Welcome to market share, a newsletter about where we get our groceries. Every week or so, we highlight innovative markets, bodegas, corner stores and more — and the people who run them. This week, we’re taking a look at Lady and Larder, a beautiful Santa Monica cheese, charcuterie, wine and flower shop run by twin sisters Sarah and Boo Simms. We spoke with Sarah.
When Sarah Simms and her twin sister Boo surveyed the market for cheese boards in 2015, they noticed two extremes; there were boards provided by full-service catering companies, and then there were supermarket cheese trays served on large plastic platters. There wasn’t much in between.
“We saw a big void in the market for something super elevated without strings attached,” Simms said. “No service charges, minimums, extra fees, etcetera that people could order online and then have delivered straight to their door, ready-to-serve right out of the box.”
Initially, the pair made one type of cheese board — offered in three different size options — that could be ordered via their website and was available for delivery anywhere in Los Angeles.
“The quality of every item sourced was the absolute best we could find and all of our accoutrements were sourced from the local Santa Monica Farmers Market,” Simms said. “We wanted everything we created to celebrate a true sense of place. Our shop has always been 100 percent domestic with a focus on California cheese, wine and produce.”
That commitment to quality extends to Lady and Larder’s visual brand elements, which makes it feel more like a destination than a place to run errands.. Honestly, it’s a millennial dreamscape — bespoke merch and sandwich paper, a tasteful array of tapered candles, a tiled floor that looks like a field of gerbera daisies (especially during golden hour).
“My co-founder and twin sister, Boo, is an incredible artist and she does all of our design and creative,” Sarah said. “The first time she ever mocked up a visual for our logo, I couldn't stop smiling and she knew she was heading in the right direction. Our goal was to create something that sparked joy. Boo has a sharp eye for design and always ensures that each thing she creates tells a cohesive story about us and our brand. She always connects the dots.”
Working with family occasionally has its challenges, Simms said, but it makes for a very honest working environment.
“We don't hold back when we think we can do better,” she said. “It has taken a couple of years to really fine tune our communication skills and work/life balance but we wouldn't change it for the world, we love working together.”
Lady and Larder turns six on May 1 after having made it through what Simms describes as “some of the wildest months of their lives” amid the pandemic. That said, the sisters said that the process of having to stay positive and keep fluid within their business model was a learning experience that only reinforced the shop’s initial mission.
“We learned that life is precious and access to goods, produce and cheese is precious,” she said. “We will always carry that with us, forever moving forward.”
Here are some of Sarah Simms’ picks from the store that she’s most excited about this season.
Wines: New Rosé releases from Scribe Winery, Las Jaras, Stolpman and Lady of the Sunshine
Cheeses: Sweet Annie from Landmark Creamery and Butterbloom from Briar Rose Creamery
Interested in shopping at Lady and Larder? Check out their website here. Have a grocery you'd like to see featured? Drop me a line at ashliedaniellestevens (@) gmail (dot) com.