Are you getting a little bored with hitting up the same routine locations for strolling, lunching, and playing? Imagine a shopping area that resembles a sophisticated-vintage- flea-market-type-feel with a nail studio offering up vegan and organic polishes, eco-conscious mommy & me classes, drop-in drawing sessions for the kids with a well known cartoonist, a pastry chef with his amazing cake creations that’s featured on a hit TV show…and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Welcome to the OC Mart Mix at SoCo.
What is The OC Mart Mix at SoCo?
Just down the street from the glamorous South Coast Plaza, is a collection of indie, artisanal retailers offering up a mix of innovative, eco-conscious, and kid-friendly contributions to its patrons. What used to be a dying furniture hub years ago, the South Coast Collection, shortened to SoCo, has revamped its image as a hip, organic, and unpretentious spot to cater to people from all walks of life. While there still are furniture conglomerates at the South Coast Collection, the owners have also carved out a niche retail space, called The OC Mart Mix. The open-air and spacious design lends friendly amenities such as comfortable couches and seating that are tastefully and functionally dispersed throughout the mart. The outside courtyard includes a fancy water fountain and seating areas, ideal for families to enjoy a delicious lunch under the warm OC sun or aka: plenty of room for the kids to run around!
Sprawling and inspiring, this open-air shopping destination is an ideal place to leisurely stroll around with the kids, lunch, shop, and have a mommy play date. Bring the stroller and be prepared to spend a few hours (you might just stay the whole day) to stroll and explore this new hodgepodge of creativity in the middle of Costa Mesa.
Okay, if you thought our story on OC Libraries’ programs was good, we’ve uncovered some amazing classes offered for moms, babies, and toddlers. Granola Babies is an eco-friendly boutique offering organic and natural products to support natural parenting and living. Owner Giselle Baturay is an herbalist and naturalist (among many other things) who personally tests each product herself with her family to ensure the highest quality offered to her patrons. The best part is that she offers classes ranging from Mommy & Me Yoga to Breastfeeding support groups and Baby Storytimes. Be sure to browse classes and register online and note that some classes might have a fee. There is literally something for every type of mom here. A sampling of classes include (go online or call to check the different monthly offerings):
-Breastfeeding Support Group
-Sign Language Babies/Toddler Series
-Nurture Baby Naturally/New Mommy Series
-Childbirth Education Series
-Tot Tales Storytime & Songs
-Baby Tales Storytime & Songs
-Mommy & Me Yoga
-Making Natural Remedies
-Early Childhood Parenting Series
-Cloth Diapering Workshop
-Working Mothers Group
If you’re in the browsing mood and looking for baby shower gifts or new threads to dress your little ones into, stop by Smocking Birds Baby Boutique and Milk and Honey Baby. Both offer one-of-kind, individual designs that will keep you kids looking hip and stylish.
If you’ve got little girls that love getting pampered, and you’ve noticed that you are in dire need of a mani/pedi, drop by the Lollipop Nail Studio. We love this spot because….drumroll…all of the products, from the nail polish to the massage oils, are vegan and organic. So no toxic fumes to harm your little ones or a tiny one that might be baking in your oven.
Ready to meet a TV personality that’s a pastry superstar? Well, he might not be in for the day but his cakes who are the real stars, are grandly displayed on the shelves of Christpher Garren’s Let Them Eat Cake bakery. His famous cakes are featured on the hit TV show Amazing Wedding Cakes on the WE Network. The kids will get a kick out of the Wizard of Oz cake proudly displaying the Wicked Witch herself. Breakfast, lunch, pastries, and coffee/tea are offered daily. If you’ve got a special celebration coming up, inquire about their custom designed cakes.
Got little Picasso’s that love to draw? Bring them over on Saturday mornings at 9:30am to the Drop & Draw sessions at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity. This event is free but donations are highly encouraged. The center’s lead artist, Christopher Scardino, teaches the classes himself.
So you’ve strolled, did some activities, and now the stomachs are growling. What are the options? Take the kids over to Shuck for some oozing, Panini-grilled cheeses and soothing clam chowder.
If seafood or raw oysters just don’t cut it, stroll over to The Iron Press for some savory waffles. For the kids, order the fried chicken and waffles, grilled cheese waffle, honey ham and waffles, tater tots, or waffle fries.
For dessert, you can splurge on a scoop of gelato for the kids at N’ice Cream, a family owned gelato and sorbet shop. You’ll be happy to know that all of the 16 flavors are made from organic milk and natural raw ingredients every morning, which means no added colorings and artificial gunk.
If you’re meeting up for mommy play-date, start your fun at the newly opened Seventh Tea Bar. The marble and art deco feel of the cafe is a fun and sophisticated backdrop for a casual afternoon of catching up with another mom.
We know your cup coffee is your rock that keeps you from going over the edge to angry mommy. You’ll find a new appreciation for the coffee roasters at the Portola Coffee Lab that have literally boiled and brewed your cup of coffee down to a science. While you are waiting for your roasted jolt of choice to be concocted, your kids will get a kick out of watching the white coat baristas brewing, flaming and extracting away in halogen heated siphon bars that resembles something of a mad science lab.
If you’ve got dinner guests coming over or if you are a cheese fanatic, you’ll be thrilled to visit the Cheese Shop. All sorts of cheeses imaginable are sold here as well as sandwiches and even DIY cheese kits.
Apples & Oranges is a thoughtful indie shop that offers of a collection from different local artists. It is a non-profit shop that is community-minded and at least 10% of every product sold is donated to a foundation or charity. The designs are unique and you can find a variety of items from handmade jewelry and pouches, to vases and pillows. Products offered change often to showcase different artists and organizations, so definitely drop by whenever you have the chance. It’s a good place to allow your kids pick that one-of-a-kind gift for a special friend, family member or teacher, and the shopkeeper can explain to them that the proceeds go to a charity or foundation. The staff is very caring and happy to share information on exactly what causes your dollars will be supporting.
Rolling Greens is an established, well-known garden destination in Los Angeles. They have opened their third location at SoCo and offer up green inspirations from repurposed products, living and artificial plan designs, and one-of-a-kind accents.
Granola Babies not only offers up awesome community classes, but they offer eco-friendly baby items such as a large selection of cloth diapering collections, natural feeding utensils, natural lead-free toys, organic clothing, and more.
Is one of your New Year’s Resolutions to eat healthier and cut the fat out of your family’s cooking? A safe and natural option to achieving that goal is simply using spices. But we know spices need an instruction manual with all of the choices out there. Browse the Savory Spice Shop and ask the staff all of your spice conundrums. The shop is friendly and full of every kind of spice you can think of and more.
The OC Mart Mix and SoCo have not been shy about how much they welcome and appreciate families. So much so that they have dedicated the 3rd Saturday of every month to host a free family event called the Family Fair. All of the boutiques and shops will be ready for you to browse their collections while the kids enjoy arts and crafts and much more. Here’s a sampling of the events:
9:30am – 12:30pm: Arts & crafts at the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity
10:00am – 6:00pm: Rock climbing at Gear Co-op
11:00am – 11:30am & 2:00pm – 2:30pm: Story time at Granola Babies
11:00am – 5:00pm: Photo booth inside the Mix
11:00am – 3:00pm: Face Painting in the courtyard
11:00am – 2:00pm: Animal Balloons inside the Mix
9:00am – 12:00pm: Kiddie booth at the Farmer’s Market
Be sure to check The OC Mart Mix Facebook page each month for detailed information, times, and events for the monthly Family Fair. In addition to the monthly Family Fair, the Farmer’s Market @ SoCo takes place every Saturday morning from 9:00am – 2:00pm.
Have you mixed it up at the OC Mart Mix? What’s your favorite place to visit with your little ones?
— Sommy Rhee
All photos taken by Sommy herself!