Unbuilt: A Wonderful Solution For An Unnecessary Problem

As a real estate agent and designer/house flipping, I’ve seen a construction site or two. Piles of wood, buckets of nails, bags of concrete – much of it, in an unfortunate turn of events, goes to waste. In an age where we are finally getting conscious of how important it is to be eco-conscious and environmentally friendly with all that we engage in, my friend Matt Kennedy has started this incredible new company which is both environmentally conscious and perfect for those of you renovating on a budget.

Unbuilt is a marketplace for unused construction materials and merchandise. They source inventory from builders, designers and property owners who often have items left over after their jobs.

By curating and reselling this inventory to the public at discounted prices, they enable their customers to “build up,” using beautiful, high-quality materials that would otherwise be beyond their budget.

I love progressive companies that solve more than one problem. Matt estimates that 10% of all building materials ordered each year remain unused in final construction. Much of this waste is high quality and reusable, but difficult for builders and property owners to monetize.

Unbuilt helps clients and customers save money and the environment by reselling and reusing much of this inventory. They also facilitate removal and recycling of lower value items that won’t sell in store.

If you are looking for high-quality building material at a fraction of the cost, visit – you’ll be saving money while also saving our fragile environment. It’s a win-win!

Courtney Nichols Gould

The Juliette Interviews: SmartyPants by Courtney Nichols Gould

JH: What was the impetus for you to get into the vitamin market?

CG: Because there were vitamins that were affordable, there were vitamins that used the best ingredients and there were vitamins that were enjoyable to take (and therefore we or our kids would stick with), but they were three different products. We thought we should be able to have all of those things in a single product and that if we were successful in doing that, we could make it a lot easier for more people to stick with a vitamin regimen and therefore get the benefit.

JH: What was the most challenging aspect of getting this business to where it is now?

CG: When you grow fast year after year, your trailing revenues can’t cover the cash needs of your forecasted growth- so finding ways to fund our growth without taking away ownership from ourselves or our employees was the biggest challenge we faced.

JH: Tell us a bit more about the product, for example, what are they made of and, without revealing any secrets, what is the process in which they are made?

CG: Well, one of the nice things about our product is that what’s in the product is printed on the label (except for secret info about flavors-all of which come from natural/organic sources). Transparency is a core promise we make- including stamping the bottom of each bottle with a lot code so they can look up the test results for that exact batch online- so they know what’s on the label is in the bottle.

JH: Your brand is very fun – was it designed to be marketed for children and then shifted from there or was the plan to always target everyone?

CG: We had a choice to change our branding when we started making the same all in one vitamins for adults, but really, we thought branding in our market could use a little levity. We take the science seriously but not ourselves. I am so glad we didnt walk away from our name. Everyone deserves to be a SmartyPants once in a while.

JH: Tell us about your typical customer – who are they?

CG: Our typical customer is someone who cares about being healthy, is willing to invest in better ingredients but is frankly pretty busy with all the life stuff and appreciates a brand she can trust to sweat the small stuff so she doesn’t have to.

JH: Who is your biggest influence?

CG: My heroes are people like the Thompinks of NorthFace/Patagonia and anyone fighting daily to help restore our planet to health. My biggest influences are really my kids and my husband- they are the mirror that constantly asks me to be better tomorrow than I am today, to admit my faults, my weaknesses, my failings, to know that I am human but that as long as I keep trying, I am more than enough.

JH: What are some of your favorite products?

CG: I am obsessed with our new all-in-one comprehensive capsule product (SmartyPants PHD) we worked for several years and i am so grateful to my team who managed to do the impossible and fit all the things I need into two small minty capsules. I LOVE this poncho (which my husband calls my Jedi cloak) I got out in Ojai at a friends wedding. I love my SUV that runs on a battery. I LOVE my skin care stuff from my incredible long time friend who takes care of my face: Dayle Breault, @goddessofskin – she makes all of her products herself. And I love my cowboy boots- cuz you can take the girl out of Texas but…..

JH: If you could, what would you go back and do differently when you started out on this path?

CG: I would have hired more senior people sooner to help us scale as it would have made it a lot less stressful. Grateful to have an incredible leadership team now!

JH: What is the ultimate goal with SmartyPants? Where do you see it going next?

CG: Our goal has always been more health for more people. Whether through our products or the matching grants we have in place with Vitamin Angels (10mm and counting!). It’s easy to get distracted but we dont want to be a lifestyle brand. we dont want to be all things to all people. We just want to be the absolute best supplement brand we can be while also taking care of each other, our planet, our employees. We all feel so incredibly lucky to work with a group of extraordinary people committed to giving their best every day towards a shared goal of making people feel better. I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling. Really.

If you like to learn more or purchase SmartyPants Vitamins, please visit:

The Juliette Interviews Lily Polstein

The Juliette Interviews: Sustainable Landscapes by Lily Polstein

JH: How did you get started in sustainable urban gardening?

LP: I have always loved the outdoors, and had a particular interest in environmentalism. I grew up in a household where we were fortunate enough to have a veggie garden, and early on I gained an appreciation for what growing your own food means to our health and the environment. I majored in Urban Studies, and the more I learned about how our choices affect our environment, I realized that I needed to somehow contribute to encouraging people to make good choices and lessen their carbon footprint. My desire to become a sustainable landscape designer was solidified during the drought. I knew people could still have beautiful landscapes while being drought tolerant. I also wanted to be able to give my clients the option of growing their own food, so that has also become a mainstay of my business.

JH: Describe your first project, what was it like?

LP: My first project was in Ojai, California. The property was about an acre with nothing but decomposed granite and patches of wild Matilla poppies. My client wanted drought tolerant landscaping throughout and raised beds to grow seasonal produce. We were both inspired by the landscaping at the Turtle Conservatory in Ojai which I used as a guide for plants that would thrive in Ojai’s cold winters and scorching summers. My finished design was inspired by a recent trip to Mexico: bougainvilla for pops of color and cacti of all shapes and sizes for contrast and texture. All low maintenance and require minimal water. I started this project after the Thomas Fire nearly devastated Ojai, so the garden plan was augmented for fire resilience. The once empty plot of land now has sections of carefully selected drought tolerant plants that bloom at different times during the year. The space is always changing, which I think adds to its beauty.

JH: Tell us a bit about your process

LP: Before visiting a client, I always print out a garden consultation checklist. The checklist documents sunlight exposure, irrigation and soil type. This helps dictate a choice of plant types and placement of vegetables beds. I measure the entire space out and take a lot of photos. Then I sketch by hand, or design on my computer, so I have a working plan.The best part of the process is working with the client. I love having conversations about how they intend to use the space. That is how I get an idea of their style and overall goal. Once set on a final design plan and plant list, it’s time to break ground.

Lily Polstein

JH: Describe your clients a bit for us. Who are they?

LP: My clients are an amazing and eclectic group. Actors to film makers to doctors to social media influencers, first time home owners to second homes and pied-a-terres. All my clients share a concern for the environment and desire to make their outdoor spaces beautiful and sustainable. The most rewarding feeling is knowing that my clients are able to enjoy a beautiful outdoor space, and pick fresh organic produce.

JH: What or who inspired you most when it comes to your work?
I have been extremely fortunate to have traveled around the world starting at a young age. I think experiencing different cultures and landscapes has really shaped the way I work. Japan, Spain, Greece and Mexico are some of the places that inspire me the most. I admire how Japanese gardens are designed with the intention of aesthetic and a meditative purpose.

JH: In what public spaces can we find some of your work?
You can check out some of my front yards in homes in Ojai, the Del Rey area of West Los Angeles and Beverly Hills.

JH: It’s obvious that things need to change fast when it comes to global warming and climate change. What is one piece of advice you would give on how to be more environmentally conscious?

LP: I think everyone can do something to help solve this crisis. Whether it be not using single use plastics, using LED bulbs, reducing dependence on fossil fuels, driving a hybrid and reducing intake of red meat. My one piece of advice would be to plant a garden and grow your own food!

JH: What are your thoughts about the future of our planet?

LP: I think it is dire right now and I worry about it everyday. I worry about ecosystems collapsing, food production failing, sea level rising and toxic air. However, I am hopeful that we can make a difference. Maybe I am overly optimistic because I’m a Pisces, but I am determined. It is important to continue educating ourselves and others about current issues and figuring out ways to work together to combat them. The time to act is now and it is inspiring to be part of a generation that is taking a stand and making our voices heard.

You can find Lily and see some of her sustainable landscapes at or follow her on Instagram:


New Changes to Rent Control Laws Are Coming Soon to California

Last week, the California Assembly passed Assembly Bill 1482, also known as the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, which will limit the amount that landlords can raise rents each year and will provide tenants stronger protections against eviction. Governor Gavin Newsom said he will sign the bill and the law will take effect January 1, 2020.

The bill caps yearly rent increases to 5% plus inflation (up to a maximum of 10%), and it limits landlords’ ability to evict tenants without documented lease violations after a tenant has lived in the unit for 1 year. However, with a few exceptions, both of these rules only apply to multi-family residences (i.e. duplexes, triplexes, apartment buildings, etc) built before 2005.

Many cities in California, including Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, already have their own local rent control policies in place. The goal of the bill is to provide tenant protections to the rest of the state, where previously landlords could raise tenants’ rents at any time by any amount and could evict tenants for any reason. Once the law goes into effect, the entire state will be covered by some form of rent control.

In cities with existing rent control laws, AB 1482 only applies to units that are not already covered under the local ordinances. For instance, in the City of Los Angeles, existing rent control only applied to apartment buildings built prior to 1978, but now under AB 1482 buildings constructed between 1978-2004 will also be under rent control.

These types of buildings are EXCLUDED from the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 but may still be covered under a local rent control ordinance:

  • Buildings built after 2004
  • Single Family Homes (unless the owner is a corporation or an LLC in which one member is a corporation)
  • Duplexes in which the owner occupies one of the units as a primary residence

Keep in mind that the cap on rent increases only apply to units in which the tenant has lived there for 1 year or longer. When a tenant moves out, the landlord is free to charge the new tenant market rate rent (or whatever amount the landlord wants).

The new law will make it harder for landlords to evict tenants without “just cause” (e.g. tenants failing to pay rent or breaching the lease contract). Additionally, if a landlord wants to remove the tenant to convert the unit to condos or to substantially remodel or demolish the unit, the landlord will have to pay the tenant a relocation fee.

Whether you love or hate rent control, it will soon be the law of the land in the entire state of California.


The Juliette Interviews: Matthew Royce

JH: You are based out of Venice and in your own words “create designs that positively impact the community”. How does green / sustainable practices play a role in how you approach a project?

MR: I try to incorporate as many green features as I can into my designs. I have solar panels of course, some projects have green roofs that can capture stormwater runoff and keep the building cooler. I’m now in the process of incorporating a software tool which can predict the energy performance of a design during the early stages of a project so the client and I can make better decisions more quickly.

JH: What are the greatest challenges you have when designing a new project?

MR: Quite often the most challenging part is appeasing neighbors, City officials, and the client all at the same time. For me, once I get through all those hurdles, construction becomes the fun part because the dream finally becomes reality.

JH: Who inspired you most?

MR: I’m more inspired by the old masters of history rather than the latest design trends. There’s a reason certain designs from 50 or 100 years ago still seem fresh and interesting. The Case Study Houses in LA are obviously a big influence for their timeless indoor/outdoor feel, but I am also obsessed with 20th century architecture in Latin America and Europe for how they responded to their particular culture and climate.

JH: Can you tell us about your own home? Was it designed by you?

MR: Yes, I recently completed my own home in Venice, CA. I was wearing all hats of architect, owner and general contractor. It was an amazing experience that I really enjoyed. It was also extremely challenging building a basement in ground water, and pouring hundreds of yards of concrete to create a unique structure that will hopefully stand the test of time. Soon, it will have solar panels and storage batteries to enable it to use very little if almost no power from the grid and be self sufficient during a natural disaster.

JH: What would you like to be remembered for when it comes to your work?

MR: Architecture is at its best when you have subconscious reaction to a space or a building that makes you pause and enjoy the thought and care that has gone into the design. I hope everyone who lives in or visits my designs feels that way at every turn.

JH: What is one intelligent feature or trend that you’re seeing or using in your designs?

MR: I try not be too trendy so that the flooring or siding going on today is out of style tomorrow. Studying history and making note of what still holds up over time is really important. A trend that I am trying to follow though of course is to make sure all of our buildings use less energy and don’t contribute to climate change.

JH: What is one thing you’d like the general public to know about your job?

MR: As an architect I have to be the ultimate generalist. In any given day, I have to speak to homeowners, engineers, City planners, contractors, suppliers, lawyers, politicians, and the list goes on. My greatest skill is being the conductor of the orchestra that is design and construction.

You can find Matthew and see some of his fabulous work at or follow him on Instagram: