Adorned Vintage & Handmade

Nichole Katsikas founded Adorned Vintage & Handmade, a community-minded, women-owned collective located in Venice.

Community-minded, women-owned collective brings vintage adornment to Venice Beach 

 

The definition of the word “adorn” is “to make more beautiful or attractive,” but for Adorned Vintage & Handmade founder Nichole Katsikas, it means much more than that.

“The word adorned comes from the concept that dressing should be intentional and should reflect who you are and it should be magic,” Katsikas said, noting her Greek heritage and a tradition of adornment that is “aesthetic and spiritual as much as functional.”

It is in that spirit that Katsikas set out on her journey to create Adorned, the brick-and-mortar vintage collective on the Westminster block of Venice.

Inspired by her experience with Seven Wonders Collective in Brooklyn, Katsikas longed for the kind of supportive community in Los Angeles that she’d first encountered in New York. She’d invested in the shared rent with a rack of her own curated brand, Lola Mayy Vintage, while still working full time as a producer for The RealReal, but longed for a creative outlet and to work for herself. 

“I was feeling so alone and so lost, it was the best thing that happened to me,” Katsikas said. “My whole life changed and it’s so much more aligned with who I am.”

The changes came fast and furious after Katsikas quit her full-time job in December 2019 to focus more on her business and the collective. Their most lucrative month in February 2020 was followed by COVID shutdowns, and though they were able to renegotiate a short-term lease, Katsikas and her partner decided to head west in September, deliberately avoiding spending the pandemic in New York City. 

They packed up their Mini Cooper and pit bull and drove cross country during the pandemic, sourcing and collecting vintage clothes and accessories, a passion of Katsikas’ since she was 13 that had also become her central career focus.

Within two weeks of landing in LA, Katsikas found the perfect spot to sell her collection: a 1960s Airstream on Lincoln Avenue as part of the Love Shack.

She rented it for three months, and while the first two months went great, the second wave of the pandemic hit in October 2022, so she went back to the drawing board and converted her garage into a showroom that was open on weekends.

“I met so many people there, that was where I started to meet community in LA,” Katsikas said. “There I was able to meet other women and just kind of understand what I was doing. Though it was very different it was something people were really interested in and intrigued by.”

Though Katsikas worried the idea of a collective might be too rooted in “a certain DIY kind of Brooklyn attitude, a New York hustle mentality” that might not fit as easily in LA, she started talking up the idea in person and on Instagram, and people were receptive.

The concept works like this: a vintage brand owner pays $600 for each rack or $1,050 for two racks, and they work a couple of shifts a week with the other business owners renting space working the other days. 

“They can have their clothes in the store and get to experience brick and mortar, community and restocking inventory,” Katsikas said. “We look after each other.”

And their Instagram account (@adorned.collective) works in a cooperative fashion as well. When someone works a shift, they post from their individual business page and take adorned, so the feed has everything posted in the store and followers can click on individual profiles. 

“It’s a back and forth,” Katsikas said. “It’s really a way for us to help the store grow and to help out individual businesses at the same time.”

Katsikas got the keys to the space on a Thursday and opened on a Saturday in August 2021 with three businesses as part of the collective, and it’s grown since then. In addition to Lola Mayy, the brands currently with a presence at Adorned include Poolside Venice (part of the collective since the beginning), BKLN Affair, The Gentle Witch, Creme de la Soul, Picky Jane, Green Room Circuit, Wood Poppy, and Trust Fund 21.

Adorned speaks to Katsikas’ belief that “vintage should be for everyone.” Most of the clothes in the shop run from $50 to $100.

“What I hear from a lot of people is there isn’t a lot of mid-priced, well-curated vintage,” Katsikas said. “It’s a lot of dig-through vintage or high-end, over-the-top, not approachable stuff.” 

She’s often told the clothes are in great condition and reasonably priced. 

“One of the things that honestly never gets old, whenever I am there I always ask if people have been in before and I’ve probably now heard 20 people say it’s their favorite store,” Katsikas said. “They come in all the time knowing there’s always going to be something new. People say it’s so boring to shop when everything is the same, like it often is shopping for new clothes, being force-fed trends.”

Katsikas called the kind of shopping people do at Adorned “intentional shopping,” when “they care more about finding a really special piece that’s not going to be worn by everyone else.”

One of her intentional shoppers looking for special pieces is iconic fashion designer Betsey Johnson, whose new collections are often inspired by vintage clothes. They opened Adorned for Johnson on a day off and she dropped several thousand dollars, telling Katsikas: “This is the most exciting store I’ve been into in years—you saved my fall collection.”

In addition to shoppers, Adorned has benefited May Mendoza, aka the Seamstress of Venice, known for popping up on the boardwalk with solar panels and a sewing machine. Now she pops up at Adorned once a week, giving her a base for drop-offs and pick-ups as well as benefiting Adorned shoppers and bringing her clients to the shop.

“This really is a community place and that's always been the vision,” Katsikas said, adding that in addition to being a place to shop, Adorned has hosted moon, meditation and intention setting circles, a tapping manifestation event, and an Earth Day celebration, among others. 

“I have a Taurus moon, so home is really important to me,” Katsikas said. “Having others use the space is so easy for me to do.”

And it seems fitting, given the history of the Westminster block, which today is all women-owned businesses. Years ago a vegan cafe was in the space now occupied by Adorned, an eclectic place decorated like a Goodwill shrine and run by a woman known as the Venus of Venice. 

“It was a community place run by a powerful woman,” Katsikas said. “We have a long lineage of women-owned businesses and I think it’s really special to continue on with that.”  

 

Adorned Vintage & Handmade

300 Westminster Avenue, Venice

781-831-5577