Late last summer, Space Home and Garden opened on Carpinteria Avenue right next to Angels Antiques, run by Zelda Prune and Wayne Babcock. When the neighboring Coastal Views News changed offices, Prune and business associate Jonathan Brandon of Goleta’s Garage Gems transformed the former newspaper office into a motley collection of top-shelf vintage home decor displayed as art.
To the new shop, Space, Prune brought decades of experience from creative pursuits, including time as a fashion designer and years finding and selling vintage items and antiques at Angels and beyond. Recently, I interviewed Prune to learn more about the business and styling advice she would offer to aspiring entrepreneurs and creative professionals.
What is the best business advice you have received?
I’ve never really asked for nor have I taken advice from anyone. I’ve always trusted my gut and followed my instincts. I also have a passion for keeping an eye on what’s happening and constantly doing research. I created a clothing line in my early 20s and one of my first boyfriends was the founder of (Hollywood prop store) Modern Props. We would go to the furniture fair in Milan, Italy, to shop for futuristic designs in the 80s. He actually brought (French industrial designer and architect) Philippe Starck to the West Coast.
It’s crazy how hot the whole post-modern aesthetic has become, but my style is still very eclectic. I like to think I have something for everyone. Maybe that’s the best advice that I can pass on. Decor trends are constantly evolving so buy what you love. That’s how you’ll create your style and acquire pieces you want to keep forever.
What is the secret of your success?
I have established a loyal clientele of people who have been long-time customers of my boyfriend’s store, Angels Antiques. The fact that Space is one door down from Angels has exposed us to clients coming by to see if Angels is open. Angels has become a real destination over the last 35 years, but we live on the property and have been closed since March of last year due to Covid-19.
When people peek into Space and realize it’s connected to Angels, they are so happy. It’s not the same as popping into our front yard and talking with “Uncle Wayne” while he’s eating his lunch and scraping wax off a vintage surfboard, but they are so grateful to find a little connection to what Carpinteria meant to them pre-Covid.
What is your trade secret?
Don’t follow trends. Start them. If everyone else is turning right, then go left. After I closed my clothing company, I became a stylist for commercials and music videos. I would put together looks for people and many times they would say, “This doesn’t match.” I would respond, “Let’s throw in one more thing that doesn’t match, that way, it’ll be clear we are not trying to match!”
The same advice applies to decor. Having everything match is my worst nightmare. It would be like listening to a song with only one note. Before I moved to Carpinteria, I was running a charming home and garden boutique in Studio City. One day, a regular client came in and she complimented me on the beautiful job I did merchandising an antique hutch for the holiday season. She went on to tell me how she has a mantle at home that she can’t get right. She had experimented with everything from nautical items to blue and white porcelain and even family photos. After listening to her lament about this mantle long enough, I gave her some sound advice. I told her to go home and clear off the mantle. When you find something you love, put it on the mantle. The next time you find something you love, add it to the mantle. Keep doing that, and one day it will be finished, and you will be happy with it. Then she looked at me and said, “Oh my God, Zelda! You just solved this problem my therapist has been trying to figure out for years!”
On that note, I’m sorry; you’ll have to pay for those Norman Cherner pretzel chairs at Space, but the retail therapy is free.
What advice would you give to your former self?
Keep a journal. It’ll be a great read someday.
Space Home and Garden is located at 4856 Carpinteria Ave. Follow Space on Instagram at @spacehomeandgarden.
Megan Waldrep is a columnist and freelance writer, currently living on a 34-foot sailboat. To learn more about Megan, visit meganwaldrep.com.