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

Hi Laetitia, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
The common denominator behind every single one of my business endeavors throughout my career is that they weren’t really backed by a “thought process”.

Knowing myself and my limits as well as understanding what would fulfill me as a human have been the main drivers behind everything I’ve ever done work wise. It’s been a more instinctual thing, sometimes I wonder if I’d been more traditionally successful had I been more strategic with certain choices. Over time, I have come to realize that my definition of success differs from societal expectations / definition. I have also realized that running my own business, whatever it may be, is really the only way for me to work! I tried working for others and it didn’t end well for me… I am perhaps a little too feral! I do love collaborating, but I don’t like feeling like my time belongs to someone else.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My career certainly wasn’t a linear path… I studied Film at the Sorbonne, and after my MA, I went on to work as a video games journalist, then editor. Shortly after, I moved from Paris to London and went in-house at a games publishing company. I was so miserable there! When on maternity leave, I decided it was time for me to start writing again, and so I started a blog (it was cool at the time, I swear!) and one thing leading to another, I gathered quite a hefty following and I was soon able to make a living out of my writing again, as well as start working on some digital consultancy in the very early days of social media (I am talking 2008-2009). Upon moving to Los Angeles in 2016, I decided it was time to retire from the blogging/influencer industry, because I didn’t really recognize the industry anymore, it changed so much during those ten years and it simply wasn’t for me anymore. I took some time off to regroup, used that to work on my photography and had a couple of small exhibitions of my work.

It’s only in 2018 that I started truly exploring the idea of interior design as a serious business option. I had a brief stint in a Los Angeles design studio and it was a true epiphany for me. I think for the first time ever, I saw the puzzle completed in front of me… I left my employer and started my own practice, Cinquieme Gauche.

I think the sinuousness of my career has made me a better business owner, more adaptable and versatile. I learn all the time, from everything and everyone. If there’s ever something I find myself unable to do, I just teach myself how to do it. Recently, I have learned that I am allowed to not be all things and so I am trying to delegate more. There are some things I am really great at, some I am just okay at… so where possible I try to surround myself with people who complete me.

If I was to sum up my career I think it is simply the pursuit of happiness, and creative fulfillment. I love interior design work as it allows me to improve people’s surroundings, enhance their lives and ultimately make them happy (hopefully). There is nothing more rewarding for me than seeing a client blossoming in their space!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
OMG I love this! As an expat in Los Angeles, i am absolutely OBSESSED with the city.

Okay so the first thing I would do is take them on a sunset to night drive around town, one of my preferred itineraries are either Wilshire blvd all the way to Santa Monica or Sunset blvd all the way to the PCH. You really see the city transforming as you go from East to West. I would also make a special playlist for the drive!

To visit, I would take them to the Stahl house and Eames house, two architectural gems in the city. The Stahl house to me is the dreamiest, most magical place, and also a great love letter to Los Angeles.

After the Stahl house, I never say no to a quick drink in the Chateau Marmont courtyard!

To eat, there are so many places I love… Oriel Chinatown is high on the list, followed closely by a local favorite Casita Del Campo (they have the best frozen margaritas). For a very special experience, I love Yamashiro in Hollywood as well as Manuela in the Hauser & Wirth gallery in the Arts District.

I live in Echo Park and there are so many great places in the local area for a coffee or to hang out: Just What I Kneaded in Frogtown, Valerie in Echo Park, Skylight books in Los Feliz, Figaro for when I feel a little home sick and need a glass of red and a croque monsieur.

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?
For my latest career incarnation, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my friends Sheela and Sally, who referred some truly wonderful clients to me and helped truly kickstart my business.

In my previous endeavor, my friend Emily was instrumental in keeping me inspired, and keeping momentum going overall.

Website: www.cinquiemegauche.com

Instagram: @cinquiemegaucheinteriors and @laetitiawajnapel

Image Credits:  Jess Isaac

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