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July 23, 2020
The Spark: Talking to Geraldine Chung of LCD

BY INDYA BROWN

Photo courtesy of Geraldine Chung

What sparks creativity? Joy? Every week, we talk to cool people who inspire us.

In the midst of the 2008 recession, Geraldine Chung quit her job in tech and pivoted into fashion. Working for five years as a web developer for Atlantic Records left Chung burnt out, “I often had to remind people it was just a website and not heart surgery” and ready for the next phase in her career. Inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit of her peers, she left New York City for Los Angeles and decided to channel her energy into creating her own own business.

Now with two successful brick and mortar stores in Venice and DTLA, LCD has carved out a reputation as a space to buy emerging brands before they hit the mainstream. Chung’s eye for elevated style and design, brings together seasoned independent designers like Maryam Nassir Zadeh and Collina Strada alongside newcomers like the shoe brand LoQ and local fashion label KkCo under one roof. She’s also not afraid to try out new things as seen recently when Chung took her store’s legendary end of season warehouse sale online, as a response to the pandemic.

We caught up with the entrepreneur to talk fashion retail during the era of Covid-19, protesting Black Lives Matter in LA, and all things cannabis.  

On her first experience with cannabis:

I've always been like a super goody two shoes. I didn't even get drunk until I was 27! It wasn't until grad school that I tried cannabis and I could not get high. I'm definitely a late participant. 

On her relationship with cannabis now:

I would say I'm mostly a social user -- I love CBD, especially infused drinks. And then I also just love rolling joints. It’s very therapeutic. I had a boyfriend who taught me how to roll a really tight one. So now I became the person at every party that would be at the coffee table rolling, even if I don’t always smoke them myself.

On CBD and THC as self care:

I'm so bad at taking care of myself so CBD is a way to calm my nervous system. As a small business owner, especially this year, it's just like you're running on adrenaline nonstop, and it's terrible for your body. 

I don't really do tinctures because it's like an extra step for me and I'm lazy. I prefer balms and drinks. ONDA Wellness is a California based brand I like: They have a serum called Libido Femme which they worked with a Chinese herbalist to come up the formulation. I rub it all over my chest and shoulders, so you're breathing it in. It relaxes your chest which holds so much tension. It has a little bit of a Chinese herb smell that I find very relaxing. 

I have like 40 Dosist pens. I mainly use two: Calm and Bliss. Since the coronavirus hit I'm thinking all the time: How do I save my business? How do I keep my people employed? What are we doing to respond to Black Lives Matter? It’s nonstop, so Calm works well. Back in the day, when I went to an event or a party, I used Bliss. I don't have a significant other to talk to when I go to things, so it helps me get in the mood and be social.

On how the pandemic has shifted the fashion scene:

Fashion retail is so hard. I’ve been doing this for eight years and we still haven't made a profit. I haven't paid myself yet. But the pandemic gave us an opportunity to try some different ideas. For example: It was impossible to reprise our semi-annual Independent LA sale in person so we moved it online

So many retailers cancelled their Spring 2020 orders from brands that designers now have an abundance of stock and nowhere to sell it. My solution was making a "private" warehouse sale in a way that mimicked the physical space. I designed, built, managed, merchandised, and advertised the entire project by myself in 3 weeks, which was intensely grueling but very rewarding. Today’s in fact the last day of the sale!

On operating during George Floyd LA protests:

Every day was different and every time we made any plans, they were shot. When the protests began, I was very lucky that everyone on my staff was out there doing things. Nobody worked (I didn’t expect them to) but I still paid them while they were out there protesting.  

On supporting black designers:

When I took a serious look at my design roster, I found it embarrassingly lacking in support for Black designers and creatives. I will make no excuses — it was really eye-opening and a gut punch. I started reaching out to designers that I had previously been in contact with and had viewed their collections, but for one reason or another had never placed an order. In a way, I was lucky because I already had an ongoing relationship with these sales managers and brands, so they knew I had been interested before the murder of George Floyd. I think they also appreciated that I wanted to help build a retail network for Black designers by carrying their lines and helping to share their work with our audience.  

On future projects:

Right now I’m working with a couple friends of mine (community leader Jennifer Pauline, founder of With Creators, and photographer Shaniqwa Jarvis) to convert my space at ROW DTLA into a project space — we'll still have some clothing and retail there — but hosting a series of events celebrating Black creative work.  There's some really really exciting collaborators that they are working with to bring into the space but I can't talk about any of it yet!

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