Evolyn Brooks almost always has something cooking on the stove.
Walking into her brand new shop on Fourth Street, wandering customers are hit with the sweet aromas of grapefruit, lavender, lemongrass or jasmine depending on the concoction brewing on her portable Black and Decker burners. Nearby, delicate cups hold seashells, dried petals and pennies. About a dozen glass containers hold wicks. The identical vessels will soon hold custom wax creations and a connection to something bigger.
“It’s not just about candles,” Brooks said as she stirred a pot of hot wax. “It’s about intention and goal setting and moving past obstacles.”
The new home of In My Solitude LA will feature weekly workshops for friends, couples and groups hoping to delve a little deeper into their life goals. Attendees will discuss aspirations and obstacles, connect and make candles that reflect Brooks’ core tenets: reflect, ascend, release and gratitude.
Brooks dreamed up her business five years ago when she was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. The Santa Monica resident had already established herself as a producer on the Tyra Banks Show when she was hit with the head-spinning diagnosis.
“During that period of time I had to figure out a way through: a vision for my life on the other side of this experience so there was something pulling me forward,” Brooks said. “Part of that was creating an intentional, mindful business.”
In the midst of chemo and radiation, Brooks made her foray into candle making. Five years later, Brooks is now a cancer survivor and experimenting with the very first brick and mortar location of In My Solitude inside the newly expanded West Elm store on Fourth Street in downtown Santa Monica. The temporary space is part of West Elm’s Residency Program, which allows small businesses to “pop-in” for about a month at a time to develop products and learn from their experts.
“Our goal with the Residency Program is to help local artists and entrepreneurs grow their businesses by sharing our resources,” said West Elm President Alex Bellos. “We are proud to deepen our presence in Santa Monica, and open our new doors to participants by offering a creative retail space to incubate new ideas and connect with customers.”
Next to In My Solitude, Scott Coppersmith Designs is showcasing custom marquees made with recycled materials and reclaimed wood. The pop-in shops are located on the top floor of the 22,500 square foot store, near a rooftop patio that is open to the public and has free WiFI.
In addition, the store features 25 other California-based artists who sell surf-themed prints, sustainable wood journals and Bossladies Magazine, a Santa Monica-based publication featuring creative women.
Brooks teared up talking about her temporary home inside the modern furniture store.
“It’s always been my dream to be a big brand with an everyday feel,” Brooks said. “So, I like the idea of my products being everywhere, but I also love the DIY local feel to it, so people feel connected.”
Her future after the residency program is still uncertain, but at least her intention is set.