Coastland is filled with soaps, laser-cut woodwork and other unique handmade trinkets that would look at home in a boutique gift shop or on a social media influencer’s Instagram feed.
Tourists and local customers might be surprised to find that the Linden Avenue retail shop’s eclectic inventory is made by Carpinteria High School students.
Coastland, which is a quick walk from Carpinteria State Beach at 768 Linden Ave., is a Pro Deo Foundation project that provides an after-school entrepreneurship and business training program for high school students called Pathways.
The Pro Deo Foundation is a nonprofit that works to create pathways for children and youth to flourish.
Foundation Executive Director David Roberts said Coastland opened on Nov. 15, 2019, to great success, but had to close in early March because of COVID-19 guidelines.
“We moved to Carpinteria with the idea of doing this program with the store. In the process we connected with the high school who had lost their after-school program grant funding. They asked us to take over the after-school program,” Mr. Roberts said.
Coastland reopened on May 27, and students began coming back into the shop to create more inventory on June 8.
Mr. Roberts said 25 students work at Coastland through the Pathways program. The student team evenly splits 100% of the profits from shop sales. The Pro Deo Foundation covers the shop’s overhead expenses.
Before the COVID-19 outbreak, up to 19 students would work in the shop at one time, cutting handmade soap into succulents and starfish, designing wooden plaques and hand painting jewelry.
Now a maximum of 15 students can work in the store at once. Mr. Roberts said the foundation implemented social distancing protocols, and the students work on tables outside as much as possible.
“Because we were sheltered for so long, we weren’t making any inventory. So when students came back, we were trying to build that inventory up. Weekends in Carp, we see a big influx of people so we’ve been working on a lot of soap, tumblers, can koozies and those kinds of things to get the shop back up to speed,” Mr. Roberts said.
He added that once the staff replenish the shop’s inventory, the foundation will help students develop new products.
“A lot of them will tell us ‘Here’s the things we want to make’ or ‘I found this cool recipe for soap.’ We’ll talk to them about market, design and we’ll help them through the iterative process. We can help them with the technical side, but it’s all based on their creativity and drive,” Mr. Roberts said.
One of those new products is a line of metal rings made of reclaimed spoons. The students cut off the handle and use a tool to bend it into a ring. Mr. Roberts said the rings are a popular new item.
“That’s one of the things we’ve had trouble keeping. We’re selling them as soon as we can make them. One of the students who does this, he found some vintage spoon handles so he’s been doing some cool things with those,” Mr. Roberts said.
He said Coastland’s signature wood products are cut with an in-house laser-cutter. Students prepare the wood for the cutter with a wood router and sander.
Students can even bend thin pieces of engraved wood into cap brims and book covers.
“When we were starting out, we wanted to think of things we could do to help students make sellable products. We stumbled upon a laser and started doing the research and decided it was a good investment,” Mr. Roberts said.
Students can sign up for six-week shifts. They work in the Coastland shop for four hours per week on average.
For more information about Coastland and the Pathways program visit https://coastlandcarp.com.