Diana Streitfeld at work. Photos by Melitza Beltran.
This week, Long Beach’s Pine Avenue welcomed a new boutique to its collection of restaurants, bars and shops. Streitfeld: A Handcrafted Boutique has opened its doors to customers searching for a handmade, individualized approach to clothing.
With the vast majority of businesses opting for the large production model, Streitfield owner, creator and designer, Diana Streitfeld said she prefers a more personalized approach.
“Here, I handmake it, you get to meet me and you can customize it,” Diana told the Post. “There’s nothing like it around here.”
Diana brings her designs to life in the dimly-lit back corner of her 480 Pine Avenue boutique, using industrial sewing machines that, many years ago, belonged to her mother. It’s on those vintage machines where she makes only one piece of her designs. By creating just a single clothing item, she hopes to encourage individuality and a passion for unique style.
“It’s being creative, it’s being different. I think that sometimes people are afraid to wear my stuff because it’s so different,” she said. “I think that a lot of people think that they need to fit in, stay [with] the status quo, but you don’t.”
The city’s pronounced diversity grants Diana plenty of creative playroom when designing her dresses, coats, t-shirts, pillows and baby clothing.
“Long Beach is very different than L.A.,” said Diana. “Long Beach has its own personality, and I think the brand really tries to capture that.”
Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez will accompany Diana in hosting the grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday February 20, at 4:00PM. From 4:00PM to 8:00PM, the stores will provide customers with complimentary wine as they shop through Steitfield’s unique collection.
Customers who purchase more than $25 worth of merchandise will receive a meal voucher, redeemable at Kress Market, for a half-sandwich and side salad.
Now, as Streitfield encompasses virtually every aspect of Diana’s life, including her dreams, she recalls a time when she didn’t know what her life’s calling was.
After graduating with a broadcast journalism degree from Pepperdine University, Diana went on to teach in Japan and various schools in the greater Los Angeles area. As luck would have it, she later found a job managing the women’s department at a high-end, Italian-made clothing brand. It was on a business trip to a manufacturing facility in Italy when she discovered her dream.
“That’s when I knew, I was like ‘oh my god, this is where I need to be,’” Diana recalled.
Upon her return, she left her job and enrolled at the Los Angeles Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM), where she completed the fashion design program. That’s when her creative juices really started flowing. Her ideas gave birth to C4SA—her line devoted to customized t-shirts and children’s apparel.
When she accompanied her then-boyfriend to a University of Arizona football game, she realized that maybe, just maybe, she could make a career out of selling her designs. She’d made more than 40 customized t-shirts with various 3-D designs including ties for men and bows for younger girls. On her first attempt at selling the merchandise, she completely sold out. Her designs were a hit.
“Usually when you’re a fan of a school or a sport you want to stand out,” Diana said. “And this is that thing for those fans.”
Currently, her boutique features a variety of t-shirts, bows, baby leotards and dresses personalized with NFL, NBA, NLB, NHL and NCAA Division I team logos.
But Diana doesn’t want to limit herself to team regalia. She also features contemporary and sophisticated—yet affordable—pieces within her boutique.
“I want people to come in and think, ‘wow this is really nice, and I can afford it, I can afford to shop at a nice shop,’” Diana said.
Every day, she’s adding newly-made items into her boutique. Every day, she’s trimming, patterning, tailoring and sewing. Every day, she’s brainstorming.
“I do it because I love what I’m doing and if I didn’t do it, I don’t know what else I’d be doing,” she said.
Streitfeld: A Handcrafted Boutique is now open Tuesday through Friday 11:00AM-7:00PM and 10:30AM-6:00PM on Saturday. The store is located at 480 South Pine Avenue.