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Home for the Weekend: Temple City With a Fashion Entrepreneur | The_ONES

Home for the Weekend: The L.A ’Burbs With a Fashion Entrepreneur

Home for the Weekend is a series in which we bring one game soul back to the town of their youth where they explore old haunts, see what’s changed, let us know what the local high schoolers used to get up to, and generally play hooky from adulting for a day. This feature is part of an ongoing collaboration with the rad, sneaker-loving ladies behind OHK.
 

 

After logging several years in New York City, fashion up-and-comer Lucy Chen returned to her roots: Los Angeles. The self-described “tomboy with a million hobbies” who specializes in growing small brands, traded coasts to launch a new retail concept called PARE, but also because the beach is right there, which means before-work surf sessions have become the new morning ritual. “When there’s a swell, I’ll wake up at 5a.m. and head straight for Malibu First Point with my longboard,” she says. “When you catch that one perfect wave all to yourself, it’s the dreamiest.”

East of L.A., in the San Gabriel Valley, is a little town called Temple City. Known for first-rate noodle shops, a baffling number of wedding-portrait studios, and small-town, slow-moving vibes, it’s where she grew up. It’s where she captained the cheerleading squad. It’s where she had her first job, at an accountant’s office (“it was so boring, but I honestly learned a lot,” she says). And it’s where she rocked high-top Converse as the keyboard player of an “emo” band with the same effortless cool that she does today. We took her back to Temple City to take a literal walk down memory lane and see how things have changed.
 

Temple City, the Stats

Population:
35,558

Home to:
The first Winchell’s Donut House

Claim to Fame:
“Tons of wedding-portrait studios—I believe we were once in the Guinness World Records for having so many. (Unverified, but it’s what someone told me as a kid!)”

High-School Mascot:
Temple City Rams

Sunny Days Per Year:
285

Best Noodle Shops:
Golden Deli, Sinbala, Mandarin Noodle Deli, Old Country Cafe

 

Lucy's take...

On moving moving, back back, to Cali Cali
“I came back because I wanted space; I wanted more space mentally and physically. Space to create and to hone in on my hobbies. You can surf, hike, and hang out in the city all in a day. Plus, you can’t argue with consistent 75 degree weather, and how everything is so much more affordable! In New York you feed off of the city’s energy, but in L.A. it’s more about creating your own energy.”
 

 

“In New York you feed off of the city’s energy, but in L.A. it’s more about creating your own energy.”

  • Lucy Chen

On what she thought of Temple City as a kid
“It was so small. But feeling trapped in a little town forced me to find innovative ways to get inspired, and ultimately led me to where I am. I was always on Style.com looking at runway shows and dreaming of living in New York and working in the fashion industry.”

On her impressions of it now
“Quiet and surprisingly nice. After living in New York, I truly appreciate the suburbs and actually being able to sleep.”

 

 

On the house she grew up in
“It was extremely clean. I lived in a strict household and was honestly always a little scared of my mom.”

On being at home as an adult
“Now, I really appreciate being at home and learning how to cook from my mom. She used to force me to help her wrap dumplings, and now I force her to teach me her recipes. And pickling is my new obsession! My mom was of Chinese descent, but was born and raised in Korea, so I grew up watching her make different types of kimchis on the weekends. I feel like I subconsciously picked up the art of pickling from her. FYI, pickled avocados taste like guacamole.”

 

 

On who she was in high school
“I was super involved. I was captain of the cheerleading squad, yearbook editor-in-chief, in French club, in orchestra—you name it. And not to sound like a cliché Asian, but I loved math and science, and really enjoyed physics. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I stuck with it.”

On the local party scene
“So I never ditched, never hung out after school because I was at yearbook or cheer practice, never went on a date, aaaaand never partied. Actually, I didn’t even know if there were parties! OK, I did go to one party after a football game but was not into it. I feel like I was career driven even before I had a career.”

 

 

On her first car
“It was the most beat-up silver Toyota Camry. I would have to duct tape the windows up! I’m surprised my car was never stolen, but then again I can’t imagine anyone wanting to steal it.”

On the time that makes her die a little inside when she remembers it
“Someone asked me to prom my senior year during calculus class via a Chipotle burrito that said PROM on it. He was a friend, so I sort of knew it was coming. I used to reject boys when they asked me to dances, so when senior prom rolled around I had no date so my guy friend and I made a pact to go together. He was the valedictorian, but his timing maybe could have been better. At least he sprang for guac.”

“Dirty sneakers were cool back then, or at least I thought they were. I would rub my shoes in dirt and step on them with old pairs of shoes! I thought having holes in my shoes was the coolest thing ever.”

  • Lucy Chen

 

 

On what you would have found her wearing way back when
“I went through stages as a kid from indie/emo (we’ve all been there!) to poser-skater. But I’ve always associated my personality with my sneakers. High-top Converse were and will always be my jam. I remember the beat-up green high-tops in middle school I always wore. To be honest, my Converse were never really beat up but I would do everything and anything to make them look like they’d gone through war. Dirty sneakers were cool back then, or at least I thought they were. I would rub my shoes in dirt and step on them with old pairs of shoes! I thought having holes in my shoes was the coolest thing ever. I remember wearing those green Converse during the talent show when I was playing the keyboard in a band with my middle-school friends. We were playing a cover of Dashboard Confessional, or was it the All-American Rejects??


“Sneakers are nostalgic to me. They’ve gone through all the different changes in my life—with friends, with fashion, with music, with cities.”

  • Lucy Chen

“I also rocked Vans Checkerboard Slip-Ons during my poser-skater stage. Black skinny jeans, checkered Vans, and a band tee...pretty much what I wear nowadays too! Sneakers are nostalgic to me. They’ve gone through all the different changes in my life—with friends, with fashion, with music, with cities.”

 

 

 

On the sneakers all the cool kids were rocking
Etnies and DC. I miss those puffy skater shoes! I begged my parents to buy them for me! They didn’t.”

On a place she’s surprised is no longer there
“The town used to be covered in SAT prep classes. They buildings are still there, but they’re all empty storefronts. I guess they’re all online now?!”

On where one should go should one find themselves in Temple City
“All the restaurants in town. Seriously the best Chinese or Taiwanese food you will ever have. Any noodle spot in town is amazing—just look for any restaurant that has the word noodles in it!
 

 

 

Written by Julie Vadnal, photos by Justin Chung, video by Rosanna Peng.

 
 

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