We had the good fortune of connecting with Leah Koch and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leah, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am from Chicago, Illinois and proud of it! I didn’t realize until I left how into ‘being from Chicago’ people from Chicago are. The number of Chicago flag tattoos on people is evidence of this. I love that pride that people have in the city and I’ve found that has really shaped my love of LA where I live now. LA gets a bad rap sometimes but I love living here and I think growing up with that pride in my city has really helped me love and thrive in LA.
What should our readers know about your business?
The Ripped Bodice is the only romance focused bookstore on the West Coast. We opened our doors on March 4, 2016 and have been on the roller coaster ever since. This would have a very different answer pre-Covid, our entire business was absolutely upended in March 2020. This was the most challenging summer we have experienced thus far in our business journey but it was really our customers who got us through. We saw so much effort and people going out of their way to support us and make sure they were deliberately shopping at small businesses. The most important thing about our brand is that we are a business founded and run by sisters. We work hard to make everyone feel welcome at our family business and to show that independent bookstores can still thrive in this day and age.
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?
Again, this is going to be a pre-Covid itinerary! My favorite place to take out of town guests for dinner is Gracias Madres because it has a very LA/scene-y vibe that people want but the food is still delicious and you are likely to see a famous person. I also like to take people on the Hollywood sign hike because that feels like a very LA experience. Having chicken and waffles afterwards at Roscoe’s ensures that I am willing to hike the whole way. The Getty Villa is one of my favorite spots in LA that I think many locals don’t know about. It’s free you just need to make reservations. As someone who can get antsy at traditional museums, I love that the whole building is part of the experience and it’s a very atmospheric place to enjoy. Some other restaurants I will want to take people to are Hatchet Hall and Pasta Sisters in Culver City, and Connie and Ted’s in West Hollywood. On their last night, I will wow my guests by taking them to the most fun outing ever… drag bingo at Hamburger Mary’s. We take our staff every year for our holiday outing and always have a blast. It’s so fun and crazy and loud and it’s basically impossible to have a bad time.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to shoutout our brother Jacob! This is a family owned business and everyone knows that we are two sisters… but we also have a brother who is a wonderful support to us! He is the best cheerleader, always proud of our success, and loves to come and help at the store when he is in town! He is a master organizer so I always put him to work in our storeroom making everything look nice. He always comes to town for the LA Times Festival of Books and stand in front of our booth convincing passersby to come check it out!