Late last year, when Julie Schroeder opened Voiage, a boutique that carries under-the-radar fine jewelry lines alongside a tightly curated selection of artwork, she felt more than pride of ownership. “I felt like this is what I always wanted my store to be,” says Schroeder, who worked in the entertainment industry prior to retail. For a decade, Schroeder owned and operated the popular Los Angeles jewelry store Persimmon Handpicked Objects. After a robust run, she closed that shop, mainly because another business in town had incorporated its name. She was also ready for a new retail adventure. Named for an Old World spelling of voyage, Voiage is the culmination of Schroeder’s years of experience introducing rare collections and art (sculpture, installation, and painting) to what might be the choosiest clientele on the planet: affluent Angelenos. “I wanted to travel and look at art and meet people on an intimate level,” says the retailer. “That was the whole concept years ago. I have always felt like I wanted to make a personal statement.” The roughly 500-square-foot shop on bustling Beverly Boulevard is spare and elegant, featuring curving wooden jewelry cases, mid-century modern leather chairs, and artsy, vintage chandeliers and lighting fixtures. We asked Schroeder to share plans for the pretty new hot spot.
As a jewelry retailer, what are you inspired by?
What I love is art, and jewelry is like little pieces of art. I’m so lucky to work with all these artisans who are making amazing one-of-a-kind things. I like things where you can see they’ve been handmade. I like designers with an original vision; it’s so easy to make generic things. I’m excited that this store is more a reflection of me and the things I like. Even the name is a reflection of my passion for travel.
What do you look for when choosing lines for the store?
The store mainly carries jewelry, with a focus on small, handmade lines that aren’t distributed widely. I have a lot of international jewelry designers. We also have local artists. Right now we have a show by [botanical designer] Krislyn Komarov [an installation called “Abstract Angel”]. Everything works together. I’m not interested in trends, which is I think a big part of the L.A. retail jewelry [scene]. For me, it’s about craftsmanship and people creating things with integrity.
What jewelry designers are you excited about?
Brooke Gregson—she’s an L.A. girl who lived in London for 20 years and used to be a textile designer. She has a unique point of view that I love; there’s a textural quality to her work. I’ve been carrying her for eight or nine years, and I’ve seen her grow so much as an artist. [Seattle-based designer] Jamie Joseph is another one I really like. You feel the love in her work.
The store is gorgeous—what are some of your favorite interior elements?
I have cases in the store that are really old, antique pieces I’ve collected over the years. I also have a pleated leather ring case—my friend owns a pleating factory. Isn’t that cool?
The Voiage website features several innovative techniques and exclusive video content. What role does e-commerce play in your business plan?
E-commerce is very important.… People want to pre-shop before coming in. Sometimes when you go into a store, you get a little overwhelmed. But with social media and websites, you can see some of the things we have before you visit. We have 360-degree views of items, and also model videos. People want more and more information; they want to feel like they are holding a piece even when they’re shopping online. With video, you can really get a feel for the scale of a piece. It makes everyone more comfortable.
How do non-jewelry items fit into the mix?
The art is mainly on the walls, and I also carry a few odd little things at lower price points. I will be carrying vintage art books. I’m giving the men something to look at!
Photograph by Anya Chibis