Shark Fund’s Holiday Boutique celebrates local vendors to benefit schools

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Christina Kazali of Simi Valley manned the table for her business, Cakes by Christina, at the Holiday Boutique in Malibu on Thursday, Nov. 16. Photo by Devon Meyers

Many participating enterprises are female-owned, Malibu-based businesses

By Barbara Burke

Special to The Malibu Times

​They gathered with glee, celebrating their entrepreneurism and aiming to make this holiday season extra special for purchasers of their locally curated items, all to benefit Malibu Middle and Malibu High schools.

That was the scene on the MMS/MHS campus as the Shark Fund held its annual Holiday Boutique on Thursday, Nov. 16. The Shark fund is a group that financially supports educational and extracurricular programs at Malibu Middle and High schools.

​Of course there were school-related booths: “Go Manta Rays!” exclaimed the middle school booth’s sign, featuring merch with the school’s insignias.

​“Go Sharks!” the high school booth proclaimed, offering sweatshirts, cozy flannels, shorts, and hats. 

​Many of the local vendors at the annual event co-sponsored by the PTSA and the Shark Fund, parent-led organizations, share their creations and unique fashions at the boutique every year. Many participating enterprises are female-owned, Malibu-based businesses.

​Two school parents shared a booth, smiling broadly as they showcased their items. 

“Atlas Ranch features local, handmade trucker hats and vintage patches,” said Molly Marler, parent of MHS senior Charlie Marler. “We’re so happy to support the community and the kids.”

​Jewelry designer Gisselle Borress, parent of sons Levi, a sophomore, and Rylan, a freshman, chimed in to share details about her beautiful gemstones. 

“They are inspired by Malibu’s ocean, mountains and the sun,” she said.

​Charlie Solomon’s Malibu Homegrown offered delicious homemade strawberry jams, sweet pickled red onions, sweet cucumbers, and, for a more spicy option, some tasty jalapeno carrots. 

​Crown Boutique, whose Malibu Country Mart venue is full of gorgeous fashion designs, kindly shared some of its best inventory to support the school, while Barbie Herron Conkling’s Coconut Haus showcased its globally sourced textiles made from repurposed saris. 

“What’s amazing about these quilts is they are made using Kantha, a type of embroidery craft made in India,” Conkling said. “Each quilt is made of five to seven layers of old sari material and has only one running stitch throughout the entire piece, and women in the towns gather in circles and stitch the quilts for as long as 28 days, a full moon cycle.” 

Some of the vendors had new businesses, including Samantha Firestone’s LELUXE clothing line. 

“We’re grateful to be here!” Firestone said. “Our business is new and we love to be a part of giving back, especially at the holidays. We’re new, excited, and wide-eyed.”

Krishna Jaret was at the boutique for the 27 Miles clothing line, which features soft, cozy cashmere knits, is always a hit at area boutique fundraisers. 

“My mom went to Juan Cabrillo and I went here,” Jaret said. “It’s part of my DNA, it’s community, and it’s our roots.”

Of course, it’s not a Malibu gathering unless something surf-related is on show.

“My husband Patrick Jensen has Freedom Artists, which is an art surf/skate line that is sold locally at Drill,” said Katie Jensen. “Patrick grew up here and went to Malibu High and we now have two kids.” 

​Generations of Malibuites have walked the school halls and the parent-led organizations have supported the students. Heather Gardner’s offering provided some context amidst the joyous annual event, exemplifying Malibu’s unique confluence of grit and grace.

​“As a Woolsey Fire survivor, I designed my Phoenix Rising Necklace, a commemorative piece in yellow gold and in gold-filled form to mark the five-year Woolsey anniversary,” Gardner said. “The phoenix, a legendary mythical creature, symbolizes a powerful story of renewal and resurgence and it emerges from the ashes, representing hope, vitality, and the promise of brighter things to come. My necklace serves as a symbol of resilience and recovery, encapsulating the spirit of our community that has demonstrated remarkable strength in the face of adversity.” 

​Although locals cannot predict fires, mudslides, floods, or even a tsunami, one thing they can count on is that traditions are integral to Malibu, including the annual school boutique.