One in a lineup of poetic pursuits, The Shopkeepers was born from the desire to reconnect us to what matters most: community, life filled with beauty, and objects crafted with sustainability and soul. Since 2017, when founders Patti Pagliei Simpson and husband John first opened its doors, the shop has been a proverbial round-up of makers, featuring an array of Santa Barbara’s best in local brands, fashion, art and gifts, including our own Waxing Poetic line. Here Patti sits down with Darcy McElroy, head buyer and manager of The Shopkeepers, to explore more of the shop’s unique offerings and culture.
P: As the style maker of our sister brand and the Waxing Poetic flagship experience, tell us how has it been to welcome customers now that things have re-open?
D: The energy of the shop has always been so positive, and fun and the experience for both our staff and customers has always matched that energy. We all love to be in a space that is welcoming and creative – and the shop offers that space in Santa Barbara. Since February of this year, when things really began to open up, we have been so busy and feeling the support of our community and people in town visiting. It's been incredible!
P: We are fortunate to be located in the Funk Zone of Santa Barbara, where we enjoy a vibrant community of locals and visitors from all over the world. What has the mood been like?
D: The Funk Zone is suuuper happening! It’s vibrant and full of things for people to do and see. The mood definitely matches the area. People are especially happy to be able to connect with other people again, and the Funk Zone offers people a place to socialize and explore. I wouldn’t want to be in any other area in town.
P: We love having a rich WP world here at home. What are our friends and customers most excited about?
D: I think WP offers people an opportunity to create a piece of jewelry for themselves – you are able to make something uniquely tailored for yourself or someone else. That is not something that most jewelry designers offer. We also are the flagship for Waxing Poetic, so we have the whole line in the shop. Our WP customers love being able to play and create with the whole line at their fingertips.
P: What are your top go-to Waxing Poetic pieces for effortless summer travel jewelry wardrobe?
D: I always have my Good Verbs Discovering Bangle on. It’s simple and the perfect everyday piece, I love it so much. I also am obsessed with my large Moon Daisy Hoops. I can add them to any summer outfit and I instantly feel a little more dressed up.
P: If you can, how would you describe Shopkeepers Style? What are your favorite pieces at the moment?
D: We have a very tried and true California style. Sustainably-made denim, organic cotton tees, wovens and dresses that are made from natural fibers, graphic tees, sustainable cashmere, great jackets, and loungewear that can double as streetwear.
I am a true denim fan. I wear jeans all of the time and we have two incredible sustainable denim lines in the shop called Etica and Boyish. A pair of denim from one of these brands matched with a Cotton Citizen t-shirt and some cool sneakers or boots, and I feel super sexy and comfortable.
We also just received four pieces from Kara Thoms and I am completely in love with all of them. They’re timeless and can be dressed up or down – AND they’re all handmade ethically from natural fibers – perfect for Santa Barbara living.
P: Now that we are going out again, what trends are you seeing? Which trends are you skipping?
D: I like to think of it as buying sustainably: not buying pieces that will be immediately added to the piles of clothing waste in landfills after a trend is over. I want people to come into the shop and find something unique and well made – but I also want them to feel like they can have it in their closets forever. I love being able to show people pieces that they never want to get rid of. I’m all about not tailoring the shop to trends, but picking items that will feel special and important in someone’s wardrobe.