A sign inside a glass window of a shop at the Platform shopping center in Culver City boldly proclaims, “The Future of Shopping Is Here.” And based on the looks of things here, that certainly appears to be the case.
In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, Wednesday’s opening of Create & Cultivate’s pop-up shop offered a solution for shopping going forward while celebrating all that’s appealing about shopping in Los Angeles, such as an appreciation for niche and artisanal products in a trendy setting.
Platform, a former industrial building and site, was converted into a greenery-filled outdoor retail, dining and office center.
Since opening in 2016, the center’s retail offerings have evolved to include shops such as Monocle, Aesop and Tom Dixon as well as a SoulCycle studio and restaurants such as Margot and Loqui.
Pop-ups like the one now at Platform have become a mainstay of the local shopping scene, allowing brands to dip their toe into the retail waters before committing to a permanent space.
However, the Create & Cultivate pop-up, which goes through Aug. 29, highlights and circumvents the challenges of shopping in a new world defined by COVID-19.
Jaclyn Johnson, founder and chief executive of Create & Cultivate, said she had committed to taking on the retail space in December.
After COVID-19 hit the U.S. earlier this year, she said, “We knew we needed to pivot our strategy and be innovative in the retail space.”
That’s an avenue she knows well. Her Los Angeles-based company is known for organizing women-centric events that offer talks on entrepreneurship and often have a shopping component.
A weekend event in February in downtown Los Angeles, for example, featured appearances by Jessica Simpson and Eva Mendes, networking sessions, beauty bars and shopping opportunities, including pre-orders for Create & Cultivate’s new vegan accessories line.
Although the Platform pop-up is housed in a 500-square-foot space, shoppers can’t actually go inside the space for a look around.
Instead the products on offer are featured in the windows. Johnson described this shopping concept as being “like a website come to life.”
Along with vegan bags from her brand, Johnson selected seven others from around the country, owned or run by women of color, and settled on an artfully curated selection of pandemic-friendly products.
You’ll find a pink onyx marble candle from Atlanta-based Gilded ($68), an $8 organic citrus-scented hand sanitizer by Charlestown, Mass.,-based Organic Bath Co., a floral face mask from Los Angeles fashion brand Jungle Gurl ($25) as well as Create & Cultivate’s accessories (think card cases through handbags priced up to $140).
Shoppers can order through the Postmates app and have an item or items delivered to their front door. Or they can pick up the goods from a small entryway at the pop-up. Another option is to order using a link to the Postmates site on Create & Cultivate’s website.
The experience was designed to provide pandemic-style shopping in terms of being clean and contactless, offering seamless, cash-free transactions through Square. (At the moment, no returns are allowed on items purchased from the pop-up.)
“It’s a new way of window shopping,” Johnson said. “Nobody sets foot inside the door. We wanted to create a unique experience where we can still have sales and exposure without compromising the safety of shoppers.”
Brand owners are also hoping that the products themselves might compensate for the less-than-immersive shopping experience. Touching and feeling goods before you buy them is — for now, anyway — largely a thing of the past.
“We have to find other ways to tell a story,” said Dorian Morris, founder of Los Angeles-based Undefined Beauty, whose CBD-infused, limited-edition Glow Detox bath soak ($32) is part of the mix of pop-up goods.
“It’s in a reusable glass jar, so there is that sustainability component,” Morris said. “It’s expensive to ship, but with the Postmates partnership, people can get their CBD wellness delivered to them immediately. It’s a decadence you can incorporate into your daily bath — and maybe that’s the beautiful experience.”
Platform, 8850 Washington Blvd., noon to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.