Welcome to our Made in Santa Barbara Gift Guide! If you seek wholly original and lovingly handcrafted gifts — a k a you give presents that matter! — this is the best place to start your December shopping routine. We’ve included a wide range of ideas, from arts and crafts to food, drink, and clothing, plus a listing of pop-up boutiques where you can find such creativity in abundance. So, gentlepeople, start your seasonal shopping engines!
Arts and Crafts
Beach-Show Pioneer: Margo von Phul
Thousands of people buy gifts straight from their creators every Sunday of the year at the S.B. Arts & Crafts Show on Cabrillo Boulevard. But the boutique bacchanalia wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for Margo von Phul and friends, who officially established the sale about five decades ago. “In six weeks, 15 of us got 30,000 signatures to put it on the ballot, and it was approved,” said von Phul, an “experimental artist” who’s done everything from butterfly silk screens to whimsical collages of high-heeled shoes. “It’s been nonstop ever since.”
Not only can you peruse leather belts, jewelry, pottery, photography, plein-air paintings, lawn ornaments, and more original handicrafts on display — “You’re not gonna find any of this in the stores!” promised von Phul — but the stroll is also an ideal activity for those who crave people-watching, casual exercise, or just fresh saline air. Von Phul encourages those with kids in tow to check out the underused carousel across the street from her stall, but not before she’s done giving them a “30-second PhD in how to color.” That’s right — she sells creative coloring books, too.
Every Sunday and sometimes Saturdays along Cabrillo Boulevard sbaacs.com
Whatcha, Whatcha, Whatcha Wear
You don’t need the outlet malls. There are plenty of people designing cutting-edge clothes in Santa Barbara.
Wind-Powered Gear: Purnell
Not many clothing companies are rooted in the wind-energy industry, but that’s the story behind Purnell, whose founders have ties to Clipper Windpower. A fashion-minded mash-up of Patagonia and prAna, Purnell crafts clothes for men and women who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty, providing uniforms for the makers and creatives of this world. Wolf’s Head (432 State St.); Mountain Air Sports (14 State St.); Rincon Designs Surf Shop (659 Linden Ave., Carpinteria), purnellgear.com
Edgy Surf Stylings: Friday Night Amateurs
If FNA had a spirit animal, it would be an art-loving, hedonistic, Budweiser-swilling mermaid with an attitude problem. FNA is the art-first fashion spawn of recovering pro-surfer Demi Boelsterli, herself a wild-haired, paint-splattered surf goddess. Lusting after a snapback with the cosmos on the brim or a denim jacket with a large Virgin Mary on the back? FNA’s got ya covered. Movement Boardshop (6556 Pardall Rd., Unit D; Isla Vista); Church of Skatan (26 East Gutierrez St.), fridaynightamateurs.com
Ojai Calling: In The Field
Stylish printed wraps and ponchos are displayed alongside knitted wools for children and contemporary men and women’s wear. Owners Channon and Bianca Roe carefully designed the space to include home selections such as Berber rugs, coffee-table books, and one-of-a-kind jewelry. 730 E. Ojai Ave., Ojai, inthefieldojai.com
Comeback Catalog: Carbon2Cobalt
Founded in 2010 by Matt Cooper — a Santa Barbara High grad and former president of The Territory Ahead who decided to launch his own brand while hiking Rattlesnake Trail — Carbon2Cobalt is a proudly catalog-based casual men’s clothing company that combines quality fabrics, basic yet contemporary style, and hidden details such as two-way pockets. Though started in Cooper’s home, the “effortlessly cool” brand now boasts State Street offices and a 5,000-square-foot warehouse in Carpinteria, and that localism explains why Carbon2Cobalt’s jackets, pants, sweaters, and shirts are so well attuned to the active yet laid-back Central Coast way of life. carbon2cobalt.com
Food and Drink
Get Your Grub On
Maybe you missed the memo, but specially made foods and drinks are one of the most memorable gifts for everyone on your nice list, and are especially well suited for those who seem to have everything. Most of the below can be found at Isabella Gourmet Foods (5 E. Figueroa St., isabellagourmetfoods.com), which stocks a wide and ever-evolving range of hometown-crafted treats. The Isla Vista Food Co-op (6575 Seville Rd., islavistafoodcoop.blogspot.com) is also a one-stop shop for many of these items, and Whole Foods (3761 State St., wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/santabarbara) sells quite a few, as well. And if you’re in Old Town Goleta, create an entire package of regional cuisine at S.B. Gift Baskets (230 Magnolia Ave., santabarbaragiftbaskets.com).
Raising Brown Bars: Twenty-Four Blackbirds Chocolate
Mike Orlando doesn’t make truffles — he makes the chocolate itself, importing cacao from sustainable farms, roasting the beans, and then working the magic to make us drool. He’s also now making the equipment he invented, so others can do the same. twentyfourblackbirds.com
Flavors Go Pop: Santa Barbara Popcorn Co.
Who knew popcorn could be such a gourmet treat? That’s the question for every first-time taster of Santa Barbara Popcorn Co., whose team of Christopher Pollastrini and Leiha Dulawan met while working together at Dos Pueblos High. Sourcing from California’s only organic popcorn grower, they make five standard flavors — Balsamic & Italian Herb, Sea Salt & Olive Oil, Honey Dijon, Jalapeño Jack, and Maple & Brown Sugar — but get even more creative during the holidays. “We came back with pumpkin spice again this year,” said Pollastrini. “It’s been an even bigger hit in 2015.” And don’t miss the Cocoa & Coffee, either — it’s like breakfast dessert. sbpopcorn.com
Sips with Spice: Grandma Tommie’s Apple Pie Liqueur
It’s hard to find a booze that pleases everyone, but this 40-proof, apple-flavored digestif by Cutler’s Artisan Spirits hits all the right savory, spicy, and sweet notes. Proprietor Ian Cutler, who uses organic cinnamon and real vanilla bean in the recipe, suggests drinking it on the rocks, in your tea or coffee, or just pouring it straight on ice cream. But be careful — it goes down a little too easy! 137 Anacapa St., Ste. D cutlersartisan.com
Ale with Ancho: Telegraph Brewing’s Winter Ale
Smoky and rich, this dark, heartily spiced ale was inspired by Mexican hot chocolate and features cinnamon, allspice, vanilla, and, best of all, ancho chili peppers in the recipe. “It is rich and complex and only available from Halloween through the end of the year,” said Telegraph’s owner, Brian Thompson, who’s selling bottles of the Winter Ale along with many other beers out of his smartly redesigned tasting room next to Carr Winery. 418 N. Salsipuedes St. telegraphbrewing.com
Collab Kitchen: Pacific Pickle Works and Union Street Makerspace
We hadn’t heard of Union Street, either, until the opening bash a few weeks back, but we certainly know Pacific Pickle Works, Bradley Bennett’s company that pickles all sorts of produce and now sells in more than 100 stores across California. The Works now does its pickling in this collaborative kitchen that Bennett founded on Union Street — which is a one-block road on the lower Eastside by the MarBorg facility — which will also be home to a number of other food makers in the weeks to come. “It’s intended to be a place to house and encourage the growth and development of other local, compatible wholesale food-manufacturing businesses,” said Bennett. Union Street Makerspace: 718 Union St. pacificpickleworks.com
The Rest of the Shopping List
Yeah, we know — presents aren’t all about clothes and food. They’re about jewelry, soap, and kitchen towels, too! Here’s a few of our go-to gifts when T-shirts and pickled veggies just won’t do. Most of these can be found at Plum Goods (909 State St., plumgoodsstore.com), whose owner Amy Cooper is a craft curator of sorts, often one of the first retailers to feature our region’s emerging products.
Wipe Up in Style: Dark Green Seal’s Kitchen Towels
A marine biologist by day, Jessie Altstatt is breaking our habit for wiping up spills with paper by silk-screening more than 20 different scenes from the barnyard, garden, and ocean onto kitchen towels. Popular versions include the “Freedom Chicken” and “Garden Goat.” The unbleached cotton-flour-sack towels, quite rugged by design, are perfect for drying hands, dishes, and glassware and will last a long time.
UCSB’s 5th Annual Winter Arts & Crafts Bazaar, Fri., Dec. 11, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., in front of Campbell Hall, and all the time at Island Seed and Feed (29 S. Fairview Ave., Goleta, islandseed.com). etsy.com/shop/DarkGreenSeal
Cleaned by Sea and Salt: Santa Barbara Soaps
Started in 2008 as a hobby that combined her passions of cooking, chemistry, and art, Tracy Wells makes her Santa Barbara soaps the old-fashioned way from scratch, combining Pacific sea salt, coconut oil, avocado oil, and coconut milk into bubble-bursting bars. Named after Butterfly Beach, Lotusland, and other Santa Barbara–ish things like sunshine, the soaps come on ethically harvested abalone shells, too. “For the holidays, we even have a pure sweet peppermint essential oil soap called Santa Claus Lane, wrapped in biodegradable cellophane to look like candy,” said Wells. “There’s also an iridescent glass holiday ornament that looks just like a bubble, full of bubbling bath salts, so it’s a two-in-one gift!” Plum Goods (909 State St.); Four Seasons The Biltmore (1260 Channel Dr.) santabarbarasoaps.com
Gems for the Soul: Maile Stones
In 1993, Maile Ellington experienced a spiritual transformation while holding an ancient gem and redirected her life to become a carver of such stones. Two decades later, her colorful, tastefully proportioned line of gem-laced necklaces, bracelets, and more soothes both the eyes and the soul, and her meticulous sourcing protocols put your mind at ease, too. 615 De la Vina St., Studio #2 (every Thursday, 10am-6pm, plus Dec. 5, 12, and 19, noon-4pm) mailestones.com
Upcycled for the Kids: Cuddle Bugs
Inspired by a grandmother who designed Jantzen sportswear in the 1950s and ’60s, Toni Clark started making cuddle bugs when her grandson was born five years ago. She upcycles used cashmere sweaters into cute, fuzzy plush animals, tooth-fairy pillows, and puppets all while using her great-grandmother’s 1940 Singer featherweight sewing machine. Plum Goods (909 State St.) & Oreana Winery (205 Anacapa St.) on Dec. 5 sbretro.etsy.com
Coffee Grinds Become Ink: Domestic Stencilworks
Santa Barbara–raised San Diego resident Alex White and his S.B.-residing father-in-law, John Mohr, collaborate on a screen-printing company that makes cards, T-shirts, and more. That’s cool, but bonus points for the medium: The pair makes its dyes from used spent coffee grinds. domesticstencilworks.com
Leather’s Clever: Make Smith Leather Company
Steven Soria’s De la Guerra street studio is humming like Santa’s workshop right now, smashing out a growing inventory of tote bags, wallets, belts, and much more. But the third-generation leather dude is also sharing his wisdom with a series of classes, from blade axes to less dangerous affairs. 117 W. De la Guerra St., Unit C (Mon.-Sat., noon-6pm); Municipal Winemakers’ Muni Mega Mall Pop Up Shop on Dec. 17 (22 Anacapa St.) makesmith.com
There are so many one-off shopping/eating/drinking/musical experiences in our world today that we might as well start calling ourselves Generation Pop-Up. And no spot on the calendar features more pop-up boutiques than this December run-up to Christmas, where many of the gifts featured in this guide — and much, much more — can be found at special sales. Stay on top of the regional pop-up universe by downloading the new app Depop, which tracks these sales for you. Here are just a few of our favorites.
Artisans Unite: Yes Store
The nation’s longest-running holiday artisan co-op calls Santa Barbara home, and this year the Yes Store (founded in 1968) features 43 artists and crafters in the usually eclectic array of disciplines. Get your booties, bibs, gold, glass, ornaments, kaleidoscopes, gems, woodwork, nightlights, and more all in the same place! Daily, 10am-7pm 807 State St. facebook.com/theYesStore
Room-to-Room Ramblings: Deck the Halls @ Ojai Rancho Inn
This arty party started at the Presidio Motel on State Street before the Shelter Social Club crew got the boot and moved their creative juice factory to the Ojai Rancho Inn. Artisans occupy hotel rooms as guests wander from mini-sale to mini-sale, usually with ample musical and beverage entertainment. Dec. 19, noon-8pm 615 W. Ojai Ave., Ojai ojairanchoinn.com
Good Eats: Garibaldi Goods
Generally just a brilliant online curated market of much of the best artisanal California food products, including Grrrnola in S.L.O., Omnivore Salt in S.F., and Twenty-Four Blackbirds right here in S.B., Garibaldi Goods will go brick-and-mortar for your totally tasteful holiday shopping. Dec. 5, 12, and 19, 11am-5pm 208 W. Canon Perdido St. garibaldigoods.com
Art You Can Afford: Art From Scrap’s Under $50 Wednesday Wonderland Gift Fair
Check out mind-bending art, jewelry, magnets, ornaments, and more by such artisans as Brad Nack, Dan Levin, Colleen Darling, Jason Summers, Syd McCutcheon, Tara Patrick, Maddie Joyce, and Carol Rosen. Everything is less than $50! Dec. 9, 5-8pm 302 E. Cota St. exploreecology.org
Handmade Makers Market @ Poco Farms: Dec. 5, 10 am-5pm, 118 S. Lomita Ave., Ojai
Holiday Craftique @ The Orchid: Dec. 13, 11am-6pm, 301 La Casa Grande Cir.
Holiday Pop-Up Shop @ The Guilded Table: Dec. 11, 12, and 13, noon-6pm, 120 Santa Barbara St., guildedtable.com
Christmas Shoppe in the Greenhouse @ The Orchid: Dec. 12, noon-6pm, 301 La Casa Grande Cir.