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Ojai is our happy place, and when we're there, we can't pass up the chance to visit one of our favorite shops, the expertly curated Summer Camp. Co-owner Rachel Graves, a SoCal native, got her start in the retail world working in the now-shuttered framing/antique shop Jewel Box Frames in Santa Monica. That experience, combined with her penchant for what her husband Mike refers to as "hoarding" (she prefers to the term "collecting," thank you very much), had Rachel dreaming of opening up a space of her very own.
Rachel and Mike opened their adorable gas station-turned-boutique after falling in love with Ojai (and the cool, historic space) on their honeymoon a few years ago. The store stocks a mix of vintage, handmade, and contemporary goods under a mid-century scouting/camping theme—very limited criteria, they realize, but Summer Camp hasn't had any trouble making it onto tastemakers's lists of must-stop spots while in town, which Rachel attributes both to power of Instagram and the traffic brought into the area by travel-friendly places like Shelter Social Club's affordable, well-designed digs Ojai Rancho Inn.
Since Rachel is so often heading to Los Angeles (she and Mike actually commuted from their previous home in Santa Monica when Summer Camp first opened), we thought we'd catch up with her over a smoothie at crunchy little juice bar Silver Lake Juice & Tea to discuss what she misses most about LA life, the secrets to her 1-year-old daughter Maude's sweet wardrobe, and her obsession with snow.
What are you drinking?
A Second Date, which had almond milk in it, walnuts, dates, kale, and cinnamon. It's very good. It's green and delicious!
Best part of living in Ojai?
The fact that it's a slow pace. You don't feel rushed. You're living in the country but you're 15 minutes from the city and the beach and an hour and a half from LA, and it's a really nice place to have kids and raise them out of the super fast-paced craziness that LA can be sometimes.
What's the shop's top seller?
P.F. Candles we sell like they're going out of style. Our t-shirts that say "Oh, Hi"—everybody makes that pun when they come to Ojai. Mike likes puns a lot and we we needed a shirt; we had our logo but it wasn't that fun so we thought we'd just whip up a shirt, and people seem to like it! This guy in town, Margins Imprint, he makes moon calendars and we sell a ton of those and he's local, which is great. Those are probably our tops.
What are some of your Ojai faves?
Farmer and the Cook is where I go for smoothies. Tipple & Ramble is a picnic shop and they do small bites and drinks and their patio is amazing. There's another shop called In the Field that's in "the rounds" to go to. I love Boccali's, it's so charming. Bart's Books is a must-stop, it's the cutest, old outdoor bookstore. It's been there forever.
What other nearby destinations do you love for a getaway?
Probably Palm Springs. If we weren't in Ojai we'd be there. We got married there and go there as often as we can.
What do you miss most about living in LA?
Good food and places that are open past 8pm! Ojai has a lot of good food but it's not as in abundance as it is here so in Ojai you'll eat at your favorite place but you can only eat there so much. So I do miss being able to eat at 10pm and finding good Mexican food.
Maude is always dressed so cute. Where do you shop for her?
Well my mom sews, so lately—this is how crazy I'm into what my kid is wearing—I've been buying fabrics everywhere and my mom is making her clothes based on vintage patterns. So that's her #1 source, but other than that Zara is amazing and Gap or H&M. Honestly I find a lot from Etsy and Instagram. I find bows for her from Free Babes, they make the cutest bows. It's so bad when you have a kid, you just want to buy all this stuff for them!
Are you actually a camper?
I'm not a tent camper. I'm a cabin camper—like a summer camp. I like going to a camp where you stay for a week and live in a cabin with somebody, that's what I grew up with. I also like camping in trailers. I've done the tent thing, but now I'm just too old! I need a real toilet! There's some good camping in Wheeler Gorge or Rose Valley Falls but I personally haven't done it. We more so like to drive up to Sequoia or Yosemite. We recently went to Camp Curry and we did stay in a tent, but they're like nice tents. I don't know if you can call it "glamping" but we paid extra for one with a heater because it was Christmas and it was like 10 degrees. With the heater it was about 50 degrees and the baby did not like it but she was a good sport.
What are your camping necessities?
A comfortable blanket, because you've got to have a decent sleep. Bring your own warm blankets. It helps if you have good snacks and food to cook or make. Good shoes or boots because if you're going to be hiking or in the snow you're just going to be miserable. And maybe having a cute coat and hat doesn't hurt.
Beach or woods?
I love both, and most of my life I've been a beach person but now I'm probably woods. I love snow—I know I'm crazy! That's why we almost moved to New York. Ojai is like 110 degrees all summer and I'm thinking, what is wrong with me? Why did we move here? But Mike and I love snow so anytime it snows we get in the car and drive to wherever it is. We're crazy. So if it snows in Yosemite, we go. If it snows in Big Bear, we go. I love the mountains, I love the snow. I could live in it in a second.