With the summer season in full swing, we could think of no one better to gather some inspiration from than our friend Ari of @montanamermaid. Santa Barbara dweller, Montana native, and the eye behind some of our favorite shots of the new Sand Collection, Ari is one of those friends in Santa Barbara you just love to run into...we hope you enjoy getting to know her better too!
Hey Ari! Tell us a little bit about yourself and what is behind the name @montanamermaid? How do you currently spend your time?
Hello Parker Clay friends! Happy summer. I grew up in beautiful Bozeman, Montana and moved to sunny Santa Barbara in search of sandy beaches, salty water, and all of the classic California cliches. It’s been 10 years ago this month (officially a local?) and I still feel like I'm on vacation. I am a sucker for simple seaside living and all things Santa Barbara. Activities on and around the water and our coastal community bring me total J O Y.
We love the laid back California vibes of your feed. What is bringing you inspiration during this weird pandemic season of life we’re all in?
Thank you very much! The last few months have allowed me to take a deep dive inward and embrace creativity, compassion, and my curiosity. Since travel plans have been put on hold, I try to take time each day to take a mini staycation whether it is in the form of a sunrise beach walk, lunchtime paddle through the harbor, or post work dinner al fresco. It is such a treat to live in a place that provides the laid back luxuries of an exotic far away getaway. I can’t think of a better place to wait out these strange times!
What are your favorite Parker Clay pieces, and why?
I will not even try to hide my obsession with your latest SAND Collection! I love that I can finally color coordinate with the beach. The Miramar Backpack is my go-to for everything from beach trips to work meetings to weekends away. I especially love my monogrammed Zahra Wallet that I use as a clutch or throw into a tote. The Seaside Blanket is a must for beach days and impromptu picnics at the beach-or your living room floor! Each piece feels custom tailored and authentically me. Knowing the company ethos just makes each piece that much more special.
We heard that you make hot sauce on the side?? Tell us more about that!
If I can give any life advice it is to add hot sauce. One of my favorite things about living in Santa Barbara is that we can shop at our farmer’s markets nearly seven days a week with access to year-round goods. I love the creativity and variety that comes with eating seasonally and it ultimately inspired me to make my own. The ingredients are all locally sourced and seasonal, like local jalapeños and orange blossom honey. Over the years it has developed into more than a hobby and I hope to make it one of Santa Barbara’s first local hot sauces! I call it So Good Santa Barbara.
What are your favorite Santa Barbara spots to eat, drink, and relax?
I’ll do my best to keep this brief…
- Morning glassy paddles along the coast (shoutout Santa Barbara Sailing Center #PaddleClub)
- Lunch-hour beach walks down the breakwater
- Saturday morning floating fish market in the Santa Barbara harbor for fresh catches sold directly from our local fisherman
- Wheels4Fun for tandem bike rentals along the coastal route to Montecito
- Loquita for tapas and fun cocktails
- Bike rides to Handlebar Coffee for caffeine fix
- Saturday morning farmer’s market to restock the fridge each week
- If you feel like splurging I recommend booking a spa treatment at Hotel Californian and hang poolside for #staycation vibes
- Coastal cruising aboard the Double Dolphin for the happiest of happy hours out at sea
- Quick getaway: escape to Los Alamos for the day for bocce and beverages at Bodega followed by dinner at Bell’s.
We use the phrase “We Go Together” a lot here at Parker Clay, referring to the importance of community in everything we do. What does community mean to you right now?
Community is everything! The networks of relationships among people who get to live, work, and play in Santa Barbara are what make this place so special. I think that people here share common values, understanding, and a quality of life that we really appreciate. Strangers have a knack for becoming fast friends that you start to see all over town. More so than ever, I love what happens when our community listens, really hears each other and is challenged to get creative.
How are you currently practicing self care?
I am a sucker for self-care and love that it comes in so many forms! I like to get a daily dose via barefoot beach walks, quick ocean dips, evenings soaking in the tub, and long solo hikes. I feel most nourished when preparing simple, seasonal meals at home. I’d like to argue that self-care can even come in the form of (socially distant) happy hour with the gals… martinis al fresco anyone?
Where is next on your travel bucket list when the time comes?
I have been relishing in the suspense that comes before any big trip… I have never been so excited to travel! Lately I have been escaping with my favorite travel books & blogs from home scheming up my next big adventure. Since I love our little slice of the ‘American Riviera’ so much I have been anxious to visit the French Riviera and see the similarities & differences! In the meantime, I will happily settle for a day trip to Los Alamos or weekend in Big Sur.
Follow along with Ari's adventures over at @montanamermaid.