We had the good fortune of connecting with Theodora Coleman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Theodora, what is the most important factor behind your success?
You want me to choose just one?! I think that overall success is an accumulation of factors really, like spokes on an ever turning wheel, each one just as integral as the next and impossible to deem more valuable than any other for longer than a moment. That is to say, one day it is this, and the next it is that. The world of today changes with such speed that it feels like concepts, establishments and people must move, evolve and change just as fast to keep up with it. I think it is the same, if not more, in small business- you have to find ways to keep the wheel, or proverbial ball, rolling…or else you will get left behind. (I think that this was exemplified particularly harshly during the COVID outbreak with so many beloved and well established businesses unable to change fast enough to survive.) I think that the most important thing is to evolve with authenticity. I approach every day with as much vulnerability and honesty as I can muster, which goes for my personal life as well as my professional one. I work in my store everyday, it’s part of what I love about what I do, and meet a lot of people from different backgrounds, experiences and understandings which I look to as an opportunity to truly connect and learn about other people. This is just who I am and how I live my life, but I believe that it is part of the store’s success. You can learn a lot by talking to people about how they are reacting to their experience, you get an understanding deeper than anything “the numbers” can tell you and it makes moving forward, your feet planted on the ground with a vision for the future, that much easier because it ensures that you know what people want and how to help them find it. That for me is true success, helping someone find something that will bring a little magic and inspiration into their life. I am often asked how the concept for creating the Gold Bug came to be, as if perhaps there was some sort of business plan that we have been adhering to for the last 13 years. It didn’t, and does not, work that way. At least not for us. My mother, father and I created the store together as a way to support ourselves doing what we know and love, surrounding ourselves with art and inspiration is the only way we know how to live. We created a business that makes all of us feel alive and I believe we succeed because of our love for it. The store exists as a testament to an unyielding campaign for authenticity in this world, a desire to create a space where anyone and everyone can feel accepted for being themselves. I strive to maintain this space, where the beauty in uniqueness is uncovered, highlighted and exalted every day. Every piece of merchandise or artist’s work in the gallery is something that inspires me and that I am proud to stand behind, I do not compromise on this. I never show something in the store just because I think it will sell, it is there because I am authentically inspired by it. Where’s the fun in talking all day about things you find no joy in? From a $4 greeting card to a $5,000 sculpture, I am going to be just as excited to share it. I believe that excitement is contagious.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
The store was inspired by a short story called “The Gold Bug”, written by Edgar Allen Poe in 1843, a mystery in which an enchanted gold scarab beetle leads the way to an incredible discovery of buried pirates’ treasure. Gold Bug is our treasure trove, a gallery space with a museum atmosphere filled with hand-made art, distinctive décor, and coveted collectables. Our hope is to offer our visitors a visual and sensual experience that will draw them into a world of unusual wonder and send them on an inspiring journey through something which they have never before experienced. Featuring over 100 artists, our ever-changing collections have something to captivate and engage nearly everyone. Whether you are looking for your next piece of statement jewelry, an embellishment for your home, or a one-of-a-kind gift for a special friend or family member, we believe that Gold Bug is one of the best places in Los Angeles for procuring the elegant unique.
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?
I think every first-time visitor to Los Angeles should be brought to see the sun setting over the city from the Griffith Observatory, it is my favorite way to show off the lay of the land. While you are there you can visit the Tesla Coil or peer at the moon through one of the telescopes. After, you can head down the hill and stop off at the Dresden to see Marty & Elayne (fingers crossed we still have such a throwback after COVID) and marvel at their extensive repertoire of live musical accompaniment for the karaoke fanatics of L.A. The next day, maybe we would head out to Malibu and get some fish tacos, visit El Matador or Paradise Cove for a coconut by the sea. If we were still there at dark, a stop at Moonshadows so we could sit out over the water and listen to the waves crashing on the rocks…LACMA, of course, and the shops on La Brea. Do you like fried chicken? KyoChon Chicken in Ktown is one of my favorite places to go for it. The Museum of Jurassic Technology is a must. Langer’s Deli. Grand Central Market (it feels obligatory), cocktails at the The Varnish -the hidden bar at the back of Cole’s- followed by a stop off at Las Perlas if there is live music that night or the rooftop bar called Perch. Dancing at La Cita still thrills me. Philippe’s French Dip to start a day wandering in China Town. Have you been to DAMA restaurant yet? … so many of my favorite places have closed due to COVID. I can only look forward to whatever comes next in this ever evolving city.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I couldn’t be more thankful for the people who have supported Gold Bug over the years. Truly. As you now know, connecting with people is important to me. As I am at the shop everyday, I have gotten to know A LOT of people over the years. Some come through the door only once, while others have visited me repeatedly since the store’s opening. These folks have followed me when I moved locations and have heard countless stories about my family, and I about theirs. Clients have become my close friends and even people who I now work with. The people I have gotten close to being in Pasadena, ShoutOut to my Caltech, Norton Simon, JPL and the Ayzenberg Group peeps, you are truly some of the most brilliant, caring and beautiful minds that I have ever met. To the people who make the trek from the other side of town and those who work in the film and television industry, your artistry and hard work inspires me every day. I feel supremely lucky to call Los Angeles my home and to be surrounded by so many people who live their lives the way I do, surrounded by art.