When my husband and I left our funky Mission neighborhood in San Francisco to move to Orange County 15 + years ago, my husband’s sister set out to prove that Orange County had its own edgy flavor. So she brought us to the then fairly new mall (or anti-mall as it prefers to be billed), The Lab. For anyone who has been to San Francisco, I am sure you can assume that Orange County was not instantly transformed in our minds to the eclectic streets, stores, and people our beloved city by the bay. However, The Lab does have cool stores and it does speak to some of Orange County’s hipper tendencies that it has not only done well, it has thrived. Enough to open a sister property across the street some years ago.
Truthfully, my first trip to The Camp was about six months ago. With its emphasis on outdoor lifestyle, hot sweaty yoga, and healthy food choices, I really didn’t picture myself as their target market. I wish I did embrace all of those things, but as I sat down to right this, I just finished my breakfast of chocolate chip cookies (it is the holidays, you know…). However, what I discovered when I did check it out one day, is that The Seed People’s Market is a fabulous reason to go to The Camp, and once on the grounds, the smell of healthy food is actually quite appealing! (There is no way I am going to take sweaty yoga there, but I did see a lot of drenched people walking to and fro.)
The Seed People’s Market is the brainchild of The Lab and The Camp’s landlords, Linda and Shaheen Sadeghi. Looking to fill the spot of flagship store on the property, they started to scout the country for eco-friendly department store type retailers. What they found? Nothing. So, knowing what their vision was, they decided to be the first! The store is fabulous on many different levels. First of all the layout and overall feel is awesome. Large and roomy with lots of little nooks making it perfect to have a variety of products. With an extremely high ceilings and a loft, there is lots of room to decorate, and decorate they do. They have merchandising students from the Art Institute, design and install seasonal displays. The result is ultra-hip and fun.
Then, of course, they fill it with awesome products that are sold at reasonable prices. The top-selling line in the store is Patagonia, one of the highest quality outdoor / sports apparel lines around. And while I don’t climb mountains, I do applaud Patagonia’s recent campaign of quality over mass consumption – pretty impressive move for a manufacturer! The store also carries a selection of shoes, some smaller label action sportswear lines. And then the gift section, which is what I go there for – they have a great selection of natural body care and cosmetics. Jewelry found from local Etsy type artists. A kitchen section of beautiful bamboo bowls, handmade aprons, eco-friendly lunch boxes and storage containers. A very cool book section (would love to copy the decor in there!), some standard gift items (right now they have a selection of fun Christmas tree ornaments). And of course, a children’s section with apparel, accessories, books, and eco-friendly toys.
My pick of the day – the Kauzbots. Kauzbots are created locally (Costa Mesa) by a group of people with a passion for making a difference in the world. The line consists of 10 kauzbots – robot looking soft dolls – who each represent a different charity. 10% of the retail price of these cute guys is donated to the cause it represents. The colors are bright and appealing for little people and big people alike making them very collectible. A very inspiring gift! Choose from pediatric or breast cancer, the environment, poverty and hunger, homelessness, autism, clean water, and more!