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

Hi Judith, what was the thought process behind starting your own business?
Luca was really born out of a lifetime of both professional and personal experiences that all came together in one defining moment, which for me was COVID. My background was in food and environment. I had been working in the food industry for over fifteen years. My studies were about the relationship between plants and their effects on our mental, physical and psychological health.

I’ve always tried to source both food and topical products as clean and organic as I could and during COVID doing that with topical products became virtually impossible. It was standing in the middle of a CVS reading a list of ingredients I couldn’t even pronounce on a shampoo bottle when I wondered why there wasn’t the same kind of space with all kinds of products ranging from home, to pet, to skin care that were all totally clean, safe and effective. Since our skin is our largest organ and we absorb more through our skin than anywhere else, the relationship the products we use and the food we eat is extremely close, so opening luca just felt like a natural progression of my career. Ultimately, I really wanted to create a place with safe products for people, animals and just as importantly, the environment. However, I wanted that idea of safety to extend to all aspects of luca- I want everyone who works here to feel seen and safe, I want customers to feel welcome and warmth when they step inside. Basically luca is an extension of the values that I hold near and dear to me and I strive to live by.

What should our readers know about your business?
In its most basic description, luca is a non toxic and low waste alternative to a commercial drug store. Just like you can walk in a drug store and purchase your dog food and toothpaste, I wanted people to have the same option at luca, but without the worry that anything can harm you, your family or the planet. What’s sets up apart from others is the amount of work that goes into curating a product. I truly feel that luca should be a space that gives producers an opportunity to showcase their work, therefore we really search to find products that are not only clean and pure, but support producers that are dedicated to their craft, create positive work environments for their teams and are working to make holistic changes both in production and consumerism. We also give local artists of all kinds a platform to share and sell their creations because we want to support our local economy and reduce the barriers of entry for up and coming artisans. I truly wonder if anyone had an easy journey to developing their business, because for me it was a lifetime of work, research, and experience to feel like I was prepared for handling the responsibility of being a business owner. Even with the amount of experience I gained, I still made mistakes and continuously had to make improvements to the business. There are about a thousand lessons I learned in my first year, but I think some of the most important ones are not to get bogged down by little things or one bad day, but to look at the bigger picture. I also learned how important it is to stay positive and optimistic, even on the tough days. Most importantly, a business is a living entity that is constantly evolving and growing, therefore it’s always important for me to learn, grow, ask, listen, and pivot in order to meet the store’s needs. I think the most important thing to know about luca is that luca is not a brand, but a movement. i truly want to prove to the market that there is a strong demand for environmentally safe products, that consumer behavior is changing so that the government and investors start diverting funding to products that destroy our environment ( ie plastic bottles) to products and companies that enrich our environment. I want to show that there is an ethical, supportive model for running a business and treating your staff and being successful. Luca is a platform not only for a environmental awareness, but a platform for social change. Most importantly, Luca is made to be a safe space for everyone who spends time here, we want a place where our community feels welcomed and seen.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
wow this is a hard question because there is so many amazing things to do in Los Angeles. I actually have a friend visiting from abroad and this was our itinerary yesterday:

day 1: coffee and snacks at Flower Boy Project in Venice, from there a drive down PCH to the Self Realization Temple- their meditation garden is one of my favorite places in the city and their view is unreal, from there head to the Malibu Fig Ranch- a lil’ farm and shop with a variety of local and organic fruits, veggies, breads and cheese. There you can pick out local and seasonal goodies. From there head to Matador Beach ( my favorite beach in the city) for a beach picnic and to watch the sunset. On the drive back a stop at Malibu Fresh Fish Market and Patio Cafe for some incredible fish and chips.

day 2: an early hike to the Griffith Park Observatory, breakfast and coffee at Kitchen Mouse in Highland Park, thrift store hopping at Soft Humans, Avalon Vintage and Bearded Beagle. Record shopping at Gimme Gimme Records and Artform Studio, a visit to the Huntington Gardens, dinner and drinks at Hippo before we head to Gold Line for some great music and more drinks 🙂

day 3: breakfast at Nicks in DTLA, a walk through the art district, a visit to boyle heights to eat tacos at los cincos puntos and walk through el mercado, beers at xelas in boyle heights, a visit to the broad museum before we get dinner at badmaash

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people that have been instrumental in helping me become the person I am today that led to opening luca, but most importantly it’s my family and friends endless support, love and encouragement that made luca a possibility. whether it was coming to the store to help paint it before we opened, offering advice or lending an ear when I felt overwhelmed, the support of my community is really the reason I am where I am today.

Website: ourluca.com

Instagram: livelu.ca

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ourluca

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/luca-los-angeles

Image Credits
Tracy Levy

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.