We had the good fortune of connecting with Crystal Hernandez and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Crystal, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
It’s definitely evolved over time! We are both creatives and moved from Austin to Los Angeles specifically to start a business. It started with the idea of a coffee shop but like MORE than a coffee shop. We always wanted to carry interesting books, clothing and art. When we found the two spaces connected by a large doorway, the half coffee shop/half gallery idea was fully born. We wanted to be a community space, a place to host pop ups, gallery shows, comedy nights, full realized art installations, performances, film screenings, really whatever the local artistic community needed us to be in that moment as well as a shop that mostly highlights local makers. And obviously, we make sure that all of these things align with our sensibilities and artistic vision too. The pandemic threw a wrench in the idea of gathering but we’ve been trying our best to work through that and hopefully we’ll make it to the other side.

What should our readers know about your business?
We soft opened during the pandemic so I often think about what it might have been like had we opened under normal circumstances. I try not to let it drag me down. It hasn’t been easy at all, if I’m being honest. We’ve risked everything we have and more for Santa Josefina and I can’t say that we’ve overcome the challenges yet BUT I am proud of us too! We did like 95% of the interior design ourselves. We are also excellent garbage pickers and love up-cycling so nothing goes to waste! We are constantly evolving and so is the shop. I feel like that’s the only way to grow in the end, rolling with the punches and not getting too caught up in anything as it is. We also have a true collaborative spirit and are constantly reaching out to others artists and creatives that we admire, inviting them to co-create with us/show with us/pop up at the shop. We encourage that people reach out to us too! We want our space to be as much about others as it is about us, which we hope makes for a unique coffee/art/shopping experience in East Hollywood.

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?
We are still fairly new to LA but that said, we love hiking and the beach so we would go to the Observatory and Griffith Park hiking trails, Santa Monica Beach/Venice Beach/Venice Canals. Another lovely spot is the Hollyhock House/Barnsdall Park. It’s perfect for low-key sunset viewing. Elysian Park and Vista Hermosa are a few other favorite parks. We live in Koreatown so we would definitely go to Dan Sung Sa, The Prince, and really any one of the many delicious Korean BBQ spots that are all around us for food. A new Koreatown pizza spot recently opened called Thanks Pizza. Pizza in Los Angeles can be good and this is proof! For something traditional and seemingly from another time, we would go to HMS Bounty for dinner and drinks. And definitely Brass Monkey for karaoke. Out of Koreatown, I love Casita Del Campo and they put on drag productions in the basement. Zebulon is perfect for live music and drinks! I used to go the New York Zebulon when I lived in Brooklyn <3. As for shopping and places to check out: Virgil Normal, The Last Bookstore, The Museum of Jurassic Technology, Museum of Death, Huntington Library and Gardens. Gotta also go to the Masonic Lodge for a concert and Hollywood Forever for a film screening on the lawn. Hopefully, during the visit there will be an Ambient Church show that we can go to as well! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We want to thank all the artists, vendors, makers, and shop regulars for taking part in this journey with us. And our neighbors in East Hollywood! We love our neighbors.

Website: https://stjla.cargo.site/

Instagram: @stjla

Image Credits
Crystal Hernandez Joseph Bellows Carson Brown

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