In 2009, fashion designer Sue Stemp landed in fabled Laurel Canyon after years in London (where she was born and raised) and New York (where she debuted her namesake label in 2005). As a newly transplanted working mother living on the West Coast, she found she had different wardrobe needs than years past (she most of all wanted clothes that were relaxed, feminine, affordable, and cool). Raising two small children also intensified her commitment to caring for the planet (think: sustainably sourced fibers and eco-friendly fabrics). By 2014, out of her sunny Laurel Canyon converted cottage, along with husband and business partner Paud Roche, she launched the St. Roche brand—a collection of consciously designed, easy, breezy, beautiful clothes. All of her pieces not only pay homage to her love of travel, but also her passion for artisanal, handcrafted techniques, such as embroidery and beading. What’s most special? She works directly with artisans in India to produce them. For the latest in our Day In The Life designer profile series, we visited Sue at her home and design studio, surrounded by nature and pretty fabrics, and it was nothing short of a California dream come true.
This is the hand-knit, color-blocked alpaca Liz Sweater.
“Alpaca is a sustainable yarn and I work closely with our knitting partners in Peru. With a popcorn stitch and balloon sleeves, it’s super soft and light. It's available in our online store, and I love wearing it out and about.”
WHERE I WORK
Sue in her workspace with her husband and business partner Paud Roche.
“My studio is in our home in Laurel Canyon. It has great light and I love being surrounded by nature, which is a constant inspiration when I’m sketching. We make most of St. Roche in India, where I work closely with a few family-and women-owned small manufacturers. I travel there twice a year to work hands-on. All of our embroideries and prints are designed in house or in collaboration with an artist. They are then interpreted by skilled artisans into unique textiles. The hand crafted elements in our collections are my passion; they’re heirloom quality. Contributing to preserving traditional techniques is an important part of our brand vision.”
WHERE I SLEEP
Sue with her son Harmony playing the ukulele on her bed.
“My two kids, Kitty and Harmony, are a constant reminder of the need to preserve the planet for their future.”
WHERE I EAT
Pace, 2100 Laurel Canyon Blvd, LA. “My organic, farm-to-table local Italian, I love going here.”
Iroha Sushi, 12953 Ventura Blvd, Studio City. “Delicious sushi, with a cool antique store attached that sells Japanese clothing and homewares.”
The Kassi Club, 8422 W.3rd St, LA. “Newly opened, new favorite, by the guys who started the Eveleigh. Mediterranean island food with a wood fire grill.”
Rosaline, 8479 Melrose Ave, West Hollywood. “I went to Lima on a work trip, and I crave Peruvian food ever since. This place is the best.”
WHERE I PLAY
Cinespa at Hollywood Forever Cemetery
Cinespa at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, LA. “For summer nights. Movie and a picnic with the kids.”
The Greek Theatre, Griffith Park. “I love seeing bands here. It’s such a special outdoor venue.”
Fryman Canyon Rainforest Trail, Studio City. “My local hike, just off Mulholland.”
The Downtown LA Arts District. “Always inspiring to check out with the family on weekends.”
WHAT I WEAR
“I only wear my own label, mixed in with a little vintage. When we moved to LA from New York, I really needed a new wardrobe of lightweight, versatile pieces that were special enough to take me from school drop off to a work meeting through to dinner—easy, feminine, and relaxed. Also, with two small children I became much more conscious of buying and wearing organic and eco-friendly. This is what motivated me to create St. Roche, aimed at other women like myself, who also understand that what they wear reflects their ideals and lifestyle. Most of the cottons in our collection are certified organically grown. We also use silk, linen, handwoven cottons and other low impact natural or sustainable fibers, such as Tencel.”
“I love antique jewelry, particularly my gold rings. Some have been handed down to me, but my favorites are the Art Deco and Nouveau pieces that Paud's bought me over the years.”
WHERE I SHOP
Slone Vintage, 3208 W. Magnolia Blvd., Burbank. “I’ve bought amazing vintage kimonos and Victorian broderie anglaise for research here.”
Wildflora, 12313 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. “I love this eco-friendly florist. We buy all of our house plants here.”
The Detox Market West Hollywood, 8330 Beverly Blvd., LA. “The best selection of organic skincare.”
Chloé, 8448 Melrose Place, LA. “My all-time favorite for a birthday accessories splurge.”