Aesthetic Ambition is on Main Street
Despite a mindboggling number of permit problems, construction concerns and bureaucratic binds, Aesthetic Ambition is proudly open for business


While the Promenade is finally showing signs of returning to something resembling its former self, business is also booming on Main Street.

The city of Santa Monica is extremely fortunate to have not one but two economic epicenters; in addition to the Promenade, Main Street also offers a wealth of bars, restaurants and retail opportunities that in all honesty rival its higher-profile sibling.

DMN8 , an already-popular outdoor gym that you’ve almost certainly seen in Linear Park at 2410 Ocean Front Walk has opened a new indoor gym at 3101 Main Street. What makes this small, Santa Monica fitness company rather unique is their credit-based membership scheme.

“We offer four levels of membership,” Mark Mattison, Chief Marketing Officer for DMN8 says, adding, “We don’t force anyone into the kind of contract that leaves folk resenting themselves if they don’t go, or can’t go or even just change their work or personal habits or routine.”

The prices range from $89 per month to $249 per month and with that, you enter into a credit-style currency scheme. Any unused credits carry over into the next month and credits can be used in any class in either of the two locations.

Moreover, classes can be offered for less for a limited time, in what Mattison calls a “happy hour pricing” where classes can be reduced in credit cost for a limited time, say if demand for a midday class is low.

“That’s what really excites us, to be able to provide more value through the credit system through flexibility and cheaper pricing that they pay otherwise than typical,” Mattison says.

Maybe you just want to add an extra earring, or perhaps you’re planning a piercing in a more private place, regardless, Aesthetic Ambition is undoubtedly among nicest piercing and fine jewelry stores in Southern California.

Moreover, the story of this small business is worthy of a place on the Los Angeles Times bestselling books list and it’s virtually a miracle it survived at all. In the first quarter of 2020, at about the time that the Covid pandemic was gathering momentum, owner Thomas Hall operated out of a modest-sized shop in Marina del Rey, on Washington Blvd. The property was sold to a new owner who slowly but steadily increased the rent until the site, measuring 450 sq ft was costing Hall $8,500 per month, “which is just egregiously over any kind of average for that area,” Hall says.

He began to look for an alternative location and thought Santa Monica looked promising. He found the site at 2502 Main Street and that, as he says, is when the problems really started. What followed was nearly three years of permit delays, construction problems and unreliable lawyers, all of which sounded like something out of a Monty Python sketch. To keep his business alive, Hall was forced to pay rent on two sites while the issues were resolved and consequently he had to lay off his entire staff. However, he persisted.

Hall says he owes money to just everyone, but now the renovation work is complete — and with the exception of a few teeny-tiny changes at the back of the store that no one will even see — the store is open and operational.

“It’s been an interesting journey, that much is certain,” Hall says, adding, “But life is all about looking forwards and not backward and so I’m just thrilled we’re open and the shop looks amazing.”

While there are openings in other parts of the City, the Promenade continues to evolve, and in this case, maybe even mutate. In advance of a new movie opening in August, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle experience is coming to downtown at 1247 Third Street Promenade.

“The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Experience is a free family friendly, immersive experience that invites guests to explore the turtles’ underground home. See what life is like inside their lair and train with your favorite heroes before the epic film comes to theaters on August 2,” the press release said.

The experience is family friendly but will offer an “enhanced” version with more intense lights and louder sounds from 6 — 8 p.m. Mutant Mayhem is free but reservations are required and can be made online at

Scott fell in love with Santa Monica when he was much younger and now, after living and working in five different countries, he has returned. He's written for the likes of the FT, NBC, the BBC and CNN.