The Budding Edge: Meet La Jolla’s young entrepreneurs
A fresh crop of pioneers is smashing some preconceived notions about just who owns businesses in La Jolla. Here are three millennial companies you should know about (if you don’t already) ...
Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman, co-owners Pura Vida Bracelets, 7979 Ivanhoe Ave.
L.A. natives Griffin Thall, 32, and Paul Goodman, 31, turned a post-college surfing trip into one of the most lucrative accessory brands on the planet. Pura Vida (“pure life” in Spanish) Bracelets began in 2010, when the recent San Diego State University business graduates met two artisans, Jorge and Joaquin, who handmade string bracelets in vibrant colors on the beach in Costa Rica.
“Our goal was just to hang out before we had to come back and get real jobs,” Goodman said.
Instead, they fell in love with the bracelets, hired the artisans and, over the next decade, added about 650 more (some in Costa Rica, some elsewhere) to fill its more than 6,000 daily online orders. In La Jolla, a team of Gen-Z finessers now works its social-media magic from half an office floor at 7979 Ivanhoe Ave. (The company outgrew its original space at 1025 Prospect St. six months ago.)
“Every successful business has luck and hard work mixed together,” Thall said, “and I think our luck was meeting the guys at the right place and right time. If we started now, we would have to compete against these bigger brands that are advertising heavily. And if we did it 20 years ago, we probably wouldn’t have made it because we wouldn’t have had e-commerce to help us grow.”
Pura Vida can now be found on the wrists of celebrities such as David Beckham and Rhianna, and in more than 3,000 retail stores. Last year, it reported revenue of $68.3 million. This year, luggage behemoth Vera Bradley paid $75 million up front — and $22.5 million through an earn-out at the end of 2019 — for 75 percent of that action.
“Yeah, it was shocking but, at the same time, nothing has really changed,” Goodman said. “We’re still sitting at our desks, working away.”
The terms of the deal Thall and Goodman negotiated allow them to remain at the company’s helm and keep the headquarters in La Jolla. “We appreciate being in La Jolla more than any other spot,” Thall said. “We feel like it brands the lifestyle on Instagram with our office culture and makes them one.”
Cody and Kensey Decker, co-owners Decker’s Dog + Cat, 7928 Ivanhoe Ave.
He owned a pet-food store in Venice Beach. She was a sales rep for a pet-food manufacturer who came by every couple of weeks to eye his shelf space. Other things got eyed and, five years later, Cody and Kensey decided to partner in every way possible.
They married on Valentine’s Day. Then they decided to move to La Jolla, Cody said, because they were visiting a friend in San Diego and saw the “For Rent” sign.
“It was kind of crazy because we both had apartments and our own lives out there, but we realized that The Village seemed like the greatest place on Earth,” said Cody, who is 25.
Two months later, the couple signed another lease — on 7928 Ivanhoe Ave. — where they opened Decker’s Dog + Cat on June 15. The store is a high-end hub for pet food, treats and accessories, with a daycare center in the back.
“We know the industry really well and we know there’s a gap in the market for specialty products,” Cody said.
Talia Rozen, co-owner, Jo Stretch studio, 7746 Girard Ave.
Talia Rozen has made the leap from working for a company to working for herself. The 29-year-old personal trainer, who holds a kinesiology degree, partnered with physical therapist Joan Kibrit. They pooled their most loyal clients and opened Jo Stretch in April.
Their stretching studio specializes in proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF), a form of flexibility training that stretches and contracts targeted muscle groups as clients lie prone.
“As you’re stretching, we have you push against us and we’ll push back,” Rozen explained. “It’s a way of activating the muscles as you’re stretching them.”
Rozen — who moved to San Diego with her family from Mexico City 20 years ago — is a triathlete who claims that PNF helps her recover faster without soreness and has “a ton” of other benefits including improving circulation and mobility and preventing and healing injuries.
She said that she and Kibrit looked at locations across San Diego, deciding on La Jolla because it supports 10 different fitness studios. “There’s a lot of active people here,” she said. “Also, one of our biggest clienteles are the elderly population that needs to increase their mobility.”