They’ve only been open just over a month, but already New Profanity is a big hit on Melrose. Selling everything from art to clothes, cool buttons, stickers, and even teacups, the store sells only items that are made or designed by artists and small businesses. The shop’s slogan is “unique, fun and unapologetic,” and that they are. From profane cats to nail decals, very adult coloring books, and flower crowns, you’ll find something special, sometimes ribald, and often amusing here.
Owner Natasha Polhamus started the store because she wanted to provide a venue where everything is made by artists. She loves to shop, and finds her vendors by attending craft markets, looking online, and hitting local galleries. Since the shop first opened its doors, she’s found a steady stream of artists who also come to her and ask if they can place their creations in her store. Polhamus almost always says yes.
“My goal is to support local artists and to get artistic items to the general public, so that someone who has nothing to do with art can get something magical in my store. Maybe it will inspire them to make something magical themselves,” she explains.
Polhamus feels it’s vitally important to have a welcoming place for artists to showcase what they create in a tangible way, rather than only online. “I want artists who make amazing things to have a voice in the community.”
New Profanity was conceived as a place where it would be easy for artists to sell unusual and one-of-a-kind items, and equally simple for customers to find and buy pieces that are out of the ordinary. Polhamus finds it extremely fulfilling to have created this type of shop. “Recently, a man came in randomly and offered some hats to us. I took them, and they sold out in four hours. It was so cool to go to him and tell him that what he brought us had sold like that,” she relates.
The store stocks many different curiosities from balloons with scatological and hilarious sentiments on them to adorably handcrafted knit kittens, and stickers that celebrate adult decisions like doing taxes and getting an oil change called “You Adulted Today.” Many of these items fly off the shelves. “They’re interesting pieces, really different, and they’re also inexpensive,” Polhamus attests.
In fact, except for the artworks hanging on the walls – which are also for sale – nothing in the store is priced at over $60, making many unusual pieces eminently affordable. Among the most popular items are underwear with amusing and pithy sayings like “Illuminaughty,” “I Hate Pants,” and images of pink tacos; ceramic zombie gnomes crafted by a husband and wife team are also strong sellers.
“Everything in my store has a story,” Polhamus says, “so when you buy something you are really buying something very personnel.”
Her favorite item at the moment? Antique china teacups which are no ordinary vessels for a nice cup of Earl Grey. These delicate floral cups each feature a word that is unexpectedly inappropriate or ironic for the side of such a decorous object. Imagine sipping from beautiful china with the handwritten words “Cyanide” or “Tramp” on the side. “Everything here is very unapolgetic,” Polhamus says. “There’s a lot of profanity and outrageousness. People often get a little shock, and then they giggle.”
There’s something for just about everyone shopping at New Profanity, and Polhamus is always discovering something new as artists stop in with more items they hope she’ll carry – and she just keeps fitting them in.
Bringing laughter and singular artistic wares to customers, New Profanity is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day but Sunday. Prepare for R-rated creativity and more fun than a barrel full of monkeys – unless, of course, Polhamus is stocking a barrel or two when you stop in.
7418 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90046