We had the good fortune of connecting with Alina Nicks and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alina, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born and raised in New York in a typical Puerto Rican, Catholic family. My grandmother moved to the states from Puerto Rico when she was young, and I think a massive part of assimilating to the culture was to keep up appearance. Some people have memories of baking or gardening with their grandmothers growing up. My memories include praying the rosary beside her bed, mint chocolate chip ice cream (to cure my belly aches), and losing myself in thrift stores with mine. She had an ability to see beyond what was there, able to restore pieces and bring them a new life, always enlisting the “three B’s” while shopping: bueno (good quality), bonito (pretty), y barato (cheap). It should go without saying that being Puerto Rican, and having a last name like Caro (which translates to “expensive” in English), my love of gold was intrinsically part of my genetic makeup. I never got to come out to my grandmother before we lost her to Dementia, partly due to fear of not being accepted, but I feel like on some unspoken, cellular level she knew. There are an onslaught of narratives you tell yourself about your value and your place in the world when you’re learning to accept yourself, especially when you are raised in a religion that vehemently chastises your identity. As a femme presenting queer, I recognize that I move through the world with marginal bias at face value. However, I am also chronically ill, and that informs a huge part, if not most of my day to day life. Existing in a world that centers non POC, hetero, abled beings, I really wanted to make sure that Caro focused on inclusivity in sizing, gender expression, and affordability.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
When it comes to sourcing, I first consider whether or not I would wear it lol which…makes it kind of hard to part with some items, but I want to feel like I physically cannot live without a piece for it to bear my name. I also kind of realized in the beginning that I didn’t see a lot targeted towards queer, trans, gender non conforming people. Rings sized 9 or above are often dubbed “mens” rings, and it’s exclusionary. It doesn’t leave space for people who live beyond the gender binary or with bigger bodies. My favorite thing is to find almost-matching rings, and sell them as a “yours and theirs” (or “yours and yours”) set. It’s just important that people of every demographic feel like they have access (especially those who historically haven’t, and without being presumptive). I want everyone to feel beautifully adorned so despite the name, I look for pieces that every tax bracket can afford, and offer a flexible layaway plan to try to ensure that (bringing it back to the three B’s). I am relatively new to the arena, so I am definitely still learning every day, but aren’t we all?
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
First and foremost, and every single person in my life can attest to this, Rosebowl Flea. Kenny makes me wake up at 4am every month to go which is insane but absolutely worth it. Make sure to drive around old town Pasadena afterwards. Figueroa St. and York Blvd. in Highland Park are super cute to walk, there are a lot of great vintage shops and some incredible restaurants. Rosty’s is the best Peruvian food you’ll ever have, and you’re not far from Eagle Rock Italian Bakery or Porto’s.
Hit up the Santa Monica farmers market and buy all the local, in season fruits and veggies that you wish you knew how to prepare properly, but don’t, so that they can rot in your fruit basket. Trust me, it’s worth it. Next go to Gjusta for breakfast because it doesn’t matter that you just bought groceries. Walk around Abbot Kinney, get Salt and Straw, don’t forget the cone, it’s the most important part of the ice cream experience. You’re also near Erewhon and you absolutely need a $6 water because it will make you immortal or something. And though I haven’t been yet, I’m dying to go to the Venice Backgammon Club.
For a dining experience that will absolutely transform you, Bavel is simply a must. Afterwards go to Bar Flores, La Cita or Prime Time–all drastically different vibes, all equally worth it. Are you hungry again? The Prince is a must.
Drive Laurel Canyon aimlessly and get lost in all the side streets. End up somehow in Echo Park. Get a book from Stories and more groceries (pantry essentials?) from Cookbook. Have lunch at Found Oyster in East Hollywood, be careful not to accidentally become a Scientologist (or do if that’s your thing, the blue building is truly mesmerizing I don’t blame you if you do). Pray Pickwick Vintage is happening, or reach out to any of the incredible re-sellers in the local area to see if they have any pop-ups going on and support them.
It wouldn’t be a trip to LA if you didn’t visit at least *one* dispensary, so head over to Serra, then go to Jon and Vinny’s or Badmaash for a goodbye dinner.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My family, nuclear, extended, and chosen, make every small win feel as though it is of the most significant importance. Most of my family is back east, and I am terribly heartbroken with longing at times, but my partner, Kennedy, goes above and beyond for me every single day. Luckily, her mom and her brother live here, and the three go to no end trying to alleviate any unnecessary stress, especially whenever I have infusion therapy. I’m truly in awe of their love. Having their care, alongside my support system in LA, is an indispensable gift. Extra big shout outs to Tea Leigh and Kendra Austin for championing for me the way they have.