Caroline Juen—founder of Love and Loathing Los Angeles—is a northern California native, which is where she first caught wind of the negative stigma often attached to L.A. “Everyone talks about it,” she says. “You always hear ‘L.A. sucks,’ but why? A lot of Californians have never even visited but have this weird misconception of the city and what it’s about.”
In 2014, Caroline, who got her college degree in studio art, relocated first to Anaheim, then Los Angeles to work in the music industry, but she was eager to try something more creative and photography-based. She quit her job and got out of town with a friend to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, which is where she came across a book called The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz. “He basically takes all these Parisian nuances and weaves them into a story about his journey living in a foreign place as an American,” she says. “He gives readers a way to appreciate the details versus harping on their misconceptions.” Just like that, Caroline had a plan.
Although she originally envisioned Love and Loathing L.A. as a book, not a site, she credits her mom with talking her out of that and helping her launch her brand. “I was on the plane on the way home from Mexico and I wrote my whole first chapter, then called my mom to tell her about it,” Caroline recalls. “She said: ‘Wow, honey, that’s great! I’ve always said that you should write, but maybe you should start with a blog.’ I was like: ‘What’s a blog?’” With $10,000 in savings in the bank and lots of odd jobs lined up, she decided to give it a go. Three and a half years later, Caroline’s site is a one-stop shop for the coolest things to do in L.A. She’s also got a T-shirt line on the horizon and—fingers crossed, she says—a book deal.
On her perfect Los Angeles day. “I would have a pretty epic brunch somewhere to start—probably Tasting Kitchen or Gjelina or FIG. Then, I’d head over to the Santa Anita racetrack. It’s my favorite place in L.A. because it’s so clean and bright and always feels like you’re stepping back in time. After that, I’d get cocktails and chips and guacamole at Salazar. Then, I’d go down the road to a Dodgers game.”
On how to always look photogenic. “It all comes down to composition. I love clean, colorful walls as a backdrop, especially for trying to show off a full outfit. Another trick: If you’re having a friend take your photo, have them take it from a slightly lower angle. Shooting down makes your legs look shorter, but tilt your camera up a bit and it will make you look tall and lean.”
On the hardest part of being her own boss. “I miss having a sounding board. My family, boyfriend and friends fill that role somewhat—and I’m sure I drive them crazy—but I’m such a perfectionist that it’s hard to not always have a built-in team to work out new ideas with.”
The best advice she’s ever received. “Your job is to create, not to compare. That’s really hard in this space in particular, because it’s easy to peep someone else’s feed and feel a lack of self-worth and worry that you’re not necessarily in the same place as other people. If you get into your head too much, all of that stuff will overtake you and bring on this sense of inadequacy and self-doubt, which is a dangerous place to be. Sure, it’s natural, but it’s not helpful. My job is just to focus on the reasons I started all this and not feel bothered by other people’s success.”
Her favorite photo-editing tool. “I use an app called A Color Story. Instagram is like a little lifestyle magazine and a place of inspiration, and you want it to look consistent. I tried the more muted color scheme, but it didn’t work for me. L.A. is so bright and colorful and happy that A Color Story is perfect. It’s exactly like VSCO, but with different filters.”
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