By Shea Parton
Photos by Oliver Kish and Brian Lee
Four blocks from Venice Beach is the bohemian community of Abbot Kinney. A range of fine dining and innovative independent retailers are book stops to this vibrant southern California neighborhood. My brothers and I frequently find ourselves in the area to enjoy a meal, surf the pier or check-in with our friend Brian Lee, Milkmade proprietor. We crossed paths with Brian a couple of years back and shared our plans for selective California distribution. His attention to detail and astute sensibility made him an easy retail choice. And as we learned about his Pasadena upbringing and years of living around the world we knew a friendship was on the horizon.
Two years later we mutually agree that work is what we ‘do’, not who we ‘are’. This shared priority for friends and family made it fun to spend yesterday with Lee in his 750 square foot corner of Abbot Kinney. It's refreshing to hear about Milkmade’s testimony of success, which has seen revenue grow over 60% since opening in September 2008; success attributed to his father’s example of hard work and his mother’s tender compassion and creativity. Lee’s attraction to Venice’s community began with an international appreciation for a ‘retail experience’ and a commitment to the timeless model of service. Brian reflects the classic American entrepreneur as he opens at 11AM and closes in the late afternoon to catch dinner with his romantic counterpart Tricia - balancing the luxury of self-employed freedom with the reality of that responsibility.