Author Archives: Ted Plenge

UCSB student opens body-positive clothing store at Paseo Nuevo in Santa Barbara

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – A young entrepreneur and college student opened her own clothing store in Downtown Santa Barbara this weekend.

Athena Wang created the fashion brand Watermelon Apparel last year to promote body positivity.

Her line sells cozy comfort clothes like oversized T-shirts and sweatshirts.

After her online sales took off, the 20-year-old decided to open her own storefront this summer at the Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center.

“I just really want to create this community of gathering again through my shop, and then just like girls are hanging out here, we serve sparkling water around and we want to create this sense of community, use this store as a platform,” said Wang.

Wang runs the store with four other UCSB students.

To celebrate its opening weekend, Wang said the first 50 customers to come to her store will receive a 25% discount on their items.

Watermelon Apparel is located at 317 Paseo Nuevo in Santa Barbara and is open every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can shop online at

BizHawk: Jeannine’s Bakery Setting Up Shop at Corner of State Street, Cabrillo Boulevard

Earth Day Mural: ‘Nurture Our Mother’

Adriana Arriaga and Claudia Borfiga Unveil Mural at Paseo Nuevo

By Charles Donelan
Tue May 04, 2021 | 10:09am

The Community Environmental Council’s annual Earth Day celebration took a double hit from the coronavirus pandemic, with the 2020 and 2021 events both moving from the festive Sunken Gardens of the Santa Barbara County Courthouse to the virtual world of livestreaming. Looking for a way to preserve some of the missing pageantry associated with the festival, this year the CEC teamed up with the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, the Arts Fund, Paseo Nuevo, and Santa Barbara BCycle to sponsor a 60-foot mural on the Paseo Nuevo Arts Terrace Parking Deck. A panel of judges, one from each organization plus two additional community members, Maria Rendón and Arturo Heredia Soto, came together and selected “Nurture Our Mother,’ by Adriana Arriaga and Claudia Borfiga as the winning proposal from 27 entries.

Responding to a call for entries that reflected this year’s Earth Day theme of climate leadership, Arriaga and Borfiga proposed a brightly colored horizontal grid containing twelve images of nature that people would recognize and appreciate as indigenous to Santa Barbara. From monarch butterflies to a mushroom, a hummingbird, and an ear of corn, these icons of the 805 biota indicate not just the vitality of our region, but also the interconnectedness and unity of its ecosystem. In the mural’s largest panel, keeping watch over everything, there’s one of Arriaga’s instantly recognizable madres, the pop art versions of traditional votive images that this Xicana artist has made her signature trope.

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Coming from different backgrounds has not stopped these artists from finding common ground in their passion for public art. Since moving to Santa Barbara from Great Britain several years ago, Claudia Borfiga has proven to be one of the city’s most thoughtful and productive creators in the emerging field of social practice art. In this medium, which is sometimes referred to as relational aesthetics, the emphasis is on the interaction between the audience, the artwork, and the social systems within which the event takes place. Whether she’s working with the Print Power group she founded in 2018 to create grants-funded screen-printing workshops as a means to explore trauma or holding a popup show in the Funk Zone to remind us all that sometimes people just get sad, Borfiga radiates a rare combination of intelligence, ingenuity, and empathy.

Coming out of the MFA program at UC Davis, Adriana Arriaga knew what she wanted to do with her graduate degree in design. Since returning to Santa Barbara, where she grew up and attended SBCC, she has turned her eye toward the possibilities available for art that proceeds from a solid foundation in activism. With this new, high-profile project, she can expect to gain further attention in the art world while her 21st-century Xicana feminist imagery enters into the public art history of her hometown.

What makes this collaboration special, in addition to the evident skill and creativity that went into the work, is the degree to which these artists share a common goal of bringing all people into a deeper understanding of the obligation we have to serve the planet we have been given to protect. As Borfiga told me one afternoon while taking a break from riding the lift to complete the painting, “Whatever we do to the earth at this time we’re going to pass on to the next generation. If we make a mess of it, we are going to have nothing left to give them.” Fortunately, now we have been given this beautiful and inspiring work to remind us of that every time we see it.

See Original Story HERE

Santa Barbara Urban Flea Market Sets Up Shop Downtown

Movie theaters return; Matty’s Hot Chicken plans a pop-up; IHOP is moving to Goleta; and Santa Barbara’s transient occupancy taxes are down 39%

Sara Gehris has opened the Santa Barbara Urban Flea Market for vendors of vintage items.

Longtime entrepreneur Sara Gehris still packs a punch.

Her latest endeavor opened a few days ago downtown — the Santa Barbara Urban Flea Market. It’s a home for vendors of vintage items, including jackets, T-shirts, records, furnishings and countless other eclectic items.

“I just kind of wanted to have a platform for them to be able to sell their merchandise,” Gehris said. “It’s kind of like their own little business within a business.”

She said there’s a community of dealers looking for a spot to sell their items after getting displaced from the COVID-19 pandemic. Gehris said there’s strength in numbers, and everyone coming together can share a space that’s affordable yet high quality.

The shop, at 729 State St., once housed Pascucci Restaurant, which since has moved to the 500 block. Gehris, an interior designer, painted some of the walls and the floor to give the store its own vintage vibe.

“We really have something for all ages and all prices,” she said, adding from $1 to $1,000. “Everybody is so excited about it.”

About 20 vendors share the space.

“I am grateful to have the opportunity, just to bring business back to State Street,” Gehris said.

She used to own vintage store Punch, also on State Street. She sold it in 2015. Before that, she was also a dealer. At one point, she bought a shuttle bus and turned it into a shop in the Funk Zone.

“I really wanted to do a collective again,” she said. “I am just really good with spaces and turning it into a cool vibe.”

She said she eventually plans to hold pop-up bars once a month so people can enjoy beer and wine.

“I just love creating an interesting space,” she said. “Every little thing here has its own personality and its own story behind it.”

By Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @JECMolina

Original Story HERE

New businesses open in Downtown Santa Barbara, quickly filling vacancies

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – New life is coming to Downtown Santa Barbara. More businesses are starting to move in and open, filling the downtown vacancies.

“This just came at the right time. The price was right. It was just such a good opportunity that I just couldn’t pass it up, so we’re really excited about it,” said Sara Gehris, owner of SB Urban Flea Market.

Gehris expects to open her market next month, taking the old home of Pascucci Restaurant.

“It’s going to be a vintage, just a flea market, very eclectic. I have over 18 dealers in here. I’m going to have some artisans, most of them are local,” Gehris said.

SB Urban Flea Market is joining businesses like M Special and Tondi Gelato which also recently opened on State Street.

Downtown Santa Barbara attributes this success to the State Street promenade—which will remain for at least another year.

“I think it’s tripled traffic. Like I haven’t seen State Street this busy in probably five years,” said Gehris. “On the weekends it’s so packed it looks like a street city in New York. It’s going to be really good.”

The downtown area is also expecting a new Gastropub to move into the former Starbucks location on the corner of State Street and De La Guerra. They say the speed at which the spot found a new tenant, from one business closing to another opening, is an optimistic sign for State Street.

“I think shows a lot of promise for downtown. I think people are excited about the future. They are ready to get out of this pandemic, and they’re seeing opportunities downtown, and we’re very excited about that,” said Robin Elander, executive director for Downtown Santa Barbara.

The downtown area said it’s continuing to recruit more businesses to move in soon.

Santa Barbara – South County

Former Macy’s Building Being Converted to Offices in Downtown Santa Barbara

Hayes Commercial Group says owners are looking for tenants in 20,000-to-40,000-square-foot office spaces on top floors

The former Macy’s building in downtown Santa Barbara will be transformed into office space, the Hayes Commercial Group announced Monday.

Located at 701 State St., the 132,500-square-foot building in the Paseo Nuevo shopping mall will feature the “largest office floor plates” in Santa Barbara’s downtown, with more than 40,000 square feet on each level and half-floor suites in the 20,000 square feet range, according to Hayes.

“Frankly, there aren’t a lot of tenants in our area looking for 20,000 or 40,000 square feet of office,” Francois DeJohn of Hayes Commercial Group said in a statement. “So we are marketing to companies in Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, and beyond to consider adding an office location in Santa Barbara.”

The ground floor of the three-story building is being marketed to retail, restaurant and grocery tenants, Hayes Commercial Group said, and the building is expected to accommodate a mix of commercial uses.

In 2018, El Segundo-based Pacific Retail Capital Partners acquired the vacant structure, which is now known as the Ortega Building.

Pacific Retail’s architects determined that the structure is not suitable to convert into apartments or condos, according to Hayes Commercial Group, which will be marketing the office spaces.

“Office is the ‘highest and best use’ for the building, especially the upper two floors,” Greg Bartholomew of Hayes said in a statement. “State Street has more than enough retail space already, and bringing potentially hundreds of office workers to this location every day would help vitalize the area.”

He added: “Downtown Santa Barbara has become a focal point for tech tenants during the past 10 years. With companies like Amazon, Honey, Sonos and Invoca leasing large office spaces along the State Street corridor.”

Macy’s occupied the building at the corner of State and Ortega streets from the time Paseo Nuevo was built in the early 1990s until the national retailer announced that it was closing its doors in early 2017.

The building is part of the 450,000-square-foot Paseo Nuevo, and the majority of the shopping center is owned and operated by Pacific Retail.

“This is an exciting project to work on because there is nothing like it on the South Coast,” Hayes said. “It has the potential to infuse significant business energy and a bunch of high-quality jobs into the center of downtown, which will benefit the community.”

In the years since Macy’s left, community members have been wondering what would happen with the huge, corner building, and proposed everything from moving the police station there, to bringing in a small Target, to a mixed-use project with housing, stores, offices, or all three.

In 2018, a partner at Hayes noted that significantly changing the building would be a challenge since it was built specifically for the Macy’s retail store, and has few windows.

Both of the Paseo Nuevo mall’s anchor buildings – the former Macy’s and former Nordstrom – are vacant.

The mall management firm has a long-term lease with the city, and at the time it was signed last April, Nordstrom was still around.

The store closed last summer and the Paseo Nuevo managers said they would consider building a hotel or housing at the site.

Converting the former Macy’s to offices comes a few years after the former Saks Fifth Avenue building, at 1001 State St., was converted into offices and leased to Amazon.

The company uses the downtown Santa Barbara building for engineers and other employees working on Alexa, the company’s virtual assistant.

Hollister Brings Its Teen Vibe to New Store in Downtown Santa Barbara

Hollister has opened along State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, replacing Abercrombie & Fitch. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara’s downtown is getting younger.

Abercrombie & Fitch, the well-branded clothing retailer that closed its doors in January, has opened a sibling store. It’s intended to attract even younger shoppers than the teens and twentysomethings who frequented Abercrombie & Fitch.

Hollister, at 721 State St., focuses on the “carefree spirit of the endless California summer for the teen market.”

It’s target demographic is the 15-to-19 age group.

“It fills a niche in downtown Santa Barbara for this customer who makes up approximately 22% of our demographic,” said Mary Lynn Harms-Romo, marketing manager for Paseo Nuevo mall. “We are encouraged that Abercrombie has made the decision to meet the needs of the market as retail is everchanging and retailers who are committed to evolving will continue to succeed.”

The store sells a variety of jeans, tops, dresses, sleepwear and jackets as well as three types of “skinny” jeans, including “exteme skinny,” “super skinny” and just plain “skinny.”

From the sale of each World Teen Mental Wellness Day Collection item, $10 will support the HollisterConfidence Fund’s grant-making efforts

Semi-Permanent Makeup

Santa Barbara native Kathy Rodriguez plans to open XO Aesthetics in Santa Barbara around April 1.

The shop at 3455 State St., Suite 6, will specialize in personal care services, such as eyebrow microblading, lip blushing, teeth whitening, and face and body treatments. Rodriguez decided during the COVID-19 pandemic that it was time to start her own business.

“I started realizing that I wanted to pursue something where I was going to be independent,” she said, “or do something where I would not have to work under somebody, and do something for myself.”

The company uses pigments to create semi-permanent makeup products that can last between 18 months and several years. The treatment is popular in Los Angeles.

Something’s Definitely Fishy

Hibachi Steak House & Sushi Bar at 502 State St. in Santa Barbara appears to have temporarily closed. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The Hibachi Steak House & Sushi Bar, formerly known as the popular “Something’s Fishy,” appears to have temporarily closed its doors.

The restaurant at 502 State St. was dark all week, with the doors closed and no one on the inside.

Calls and efforts to reach the restaurant through social media were unsuccessful.

Yelp states that the restaurant is temporarily closed until April 22, 2022.

Although most of the other restaurants on the 500 block of State Street seemed to have enjoyed the benefit of outdoor dining, the Hibachi Steak House & Sushi Bar, known for its grilling in the middle of the restaurant for all to see, apparently has not fared as well.

CalCoast Glass Tinting Adds Team Member

Nathan Ponder has joined CalCoast Glass Tinting.

The company, 4141 State St., Suite C3, provides films for windows from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles.

Ponder will work as the director of sales.

He previously worked at Kinkos in 1992 as a color specialist before becoming operations manager. He left Kinkos in 2004 to be the chief operations officer at CyberCopy, a market leader in construction printing and graphics services for architects, engineers and contractors. He became vice president of sales and marketing in 2008.

CalCoast Glass Tinting Inc. is the Premier 3M Dealer and a leader in glass treatment films with its expertise, customer service and high-quality workmanship, according to a news release.

By Joshua Molina, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @JECMolina

Original story HERE

Makers and Wares Market celebrates International Women’s Day

Denise Zenteno, the maker behind Rain Frog Woodworking,  sells handcrafted wood tools during the International Women’s Day Market at the Paseo Nuevo shopping center in downtown Santa Barbara on Sunday.

Makers and Wares Market hosted 59 women-led booths at Paseo Nuevo in celebration of International Women’s Day (which is today). The event, presented by Blissful Boutiques and Women’s Economic Ventures, was free for the entrepreneurs.

Lisa Green, president and CEO of the Makers and Wares Market, wanted to make the day free as a gift to vendors and shoppers.

“Everybody’s been suffering this whole year with COVID. And I figured, International Women’s Day — let’s do something to just get the community together and bring them out,” she told the News-Press.

She saw the holiday as a good way to honor women who might be struggling during the pandemic.

Paula Fell sits behind a mosaic portrait of David Bowie she was commissioned to make while selling her mosaic art at her booth.

“I think the women, in my opinion, were hit the hardest. Because they have to be mom; they have to be teachers; they have to get home with the kids, etc. So that was part of the other reason why it’s doing this and offering it free to the vendors,” she said.

Ms. Green, an entrepreneur herself, has presided over the market for nearly five years and just recently opened the market to include non-handmade items.

“A small business that wants to get up off their feet and they can’t afford to rent a brick-and-mortar storefront — we want to be able to give them a chance. We want to be able to take care of everybody,” she said.

The market, which is located beside State Street in downtown Santa Barbara, allows vendors from surrounding cities to participate. (Some local markets only allow Santa Barbara residents to join.)

Denise Zenteno of Rain Frog Woodworking heard about the market from friends in Santa Ynez Valley Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS). Some of the moms had small businesses and were planning to represent Santa Ynez Sunday.

Shoppers stroll through the market on a gloomy day as entrepreneurs of various disciplines show off their craft.

Sunday was Ms. Zenteno’s fourth time selling at a market, and first time in Santa Barbara.

She began woodworking six months ago when she saw a lathe among the tools her husband keeps in the garage.

She describes discovering woodworking as falling in love. Her father was an architect and used woodwork in his designs, so the trade resonated with her.

Her display of pens, cooking utensils and bowls look as though she’s been making them for years.

“As an engineer, I’ve always worked with my hands, so it wasn’t a hard transition,” she explained.

She was an engineer for seven years before immigrating to the U.S. and starting a family with her husband.

She has many hobbies and likes to try new projects (which is why she browsed the tools in the garage), but she had never sold her work.

Jen Grasmere sells jewelry at her booth, displayed among wood boxes and succulents.

Ms. Zenteno started woodworking to make Christmas gifts, and her friends and family insisted she sell some of her creations. She had a large inventory already and decided to give it a try while she stays home with her child.

Paula Fell, an artist in Ojai, started selling mosaics and fused glass pieces after she retired three years ago. She always desired to become an artist upon retirement.

She has sold her mosaics in art exhibitions and decided to try the market when her neighbor Jen Grasmere told her about it.

“I think [Ms. Green] is really trying to help women artists and women with the cottage industries,” Ms. Fell said. “I think that’s really important during COVID that they have a platform to be able to share their work.”

Ms. Grasmere, a silver and turquoise jewelry artist, was grateful the market was a free opportunity.

“I think women need to help each other and encourage each other. We need each other in this world,” she said.

Her jewelry became her profession five years ago, which was an intimidating transition. She previously gave everything away.

“As an artist, you have got to get over your shame,” she said. “Because you put your stuff out there and you have a shame attack like, ‘Oh, no one’s gonna like that.’ But then you make a sale and then you get used to putting your stuff out there.”

She still worries about hitting the perfect price to get more sales and pay for her handiwork. But she says her husband is a good support.

To shop Ms. Zenteno’s woodwork, send her an email:

Ms. Fell often makes commissioned pieces as well as sells her premade art at

Ms. Grasmere likes to update her Instagram with her latest pieces at

To support Ms. Green, check out her markets and events at


To read the original story, click [HERE]

Santa Barbara County Events, Markets Balance Holiday Cheer with COVID-19 Pandemic

Maker’s Market at Paseo Nuevo

Downtown outdoor shop features local artisans with handmade gifts

Shoppers walk through the Maker’s Market at the Paseo Nuevo shopping mall in downtown Santa Barbara on Saturday, December 5, 2020. (Kenneth Song/News-Press)

The years-long Maker’s Market at Paseo Nuevo Shops and Restaurants is still alive and well on State Street, and provides an outdoor, COVID-safe environment for residents to Christmas shop, all while supporting local businesses.

With more than a dozen vendors selling everything from homemade bags, clothing, paintings, books, jewelry, decorations, beauty products, soaps, desserts and, of course, handmade face masks, the market caters to all ages and all walks of life.

Jaci Mello Browdy sells various items from her “SweetMello” stand during the Maker’s Market at the Paseo Nuevo shopping mall in downtown Santa Barbara on Saturday, December 5, 2020. (Kenneth Song/News-Press)

“I come from at least three generations of seamstresses,” Mrs. Browdy told the News-Press. “I don’t have a marketing background; I don’t have a business background.

“You learn as you go. You have to be ever changing, and sometimes you’ve got to work from sunup to sundown,” she said. “I don’t have days off, but it’s what I love to do and it’s totally worth it.”

Her reusable goods include food bags, paper towels, napkins, travel bags, lanyards, cable holders and more, unique with brightly-colored patterns. Many of her items are also reversible.

When COVID-19 hit, she began making face masks, and said she sold thousands online from March 30 to the end of April.

While the pandemic halted the Maker’s Market for several weeks, Mrs. Browdy said business has still been good.

“I feel like because it’s outside, people are willing to go outside,” she said. “If we were an indoor market, it wouldn’t work.”

SweetMello products are all under $25, and the cheapest items start at $2. To view her stock of reusable goods, visit

Sean Duffy was previously an English teacher in Ventura, but now holds fundraisers and book fairs for “Duffy’s Book Biz.”

He and his wife are educational representatives with Usborne Books & More, and he curates children’s books that pique childrens’ interest and get them excited to read. The majority of the books are interactive, pop-up books that allow for hands-on, tactile learning.

Sean Duffy sells educational and children’s books from his stand “Duffy’s Book Biz” during the Maker’s Market at the Paseo Nuevo shopping mall in downtown Santa Barbara on Saturday, December 5, 2020. (Kenneth Song/News-Press)

Mr. Duffy said he came up with the idea when he noticed the education system focusing too much on test grades than the learning process.

Sean Duffy sells pop-up, interactive children’s books from his stand, “Duffy’s Book Biz” during the Maker’s Market.
“At one point, I thought, ‘This is too much for me,’” he told the News-Press. “There’s a lot of politics, and unfortunately, I think the kids suffer because of that.

“We’re doing these kids a disservice — they’re not robots, they’re actually human beings. It’s supposed to be fun.”

From activity books to internet-linked science to history encyclopedias, Mr. Duffy hopes his books excite kids and make learning fun.

“It doesn’t seem like you’re just drilling learning into them,” he said. “They read and do something. The more you can do that, the more you get their interest and the more they want to be there.”

To learn more about his business or to shop his curated collection, visit
Kennedy Bretz is a UCSB student, and Saturday marked her third time tabling at the Maker’s Market. Her brand, Art from the Heart, is a collection of various paintings, pieces of clothing with artsy additions and handmade soaps and candles.

“They’re made sustainably, so they use ingredients that are natural for the environment and they’re made mindfully for the environment as well,” Ms. Bretz told the News-Press. “I incorporate my paintings into the business too because I love to paint.”

She donates 10% of purchases to a different charity every month, decided by a vote on the brand’s Instagram page: @kb.artfromtheheart.

While she doesn’t know what it’s like selling without a pandemic going on, she said business has still been good.

“It’s a little easier for me because I’m lucky selling soaps, so people don’t mind touching them because they know they’re clean,” Ms. Bretz said. “A lot of people still want to come out so there’s still a decent amount of foot traffic going on on State Street.”

Taki Gold sells perfume, jackets, and other goods from his stand during the Maker’s Market at the Paseo Nuevo shopping mall in downtown Santa Barbara on Saturday, December 5, 2020. (Kenneth Song/News-Press

Taki Gold sells perfume, jackets and other goods from his stand during the Maker’s Market.
Her art pieces and sustainable soaps and candles can be found on her Etsy Shop page: kbartfromtheheart.

Taki Gold and his brand, World of Taki Gold, were also tabling on Saturday for the second weekend in a row.

Mr. Gold grew up in the violent Liberian Civil War, and witnessed many tragedies between 1989 and 1994. His goal now with World of Taki Gold is to represent an artistic way of expressing the transformation of personal wars into art, fashion and music.

His slogan is “Make war beautiful.”

“I was 6 years old and in a civil war in Liberia, and the women that were in my group explained war to me through art because I was so young, so everything was music, everything was dance, everything was art,” he told the News-Press.

Mr. Gold purchased uniforms from veterans and redesigned them, to “transform the energy of what we’ve been through.” In addition, he’s a musician who just came out with an album called “Girl God,” and he sells his own brand of fragrance, inspired by his first wave surfed at Mesa Beach.

“I just wanted a scent that makes me feel like the ocean,” he said.

Proceeds go to both Mr. Gold and his foundation called Seed, which is a women-led agro-tech crop farm in Liberia to help empower women to revive the land that was damaged by war.

He said COVID-19 hasn’t affected his brand all that much because it’s mostly online.

“When you’re genuinely presenting healthy energy to people, I don’t hold back,” he said. “I’m generally creating a shift of new energy, something that’s healthy, that smells good, that feels good, that’s helping others.”

To learn more about Mr. Gold’s products, visit

The Maker’s Market, presented by Blissful Boutiques, is open at Paseo Nuevo at State and De la Guerra streets every Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. Tuesday’s market is open from 3 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Saturday’s is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday’s is from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.