Three local women reinvent themselves—turning their
stylish instincts into blossoming businesses
- Written byTalia Seehoff
Although she started out with a career as a successful entertainment attorney, Lisa Shapiro’s true passion was always more artistic in nature. When her daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, Lisa realized it was time for a change. “I had to be more present as a mother after that—we really had to adapt to this totally new lifestyle,” she shares.
That meant foregoing the 12-hour days at the office and, instead, spending more time at her Encino home. Before long, in the midst of taking care of her daughter, Lisa discovered her passion and flair for making jewelry. Now, two years later, Blue Candy is a bona fide jewelry line, sold at high-end boutiques across the country.
Blue Candy’s hallmark is the pairing of colorful and sometimes unusual gemstones with pyrite. “I make jewelry that I know will look good on me and my customers. I pay attention to trends, but I don’t live by them. I get into the mood for a stone, and I run with it—whether or not In Style magazine says it’s the latest.”
With inspirations ranging from broken shells found on the beach to new stone discoveries in India, Lisa taps both of her daughters (11 and 7 years old) for the last word. “They have such a pure aesthetic, because they don’t go with what’s supposed to look good. They bring me fresh eyes, and they’ll see what’s wrong with a piece even if they don’t know why.”
Chrysoprase gemstone set in pave diamonds on pyrite chain
Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, Rona in Studio City and Harrison’s in Tarzana.
Eyes of Ruth
Since she was a child, Shani Foster has loved creating art. But when it came time to pick a career, she focused on being a teacher. Marriage and three children followed—and then, as happens with so many women once kids are in school, a longing for more.
“Six years ago, I felt a pull to explore something new. Like most women I know, I was always on the quest to find the perfect handbag. So I decided to tap into my creative energy to design the bag that I’d want to buy,” Shani explains. Her creations won rave reviews from friends. Investing $25,000 of her own money, Shani started Eyes of Ruth out of her Royal Oaks home.
The name, Eyes of Ruth, pays homage to Shani’s late mother, Ruth, a sculptress. “She lived her life surrounded by art and she always surrounded me with art. It was something meaningful that we shared.”
Her contemporary, casual designs (priced from $180), combine comfort with style. “Our bags are extremely lightweight but roomy. I try to keep focused on function and a bit of fun.”
Three buckle satchel in medium brown
Dari in Studio City
Vanessa Angel’s sense of style hints at her former career as a model. But truth be told, this fashionista’s wardrobe revolves around practicality. “I like to wear pieces that are easy to incorporate into a wardrobe—one top or dress should work for everything, whether it’s a business meeting or a dinner party,” she shares.
That philosophy is clearly reflected in her collection, VANE LA, which includes feminine dresses and body flattering tops and T-shirts, priced from $80 to $240. Vanessa favors luscious silks with vintage prints, paired with interesting embellishments.
She is a hands-on designer, sewing each and every sample herself. In fact, this London native has been threading needles since she was a child. “I fell in love with sewing, design and needlework when I was 9. From when I was 10 until about 18 years old, I was making about 80% of my own clothes.”
After modeling, Vanessa kicked off a successful acting career—one that eventually brought her to live with her husband and child in the hills off Laurel Canyon. While shopping, she constantly was discouraged by the “ridiculous” price of designer clothing and decided to make clothes herself. “It all happened really organically,” she recalls.
VANE LA suddenly picked up steam after a friend introduced her to the buyers at Ron Herman, who surprised her with her first order for a whopping 200 dresses. “It was an exciting moment,” she laughs, adding “then I had to figure out a way to fill it!”
Strapless navy sequin top
Rona in Studio City
Mirabelle Wine Bar offers a three-course, prix fixe dinner on Sunday nights in Valley Village, which is especially ambitious given their limited kitchen.