There are some shops we love…and others we need a restraining order from.
Yes, we understand this sounds a little crazy…obsessive even… The truth of the matter is we’ve never been able to enter the doors of Summer Camp without leaving with something (a hem, lots of things) in hand. AKA: Trouble! Not only is it a place where inspiration for new makers and designers blossoms within visitors, but also the space itself is a masterpiece of staging design which always peeks ideas for application in our own homes.
We knew a shop that took as much dedication to it’s looks as well as the inventory – not to mention a dedication to supporting the creative community – had to have a good story behind it. So we chatted with owners Mike & Rachel to get a better understanding of where this concept came from and how they keep it so unbelievably swoon-worthy with each day they roll open the garage doors for business.
This is Shop Talk – With Summer Camp!Shop: Summer Camp Owners: Mike & Rachel Graves Location: Ojai, CA
Tell us a little about how Summer Camp, where does the name come from, the shop’s creative mission and what pushed you to bring this concept to life in Ojai?
For as long as I can remember we’d been dreaming of opening our own store, scouring rental listings, but never finding the right fit… then on a weekend trip to Ojai, we saw an amazing mid-century gas station with a tiny for rent sign in the window, and we knew it was meant to be! We had been playing with a few different ideas for the theme and name of the store we might open. Once we got the space, we knew we wanted to go in the outdoors/vintage direction. The name is inspired by the joy and experiences of summer camps as a kid and bringing that feeling to life!
The building you opened up shop in was abandoned for years. How did you decide upon this particular space and what was the process like getting it to where it is now?
The building was actually pretty well renovated when we took it over. There was a lot of cleaning to be done, and then setting everything up. Including getting my Grandfathers 14 foot hand made canoe from 150 miles away to Ojai, and then up onto the old wall mounted tire rack from the service station days.
The styling of the space is swoon-worthy, each and every inch is Instagram ready (in the best way). What is your objective when it comes to retail and interior design? How often to you switch things up to keep things fresh?
Thanks for the kind words! We have always been into design, both of us working in custom framing for a combined 17 years, we have a lot of experience working with designers and clients creatively. Our objective for the store is to bring the outdoors in. filling it will greenery, vintage camping items and wonderful pieces from local and American makers. We want it to have an eclectic feeling, where every corner has it’s own special vibe. We change the store around every couple of months, sort of seasonally, but also just with new products coming in or new vintage pieces that need a home.
How do find talent and product to feature in your store? Who are some of the creatives that you’re currently crazy for?
When we got ready to open the store, we went to every craft fair, market and any events featuring products made in USA that we could find. We also searched on line, reached out on Instagram etc. There are so many great makers and creatives following their dreams right now! Here are a few of our favorite makers:
Make Smith Leather, Santa Barbara
PF Candle Co. Los Angeles
BernScott pottery, Ojai
Margins Printing, Ojai
Natan Moss Ceramics, Los Angeles
Secret Holiday Co, Northampton, MA
Moon Rivers Naturals, TX
Small Adventure, Los Angeles
What are the greatest challenges and rewards for running a lifestyle shop and promoting your own independent business?
The challenges are what you might expect, long hours, lots of work and effort, doing everything yourself to start, from bookkeeping, to cleaning to deliveries. The rewards are seeing all your hard work come to fruition! Watching people walk into the store and getting the feeling of welcome and happiness that we were hoping for! Giving people a place were they can come and experience the magic of Ojai and have a piece of it to take home with them.
What’s next!? Any new collaborations or plans with the shop we can look forward to?
We are currently working with Brody Travel Supply to restore our vintage Northwest Coach Trailer. We are going to having it on display out front, as well as using it for a Mobile shop and have it available for special camping rental.
We also have a few events on the horizon with some of the makers and local artists we work with! Here are the upcoming dates:
May 9th: Apothecary Pop Up with Homestead Apothecary
May 17th: Flower Crown Workshop with Willhouse Creative
June 6th: Weaving Workshop with Farron Feiner
For more information and to sign up for an event – visit the Summer Camp website …and check out their instagram feed for endless interior inspiration and product/maker updates. Photography: Kristin Guy