Santa Barbara Life & Style Magazine
BIENVENIDOS A HACIENDA
Mexican artistry meets California cool at Rita Villa’s latest lifestyle boutique.
One word Rita Villa would use to describe her newly opened Summerland boutique? Family. One word I would use after discussing the space and its inspirations with her prior to Hacienda’s grand opening? Pride. And both would be correct. Villa’s newest venture, Hacienda, is built upon family (her own) and fueled by profound pride and a fiery passion for the curation she conducts. Before I can ask Rita about her favorite features of the new outpost, which is modeled “after things I love in my own home,” she cannot help but gush about the impact her family has had on each of her endeavors, Hacienda being closest to her heart.
She explains, “I have always done a bit of lifestyle at all the boutiques, but because so much has happened in our life over the past few years—we have been blessed with grandchildren and we are renovating our homes right now—I felt I needed to meld all of this together with everything I love and put it into one place—Hacienda, which is divided up like the rooms in my own home.”
Hacienda exists not only as Villa’s home away from home, but also as a sort of walkable memory book, a collection of her fondest moments and loved ones: “There are so many things in my shop that remind me of my grandma, or my mom and dad. My dad was a gardener by trade, so all of the florals in the space stem from that. My mom was always in the kitchen or painting—not art, but just touching up around the house.” And Villa’s creative roots do not end there. Instead, they have sprung up blooms in her offspring, proving the gene pool is a rich ground for inspiration and product. Villa delights, “I have adult children now and we all inspire each other. My daughter is a potter and ceramicist, my son is a sous chef at Sama Sama and loves to cook. Those things are in my heart, always with me. My goal is to spread that feeling of community creation.”
Villa and her family are not novices to the world of inventive retail, either. As she gives me a timeline of her professional life, she surprises herself when she muses, “Gosh, our first store was ten years ago!” Rita’s footprint in the community, though, could fool you into believing her brick and mortar outposts have been a mainstay for decades. Carpinteria’s Bonita Beach amassed a cult following in the few years it was open, during which time Villa listened to what the community responded well to: “Throughout the years we have had clients wanting to buy things I have that aren’t for sale, like ribbon or something like that, so I thought ‘Why not put it all up for sale?’ It made so much sense.
Of course I’m going to do clothing, I can’t not do clothing for the Bonita die-hards. It will be the cream of the crop from our Bonita selection, just Hacienda style,” she assures me. I let out my own sigh of relief knowing that some of the best beach styles in town will still have a home.
Hacienda is a different approach to shopping, yes, but it is just as much a different, freer approach to lifestyle. Rita interacts with Californian and Mexican artistry, “tapping into a lot of artists from Mexico,” to convey a “modern Mexican, not super vintage or rustic,” aesthetic. Further, she explains the personal shopping initiatives Hacienda implements, both in light of pandemic restrictions and Rita’s own preference: “The way we’re doing it (three days of appointments and being open to the public on the weekend) frees up time with family and for babysitting my grandchildren while still maintaining the passion of my boutique. I’m trying to get the best of both worlds.”
“Hacienda is a different approach to shopping, yes, but it is just as much a different, freer approach to lifestyle.”
The best of the retail world, in Rita’s book and in my own, is inclusive of a flourishing relationship to one’s clients, a facet of Hacienda Rita has ensured with their private appointment services. “We are offering personalized shopping,” she mentions, “Where you could text us directly, or we would love for you to come into the space for an appointment. We reserve an hour and want people to come in and relax. It should feel like you’re in our home, having coffee, having a cookie, exploring the store, chatting. Bring a friend! It’s a great new way of shopping that allows us to connect with our clients and spend more time with them, what I want to do is develop those relationships.”
If you were wondering about that cookie Villa mentioned (and how could you not), rest assured that delectable treats play a big part in Hacienda’s day-to-day operations: “My heart right now is in La Cocina,” Villa divulges. “I love to cook, I love to do boards and I want to share that. We have unique offerings—grazing boxes for people to buy, charcuterie items, grab n’ go.
We are trying to find things you can’t find everywhere and allow people to take that with them. If someone wants to go to Loon Point Beach and have a little picnic, they can come in and pick up a box. We have a big vegetable garden at my house, so we’ll even grab a few butternut squash and throw them in there. We’re so excited to be doing something fresh.”
Fresh is the second phrase I would use to describe Hacienda in a single word, though just one would obviously never do. Fresh delicacies, a fresh California-Mexican aesthetic, and, above all, a fresh take on what it means to interact with the products in which you indulge and the people you encounter on the hunt for these treasures. The only thing about Hacienda that has the charming patina of age is its reputation within the community. For everything that is untrodden within the store, Hacienda is still a homecoming for Rita and the Bonita brand: “We originally wanted to be in Summerland and Carpinteria to get out of the mainstream. I’m a native Santa Barbaran, but I wanted to be away a bit. It was great to move to Santa Claus Lane when we did. Now it’s time to go back again. I can already feel it is going to be great.”
Before we sign off, I ask Rita if there is anything she feels we did not cover, or anything she wants to make abundantly clear. Instead of trying to sell their latest stock over the phone or promote a new deal, she says in earnest, “I genuinely buy what I love. And I cherish everything in the store, so I’m beyond excited…. Oh! And we had popup empanadas for Thanksgiving! You must come in and try one!” With that, I bid farewell to Rita, started my car, and headed south for an empanada a la Rita. *
“The only thing about Hacienda that has the charming patina of age is its reputation within the community.”