“We grew up in the same apartment building in New York, and right before or second birthdays our moms met in the lobby and found out that we would be going to the same pre-school. We would have playdates every day after school, we would send our homework up and down through the elevators… We’re almost sisters.
As we got older and we started going down our own individual paths after college, we gave up on the fantasy that we would do something together because we were both doing separate things. But then we both were in LA at the same time, and we realized it might be possible to start something. So we did.”
Friend of a Friend: What are your distinctive roles within the company?
Alissa Jacob: We share a lot of responsibilities. I come from a more business and finance background, so initially that was a lot of what I was drawn to when we were doing our business plan. Aliza is a really great writer and creative, so she would come up with some of the brand, marketing, and PR strategies.
Aliza Neidich: And in terms of buying, we really split everything down the middle. Everything in the store, we both have agreed on carrying. We've only had a few minor disagreements on a few pieces. [Laughs] Sometimes she’ll tell me, “We have way too many turtlenecks” and I’ll be like, “We can’t buy anymore bodysuits!” That’s just how we keep each other in line.
FOAF: How do you two go through and select the brands that you feature in the store?
AJ: We probably spent two months looking at every brand we could find on Instagram, went to every store in LA, NYC, we went to Newport Beach, spoke with owners all over and curated a list of almost 300 brands. Then as we talked more about who the Reservoir girl was, our customer, what we really wanted, we narrowed it down to 30 to 35 clothing brands and jewelry designers—so it was incredibly edited and curated from the brands to the specific pieces.
FOAF: Who do you think your customer is?
AJ: When we initially started this, we were thinking about how much LA has changed and how it’s really become this artistic and cultural hub. And there are a lot of New Yorkers migrating to LA, so we just felt like there were girls whose needs weren't being met, either with the West Hollywood fashion or with the kind of Venice Boho chic aesthetic and we really wanted to create this cool relaxed girl who was a little edgy but also very laid back.
AN: Her tastes are more refined, but also more playful. We also wanted to create an environment where someone could come in and recognize brands they love but also be introduced to new brands that they have never heard of or seen before.
FOAF: What about the store’s esthetic? How do you want people to feel when they walk in?
AJ: We want people to feel like they can stay for a long time. We try to create this destination that people want to hang out at.
AN: We always have friends and customers come in who sit and hang out—people feel welcome, relaxed and like they’re able to discover things. You know, part of the reason why we carry so many different varieties of products is because we’re like, “Try this brand!” And they’re like, “Oh my God, what it this?”—touching everything and feeling everything.
FOAF: Who are some of your favorite designers right now?
AJ: We were one of the early discoverers of Ellery, who we brought in right when we launched. We've been really loyal to them and big fans of the product they’re putting out. I think that she was kind of a trendsetter in that when we were at market season, everyone was doing flared sleeves and a little over-sized and I think she was kind of the first one on the scene to do that. We’re big fans of her.
Re/done jeans we just brought in for Spring/Summer. Obviously we have the Re/done Hanes T-shirts and the Re/done Levi’s jeans. I think that the heritage brands are making a comeback, everything is like super Nineties right now with chokers, bomber jackets, and I think they were one of the innovators that returned to the Nineties vibe.
FOAF: What are your daily uniforms?
AJ: I’m typically in jeans and a cotton shirt with some sort of jacket or sweater. My favorite jeans are MiH—they have some great flares and cut-offs.
AN: I love oversized sweaters and cardigans, either with a skirt and knee-high boots or a silk top.
FOAF: You both have a very strong relationship with philanthropy. What kind of philanthropic efforts are core to Reservoir?
AN: We really wanted to pick a few brands that, in their own mission statement, supported something. The Sidney Garber jewelry supports the Child Mind Institute and that’s where their proceeds go. Maiyet, which we just picked up, supported their own initiative. In our own store, we support local dog shelters. We plan to have a lot of events with local shelters where we collaborate and help dogs get new homes. It’s a mixture of things.
FOAF: What’s inspiring both of you right now?
AJ: Since we've started, I think we’ve met so many hardworking, motivated entrepreneurs. We really work with great, young supportive women. We had an event here in the store for a website that was launching called Above the Glass—it helps young female entrepreneurs jumpstart their business and helps them with their photos and business plans, so we wanted to help them by hosting an event for them here. I’ve been personally inspired by seeing so many young, strong, female entrepreneurs, working together and supporting one another, it’s really nice.
AN: I think the community has been really inspiring. We have had so much support, like Alissa said, from people in the industry, from our brands to who we work with have been so behind us every step of the way, so that’s been really motivating and inspiring for us in return.
FOAF: What is the biggest difference for both of you between New York and LA?
AJ: Obviously the weather. People in LA are a little bit more laid back and trying to enjoy the other parts of their life, besides just the work aspect.
AN: The attitudes of the people in LA overall are just happier. In New York everyone is kind of just putting work first, and I feel like in LA, people are putting life first in a way that Alissa and I hadn’t seen before.
AJ: Aliza works crazy hours and in PR everyone is super competitive, and you work late hours. I work in finance and there really is no balance between work and life.
FOAF: What has been the hardest part about opening your own store?
AJ: It’s a lot of work.
AN: I think the hardest part for us is that we have to be everyone. Alissa and I are, you know, our in-house PR, finance, accountant… You’re kind of thrown into doing everything, even if you have no experience. You just have to hit the ground running and figure it out, so that’s how it’s challenging, but in a positive way.
AJ: I think my biggest piece of advice is to do it and don’t be afraid of doing it. You’ll learn so much and you’ll probably fail so much before you succeed, but every time you fail at something it’s just a lesson and you use it to move forward. You grow.
AN: Also, don’t be afraid of reaching out for help or support. You will really be surprised how many people, whether they are friends, family, acquaintances, are more than happy to give you advice.
FOAF: What are you guys looking forward to this year? What’s the next step for Reservoir?
AJ: I think it’s really about finding our balance. It’s just about keeping it exciting and keeping up with events, changing seasons, and helping everything stay relevant and not having anything steady. We’re planning to beef up our blog and make it a little more interactive, and we’re paying around with ecommerce. We are also going to be doing some more editorial shoots. I think it’ll be nice to feel settled and be able to focus on that stuff.
154 S. Robertson Boulevard