Raymond | Lawrence :: A Couple, A Brand, A Success
Raymond McCallister and Larry Abel are uncomfortable being thought of as one of Palm Springs' "power couples," said Abel, who with his partner of ten years co-owns no fewer than six successful businesses. "...It tends to invoke more of a shallow social-centered 'me, me, me' existence. We would hope to be known as hard-working entrepreneurs who believe in the potential and future of Palm Springs."
Raymond McCallister and Larry Abel opened their first business in Palm Springs, called ASI-Art Style Innovation, about 10 years ago. "This was a collection of furniture and accessories inspired by the Hollywood events for which we produce and create unique individual pieces," McCallister said. Hollywood in turn has paid homage to the couple and their designs. Oprah Winfrey even had the couple on her show, while their designs have appeared in household magazines such as In Style, Woman's Day and Departures. Even NBC's Today Show has given on-air nods to Abel and McCallister.
Only the pair knows if their romantic partnership was love at first sight, but when Larry met Raymond, they meant business. Asked about the pitfalls regarding business and love, Abel had this to say: "We are fortunate that our talents and strengths -- as well as our weaknesses -- compliment each other so the pitfalls are few. We have learned to separate business from personal matters, to carve out time for each other and not allow hurt feelings to fester or be prolonged. Communication is the key."
Their store, Raymond | Lawrence, is a collection of unique, curated "pop-up" shops they have brought together from all across the country. "In our L.A. and New York City event production company, Abel McCallister Designs, we produce pop-up shops around the country," Abel said. "We thought it would be great to bring these to Palm Springs all under one roof, in a whimsical, creative and unique way."
Abel and McCallister believe in the philosophy one economist called "coopetition," a portmanteau of cooperation and competition. "We look at this as a 'retail incubator' that allows new businesses to test the waters in Palm Springs and see if having a full 'in-line' store is for them," Abel said. "We have a continual flow of 26 shops with an ongoing waiting list. We are proud to have been the catalyst for two leaving the nest this year for their own stores."
Socialize Palm Springs is their latest venture. "We specialize in social, charitable and corporate events in the Coachella Valley," Abel explained. "There was a need for experienced, creative and forward-thinking event-production to serve the growing influx of Generation-X destination weddings, corporate sponsorships and community festivals."
Arguably, there isn't a more qualified team to address that growing demand.
"Having been named among the top 35 event designers in the country by Biz Bash Magazine, as well as inclusion in the first-ever list of most innovative event producers in North America, we were thrilled that in our first year we were able to 'reinvent' and reenergize -- to rave reviews -- the Palm Springs Art Museum Gala, The Mizell Senior Center Gala and the AAP Evening Under the Stars starring Cyndi Lauper."
Socialize Palm Springs also produced the City of Palm Springs 75th Birthday Celebration, the 50th Anniversary of the Palm Springs Arial Tramway and the Modernism Week Opening Night Party, Splash House.
Clearly, these gentlemen and their business partnership are experiencing a long run of success. We asked them, what's next?
"In February we purchased PartyLab and breathed new life into it by creating a one-stop shop: Party Lab, the Formula for a Great Party," Abel explained. "Here under one roof, using a concept similar to R | L, we have brought you all the vendors needed to produce and design a party yourself."
Then there's dessert. "We just became partners with Davy Aker in CRAVE Palm Springs, a dessert and wine bar, moving it up the street to a beautiful, second-floor modern space with dual balconies and stunning views," McCallister said.
With a new Raymond | Lawrence satellite store now inside the Saguaro Palm Springs, the brand is officially a chain, albeit a small one. But if Raymond McCallister and Lawrence Abel's record so far is any indication of future prospects, the description "small" isn't likely to fit this chain for long.
Raymond|Lawrence is located at 830 North Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. For more information on the store and the couple's many other ventures, call 760.322.3344 or go to raymond-lawrence.com