There's a new beauty cottage on Abbot Kinney that's been calling our name. M. Steves' signature line of anti-aging, ultra-rejuvenating scrubs and treatments are all power-packed with super ingredient rose hip seed oil that promises a radiant glow. And with summer right around the bend, we were all too eager to pop in for a mini-facial and check out the newly revamped space.
The petite beauty cottage, formerly an office space for real estate broker Pardee Properties, is tough to spot unless you're determined or you're sipping coffee on the patio at Le Zinque cafe. It's located on the south side of Abbot Kinney at Venice Blvd. where most of the foot traffic dissipates, but where a new crop of businesses are starting to emerge, connecting the quiet stretch from Venice to Washington. And much like the local appeal of Zinque, M. Steves was created and designed as a social space. Along with beauty treatments including brow threading, manicures and pedicures, lash extensions and Botox, owner Mally Steves Chakola plans and hosts regular events that bring together friends and friend of friends.
It's an intimate indoor-outdoor space, outfitted with charming finds like wrought-iron patio chairs from neighboring Venice Vintage Paradise, antique Parisian crystal door knobs, rustic shelving to display the M. Steves beauty line that preceded its Venice-based headquarters, pretty patterned china to serve guests tea at a grand oak table, even poster-sized family photos of Chakola's parents and grandmothers who all played an inspiring role in the actualization of her dream job, based in her dream neighborhood.
"We didn't want to compete with what already exists in the neighborhood," says Chakola. "I want to give little mini services that work into events and are more geared toward products."
Parties range from corporate mixers, to pop up shops, to movie nights with friends. A few weeks ago, Chakola hosted a baby shower pre-party where mom-to-be and friends received mini-facials before lunch at Gjelina. And last week was Rock Your Glow, a co-hosted yoga and goal coaching party with Venice-based Rock Your Bliss. Though Abbot Kinney's reputation as a cool and quaint beachside hub has suffered the sting of a national spotlight in recent years, Chakola says that neighbors still want to connect, get to know one another, and introduce old friends to new ones. That has never changed. And she's determined to foster these connections, build new relationships and co-promote fellow creatives and entrepreneurs in a fun and laid-back environment.
"We love this opportunity to create an oasis for people to be a community together," says Chakola.
Pictured above: Rock Your Bliss founders Jacki Carr and Mary Beth LaRue donning M. Steves signature masks post photos from their Rock Your Glow event at the beauty cottage.
M. Steves' doors will be open this Friday, Abbot Kinney's First Friday, and for the upcoming Venice Art Crawl on June 19. Visitors are welcomed to stop in, say hello, and see the mural created by Venice local Diana Garcia, the artist behind Abbot Kinney's famous Cheetah-Wolf-Unicorn on the outside wall of Gjelina. The ethos behind the M. Steves brand is to glow on the outside and from within, which is illustrated in Garcia's radiating aura (an actual outline of Chakola) with the words "Glow Together" written over the heart. Chakola says that "glowing together" is about confidence, connections, and designing the life you want to live.
She decided two years ago that Venice is where she wanted to live and where she wanted to headquarter the M. Steves brand, which she had grown from the ground up after years of working as a corporate lawyer. M. Steves was a calling and a culmination of experiences and influences from her childhood. Chakola's grandmother on her father's side, Mary Chakola, taught her the ancient beauty traditions of Ayurveda, her uncle made award-winning perfumes, her father, a mechanical engineer, is an entrepreneur who started a successful chain of paper mills, her grandmother on her mother's side, Edie Steves, is a burst of energy but always grounded in pragmatism, and her mother Sally is the creative spirit, the pursuer of passion. With all of these qualities and talents, both inherited and learned, Chakola created a line of skincare essentials based on the most potent ingredient she knows – rose hip seed oil – to deliver the most effective results at the most affordable price.
Her most popular product, the Ultra-Nourishing Boost is a dry oil for all skin types made with cold-pressed rose hip seed oil that heals, hydrates and smoothes out fine lines and wrinkles for a natural, radiant glow.
Her path to Venice started at a time when M. Steves was quickly growing a loyal customer base and beauty spas were carrying the line across the U.S. Her father requested Chakola's help in launching another paper mill in Bakersfield using 100 percent recycled paper, and so she did. But she also decided that this would be her foot in the door to California, and soon, she would move to Venice Beach. Two years to the day, a moving truck delivered her belongings to her new home on Boccaccio, just a few blocks from her eventual morning ritual, Le Zinque, and the M. Steves Beauty Cottage.
Chakola says that she's always been attracted to a proper balance of grit and refinement. When she left home at 17, she moved to New York, and gravitated to neighborhoods like the Meatpacking District and Little Italy. "I always find beauty in things that are raw and natural. There's art present in that way in Venice."
M. Steves Beauty Cottage // 604 S. Venice Blvd. Venice CA 90291