[Editor's Note: Exene Cervenka is a writer, visual artist and punk rock pioneer. The OC transplant is the lead singer for X, the Knitters and Original Sinners. Her new column, Exene Says..., is her space to basically just write what's on her mind, everything from crazy life stories to political theories and observations about what's going on in this fucked up world of ours. To contact her, send all messages to email@example.com.]
I have always admired the work ethic I see in Orange County. I have friends who have built successful clothing companies, stores, restaurants, bands, etc. It's a lot of hard work and long hours, but pursuing who you really are and what you want to become is so important, especially now.
Lisa Gronowski is an architect and soap slinger. She started her artisan soap and bath company, Room 88 (www.room88soap.com), in October 2012. Her products kick ass. She invented her own process, uses only the best natural ingredients, and makes it all from home--with some help from family and friends.
Lisa always has big plans on where to go next, what to create next and how to do it. She recently teamed up with Paradox Beer Co. in Colorado to make some nice hoppy, lathery beer soap!
Lisa's brother is also an independent business owner. Chris Gronowski--with partners Efrem Schulz (of OC hardcore punkers Death By Stereo), Fabrizio Santos (pro skater) and Kevin Ferrell (business manager)--opened Programme Skate and Sound in March 2011.
The Fullerton shop can provide you with clothes, boards, shoes, music and a lot more. Even though I am not a skater, I like this store for many reasons, including its eclectic vinyl and CD section. Though hardcore and punk is the heart, Isaac Hayes, Beastie Boys, Blasters, hip-hop, folk, jazz and anything else can also be found here. This is the neighborhood store that wants to bring you what you need, want and love. The motto seems to be "Trust your own taste."
It can't carry every product made, so everything has to be necessary, unique or compelling. I like the bamboo socks by klen; when you buy a pair, the company plants a tree. It's all made in the USA, too.
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Hanging out with Lisa, Chris and Efrem at Programme, I realized I could write about indie businesses every week and never run out of cool, strong people to highlight. I think this is important, as we are at the mercy (in our minds) of financial, political and legal systems that are just torturing us with taxes, regulations, rules and impossibilities.
Maybe it's time for a peaceful, cultural DIY Revolution. Sounds like fun to me.