We had the good fortune of connecting with Jonathan Hinton and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jonathan, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
Our store was originally started by a friend of ours who unfortunately had to leave LA to attend to family matters. He had always wanted the store to play a more vital role in the surrounding community, and when he asked the four of us to take over the business in July of 2020, we recognized it as an opportunity to build the store from a retail operation into a more community-oriented non-profit entity. Since then we have worked to keep the retail side running, while conceiving and initiating programs aimed at using our space to benefit our Northeast LA community. Space is at a premium in our community, and we are constantly coming up with ways to share our retail space and other resources with our neighbors, with a particular focus on uplifting BIPOC and LGBTQ+ voices. We have been blessed with a business that came to us complete with existing inventory and community relationships, and a building owner (and mentor) who values the strength of the community and enthusiastically supports our mission. Programming has been particularly challenging during the pandemic, but we look forward to coming months when we will be able to welcome groups into our space for larger programs and workshops. In the meantime, we have offered space in our store at low or no cost to artists, creators, and entrepreneurs whose work aligns with our mission, and worked to forge relationships with our neighbors and like-minded organizations. We have also focused our attention on stocking books and other items made by local, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ creators. Our project is still in its early phases, but we are excited to build our space into one that brings even more strength and vitality to Highland Park and Northeast LA! When writing about our store, please note that we have equal, four-way ownership. You can call us all Part-Owner. Our names are: Kenzo Martinez Rosario Calatayud-Serna Adriana Yugovich Jonathan Hinton
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Four of us share ownership of the store, and our different backgrounds bring different elements to the business. Rosario Calatayud-Serna is an administrator, arts educator & advocate, and cultural producer, with a career in nurturing community- and arts-oriented non-profits. Our art director, Kenzo Martinez, is a visual artist, screen-printer, zine maker, and community advocate. Kenzo worked for 15 years with youth arts non-profit Justice United in Creative Energy as Arts Facilitator and Art Director, and was co-organizer and volunteer coordinator for LA Zine Fest. Adriana Yugovich is a high school media arts teacher with LAUSD, and is devoted to activism and advocacy in service to her kids and her community. Jonathan Hinton comes from a background in video production and coordination, and handles outreach, creative logistics, and administrative duties. He’s the glue to our canoe.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If you’re coming to Highland Park, here are a few spots you have to check out. Tierra de la Culebra Park – This little community-maintained park hosts lots of community events. Bob Baker Marionette Theater – Bob Baker has a decades-long history in LA, but just re-located to Highland Park last year. Catch one of their classic marionette performances! Delicias Bakery – Stalwart Mexican bakery. Stop in for a sweet treat. Mi Vida Shop – We love this vibrant store featuring women’s tops & accessories with Mexican-inspired images & sayings. Touch Art Supplies – Our artists are always stopping in here to check out their selection of great art supplies! Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
We dedicate our shoutout to: Robey Clark, who started The Pop-Hop, kept it running for a decade, and handed it over to us with a wish that it could become something to benefit the community; Yolanda Nogueira, our building owner and community mentor, who values the strength and vitality of the community, and enthusiastically supports our mission; Our neighbors Ramon’s Rags to Riches Vintage, Johnny’s Bar, York Café, Pattyes Closet II, Tristan Eaton, and Anya and Matt at Café de Leche, for supporting our programs; And the Highland Park/Northeast LA community that we serve!