Make your way inside Black Bough’s quaint storefront on Forest Avenue and you’ll see a display of mostly black home goods set on bright white shelves. The store features products you’ll have a hard time finding elsewhere. “I didn’t want things that were pretty,” owner Somer Sood says. “I wanted things that would make a statement. It had to be bold. It had to be edgy.”
You come from a family of Laguna Beach business owners. How did that influence you?
My family has had two stores, Kokopelli Gallery and Laguna Iguana, for more than 20 years. I practically grew up in Laguna, spending my summers on the beach and working in the stores. I wasn’t actively looking for a space, so I wasn’t really pursuing this business idea. But when I found out The Colony was closing specifically in Laguna Beach on Forest Avenue and just two doors down from my mom’s store, I was ready to sign on the dotted line.
How did you know what store you wanted to open?
When I found out about the opportunity, I immediately knew two things. One, I wouldn’t be able to afford it because it was a big store. So we put a wall up to divide it so that I could have a smaller space and cheaper rent. I also knew if I got the space, my vision would be to do a home decor and accessories store.
What type of work were you doing before this?
I’m an aid worker. Before the store, I was making trips out to Europe at least once a month to places like Greece and the border near Serbia. I was working in the refugee camps and taking them supplies like feminine hygiene products, clothing, and camping, medical, and baby supplies. Because of the store, I’m not able to travel now, so I handle the logistics of planning the trips for people who can.
What does Black Bough mean?
When I was trying to think of a name, I knew I definitely wanted “black” in there; I just couldn’t figure out how. I love the color, and you’ll find a lot of black pieces in my store. I thought of a poem that I really like called “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound, and the word “bough” is in it, meaning a tree branch. Considering I’m on Forest Avenue, that’s kind of how it all came together.
How do you select your products?
Every time I source products, they are products that I love. I definitely didn’t go into this thinking of demographics, sales, marketing, or some kind of financial plan. It was basically I love this coffee table book, I love this soap, I love this tray; even though this bookend is a snake, I think it’s cool so I’m getting it. Also, a lot of the pieces are from small-batch artisans. I don’t buy things in bulk, and I don’t have much storage, so once a piece is gone, it’s gone.
What unique items do you carry?
There’s a crystal potpourri line from the South of France that took six months to get in. I’m the only person who carries it in Laguna. They’re impossible to get a hold of so I ended up going and meeting with them in Paris and finally got in front of them to get my order.
384 Forest Ave.