Midwest Meets Beach at Westward General

Down-to-Earth Boutique Features Vintage Finds and Locally Made Wares

Midwest Meets Beach
at Westward General

Down-to-Earth Boutique Features
Vintage Finds and Locally Made Wares

By Tyler Hayden | Photos by Ingrid Bostrom
May 25, 2023

Westward General | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

Read more of our Home & Garden 2023 stories here.

After 14 years as an independent set designer, staging shoots for big commercial clients such as Apple and Motorola, Naomi Strauss struck out in a new direction and opened Westward General in 2021. She’d been her own boss even in the corporate world, and she meant to keep it that way. “I wanted to build another business,” she said.

Westward General reflects the tastes and travels of owner Naomi Strauss, who grew up in Wisconsin and now lives in Carpinteria. | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

Tucked between a bakery and a barbershop on De la Vina Street, Westward General reflects the tastes and trajectory of Strauss, who grew up in jeans and cowboy boots in Wisconsin then fell in love with the beachy climes of California. The boutique offers a fun mix of old and new, from vintage finds like lamps, glassware, and paintings to locally made goods, including ceramics, candles, and cocktail mixers.

Many of the items are set at medium price points. That’s very intentional, Strauss explained. “I want things to be attainable,” she said. “That’s important to me.” And she sticks to selling American-made goods. “That’s also important to me.”

Westward General’s inventory is constantly changing. There’s always something new based on what Strauss finds at estate sales and which local artisan she’s teamed up with. Fresh arrivals are announced on Instagram. Next to an impressive stack of vintage denim, there’s a whole wall of cosmetics (easy pickings for a gift basket), and at the counter is a case of resplendent turquoise jewelry.

Soon, Strauss said, she’ll start making clothing out of vintage fabrics. She previously produced a line of handbags fashioned from recycled military textiles. She’s already turning quilts into beach bags and has partnered with a Santa Barbara artist for their own Westward General brand of merchandise. “I really like the making process and creating things with other makers,” she said.

Westward General | Credit: Ingrid Bostrom

If anything has surprised Strauss since she’s opened it’s how well things have gone. Because we all know about best-laid plans. “But it’s been great,” said the Carpinteria resident. And the whole family is chipping in — her 8-year-old recently rang up some customers and her 5- year-old has requested space on the sales floor to showcase her beadwork. Before that, Strauss’s husband and father-in-law helped clear out and build up the space, a former salon.

“It’s been cool to see people so supportive,” Strauss said of her clientele. “I think they appreciate seeing normal people opening a store.” The shop recently hosted a benefit event for Peabody Charter School right up the street and is looking forward to its two-year anniversary in November. “Come in and buy something special,” said Strauss.

See westwardgeneral.com. Follow on Instagram

Credit: Ingrid Bostrom


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