Q+A with Cleobella | Sunset Beach, CA

Our muse for our 1/25/24 lark at Cleobella’s gorgeous 1920’s seaside cottage can be summed up in two words: Ciao Bella! 

Cleobella has outgrown their gorgeous boutique, on PCH in Sunset Beach, and the time has come for release but not without gratitude and a proper goodbye.

In the beginning the boutique served as an oasis where the dream + determination behind Cleobella came together as one. And over the years has delighted the community with it’s style + vibe and has also hosted many gatherings. 

Because founder Angela O’Brien loves to create, collaborate & elevate, our gathering is an opportunity to honor the idea of chasing one’s dream and paving a path that empowers others.  

We are thrilled to set our communal table with Cleobella—and we invite you along as we dive below the surface with our (ode to Proust) dinner party questionnaire with “Ange”: 

Cleobella’s Founder & Creative Director, Angela O’Brien

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up Huntington Beach, California. 

Have you always been into fashion & style? 

Yes! Ever since I can remember I loved dressing up, whether it was dolls, my brothers or myself.  It’s when I feel most alive…I step into a creative portal and I get lost.  My high school days were spent modeling and that exposed me to the fashion world and travel and gave me a deeper appreciation for the art of fashion.  I am an avid vintage shopper, and I find inspiration in decades from the past, its like a history lesson for me.  I often describe it as a treasure hunt to spend the day searching for something that sparks the next design detail on our latest collection.  I pinch myself that this is my job:-)

Can you remember your earliest inspiration (people/books/places/experiences)?

My earliest inspiration is shopping with my Grandmother…she’s a professional shopper ;-)…she’s always down for the hunt and she does it with so much joy!  When I was 18 I got an opportunity to have a modeling contract in Tokyo for 6 months and that’s when my true love for travel inspiration started.  It was then that I was bitten by the travel bug and that has continued to be a source of inspiration for all of Cleobella’s collections.

What is your most marked creative characteristic? 

I lead from the heart. Intuition drives my creativity. The journey of entrepreneurship is such a journey of self, and tapping into the truth of who we are…give us wings to fly!!! 

Who are your hero’s? 

My mom, Cleobelle. This is also my great grandmother’s name…I have a long lineage of Irish women in my family who possess this unique duality of feminine//strength and they inspire me daily. 

Would you say food & fashion go hand in hand? 

100%!  I’m very sensitive energetically, and I believe in the value of creating meaningful experiences when all the senses are thoughtfully curated. The smells, the community, the atmosphere, they all raise the vibrations. I believe food should be equally beautiful and delicious and should awaken all your senses. This is why I’m so excited to partner with Lark as I know we share the same values.

We know you love a good dinner party, are you the chef at home?

I’m the chef and my husband does the dishes:-). Our daughter, Indigo, loves to cook with me. She also loves to set up a beautiful table…she has such an eye for creativity and she thoughtfully designs our dinners with fresh flowers, candles and our handmade Cleobella block printed napkins.  We bake together because we love dessert!

What is your go-to meal OR most prized ingredient?

Our backyard is an edible garden. We grow herbs like sage, lavender, rosemary, and thyme. I visit our local farmers market on Sundays with the kids and pick out what’s fresh and that helps determine our meals for the week. I enjoy making soups and I love to use spices from our travels. We recently made a curry soup using spices that our team in India sent us.  I’m not much for using recipes, I’m a lazy chef….I throw it in…cook for taste and serve:-)

We have always loved the look and feel of your boutique in Sunset Beach, can you tell us how you discovered it?

When my husband and I started Cleobella, we were doing business out of our home and we were spending half of the year in California and half of the year in Bali, Indonesia. At this time, our oldest, Keenan was just a baby. I wanted a separation of the work and family life.  When I found this 1920’s cottage it was a grow house for marijuana and looked like a halfway house inside.  I had a vision and I knew if I could renovate it, if I could sell enough handbags in the front then I could afford an office space in the back. Within 2 years we tripled our sales and outgrew the space and moved our offices to our current headquarters and design studio and fulfillment center just down the street in Huntington Beach. Our wholesale and online business began to grow and it was a dream come true. 

What dream was in your heart at the time you moved in?

The dream was to build a sustainable lifestyle fashion brand that created jobs for our artisan partners and build a life that is rich in experience and travel as this is our passion.

Was there anyone instrumental in helping you transform the cottage into a dreamy + well styled boutique?

My husband, Jim O’Brien. He has always been such an amazing supporter.  I have also had so many friends and family along the way who supported us from the early days when I was selling my designs at farmers markets and out of the trunk of my car….I believe in the philosophy of growing a business for good. Aligning our personal values with our professional values to support our family has been a dream come true. WE now support more that 1,200 artisan partner around the world, where we have an office in India with a talented team who brings our vision to life.

How long has the boutique donned the Cleobella sign?

11 years!  Keenan, my son, was a baby and now he’s a teenager…how time flys by…when you’re having fun :-0!

We know due to time and circumstance you will be letting the space go, do you want to share more about this transition?

Cleobella is in over 500 retailers across the country including Nordstrom, Shop Bop, Revolve, Anthropologie.  We are focusing on building our e-commerce business and delivering timeless, sustainably made collections. Our company has grown tremendously over the last 5 years and we have some very exciting projects ahead of us.

What is your current state of mind? 

Joy. My focus is moving with flow and ease.  My currency is freedom and I continue to have this as the forefront of my decision making.

Business school, yay or nay? 

Nay for me, personally. Growing Cleobella has been business school for me. We started this brand with $12,000 and have grown it grass roots, and always stay curious and open to the wisdom we learn from others.  This has been my business school. 

What is one thing people most often don’t realize about Fashion?

I would say the time it takes to build a collection. Typically, it takes about 12 months. From concept to sketch review, then to producing and perfecting samples, from there to selling, then production. Then comes the behind the scenes stuff like marketing, telling the story, then finally the product is brought to the customer. We are always working on future collections about a year ahead. We just launched our Spring ‘24 collection while currently designing for Spring ‘25.

What advice do you find yourself most often sharing with other female business owners? 

Entrepreneurship is such a journey of self when you’re curious and open hearted you will thrive. Believe in yourself and don’t compromise your values and life will happen for you in the way it’s meant to be…trust the journey. 

What is your motto? 

I have an optimistic point of view and I always have, it’s in my nature.  I believe it’s a muscle and the more you lead with love…the more meaningful your life will become. I’ve always seen life through rose colored glasses, which is something I learned from my grandma.  A positive mindset is so important to me. Sure, this is a trait that can get me into situations that I have to learn to work my way through, but that is the beauty in it. It keeps you learning and growing and for that I am forever grateful and humbled by this beautiful Cleobella world I have created with my husband, he’s my best friend and business partner. As well as our beautiful community of talented and hardworking people that have supported this dream come true.

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Thoroughly inspired, we are looking forward gathering around the communal table to enjoy a delicious chef curated meal, be warmed by each others company, and—best of all—partake in the (rediscovered) art of conversation.

Although our Thursday 1/25/24 Lark at Cleobella w/the talented Chef Matthew Roberts is sold out, we invite you to come along through our images and stories!

Modern. Organic. Inspirational. Social Dining. Come on a lark with us!

Q & A with Zachery Mundt of Costa Mesa’s event “Jewel Box” known as The Shindy

We are excited to introduce Zack Mundt whose talent + love for design to breathe new life into a storied WWII bungalow in West Side Costa Mesa. You cannot walk into the space without feeling a bolt of celebratory energy & happiness. Everything from the textured wallpaper to the colorful floor tiles is a delight. We love what you have done with the place–and we have so many questions for you! 

Where did you grow up? I grew up in Spearfish, South Dakota and spent most of my time outside in the Black Hills. 

Did you have a love of design as a child? As a child I didn’t really know that design was even a thing. Most everything around me was generally based on function rather than fashion. I definitely had a deep love of building things – tree houses, skateboard ramps, random things made of wood, and always loved the old wood structures – barns, root cellars, etc – that were in the fields behind my house and were left by the homesteaders and other early inhabitants of the area. 

You are close with designers in the commercial/hospitality world, what are some of your favorite projects? Oh my – there are so many… My favorite place to go and stay and eat is the Chiltern Firehouse in London. The hotel itself is absolutely gorgeous. They have this amazing balance of true, rich, luxury in their finishes and fixtures, and there are a ton of plants and flowers that really balance it out and make it feel welcoming and calming. The service is absolutely top notch, which is vital for a complete experience.  I’m working on the Magnolia Hotel in Waco TX right now and am so excited!! This one is more about bragging rights with my family 🙂  Everyone loves Chip and Joanna and this one gives me a little street cred since a lot of what we do in my world is unknown to the average person. 

What is it that catches your eye (or heart) about a product/design element? When something is absolutely beautiful, or unique, or completely strange and eye catching, but still functions perfectly for a particular purpose – I love that. I also love multi-colored stripes… I cant wear them, and they don’t usually fit in our home etc, but I just love it visually – definitely brings me joy. 

What led you to create The Shindy? During the pandemic, our wonderful neighbor restaurant, Trenta, expanded into the parking lot in front of our office space. People kept looking in and then some started asking if they could rent it out for a party. At first we said no, but then, Leilah, my wife and partner in The Shindy, pitched the idea that we hire a designer and create a small, beautifully curated, event space. We then sourced as much as we could from manufacturers that I represent so I can use the space for design meetings, presentations, etc as well. 

We know some of your favorite restaurants are Bavel and Bestia? Do you feel they may have informed the look/feel of The Shindy—in what way? The look of Bavel and Bestia are entirely their own and The Shindy is in quite a different direction. Something that is certainly reminiscent of those amazing establishments is the care and detail in how they present their product to the world. When you’re there you can feel that it is absolutely necessary that each bite is just right, and we strive to provide that with the experience we provide at The Shindy. 

Are you the chef at home? We’re actually a home full of home chefs!! Leilah, Willa (our 12 year old) and I all love to cook and create and eat delicious things. That said, I do quite a bit of the cooking. It is a time for me to decompress and unwind at the end of the day, or a great cathartic project to create something larger on a weekend.  I truly love the detail of cutting each ingredient to a specific size or shape so that each cooks to a specific texture or flavor or doneness – and when those pieces come together as a whole – it is truly magical. 

What is your most memorable meal–one you made or one you’ve had? Leilah and I went to Alinea in Chicago for our anniversary one year and it was absolutely incredible. Each dish is generally one bite, sometimes a couple, and truly mind blowing. The flavors and textures they create is unbelievable and the beauty of each is stunning. Each plate, eating utensil, etc is made specifically for that dish. It is like a gorgeous, miniature food circus, with the most amazing service. 

What is your most prized design element? I don’t know that I’ve got one yet….I more value my kitchen tools – my cast iron pans, my knives and kitchen shears, the tortilla press, things I use daily. 

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Perfect happiness for me would be a small farm with enough land to grow most of the food and livestock we eat, a beautiful farm house with two amazing kitchens – one indoor and one outdoor – and enough money to hire great people to help make sure it all runs smoothly. 

What is your greatest extravagance? Food – definitely. We love to go out to a great restaurant and truly enjoy it. 

If you could change one thing about how people enjoy food or design spaces, what would it be? I do think people could respect the places they’re in and the people who are working hard to provide them with a good experience. 

What do you most value about The Shindy and how to see its future? I love that The Shindy is used for people to get together – be it for a dinner, a baby or wedding shower, a graduation, a birthday – I love being around my friends and family and get recharged by doing so. I love it that we are able to provide a place for people to to just that. 

Who/What inspires you? Leilah and Willa inspire me daily. I’m inspired by almost anyone who decides they want something and then goes after it. Life is tough and sometimes it’s a challenge to get up and go but you’ve got to do it and you feel better once you get going. There’s beauty everywhere – I definitely take tiny moments and use them to inspire me, a hummingbird in the back yard in the morning, flowers in yard when we get in the car, laughing with my daughter on the way to school, a smile from another parent as we pull out of the parking lot… I tend to look for little moments of joy and keep them within to help through the day. 

What is your motto? “Keep swimming!”  Once again, it truly is all about the people you meet along the way!

Modern. Organic. Inspirational. Social Dining. Come on a lark with us!

Friday, June 16, 2023 6:30pm-9:30pm
$178. per person, all-inclusive
four course meal + wine pairing by
the talented Chef Kyle Powers + Sous Chef Bryan Barnes⚡️.

The Shindy
1663 Superior Avenue, Suite A
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
(17th x Superior)

Purchase Tickets:

Let’s Go On A Lark!

Open invite. Limited seats.

Guerrilla Lark, Kihei, Maui – Fall 2022

Chef Daniel Perlof and The Golden M.D. on a guerrilla lark in Kihei, Maui, image captured by Anna Gokieli

Create + Collaborate + Elevate, on repeat.

Super fun (& delicious) times a guerrilla lark in Kihei, Maui, image captured by Anna Gokieli

Here we find our wandering selves on the gorgeous island of Maui with fellow larker (and now resident) Chef Daniel Perlof who curated a delicious menu for our gathering:

+ + + maui sunrise menu + + +

quiche florentine accompanied by Hi-Spice hot sauce

burrata, molokai purple sweet potatoes topped w/pumpkin spice crumble 

kielbasa sausage + tree fruits w/cranberry garnish

local cold brew coffee

earthy juice blend 

Super fun (& delicious) times a guerrilla lark in Kihei, Maui, image captured by Anna Gokieli

Images captured by photographer @annagokieli feature the people, places, & things that inspire and keep us moving forward.

Super fun (& delicious) times a guerrilla lark in Kihei, Maui, image captured by Anna Gokieli

#itcomesinwaves #alwaysonalark #guerrillalark #lark #intentional #creativesession #chefdanielperlof #menusubjecttochange #mastersofmakeshift #goodtimes #goodvibes #create #collaborate #elevate #cultivate #inspire #food #fashion #flowers #passion #hawaii #maui #kihei #fall2022

Earrings discovered at TRIBE on a day trip to the awesome and stylish mountain town of Makawoa
Having fun with the people and places that inspire us. Guerrilla lark, Kihei, Maui

Modern. Organic. Inspirational. Social Dining.

Come on a lark with us!

On a lark w/Mindy Gayer Design & Hati Hati Home + Chef Kyle Powers | West Side Costa Mesa Baby!

Friday, October 5, 2018

On a lark at Mindy Gayer Design Co. + Hati Hati Home in West Side Costa Mesa

Hard to believe we are on lark #41! We started on “a dollar and a dream”, looking to combine what we loved professionally (producing) with what we love personally (people, food, wine & design). It’s been a fun and fulfilling adventure and our favorite part is being able to share it with you!

We discovered this diamond in the rough and immediately fell in love. Thankful to shortly thereafter, and coincidentally, make the acquaintance of local + clearly talented designer Mindy Gayer who envisioned and created this amazing space with her dreamer + doer business partner Kayla Adams and their joint venture of the gorgeous Balinese furnishings of Hati Hati Home.

Hanging out here with a heart & soul on a super fun lark at Mindy Gayer Design & Hati Hati Home in Costa Mesa

In scouting the space, we had a ton of ideas on how and when to create and collaborate on a lark – and we were quick to adapt when timelines and locations changed.  We were so happy that we landed on the original vision of seeing a communal table through the gorgeous large windows of their cool + modern farmhouse-esque building. With the warm lightening, it was a beautiful and welcoming sight. 

Super fun times on a lark at Mindy Gayer Design + Hati Hati Home

We are thankful for all the beautiful people who gathered in this intimate and inspirational space to enjoy the company of friends and family, enjoy amazing food and partake in the rediscovered art of conversation.

Special thanks to Mindy Gayer and Kayla Adams for opening their doors to us!  Also, much love to Chef Kyle PowersSommelier Tyler RodriguezPhotographer MBMaherCeramicist Andrea Luna Reece, the hip & knowledgeable purveyors of H2O The Urban Spring, Florista French Buckets , dreamers at Christy Coffee and Illustrator My Middle Name Is Starr for making this an evening to remember.

Modern, organic, social dining ~ come on a lark with us! 

Next lark Friday 10/19/18 at painter + photographer Lawrence Fodor’s Artist Loft in the vibrant Arts District of DTLA,

Super fun (& delicious) times on a lark at Mindy Gayer Design Co. + Hati Hati Home

Lark + Cleobella + Chef Daniel Perlof | Making the Magic Happen in Sunset Beach, California

Lark #39 at the gorgeous Cleobella in Sunset Beach!

We can’t think of a better way to spend an warm and balmy August evening than breathing in the salt air and soaking up the good vibes of this gorgeous and fashionable space known as CLEOBELLA in Sunset Beach.

Thanks to all the adventurous people who gathered to make this a night of delicious food, wine, laughter and conversation. This was Chef Daniel Perlof’s lark debut – and he (and his sister) put all their love into the menu, which found its way to the communal table. Special thanks to Jim & Angela–and their amazing crew–of Cleobella, French Buckets, Andrea Luna Reece, The Urban Spring, Jaxsea, Southern Scribe, Kayleen Perlof, Mayson Hauck and Stephanie De La Riva of SDLRmedia.

We are so fortunate to have this free spirited opportunity share all things that we love with friends-old and new. We can’t wait to do it again! 

Menu by the up and coming Chef Daniel Perlof:

1/Chilled spring pea soup, bacon, parmesan. Skewer of grilled mushroom, blistered grape tomato, smoked gouda. Hold the bacon for veggie option.

2/Slow roasted herbed lamb, sprouted quinoa with sliced almond and dried cranberries, crunchy green beans. Mushroom zucchini egg-white crustless quiche for veggie option.

3/Semi-pickled garden salad. Cucumber, shallots, heirloom tomatoes, fennel, black olives, feta, partially pickled in lemon herb vinaigrette atop fresh baby spinach.

4/French toast sticks, buttery bacon date syrup, whipped cream, fresh fruit, mint sprig. Champagne.

Lark #39 at the gorgeous Cleobella in Sunset Beach!

Lisa Martinez + Jacquelyn Wallace on a lark at Cleobella in Sunset Beach!

Chef Daniel Perlof on a lark at Cleobella in Sunset Beach!

Practicing the art of conversation on a lark at Cleobella in Sunset Beach!

Lark #39 at the gorgeous Cleobella in Sunset Beach!

Lark #39 at the gorgeous Cleobella in Sunset Beach!

Organic. Modern. Inspirational. Social Dining.

Come on a lark with us!

Next lark Friday, August 31st with the talented Chef Kyle Powers at our favorite designer playground in East Long Beach known as Urban Americana ~ good {& delicious} times ahead!

Lark w/Chef Kyle Powers @ AREO in Laguna Beach, California

Super fun times were had on Thursday, May 24, 2018, thanks to all the beautiful people who gathered at the locally loved AREO​ in Laguna Beach on Thursday May 24, 2018.

This well curated boutique filled with both swank and humor, encased with high ceilings and floating candle chandeliers, made a most inspirational space for our guest to gather.

It was an evening filled with engaging conversations over delicious food & drinks crafted by the talented Chef Kyle Powers.

Photos captured by the Neighborhood Creative​.

Special thanks to: AREO, Fork in the Road Catering,nThe Urban Spring​, Andrea Luna Reece​ Ceramics, @mymiddlenameisstarr & The Hood Kitchen Space.

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Simple. Refreshing. Inspirational.

Come on a lark with us!

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On a lark with Chef Kyle Powers at Isles Interiors | Inspiring Design in Newport Beach, California

This winter we were fortunate to dine with friends – old and new – soaking up the hip vibes at the beautifully understated and modern aesthetic of Isles Interiors in Newport Beach while enjoying conversation between spoonfuls of piping hot Mortadella Lobster Chowder crafted by the talented Chef Kyle Powers.

The timely cold weather transported us home to simpler times. Thanks to all who gathered at the communal table to make this an evening to remember including @lunareececeramics + @theurbanspring.  Special thanks to Maria & Max Isles.

Photo credit to MB.Maher.com
+ + + + + 
Four Course Menu crafted by the talented Chef Kyle Powers of Fork In the Road Catering and Wine Pairing by  wine aficionado Tyler Rodriguez

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Meet Mixologist Brad Fry of Michael’s in Naples, California

We love getting to know Brad Fry whose sense of style harkens back to his days in Chicago. An energetic and fun bar manager for Michaels Restaurant Group, he is an active member in the United States Bartenders Guild and has participated in numerous cocktail competitions —one in which he represented the West Coast at World Class in 2016. Come, pull up a chair, stay awhile…

Q, How you got started behind the bar – and what captivated you?

A. Like most bartenders, I started as a server, and once of age, was offered to move up to a bartender.  I’d say luck, and being in the right place/ right time have been the story of my success. I was very fortunate to be hired to co-run Bernard’s Bar, in what was the Elysian Hotel (now the Waldorf Astoria in downtown Chicago). Above our bar was Ria, a 2 Star Michelin rated restaurant, which we did the cocktails for. It was elevating my passion for food, and play in cocktails, that addicted me to the industry of service.

Q. Traditions…?

A. Keeping my tools and bar clean.

Q. Your philosophy…?

A. Prep, and set myself for success. Play like a child!

Q. Anything that comes to mind?

A. I’m honored to pair my cocktails and wine with these three amazingly talented chefs!

On a lark with Mixologist Brad Fry
On a lark with Mixologist Brad Fry

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Meet Chef Benjamin Martinek | Laguna Beach, California

Chef Benjamin Martinek grew up in Colorado and had a family that (fortunately) loved both travel and food.  As a person of both adventure and discipline, he began his professional relationship with food, working in a restaurant, at the age of 11 – moving on to the kitchen at age 16. Fittingly this explorer made his way to California to attend culinary school in San Francisco. Here he grew his talents at fine dining establishments — and proudly became a husband & father. Now, as a family, they continue the tradition of embracing both travel and food. Calling Southern California home for over a decade, Benjamin practices his craft in the challenging and rewarding luxury resort kitchens along the coast.

If we could use three words to describe Benjamin, it would be responsible, thoughtful, and creative.  We can’t wait to see what magic comes from our lark on 1/8/18 in Seal Beach –which, as of today, sold out; however you are welcome to come along though our stories and imagery.

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Lark #21 + Chef Kyle Powers + The Potting Shed in Orange, California

How fortunate we are to create and collaborate people who love their craft! Jack Carlisle and his talented crew created the most beautiful setting for our chef inspired dinner. We dined on picturesque farmhouse tables showcasing gorgeous floral arrangements above and below – a true garden adventure.

This welcoming communal table was surrounded by boundless items of interest, causing one to pause every few steps to comment or share a deep-rooted memory.

Mirroring this engaging environment was our “bloom within” menu carefully crafted by the talented Chef Kyle Powers. Delicious Papusas served with fresh herbs, flavorful Chestnut & Squash soup with floating grilled cheese (do try this at home!), Chicken, Filet & Blue Corn Tamale sharing the same platter – we were loving it!

Our favorite moment came when, during the dinner, Jack shared the history of the building – which was one of the very first Ford dealerships. We learned they often held their own parties (even in the days of prohibition) and could count among their guests Walt Disney himself! While taking this in, we raised our glasses to the idea that we are a part of its story. What a true honor!

A huge thank you to all our guest, you are the ones who make each lark magical. Thank you to the talented Steve Orlick for capturing the moment! dsc09944dsc09948dsc00227dsc00163dsc09978

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