year!
SHOP THIS LOOK: Mona Dress $68 // Indio Infinity Scarf $57
SABRINA PAUL (Interviewer / Writer for Graffiti Beach): Whenever we need to find a gift we know that we can find something special at Graffiti Beach. How do you decide what merchandise to carry?
MELANIE MICHAUD (Owner of Graffiti Beach): I love finding quirky and unique items that have a story behind them. Honestly, I just chose things I know I would want to buy as a gift and would have fun telling the person I am giving the gift to that their earrings are made from drum cymbals or skate decks.
SP: One of the things Graffiti Beach is known for is the unique selection of dresses and accessories. What are currently your favorites?
MM: One of my all time favorites is my drum cymbal jewelry from Chime which you can see I am wearing in most of these photos. The designer, Leslie Barrett, just came out with her newest line which is filled with intricate designs and triangular shapes. As far as dresses, my ‘go to’ brand is usually Fleet Collection. Most of their dresses have pockets, which I love! And their silhouettes have a vintage flair and are very flattering.
SHOP THIS LOOK: Coquette Dress $68 // Drum Cymbal Necklace $52 // Big DJ Artpiece $550 // Cassette and Record Art Panels $65 // Mini Art Blocks $35 // Quirky Socks $10 to $12
SP: Graffiti Beach first started as a ‘Pop-up Store’ concept, can you tell us a little about what that is, and what inspired you to open a brick and mortar store? Why San Diego?
MM: A good friend of mine, Olivia McLaughlin, came back from the East Coast one day and was raving about pop-up shops. At that time, no one on the West Coast really knew about the term ‘Pop-up’. For those of you that still have not heard about pop-ups it is a term that refers to a temporary store or restaurant. It could be there for one day, or it could be there for months. I thought with everything that was going on in our economy at that time and retail stores closing left and right that the pop-up concept was a risk-free way to attempt becoming a retailer that would support independent brands across the nation.
Once I felt the economy was bouncing back and pop-ups were becoming popular on the West Coast, I decided it was time to find a permanent home for Graffiti Beach. I always loved Venice Beach, in particular Abbot Kinney but I wanted to be in a fresh, new market for my very first store. I discovered South Park San Diego and immediately fell in love. It reminded me of Abbot Kinney in its beginning days when it was all independent shop owners on a mission to be unique and to support the local community. Don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE Abbot Kinney but it is definitely more mainstream that it used to be.
SP: “Graffiti Beach” is a catchy-fun name. How did you come up with it?
MM: The inspiration for the name ‘Graffiti Beach’ came from how I view the artists I work with. Most artists have two sides to them; the rebellion, risk-taker that wants to express themselves. They often do not care if their audience gets what they are doing, they want to channel their creative energy. ‘Graffiti’ represents that rebellious side of an artist. The term ‘Beach’ is the opposite side and how they balance themselves. It represents the calming nature and inspiration of something that connects all of us together. Often artists I know on the West Coast go to the beach to let go, reconnect with the universe and come back at their blank canvas feeling re-inspired. So the name Graffiti Beach I view as Yin and Yang to one another, it is what I think makes a successful artist.
SHOP THIS LOOK: Pixie Dress – Jade $68 (also available in Port) // Drum Cymbal Bracelet $56 // Ornaments $4 to $6
SP: What has been your biggest challenge with establishing the store? What are you most proud of?
MM: It was a big transition to operate on a temporary basis and then to think in a permanent mindset. Even the basic concept of me physically having to be at the store every day. I was so used to operating quick and constantly being on the go, I felt challenged and almost resistant to being at one location. However, that mindset quickly changed and I felt really connected with the store and that I finally found a home for what I had been working so hard to build. I am so proud that I chose to launch Graffiti Beach on my own. It was difficult to financially afford building out and launching a brick and mortar store on my own but now I can sit back and enjoy the fact that I am a self-made entrepreneur.
SP: This season, what have been a few of the most popular gifts your customers are taking home?
MM: It is such a good feeling when I pick out something that I love and my customers love it as much as I do! This season our hottest sellers are our South park and San Diego mugs, our wooden San Diego Map Coasters, quirky socks, beer goggles (markers for beer bottles) and the Original Buddha Board. We also ALWAYS do well with our wood watches and bamboo sunglasses.
SHOP THIS LOOK: Pixie Dress – Jade $68 (also available in Port) // Drum Cymbal Bracelet $56 // Pillows $39 to $49 // Clocks available in-store only $168 to $188
SP: At the risk of ruining the surprise for your family and friends, what gifts are you most excited about giving this year?
MM: Haha, I better not send this to them! Since I was young, I have always been the stylist in the family. I love picking out clothes and accessories! So my family is getting mostly dresses, tees and some jewelry.
SP: We wish Graffiti Beach amazing success for 2014! What is your personal New Year’s resolution? How about a Graffiti Beach New Year’s resolution?
MM: My big goal for 2014 is finally to work on perfecting my logo and redoing my store signage. I also have personally been really involved with South Park’s business community. So my goal is to not only take Graffiti Beach to the next level, but to help our business community to get to the next level as well.
With only 12 days until Christmas, come by Graffiti Beach to say hi! And check out Melanie’s picks. While you are there you are sure to discover the perfect gift! Happy Holidays!
Graffiti Beach is located at 2220 Fern St., South Park San Diego Ca 92104 – shop with us online at www.GraffitiBeach.com
Interview by Sabrina Paul // Photos by Richie Edquid