After five years, I finally made my return to L.A! Now, this was my fourth trip to the city of angels and to my dismay, I left with a completely different impression of it.
Before I explain why, here’s a brief explanation for my visit:
My business partners and I were in town for our very first Buffer Festival LA. For those who have never heard of Buffer Festival before, we are a four day event in Toronto every September. Now in its 6th year, Buffer Festival celebrates and supports elevated content and filmmakers on YouTube from all corners of the globe. With 7,000 people in attendance last year, we decided to make 2018 the beginning of our expansion with Los Angeles being the first city outside of Canada to host a one day pop-up. Needless to say, we were PUMPED for this trip!
I spent a total of five days in L.A. and realized that although the city is known for all things Hollywood, the hidden gems we never hear about on TV, may offer us the biggest bang for our travel buck.
Here are a few takeaways.
What I learned: STAYING TRUE TO WHO YOU ARE IS IMPORTANT IN EVERY STAGE OF YOUR CAREER
I always knew L.A. was a city of dreams and dreamers with all walks of life in the entertainment industry grinding and hustling, trying to make a name for themselves in one of the most competitive cities in North America. After one day at the very first Buffer Festival LA with 18 top YouTubers and watching the premieres of their latest videos on the big screen with my team, I truly understood why and I realized how far one person’s imagination can go – not just in L.A. We saw incredible short films made by Jon Cozart, Dom Fera, Dodie Clark, and my personal favourite, Elle Mills; regular people who challenged traditional YouTube-ing with their creativity to make meaningful videos and amass a following of roughly 7million subscribers combined!
Out of all the premieres, the video that struck me the most was Elle’s “Burnt Out At 19.” premiere. If you have time today, please check out her 6 minute video! In it, she candidly talks about her struggles with mental illness brought on by her rapid success as a YouTuber. This Ottawa native started putting out comedic lifestyle videos of her life only 6 months ago and since then, she’s won a Streamy Award and achieved an audience of 1.2 million. In her short, she paints a very relatable picture of how outside pressure and one’s own stresses can affect our overall well being. Although she is super successful, she admits that she’d far from happy and shares her journey incredibly honestly for all her fans.
This is a really important reminder for all of us to keep our personal values in check no matter who we become or where we find ourselves. Often times we see the glory (ex. Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame), but we don’t know the story (Elle Mill’s and creators who join Buffer Festival). Success is sweet, but we shouldn’t forget the little things that matter to us.
What surprised me: DOWNTOWN IS NOT WHERE IT’S AT
For the first time I ventured out of the downtown core and made my way to local spots in L.A. Like most people from out of town, downtown always seemed like the happening spot with the most glitz and glam, but that glitz and that glam does not go very far when it’s just a sensationalized version of reality.
After the festival, I got myself an Airbnb close to Pasadena and found myself hanging out predominantly north of downtown. One of my new favourite places to hang is Figuerora Street. If you’re a fan of vintage clothing and furniture stores, boho boutiques, charming cafes, and cheap and cheerful meals, this is where it’s at!
What I’ll go back for: MOHAWK BEND PIZZA
Tucked away in Echo Park is a craft beer restaurant with the BEST pizza I have ever had in my mouth outside of New York. Mohawk Bend uses fresh California ingredients to create an assortment of Vegan Pizzas and gourmet pies like my personal favourite Fennel Sausage. Thin crust, tomato sauce with a punch, and a generous portion of meat. Take an uber and do whatever you have to do to meet this pizza in person when you’re in town!
What I splurged on: TRANSPORTATION
Perhaps I should’ve done my research but coming from a big city, I had no idea that I’d be Ubering EVERYWHERE during my 5 day stint in L.A. I’m used to walking and taking the subway, but L.A. ain’t Toronto. I spent close to $350 on Ubers and my bank account hates me for it. That being said it was worth every dollar.
That being said, for those who’d rather collect experiences rather than things, I highly recommend renting a car instead. My friend suggested the rental car app, Turo, which is essentially the Airbnb of cars! I found the sweetest white Jeep 10 minutes away from where I was staying for $79USD per day. Only $79 to feel like Cher Horowitz cruising around Beverly Hills? Count me in! Now, this information would’ve been more useful if it wasn’t my last night in town, but now we have an excuse to go back ASAP. 😉