Downtown outdoor shop features local artisans with handmade gifts
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 Browdy owns her own seamstressing business called SweetMello, using only reusable fabric products to try to eliminate waste. She’s been tabling at Maker’s Market since it began around three years ago, and was selling her products on Saturday.
“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 sweetmello.com.
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.
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.
“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 DuffysBookBiz.com.
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.”
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 worldoftakigold.com.
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.