We had the good fortune of connecting with Scott & Brian Marshall-Miller and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Scott & Brian, what do you attribute your success to?
Success for us is showing up every day with the best balance of who we are as individuals and as a couple. For us, it’s literally in our name, Restrained Whimsy. Creating and maintaining the perfect balance of fun, laughter, and possibilities, in coordination with grounding, reflection, and pivoting. And since we opened at the end of October 2019 … we would be doing lots of pivoting and laughing to survive the pandemic. Which we did.
Balance is important to both Brian and I as neither one of us wanted to be lost to the other person’s vision or personality, nor did we want to overwhelm with just our own idea. We knew our strength was together both as individuals and a couple. The real trick is to keep talking, listening, and understanding where each of us is coming from. This doesn’t make for quick decisions, but when we do finally make a choice, we were resolute with where we were headed.
Being on the same page means that the store is heavily curated and we only have items we have tried, and love. Every book is read, every bath bomb tried, every chocolate tasted, and every candle burned to make sure we can stand behind endorsing it and assuring guests that it is going to be incredibly well received as a gift for someone or for themselves.
Another key to our success has been remembering that you cannot expect to grow and also stay the same. You must make room for growth. I love to create the experience so that it is fresh and exciting every time a guest arrives. Brian has the natural business strategist instinct that is always looking to the future and how to manage growth. This is key because without that hand of wisdom, pivoting could end up looking more like a very beautiful spinning circle.
We believe that when you walk into the store, you should see yourself without looking too hard, that you should find a spot that makes you smile, and feel a little lighthearted. You should feel balanced childlike energy.
In the end, we believe our success comes from being true to ourselves, family, friends, and guests alike. It is a journey we all take together, and are better for it.
What should our readers know about your business?
My husband, Brian, and I are both longtime residents of Los Angeles and Studio City having been in the area for over 20 years. Brian is originally from North Carolina and I am a native Angeleno. We both grew up outside the US moving frequently, but now we couldn’t think of calling any place other than Studio City home with all the incredible opportunities and adventures to be had here.
We had talked about starting a business together since 2008, but each of us were active in our existing careers. Brian in the medical world and myself in luxury retail and entertainment as a jewelry stylist. I retired a few years ago and Brian asked me, “What are you going to do, because you don’t sit still well?” Brian and I are both shoppers who love searching and finding unique items that make us smile and add a little “whimsy” to our home. We batted around several ideas and finally decided. “Let’s open a place where we fill it with everything we love and have discovered together…and just have fun and laugh.” While we briefly entertained opening our store in Century City, Sherman Oaks and even Beverly Hills, we felt like home is Studio City and that’s where Restrained Whimsy should be located. We were thrilled to open our doors in late 2019, not realizing we were about to put all our skill, talent, laughter, and pivoting ability to the test as we closed less than 14 weeks later for the first time during the pandemic.
We would open and close three more times still…we celebrate three years this holiday season! We laugh now that it took three years for us to be open 18 consecutive months in a row. That’s nuts! If it was a Hollywood script someone would say, “that’s not realistic.” But the reality is that we stayed true to ourselves and each other. We laughed, tried to not take ourselves too seriously, and “pivoted” at every turn that came our way knowing that something incredible was just around the corner for ourselves and the artisans we partner with every day.
When curating for Restrained Whimsy, we try to focus on locally made items from independent artisans and companies that we would, and have bought, for ourselves. Except for a handful of imported products, such as diffusers by Marmalade of London, and items we each grew up with internationally, we actively seek out things by people who live and work in the area. Four Points Candles, made in Sherman Oaks, is a good example, as its best-selling banana bread-scented candle that makes anyone’s kitchen smell like a bakery. We also take pride in the fact that the store houses naturally flavored sea salts from Laguna Salt Company and are the only store in L.A. carrying a large selection of Ojai Olive oils.”
Restrained Whimsy is a family affair. Our daughter April, 15, is involved in the selection process, especially children’s books. The 3 of us (Brian, Scott, and April) all read each book submitted cover-to-cover, making sure positive messages about encouragement, empowerment and having fun remain consistent throughout. The same holds true for other family-focused gifts that will ensure hours of fun, especially as families are spending time at home with one another.
While we carry puzzles, cooking items and toy models, a lot of times parents are looking for a great book that sends the message, “its ok to be you” and “be true to yourself,” whether you’re that kid who reads at their own speed, has autism, is the boy who wants to be an artist, or the girl who wants to be an astronaut.
In our store, we believe that you should feel at home, see yourself, and the endless possibilities that are yours for the taking. Can you restrain whimsy? We don’t think so when it comes to honoring and celebrating others … and yourself.
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?
OMG… so many places come to mind. For us, it’s all about the experience. Breakfast would have to start with a family owned, Vivian’s in Studio City which has been around since 1964. The food is delicious, and the people could not be nicer! Our other breakfast “go-to” would have to be The Griddle Cafe in Hollywood. The experience also starts from the moment you arrive. Both hidden gems will provide some delicious food, the opportunity to enjoy yourself and most of all…eat! The pancakes are a must!
Next, we would be off to hike through Fryman Canyon, ride horses near Griffith Park, then take in the afternoon Warner Bro’s tour. For any “visitor” this brings you front and center with Hollywood in a magical way to be remembered. Of course, the next day would be spent at the coast from Malibu to Venice. Renting bicycles and taking in all the sights to behold. From local charm at the pier down to Muscle Beach, and of course stopping to splash your feet in the water. Alternatively, we might trade in one of those experiences for a drive up PCH to Ojai Valley for a day filled with shopping, food, and a little slice of heaven!
Dinner at Javier’s is a must and will bring the best of Mexican food and fun for a night to remember. The next night would keep us closer to home at Trois Mec. Home of Chef Ludo Lefebvre, someone we have loved from before he taught our daughter to make peach cobbler through each of his culinary adventures.
Dessert will treat us to either Soufflé Au Chocolate at Pasjoli in Santa Monica “Served tongue-searingly hot from the oven, the towering bitter chocolate soufflé is served with vanilla ice cream and a warm chocolate sauce.” Or, to Milk Bar for a slice of their infamous Milk Bar Pie.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We want to “shout out” to all the artists who took the time to believe, create, and share their passions with the world. Such as Brian Andreas and Flying Edna, Luke Adams and One Hot Piece of Glass, the timeless artisanal tastes Alice and the Ojai Olive Oil Co. bring, the incredible duo of Envy Upcyle, Michelle at Grateful Daily, the soothing creations from Buck Naked Soaps, the delectable John Kelly Chocolates, bean-to-bar sensations from LetterPress Chocolates, the huggable JellyCat team, and so many other artisans we have fallen in love with over the past 20 years. These were the first people we called and said, “We are huge fans and love your items so much. Would you be interested in taking a journey with us?” We honestly had no idea what they would say. They said, “yes!!” And the honor is completely ours to have them as part of the Restrained Whimsy family.
Aaron Han Photography and John Kelly Chocolates.