When shopping for Christmas it’s easy to forget about all of the amazing local businesses offering gifts this season.
Online shopping provides convenience and endless choices, and local stores may seem scattered about town, but Santa Barbara shoppers can stop by the Arlington Plaza at State and Victoria streets for the third annual Christmas Market this Thursday and Friday for some of the best gifts Santa Barbara’s small businesses have to offer.
Designed to emulate the festive, light-filled holiday markets held throughout Europe, the Christmas Market is a free family-friendly event that will have booths showcasing 13 unique vendors from Santa Barbara, featuring wine, clothing, leather goods and much more. Right in Santa Barbara’s beautiful arts district, the market will coincide with First Thursday and the Christmas Parade on Friday, and will include live music and caroling.
Returning to the Market for a second year, Kristina McKean of The Elephant Project will be selling her stuffed elephants, Kiki and Tembo, as well as kid’s shirts and onesies.
The incredibly cute toy elephants are sold to raise money for organizations working with real elephants around the world, a passion of Ms. McKean’s ever since she witnessed the mistreatment of the creatures abroad.
“I donate 100 percent of the net proceeds to organizations globally that rescue and care for orphaned, injured or abused elephants,” Ms. McKean told the News-Press.
Elephant Project sales go to the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, and the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand.
Buying a gift with meaning is the way to go and a great way to give back during the holiday season, said Ms. McKean.
“Since you’re going to get a gift, why don’t you get a gift that helps save elephants!” she said.
Also returning to the market will be Santa Barbara Apothecary Co, Allison Genet’s one-woman candle operation. Ms. Jenet will bring her handcrafted soy candles and reed diffusers designed to capture the scents of Santa Barbara’s iconic locations, like The Rose Garden, Funk Zone and Butterfly Beach.
Scents are personalized, and with 15 to choose from you can’t go wrong, said Ms. Genet.
Ms. Genet has done plenty of outdoor pop-ups, but none like the Christmas Market, she said.
“This is highly curated and decorated beautifully, not to mention there’s carolers and Santa Clause wandering around!”
Shoppers Thursday and Friday will find plenty of clothing for sale, including stylish men’s shirts “reimagined” for women by Santa Barbra fashion veteran Kate McHale Jensen.
Ms. Jensen’s KMJ line features vintage, one-of-a-kind men’s shirts that she has acquired everywhere from people’s closets to vintage suppliers in Los Angeles, and has hand cut into women’s styles. KMJ sells mainly tops, although they also have headbands, scrunchies and vintage men’s blazers, and even makeup bags that will be debuted at the market.
These days, KMJ’s most popular shirts are from the Bon Voyage collection, which are cross-body shirts with puffed sleeves.
The classic styles are for every age group, and are designed to make women feel confident and happy with what they’re wearing, said Ms. Jensen.
She hopes that people will visit the market so she can meet her customers in person.
“It’s always more fun when I get to work hand in hand with the clients and see the line together, and it’s a fun time to be with everybody,” said Ms. Jensen.
New additions to the market this year include fashion accessories from Amy DiGregorio. Ms. DiGregorio will be selling her handmade gold jewelry, belts and handbags that have been worn by celebrities at such award shows as the Emmys and the Golden Globes.
The pieces are minimal, and have a unique look from the organic material Ms. DiGregorio uses.
“I go for really clean style that typically has contrast, so you’ll see something that’s kind of rough and raw contrasted in the same piece with something that’s really polished and refined,” said Ms. DiGregorio.
This year, the Symphony Hall ring, which features Herkimer diamonds, is one of the most popular items, she said.
The vendors can be found online and sell their goods all year round, but locals should not pass up the chance to meet the owners in person. Vendors will also have exclusives for visitors to the market, including two large apothecary candles for $6 off, and freshly stocked KMJ shirts on sale.
The market will be open from 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday and noon to 9 p.m. Friday. For full details and vendor announcements, follow Arlington Plaza’s Instagram @arlingtonplazasb.