At Public Storage, we help our business storage customers turn their wildest side-hustle dreams into a reality. That’s what happened for Sonia Melinkoff, who warms the hearts of bakers with oven mitts like you’ve never seen: from sci-fi characters, to cats in space and even floating Nicolas Cage heads.
Before she turned to us for help, mitts for her Nerdy Novelty Design Etsy store, were taking over every inch of free space in her three-bedroom Los Angeles home, said Melinkoff, whose hair is a light purple like some of her mitts.
Like many of our customers, when she rented a medium-size storage unit, she was finally able to relax. Sometimes she is even able to get more creative.
“Oh, it was so amazing,” she said, recalling moving into her Public Storage unit four years ago. “My mind feels so much more organized when I’m able to put them in the unit and away in the shelves. It’s relaxing and destressing.”
Melinkoff picked Public Storage because it was conveniently located close to home, with a price that fit her budget. She even eventually upgraded to a larger 10x10 storage unit. It helped her grow from two shelving racks to five, for her vast inventory of oven mitts.
Everything is labeled so she can keep track of what’s being shipped out or being added in.
“It’s super organized and not taking over the house anymore,” she said of the storage unit she visits at least once a week. “When I had everything at home I wasn’t as organized. I would have a box here, and a pile over here.”
When the time was right, Los Angeles-area property manager Haden Miranda helped her find a larger storage unit for her inventory.
Public Storage is a great option for businesses that need warehouse space, said Miranda, adding that he loves helping customers.
“We help to keep their overhead costs down. Especially in Los Angeles where a storefront space can be really expensive,” he said.
When the pandemic hit, Public Storage kept its doors open so that customers like Melinkoff could still serve their communities. Oven mitt sales were hot when baking became a popular pandemic pastime. She also took up making masks early on.
Melinkoff started the business because she instinctively knew there would always be a need for oven mitts, especially ones designed to tap into nerd culture, hence the name of the business.
“I’m a huge nerd. I love Star Wars and Star Trek. Anything sci-fi was where I was comfortable and where I found my niche audience,” she shared.
Even though she had an Etsy shop, Melinkoff started selling her products at small craft expos but it wasn’t until she got into the Comic Con convention circuit, that her business began to grow.
By May 2017, Nerdy Novelty Design had grown so much that she quit her full-time job as an assistant coordinator in the entertainment industry to focus on her business full time.
“So I can be a nerd for living,” she joked.
Soon she was attending 20-30 comic con events a year, attending events such as New York Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con, which is her biggest event of the year.
“People come up to my booth and say: ‘Oh, I never thought I would be excited about oven mitts! I love this,’” she shared.
What Melinkoff loves the most about her storage unit is that it affords the peace of mind of having a clean home. It’s also brought her some creative inspiration.
“When I’m at home I’ll have social media blocks but when I get to the storage unit and stand there and look at things, I get inspired what can I post,” she said.
In fact, some of the photos on her Etsy shop are actually shot at our storage facility.
“I like the Public Storage building, it’s the perfect place to take photos for my products,” she said.