One reason I started this blog was because of my passion for storytelling and sharing products I love. If you know me then you know I enjoy the experience of investing and shopping luxury fashion. As an L.A. native, I visit Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, CA whenever I need a pick me up. But like many of us, I've limited my outings to do my part to flatten the curve. That being said, as shopping in California has begun to slowly open I recently decided to visit Beverly Hills to have an in-store luxury shopping experience. In case you are curious about the coronavirus safety procedures in places like luxury fashion boutiques, then this blog is perfect for you.
Since quarantine started in Los Angeles, I have not visited the iconic luxury fashion strip that i Rodeo Drive . Instead of doing in-person shopping I pivoted to online luxury shopping. I admit, this shift to digital shopping for luxury fashion has had its blips. Doing my designer shopping online not only resulted in some sizing and style mistakes. While I was excited when my online luxury order arrived, it couldn’t compare to that in-person experience of knowing what I got and knowing how it looked on me.
Unboxing luxury online shopping items like my Louis Vuitton Multi Pochette Accessoires, which I wrote about in another post here, lacked that excitement of touring and testing items within a boutique. (I’m also not complaining about how many of us have had to pivot to online luxury shopping. I understand these are first world problems.) Because I felt comfortable, and I know that my recent COVID-19 test provided me a negative result, I thought I thought to take a quick visit to this part of Los Angeles.
Socially Distant Luxury Shopping in Beverly Hills - Fall 2020 in Los Angeles
On a sunny Monday, I called the Prada boutique in Rodeo Drive and boldly asked, “Do you have the Prada combat boots?” I was unsure if this local Prada would have these trendy boots. Not only did this Beverly Hills Prada have the trendy chunky combat boots, but they had multiple sizes. I grabbed a face mask, threw on my Louis Vuitton crossbody bag, and I made my first luxury shopping trip to Beverly Hills during quarantine.
For those familiar with shopping in Rodeo Drive, you won’t be surprised that even during quarantine the fashion on sight is on-point. In Beverly Hills, like many parts of L.A., face masks are required in almost all public settings. And face masks are also required when entering any of the stores located on Rodeo Drive. I highly recommend making an appointment or showing up early when planning luxury shopping in general. Most, if not all boutiques, only allow a small number of patrons in at any given time.
I arrived in Beverly Hills for my shopping appointment in the afternoon. Luckily, I avoided any morning or pre-evening rush. I was greeted into the store with a quick temperature check and a squirt of hand sanitizer for good measure. The Prada boutique in Beverly Hills was not only gorgeous but it had great measures for maintaining social distancing. Guests were hosted at least six feet apart from other shoppers. For example, I was trying on the Prada brushed leather nylon boots while two other people were also trying shoes. We were sat a good distance apart inside the boutique’s luxury shoe section.
When I asked if I could try on the boots, to ensure the sizing was right, my sales associate said, “Of course!” She shared with me how all products handled by clients were disinfected and set aside for several days before returning to the inventory. It’s also worth noting that all of the sales associates in the boutiques wear gloves and change them after each visit.
While some muffling happened because of the masks, I still was able to have a rich conversation and luxury shopping experience with my sales associate. I tried on multiple pairs of the Prada combat boots before I found my right size. Being able to try on different styles and sizes until I found the perfect pair is something I’ve missed in my shopping experience. For me, it’s not just about buying designer. For me, shopping luxury fashion is about the atmosphere of treating yourself to a gift. From the warm demeanor of the staff to the gorgeous edifices, shopping luxury fashion in-person cannot be compared.
Thanks for reading my come shopping with me in Beverly Hills blog! Let me know in the comments below if you’ve recently visited a boutique for in-person luxury shopping or if you’ve done any online luxury shopping recently.
Thanks for reading these Words by Will! Make sure to follow me on Instagram @Willsshowem and on YouTube @William Samayoa for more!
A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of visiting one of POPS Artisanal Creamery ice cream shop in San Fernando, CA. After writing a travel blog spotlighting local businesses, I was eager to connect with the entrepreneurs calling the San Fernando Valley home. With that I want to give a huge thanks to the visionary behind POPS Artisanal Creamery, Marinth Ken. He hosted me for a special tasing and visit to talk all things ice cream, the future of his family’s ice cream business, and to let me know about how POPS is growing its menu to invite more Angelenos to try their one-of-a-kind artisanal frozen desserts.
The day I visited POPS was a warmer day, perfect for taste-testing dozens of ice creams. Upon arrival to the San Fernando shop you notice a different vibe than most other business on Maclay St. “Blue jeans and a T shirt, that’s who I am and that’s why this shop looks like that,” said Ken when summarizing the style of POPS Artisanal Creamery San Fernando shop. The cool blue tone and modern accents, like the wood accents and brick wall, make POPS feel a boutique that’s been transported from NYC. That is to say, this local ice cream shop in the San Fernando Valley invites people across generations and demographics.
As I learned in my conversation with Ken, a vision for POPS was an ice cream shop with flavors and an aesthetic that celebrated a diversity of influences. Many of the small business and the local restaurants in Los Angeles often tie themselves to the demographics of the community. In San Fernando many of the dining and dessert spots emphasize their Latinx and Hispanic influences. POPS Artisanal Creamery embraces is unique in how its array includes classic ice cream flavors, Latinx/Hispanic inspired flavors, and flavors that I have not seen at many other San Fernando valley-based ice cream shops. For example, POPS has an horchata flavor, a flavor expected in this community. And the menu also includes a personal favorite, a lavender flavor, which is very hard to get done just right.
When I started the tasting at POPS Artisanal Creamery, Ken invited me to begin with strawberry. Starting off with a classic ice cream flavor like strawberry was intentional as it primed my palette to experience what made POPS stand out as a small business to support in the Los Angeles area. “In L.A. it’s about mixing up the classics,” said Ken as he told me about the classic flavors and growing selection at POPS Artisanal Creamery. The strawberry ice cream at POPS was smooth, it went down like velvet, and I even tasted the berries natural juices. Each batch of ice cream at POPS is individually made with ingredients sourced from other small business. From the skill of six generations of ice cream makers to the flavors inspired by Ken’s Belizean culture, POPS Artisanal Creamery is a must-visit shop for a sweet treat and an even sweeter experience.
During our tasting, Ken shared me a point that made him stand out from other entrepreneurs in the Los Angeles area. “When you have a plan don’t focus on the how - focus on the journey,” said Ken near the end of our tasting. His mantra stuck with me. In my full-time job in marketing for film/TV I deal with a lot of people obsessed with how to get things done, sometimes taxing the process itself. Even in the other industries I’ve grazed in my work, I meet so many entrepreneurs obsessed with costs rather than the quality of their service and vision.
POPS Artisanal Creamery has an impressive Instagram following, check it out here, and it has grown its engagement and level without any outside help. People follow POPS because people love what they get at this family-owned ice cream shop. The five-star ratings you see for POPS across Yelp, Google, and Facebook are from real people who make POPS part of their routine. And I’m beyond glad that I can share how POPS is further expanding its brand to invite even more Angelenos to experience its unique ice cream.
From the growing selection of fully vegan flavors, which thanks to Ken I learned how a “vegan” food truly needs to be vegan down to the sugar it uses, to the introduction of a coffee menu, POPS Artisanal Creamery is ready for a new wave of fans and customers. And as a coffee enthusiast, kudos to POPS for launching an affogato with the perfect complimentary coffee bean and roast. (My first affogato tasting was actually in Italy, and POPS Artisanal Creamery captured the essence from the coffee flakes to the miniature cups.) I left my visit of this small business to support with POPS super Instagrammable, and very delicious, coconut sundae.
I urge you to take a trip to POPS Artisanal Creamery when you’re in the San Fernando Valley. With POPS two locations in both San Fernando (450 N Maclay Ave, San Fernando, CA 91340) and Van Nuys (15355 Sherman Way Ste E, Los Angeles, CA 91406) this is a small business with a quality and service that is sure to win your follow and win you over with its delicious ice creams. Make sure to check out POPS Artisanal Creamery on Instagram @Popscreamery and give them a like on Facebook too!
Thanks for reading these Words by Will! See you in the next post!
I want to start this post by saying that I’m writing from my own personal experience and decision to travel during the coronavirus pandemic. I’m a firm advocate for following the CDC guidelines that are constantly evolving, but maintain the pillars of up-keeping personal hygiene, maintaining social distance, and wearing a face mask in public settings. By no means do you have to agree or disagree with my decision or feel influenced to make any decision.
TRAVELING BY PLANE & FOLLOWING CORONAVIRUS TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS
I’m currently writing from my Southwest Airlines terminal, with heavy bags under my eyes and a heavier heart as I wrap up a reunion with my college best friends in Boston, MA. When people learned I was traveling to Boston during the coronavirus pandemic, it was an equal level of concern at both my decision and travel destination.
I know that my decision to travel during quarantine included a lot of risk. As I’ll get to in a bit, I felt comfortable with the risk that came with traveling thanks to the procedures implemented by Southwest to make my time on a plane as safe as possible. From the open middle seats, to the request to properly wear and secure face masks on the plane, I felt comfortable in my experience being on a plane during quarantine. When I landed in Boston, I was ready to follow the Massachusetts coronavirus travel restrictions and I was glad that some of my best friends were at the ready to pick me up.
I wanted to write from my perspective of what it was like going through an airport and flying in the hopes of educating others. Whether you have considered traveling this summer, or planning a staycation, wear your face masks in public settings, get tested for COVID-19, and practice social distancing. With that said, welcome to my travel blog on flying Southwest during coronavirus travel restrictions from Los Angeles, CA to Boston, MA.
Looking up coronavirus travel restrictions by state & doing it often
The first step in planning my trip was researching the Massachusetts travel restrictions. How did I go about this you may ask? Google! With the knowledge of COVID-19 constantly developing, it’s paramount to know travel restrictions for any place you may travel during quarantine. Consider how I was not coming from a low-risk state. I was coming in from California and many state’s coronavirus travel restrictions require a 14-day quarantine upon arrival.
Current Massachusetts travel restrictions allowed me to skip the quarantine period if I could submit a negative coronavirus test taken within 72-hours of arrival. This meant that as long as my test result was negative, and I had proof upon request, I could return to California and avoid a $500 fine for not following travel guidelines. I highly stress that even if you imagine, or know someone, planning to travel that you see the travel restrictions for the state, city, place that you’re going to.
Even if you are granted permission to avoid the quarantine period, that does not mean that you can then ignore CDC safety guidelines. Something that I wanted to stress is that before you travel, it’s imperative to practice social distancing and following safety guidelines to ensure that you are not posing a risk to others. Before I left for Boston, I spent about 2 weeks preparing for the trip by securing PPE, limiting my time outside, and as always, wearing a face mask in public settings.
Traveling by plane during coronavirus pandemic
My everyday carry items in 2020 include: car keys; phone; wallet; gum; hand sanitizer; antibacterial wipes; and at least two face masks. After receiving my negative COVID-19 test, I made sure that I multiple copies of my exam in all of my luggage. I also made sure that my travel bags had plenty of PPE and face coverings for my trip to Massachusetts. Just like I act like a facemask wearing citizen back in L.A., I made sure that in Boston I did my part to protect myself and others.
As for my experience flying, again kudos to Southwest Airlines for implementing multiple safety procedures from waiting to board to being on the plane. In the many airports I stopped at, the terminals included seats blocked off for social distancing. We then boarded our Southwest planes in groups of 10. Before boarding each plane, I changed into a new face mask. On each flight the middle seats were open to continue social distancing. And it was comforting to see many passengers also wiping down their seats and trays. The practice of added disinfecting was even encouraged as the Southwest stewardess went through the aisles collecting used sanitizing wipes.
Overall, I felt that my Southwest flight experience during a period of coronavirus travel restrictions was as safe as it could be given this unprecedented situation. Well, I’m going to board in a few minutes, so let me go wash my hands and put on a fresh face mask!
I am a firm believer in speaking, or in this case writing, your dreams into existence. A new dream I’ve had is growing my authority and presence in the realm of lifestyle and fitness blogging. Thanks to the help of friends, personal trainers, and group fitness, I lost a life changing amount of weight in one year. Starting my fitness journey helped me overall improve my quality and perspective on life. I’m sure many can relate to feeling uninspired and unproductive doing home workouts during quarantine. Luckily, I finally found an open gym near me.
This past week I finally returned to group fitness at an open gym near me here in Los Angeles, CA, specifically in the San Fernando Valley. Reconnecting with my inner athlete feels like a homecoming. Because health and fitness changed my life, I’ve started sharing my story in the hopes of inspiring and connecting with others. I’m back in my preferred, of course following current CDC guidelines like frequently washing my hands, maintaining social distance, and wearing a face mask.
Now that I’m feeling creative, productive, and inspired again – feeling like myself – I want to share my experience of going to an open gym near me during quarantine. And I’d also like to share a new vision I have; this new goal is growing my lifestyle and fitness voice to gain the attention and possible invitation to become a Gymshark athlete.
Going to a LA Gym Near Me, Working Out During Quarantine
Before I talk about my experience returning to group fitness, I think I should care my reasoning for joining an open gym near me. As a young person who lives with his family, I have made it a priority to practice social distancing during quarantine. I regularly get tested for the virus and I have been cautious when I leave my house. My everyday carry items include hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, and extra face masks. Because of the stress of this moment I -like many other – have felt myself falling into a depression. It comes in waves, that cold absence of drive to wake-up sometimes. I knew that I missed fitness because activating my body was that thing that helped me reconnect with my body and sense of purpose.
In case you didn’t know, I am a marketer by profession and a writer by passion. Creating lifestyle content comes naturally to me. However, I was in a lull where I could not push creativity out. I needed something for me- and that something was going to an open gym again here in L.A. Again, I believe that depending on your comfort only return to a gym or group fitness during quarantine if you are comfortable with that level of risk. In my case, my personal coach is a nurse and she trust this gym and its staff. I have been there, and I too trust the safety measures like wearing masks, wiping down surfaces and equipment frequently, and practicing social distance.
Thanks to the team at Uplifted Athletics gym, a local gym here in San Fernando, CA for welcoming me into a rich community of athletes of all levels. In the few days I worked out there during quarantine I felt like I was reconnected with an old friend. The old friend I reconnected with was my body. From the sweat beads collecting on my head to that pump running up my arms doing a push up, the sensation of working out in a gym again was electric.
Thanks to the Uplifted coaches Vanessa and Annysa for cheering on every single person in that room. And a huge thanks to my coach Andrea who not only introduced me to this gym and its staff, but also worked out alongside me. I will say, I loved going to Uplifted Athletics. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I signed up for a membership at the gym!
Now that I’m back in my desired fitness space, I’m back to posting content sharing my fitness journey! In case you’re new, in this last year I lost a life changing amount of weight, almost 65 pounds in one year. In trying to inspire others, the same way I was inspired through coaches and social media, I’m eager to start sharing again my fitness journey. Fingers crossed that Gymshark sees me in their gear too!
What are your thoughts on going back to gyms or group fitness? Let me know in the comments below or tag me on social media Instagram/Twitter @Willsshowem
Thanks for reading these Words by Will! See you in the next post!
Summer 2020 looks nothing like what I imagined or planned and I’m definitely not the first person to feel this. My work went into a full work from home and Zoom meeting from 9 to 5 model and my life on red eye flights was put on pause. For those who don’t know, I work in communications and marketing in the entertainment industry. (To learn more about my job check out my first YouTube video here.) Believe me, I quickly got over the news of work trips being paused and award shows doing digital. One thing that I have always valued is knowing that there’s a real world outside of my work. And the world around me is the beautiful and comforting area that is the San Fernando Valley.
While I was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, this summer marks my 1-year anniversary of moving back and living in the Los Angeles, CA area. In my grand scheme of reaching my Hollywood dream, I imagined living in L.A. but for those in the know, that didn’t go as planned. (Yes, I landed an amazing job in the industry. However, I spent the last 4 years in college in Upstate NY.) Again, while I grew up around San Fernando, I am pretty unfamiliar with the scene here.
I’ve never actually had this much time to just be in both San Fernando and the Valley to explore and get to know the people and places that make it up. With my life no longer on endless red eyes, I wanted to take this moment and really explore the community around me. As the first in series of local travel blogs, I wanted to highlight some local and small business that have helped me call the San Fernando Valley home. I’ve not only enjoyed reinvesting into my community, but I’ve also enjoyed discovering the people that make these businesses a quality place to both eat and visit.
I’ll be listing these local restaurants and business in no particular order. By no means is this list comprehensive – these are the spots that I just happened to visit in the week of researching and writing this blog post. Let it be known that I’m writing this post because I’ve loved these places and want more people to know about them. I’m not an expert food reviewer, but I do love spotlighting places and people worthy of it! Here’s to my first shopping locally blog post where I traveled to small business around San Fernando, CA that I think are worth checking out.
Traveling/Shopping Locally in San Fernando Valley: 5 Restaurants to Know About
UCRAVE Grill - 110 Maclay Ave, San Fernando CA, 91340
When it comes to restaurants, I always check a menu to see if they serve iced coffee and/or avocado toast. And UCRAVE café in San Fernando had that and plenty more. My friend and I went for dinner and it soon become a whole mukbang! The menu at UCRAVE has something for everyone from breakfast, to lunch, and dessert options and more. From my first visit with one of my best friends, to running there for my morning iced coffee, and even taking my dad for brunch, UCRAVE Grill is one of many great small business in San Fernando, CA worth checking out. To check out their website and menu click here. Follow UCRAVE Cafe & Grill on Instagram @ucrave.cafeandgrill
My go-to order: Chinese chicken salad and a watermelon refresher.
POPS Artisanal Creamery - 450 N Maclay Ave, San Fernando, CA 91340
There is literally nothing better than a nice cup of ice cream on a hot summer-San-Fernando-Valley day, and that is how I discovered POPS Artisanal Creamery. Located up on Maclay Ave, this boutique ice cream shop warmed my heart (luckily the sherbet I got helped me cool down) with its charm and its history. POPS Artisanal Creamery is a family-owned Artisanal ice cream shop with specialties including: Coconut sundaes, Hawaiian floats, Pineapple sundaes, and so much more. I snapped a picture while I was there displaying my sorbet. You can check out the menu and website for POPS Artisanal Creamery by clicking here. Follow POPS Artisanal Creamery on Instagram @popscreamery
My go-to order: Small cup with coconut and pomegranate sorbet.
Sweetness Cakes And Cafe - 128 N mACLAY sT, sAN fERNANDO, ca 91340
When it comes to satisfying my sweet tooth, candy just does not do it for me. I am a true and blue pastry lover and Sweetness Cakes and Café in San Fernando, CA is where I get my sweet treats. A cute local bakery, Sweetness is another of the many treasures I’ve discovered in re-discovering the San Fernando community. I was honestly hooked when I saw that they offered a vegan cupcake in their shop. Let’s pause here-let me repeat that-yes, a vegan cupcake! Again, with my limited knowledge of local and small business in San Fernando I was so excited to find a bakery with both a good matcha latte and vegan pastries. Not only am I saving gas by not having to cross the Valley, but I am also reinvesting it into a local bakery with great options for breakfast and lunch. You can follow Sweetness Cakes and Cafe on Instagram @sweetnesscc
My go-to order: A vegan cupcake and iced matcha latte with almond milk.
Teriyaki Madness San Fernando Station - 1240 Truman St #165, San Fernando, CA 91340
One thing that I cannot live without is some good teriyaki chicken, and the Teriyaki Madness in San Fernando always serves it up right! In researching local restaurants for this blog, I remembered that Teriyaki Madness serves some of my favorite bowls around. Whether I’m grabbing an order or having it delivered, Teriyaki Madness always caters to my love of something that’s savory and sweet. As mentioned, I've enjoyed looking at the community around me and finding ways of shopping locally, and Teriyaki Madness offers that small business quality while having a successful franchise. Teriyaki Madness in San Fernando is a local option with a commitment to quality and serving fresh Asian-inspired food.
You can check out the San Fernando location’s site page and menu by clicking here. Follow Teriyaki Madness San Fernando on Instagram @teriyakimadness_sanfernando
My-go to order: Chicken breast teriyaki bowl with a vegetable base, and of course, the thick sauce.
Truman House Tavern - 911 San Fernando Rd, San Fernando, CA 91340
The first time I stepped inside the Truman House Tavern in San Fernando, CA was during a New Year’s celebration night. My friend who lives down in San Diego came up to see her family and I convinced to have a night out. Our Uber map history was disorienting as we jumped all over Los Angeles. The best thing that came out of this night was that I discovered the Truman House Tavern. One thing I loved about researching for this post was getting to visit these places again and be reminded of why supporting local business matters. The Truman House Tavern opened in 2018 and has grown to be a great spot for people of all ages to grab a drink. I’ve gone to catch up with friends, for the Sunday Brunch menu, and to introduce friends to their amazing Mimosa flight. From the brunch menu, to their current online to go menu, it's a great local restaurant for a quick bite or something more filling - and oh boy, are those paninis filling and delicious!
You can check out the Truman House Tavern's online to go menu here. Follow the Truman House Tavern on Instagram @trumanhousetavern
My go-to order: Chipotle chicken panini, minus the cheese, or the Quinoa avocado salad with chicken
I hope you enjoyed this shopping locally inspired travel blog! Let me know what local restaurants in the San Fernando Valley I should visit next! Comment below or tag me on Instagram @Willsshowem
Thanks for reading these Words by Will! See you in the next post!
Author William Samayoa
Marketer by profession and storyteller by passion. L.A. raised, proud Latino, and pop culture enthusiast.