This week has been extra special at DIANI. Not only was it the kick off to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival with our neighbors at the Arlington Theater, but we've also had three days of Valentine's Day inspired Pop Ups. And it has reminded me of the power of community: how wonderful it feels to be amongst so many incredible women, and to support each other in beautiful ways. I thought I'd share something of these women here, what they do and how much fun we've all had hanging out...
We were lucky to have several locally owned businesses host pop ups in each of our stores, many of them female founded and customers of ours! So, I'd like to shine a spotlight on them here in case you haven't discovered any of these great brands.
Citizens of Humanity is a Los Angeles-based premium denim label that has captivated the world with a devoted commitment to producing the highest quality denim in Los Angeles, without compromise. Since 2003, their designers have been traveling the world sourcing superior fabrications and seeking inspiration in every corner of the finest vintage markets. Their team continues to build a powerful women’s assortment that speaks to the core of their brand values: impeccable fits crafted in authentic fabrications and washes, providing women with the utmost comfort and confidence. Each season, Citizens of Humanity delivers a uniform of wardrobe classics that have been modernized for today. They are committed to reducing their global footprint on the environment and over the years have invested in advanced technology including laser methods, ecological stones, ozone wash machines, as well as a new recycled water system.
Also, although Citizens of Humanity is a California based brand, they are dedicated to seeking inspiration from individuals around the globe and aiding those doing their part to make a difference. In their words, “more than ever before, humanity needs humanity and we have learned that even just a little effort can make a big impact.”
Ten years ago, Rod Cegleski, a California surfer met Hamish "Hammer" Marshall, an Australian cowboy. A friendship blossomed over a shared love of quality spirits and the Central coast. The two founded Rod & Hammer's SLO Stills to share their passion with friends and family. In the heart of California's Central coast, they handcraft whiskey cut with purified pacific ocean water to capture the soul and essence of the waters that united these two partners from Australia and California. And I have to mention, Jill Marshall, Hamish's wife who has been a customer for as long as I can remember, introduced Jeffrey and me to their whiskey. Whiskey has never been my drink of choice until I tried theirs. I have been converted!
Those who know me know my love affair with chocolate. So it was only natural that I would fall for Santa Barbara based, Twenty-Four Blackbirds Chocolates. And with the chillier weather during our event this week, we decided to serve their divine spicy hot chocolate. Founder, Mike Orlando is inspired by traditional chocolate making techniques, and endeavors to make artisanal confections that are truly hand-crafted. He sources raw, un-roasted cocoa beans from single origin estates, growing co-ops, and plantations, and then hand sorts to remove any beans that are flawed or otherwise do not meet their strict standards of quality. He then develops roast profiles to accentuate the subtle, and often delicate, flavor characteristics inherent in beans from each origin. The ingredients are then refined in a traditional stone melangeur, tempered, and molded by hand in small batches with no emulsifiers or additives.
Mary and Lucy Firestone, who we’re lucky to call our customers, created a fragrance line called, Wild Precious Life. “The First”, their original scent is a reminder that fragrance can awaken the spirit, stir the soul, and help women tap into their inner guide.
Combining Mary’s academic background in psychology, with Lucy’s film background in historical storytelling, the Firestone sisters have created a powerful layered experience that stands to change fragrance from something that one simply applies to their skin, to something that allows one’s spirit to breathe. Mary and Lucy have meticulously curated an intimate and autobiographical olfactory experience; they have bottled salient moments from their own journey with the pure intention of helping other women embark on their own… their own wild, precious life. And it doesn’t hurt that their fragrance was given a shoutout by singer-songwriter, Lana Del Ray, who unbeknown to them, is a die-hard fan.
Founded by another one of our lovely customers, Monica Epstein's Ysidro is a clean, refreshing, and sophisticated alcoholic spritz made with the finest super-premium sake. The ruby red fruit, tart acidity, and a touch of salinity are anchored by the mellow brilliance of top-shelf Junmai Ginjo sake to create a drink that is supremely balanced, bright, complex and delicious.
Monica and her husband, Seth, and their fellow co-founders, live just a few blocks from each other off San Ysidro road, which runs through the heart of Montecito and connects the mountains to the sea. This road was the original inspiration behind the name along with Saint Ysidro, the patron saint of farmers, gardeners, and workers. They like to think of him as an early adopter of work/life balance — he embraced simple living and valued being present to “what is” over the stresses and preoccupations of daily life.
Caddis is the anti anti-aging brand of eyewear - cool readers specifically. To quote the founders, “we want to have an open and frank conversation with you about how absolutely right on it is to be the age we are, right here and now. CADDIS is calling bullshit on 50 is the new 40, on the whole fountain of youth illusion, on the many industries that are profiting on vanity and fear of age, on the concept of 'aging gracefully' and on the notion of raging against the dying of the light. Now is what we got, and now is pretty awesome.” I just ordered a few more styles to add to my ever growing collection of their readers.
In addition to all of the amazing partners in this event, we also supported the local non-profit organization AHA! by donating a portion of our sales to them.
AHA! equips teenagers, educators, and parents with social and emotional intelligence to dismantle apathy, prevent despair, and interrupt hate-based behavior. Their programs serve middle school, junior high, and high school students, parents/guardians/adults at home, educators, and the broader community. Participants forge rewarding and supportive relationships while developing social-emotional knowledge and skills. High school students earn community service hours toward graduation or monetary stipends, reflecting the value of social-emotional skill building in preparing them for college and work. Most out-of-school programming is offered by donation. In-school programs are funded largely through grants, donations, and fundraising events, with some investment from local schools and districts. In the program coordinator's words, "our youth are in emotional crisis. Research continues to demonstrate the unmatched importance of social-emotional learning (SEL) in reducing emotional/physical violence in schools by building healthy campus climates with young people taking on the role of change agents in this shift." DIANI team members, Cynthia and Shayne are alumnae of this incredible program.
Photo above - DIANI team members and AHA alum, Cynthia and Shayne with Senior Director of Development at AHA, Molly Green. We will continue our giving back through the end of today, Sunday, February 11th, so if you shop in any of our stores or online, your purchase will count towards a donation to AHA!.
Thank you so much to all the businesses and founders who participated in our Valentine's celebration, and to our very own team who helped pull it all together so beautifully. Thank you Meg Sandu, an OG DIANI team member, for the beautiful photos taken during our event. And, our amazingly generous customers who showed up, shared stories, laughs, shopped and helped us give back to AHA!
Sending lots of love to you all and a special Valentine's Day/Galentine's Day this week.