At home with creative couple (and now parents) Justin Kern and Stephanie Danan of luxury brand Co.
Furnished with the stuff of a midcentury modern fantasy—a Tobia Scarpa sofa here, an Arco floor lamp there—Stephanie Danan and Justin Kern’s Hollywood Hills abode exudes an air of bohemian bonhomie. “Justin and I actually met in this house,” says the Marrakech-born/Montreal-bred Danan, who purchased the property in 1999 shortly after moving to L.A. to work as an independent film producer. “She was having a dinner party,” adds Kern, noting that he hadn’t received an invitation but arrived post-dessert to pick up his then-roommate, actress Aubrey Plaza.
From the beginning, the couple connected over a passion for the creative (Kern is also a former screenwriter) and a mutual entrepreneurial drive. However, it wasn’t until 2010, two-and-a-half years after meeting, that they decided to go into business together. Influenced partly by Danan’s family ties to the fashion industry (her father had been a distributor and her mother was an accessories designer), they set their sights on a clothing line. “We wanted to dress the kind of woman that I was as a producer,” says Danan. “Someone who has to go from work to evening drinks or a film premiere and not have any time to change or think about it.”
The result was Co, a chic, minimal line of separates that won raves out of the gate and charmed the jaded fashion crowd with short films starring the couple’s actor friends (including Plaza, Marisa Tomei and Elodie Bouchez) as well as an animated short by artist Konstantin Kakanias featuring his illustrated character, Mrs. Tependris.
In the subsequent seasons, the line has evolved to become both more wearable and a touch more feminine (especially this spring’s collection with its gossamer fabrics and ballet-inspired silhouettes). Kern and Danan have also made a point to keep their price tags as reasonable as possible: “We wanted our customer to walk away from buying a dress not worrying about how she’s going to pay her credit-card bill,” says Danan.
Clearly, the strategy is working. In the past year, Co has hit a growth spurt, with Bergdorf Goodman, Goop, Maxfield, Neiman Marcus and Net-a-Porter picking up the line, and the company, now a with a staff of five, moving out of the couple’s home and into an Arts District office.
Meanwhile, a red Radio Flyer wagon parked near their front door hints at another big development in the couple’s life—their 18-month-old son, Jacob. “He looks like his dad,” beams Danan. “Having him also sort of forced us to take the business to the next level,” says Kern. “It was like, OK, we’ve got nine months to get the company out of the house because these two things can’t coexist.” co-collections.com.