My Montecito: Kendall Conrad
Ocean adventures, yoga, and contemporary art: The California designer shows us her favorite spots on the American Riviera.
Accessories designer Kendall Conrad’s creations are inspired in part by her background—her father, Barnaby Conrad, was a bullfighter, diplomat, artist, nightclub owner and author. As a child, she spent time in Spain and Italy. “I was around all of his bullfighting paraphernalia; that always floats into my work,” she says.
But Montecito, California, is equally important to her work. Conrad and her husband, photographer David Cameron, have lived in this coastal town next to Santa Barbara since 1998.
“I love living here because I love nature, and that gets into my designs too,” she says. “I find rocks on the beach. I ride horses in the hills, and I get inspired by all the saddlery.”
The area’s earthy elegance is reflected in her minimalist leather handbags and curvaceous brass and gold jewelry. They pair beautifully with the linen, cashmere and denim favored on the California coast, and are worn by such influential celebrities as Angelina Jolie, Rene Russo, and Cameron Diaz.
Montecito is sophisticated enough to have its own outpost of Conrad’s eponymous shop (the other is in Brentwood). But she believes that it’s the authentic beach culture that makes the place so special. “I live here,” she said. “But it’s also where I escape to.” Here, she shares her favorite spots in and around the village.
What does your typical day off look like?
My favorite thing to do on a weekend is make a picnic and go to the beach with my kids.
Which beach do you go to?
All the beaches near Montecito are fantastic: Fernald Point, Hammond’s, Butterfly. I love Loon Point in Carpinteria. But my favorite beach is where my mom still lives in Rincon Point. You can take a really long walk even at high tide.
And what about for an extra-special getaway?
Once in a while we’ll get on a boat in Ventura and go to the Channel Islands—that’s the most beautiful, unspoiled nature you can find. You’re just going across the channel but it feels like you’ve journeyed far, far away. It’s very alive: you see whales and dolphins on the way out; they have these little foxes that don’t live anywhere else; you look down from the pier and there are sea urchins everywhere.
Do you have a go-to source for gifts?
You can’t beat Mate Gallery and Hudson Grace. Mate Gallery always has the most interesting, funny things: a wonderful bunch of bronze whales, the entire Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series, a collection of little toy presidents. There are always interesting stories behind the wares. At Hudson Grace, I love that you can get any color napkin.
What’s a super local spot for a meal?
All the locals go to Pane e Vino, an unpretentious, family-style Italian place. All the produce comes from the farmers market, which is always a good sign. And every early spring, when it’s in season, they sauté puntarelle—a chicory vegetable that’s kind of like asparagus—with garlic and anchovies. It’s delicious.
And for drinks?
One of my top spots for dinner and cocktails is Loquita in Santa Barbara. They have great tapas-style food and really interesting tequila drinks—and [wine bar] Les Marchands in the Funk Zone.
Tell us about your workout routine.
My yoga studio is Yoga Soup. I go as often as I can. I love the people, the teachers, the space. They give you fresh carrots and tea, and it’s really welcoming. Juice Ranch is right outside. And then just around the corner is D’Angelo Bread, where I go for baked goods and coffee.
What about outside: Any hikes you love?
The best spot to hike in Montecito is the Douglas Family Preserve. You walk in a eucalyptus grove and along the edge of a cliff. In winter, you can see monarch butterflies, too. It’s spectacular.
Favorite place for a culture fix?
Art lovers should visit the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santa Barbara. It’s getting better and better. They recently had a full-on Barry McGee show.
Rincon Point Beach: 172 Rincon Point Road, Carpinteria
Mate Gallery: 1024 Coast Village Road, Montecito; +1 805-895-6283
Hudson Grace: 1014 Coast Village Road, Montecito; +1 805-565-9600
Pane e Vino: 1482 East Valley Rd #5, Santa Barbara; +1 805-969-9274
Loquita: 202 State Street, Santa Barbara; +1 805-880-3380
Les Marchands: 131 Anacapa Street, Santa Barbara; +1 805-284-0380
Yoga Soup: 28 Parker Way, Santa Barbara; +1 805-965-8811
Juice Ranch: 33 Parker Way, Santa Barbara; +1 805-845-4657
D’Angelo Bread: 25 West Gutierrez Street, Santa Barbara; +1 805-962-5466
Douglas Family Preserve: Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara
Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara: 653 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara; +1 805-966-5373