In Business: Reflections
Friends and neighbors Dottie Allen and Carole Shafran have turned their love of creating beautiful things into a business, opening Reflections in Montecito’s upper village. Located between Wells Fargo and Montecito Village Grocery, the small space showcases the ladies’ love of the sea. The space was originally built out for an area in which to sell flowers, and has had multiple tenants including the latest, Eye Society, which closed a few years ago.
Reflections opened for business in late December, after the women realized they wanted to sell their seashell creations to more than just their friends and family. Shafran explained that she first got the idea after visiting Allen’s home in Carpinteria, which is filled with handmade seashell art. Allen, who has spent the majority of her life designing aquariums and traveling around the world, began creating the unique pieces after learning the skill from Scott Hogue, who passed away in 2018 after spending the last two decades of his life making a name for himself in the floral business.
Shafran and Allen began sourcing seashells from various places, including the Tucson Mineral Show and a wholesaler in Los Angeles. Reflections offers all their handmade wares, including wreaths, mirrors, picture frames, driftwood garland, shadow boxes, ornaments, and even lamps, made from large coral pieces. The shop also carries a plethora of shells and corals, some of which are over 300 years old and extremely rare. Allen explained the pieces are sourced from the bottom of the ocean floor, once they are no longer living, or housing a live crustacean. “It’s a beautiful way to bring the ocean into your home,” Shafran said. Rounding out the offerings are fresh plants including an array of colorful orchids. The pair is also available to make custom artwork with a customer’s own shell collection.
Allen, who has owned retail aquarium stores in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Carpinteria, and Ojai since 1983, still runs an aquarium maintenance business in the area, servicing some of the largest aquariums in town. She says she loves working with living creatures underwater, and her artwork that is sold at Reflections is simply an extension of that. “It’s beautiful both in and out of the tank,” she said. She is planning on opening a new aquarium store in the upper village this summer, located in the space occupied by Stationery Collection, which closed in January after 85 years in business. The shop will be a retail showroom for saltwater tanks, a rarity in the Santa Barbara area. We’ll have more on the store as the opening approaches. “We are happy to bring new business to this shopping center, and hopefully will help bring people to the area on the weekends,” Allen said.
Reflections is open Monday through Saturday from 11 to 5:30 pm. For more information, call 805-765-0925.