When Rebecca Costa-Smith took a church trip to Haiti, she never dreamed it would change her life. Edhat.com reports that Costa was deeply moved by the destitution she witnessed among the Haitian youth, and knew it was her fate to make a difference. Less than a year later, she returned with her best friend Lindsey Connolly. It was on that trip that the duo formulated the Destined for Grace concept. Destined for Grace is a non-profit organization that provides food and education for more than 125 grade-school children in poverty-stricken Haiti. As part of this continued effort, Rebecca and Lindsey established the Destined for Grace Thrift Stores, whose profits are used solely to fund their humanitarian efforts.
The swimwear savants at Bikini Factory outfit a wide variety of body types in more than a hundred one- and two-piece suits, many sporting size D or DD cups. Mix and match bottoms ($36+) and tops ($44+) from more than 35 brands including Trina Turk, Vix, Sofia, and O'Neill to find a flattering fit for your body or your robotic surrogate's body. Alternately, protect a tender torso from belly-flop fallout with one of more than a dozen one-pieces ($38+). Bikini Factory also cossets beachgoers with accessories such as flip-flops, cover-ups, towels ($18+), and pocket-size steel-drum bands.
The talented floral designers at Island View Nursery craft exquisite displays of foliage from a landscaping reservoir of nearly 10 acres. Arrangements meld together colorful flowers and lush plants in containers to give as gifts or to act as natural band-aids for wallpaper eyesores ($12.50+). Succulents ($3.25/4" pot), bromeliads ($8.50/4" pot), tillandsias ($3.50+), and orchids ($15+/4"–6" pot) supply photogenic photosynthesis, and interior plants such as palms, dracaena, and ficus give kids new places to build Lego treehouses ($2.75+/4" pot). An assortment of terra-cotta ($.59+) and ceramic pots ($5.50+) warmly coddles exterior plants such as bamboo, grasses, and trees ($2.99+/4" pot).
Nestled near Rincon Beach and stocked with gear from makers such as Volcom, Billabong, and Dakine, A-Frame Surf’s modest shop could never host a reunion for its surfing lessons’ alumni. They wouldn’t fit inside—more than 10,000 surfers have honed their craft with the shop’s CPR- and first-aid-certified instructors during both private and public lessons. Each session is held on a surfboard or a standup paddleboard and has a customizable curriculum that covers topics such as transitioning from paddling to standing and surf etiquette, which mandates that you write a thank-you card to every wave you surf.
All 78 acres of the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden are bursting with life. More than 1,000 species of native Californian plants and regional flora line its 5.5 miles of serene, public trails, allowing visitors to witness the overwhelming diversity of the Pacific coastline's plant life. Along with stands of oaks and riparian woodlands, botanical collections inhabit precisely arranged landscapes, echoing the founders' goal from 1926 to create a garden that would "unite the aesthetic, educational and scientific." In 2003, Santa Barbara County rewarded the garden's decades of cultural and scientific contributions, granting County Historic Landmark status to 23 of the acres.
The garden's specimens and displays exist just as much for education as they do for appreciation. Guests can gather landscaping ideas from the Home Demonstration Garden, a cottage surrounded with water-conserving plants. The Japanese Teahouse and Demonstration Garden melds traditional East Asian design with California-native flora. Throughout the grounds, tour guides dispense invaluable information on the displays and the retired tree nymphs that tend them. Additionally, scientific researchers use the facilities in their efforts to both study and conserve numerous rare and endangered species.
SwimSpot brings high fashion poolside by amassing a collection of designer bikini and one-piece swimsuits by brands such as Athena, Guess, and Nautica. Each swimsuit and cover-up incorporates contemporary trends such as asymmetrical cuts or tropical colours to create stylish silhouettes, and a fit-specialist service provides body-shape searches and remote one-on-one discussions with experts to find a flattering suit for any shape. Lauded in the pages of People Style Watch, Lucky, and Seventeen, an online bikini builder enables the beach bound to build their own ensemble by mixing and matching tops and bottoms using a tool that yields more than 1,000 possible combinations. In addition to providing detailed descriptions and material breakdowns, each swimsuit offered in the online store is modeled in a video that offers a 360-degree view, allowing customers to get a better idea of what they’ll look like as they run into the surf or slowly back away from a sleeping bear.