Courtesy of Fearless Photography

International Women’s Day was March 8, and that got us thinking about the brilliant women of the West who deserve more than one day a year to be celebrated. This is Best of the West, International Women’s Day edition.

Sunset Staff  – March 9, 2021

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Sunshine in a Bottle

Rancho San Julian Honey

Rancher Elizabeth Poett, who raises organic, grass-fed beef on her family’s 180-year-old historical land grant property in Santa Barbara, is as #womancrushwednesday as it gets. The young mother works her family’s 40,000-acre property and sells her beef at local markets and through her website. Make no mistake: It’s good. But my favorite product from her property is the Rancho San Julian honey produced from hives on the land. The bees feast on coastal flowers and plants, including black and purple sage, mustard, fillerie, willow, manzanita, ceanothis, and white and yellow sweet clover. Beekeeper Billy William, who has been working bees on Rancho San Julian for just over 40 years, processes all the honey on site and can be found on the ranch almost every day checking his hives and caring for the bees. The honey is packaged in handsome, gift-ready glass. And it tastes like sunshine in a bottle. —Christine Lennon, home and design editor

Pure Beauty, Pure Joy

Pure Beauty Little Strong Drink

I first came across Pure Beauty at the L.A. Art Book Fair. There was a table covered in zines, other beautiful tabloids, and a few products. I stopped at the table and sparked a conversation with the man on the other side of it about one of the zines I had been a long fan of. I bought the zine, and with my purchase I received a small box of Pure Beauty Cannabis Cigarettes. My mom and I smoked one together outside of the book fair held at the Geffen Contemporary and giggled the whole way home. Pure Beauty isn’t just a cannabis company; it is a creative vessel for content that you want to indulge in sober or stoned. Being a female- and minority-owned company, they explain that one of their missions is to “use our voice and our community and our weed to try and keep this industry real. And diverse. And fair.” While they stock their cannabis products across California, they also have the Pure Beauty Drugstore on their site that stocks unique furniture, art pieces, beach towels, super cozy sweatsuits, as well as mixes and vinyls. —Magdalena O’Neal, assistant editor 

Lock This Jewelry Line Down

Relic the Label Jewelry
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As a new Angeleno and longtime lover of thrifting, I became entranced with Melrose Trading Post instantly. The flea market presented various small businesses, with each owner’s quirks shining through their products. Walking through the row of vendors I felt like a kid in the candy aisle, but one vendor stood out against the others. Relic the Label offers dainty affordable jewelry that you can mix, match, or customize. The owner, Erin Montgomery, conceived of the idea in her dorm room back in 2018. Her stand caught my eye when I saw her mother wearing a “vote” necklace very similar to one Michelle Obama wore during her DNC speech. I instantly fell in love and bought myself the same necklace along with a customized name necklace and dangling lock and key earrings. Lately, Ms. Montgomery has tapped into sustainable fashion by reworking vintage accessories like this Louis Vitton Lock—Teaghan Skulszki, editorial intern

A True Rock Star

Emily Harrington at the Lowline Lab NYC Event

A few months ago, Emily Harrington began a record-setting day while most of us were still sleeping off the election hysteria of the night before.

At 1:34 a.m. on Nov. 4, the 34-year-old Boulder, Colorado, native put her hands carefully onto the first holds of El Capitan’s Golden Gate route, kicking off a mission to free-climb the 3,000-foot granite behemoth. The 41-pitch route takes most successful climbers between four and six days.

Twenty-one hours, 13 minutes, and 51 seconds later, a weary and bloodied Harrington pulled herself atop the ledge that towers over California’s picturesque Yosemite Valley. In doing so, she became the first woman to ever free-climb the formidable route in under 24 hours and just the fourth woman to scale the colossal edifice in a single day.

If this unbelievably badass accomplishment isn’t worth celebrating once again on International Women’s Day, I don’t know what is. —J.D. Simkins, staff writer

Adventurous Women

Woman Hiking

Last year I was primed to participate in an REI Women’s Adventure tripthe 4-day Superstition Mountains Backpacking experiencewhere I was hoping to take in some saguaro, stargaze, and develop backcountry cooking skills. But group adventures were put on hold due to the pandemic. REI is back at it with their trip series and are taking bookings for this year and beyond. There is no financial penalty if you need to postpone or cancel due to COVID-19 health concerns (some cruises are the exception). Trips range in length and activity level so you can find one that suits your budget, schedule, and fitness level. From hiking in the National Parks to backpacking the PCT to kayaking in the San Juans, the Women’s Adventure Series has me daydreaming. When it’s safe to pull out the passport, the series goes abroad with trips to Macchu Picchu, Iceland, and Greece. Some of their July-October trips are already sold out so head to the site and hold your spot right away. —Christine Bobbish, photo editor

Head over Heels for Women in Music

Don’t let the confectionary choruses or the dreaded term “Girl Group” mislead you. Just listen to those surf-inspired tom-toms and thumping, insistent bassline on “We Got the Beat” and tell me these women don’t fully rock. So here’s what I did to observe International Women’s Day: I’m voting to put L.A.’s own Go-Gos in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. This year’s class of nominees is strong, with quite a few female acts on the ballot—a number of whom have ties to the West. Luckily you can vote for up to five acts at once, and you can also vote every day. So if you find yourself unable to make a seemingly impossible choice between say, Carole King (a longtime resident of Idaho) and Dionne Warwick (who definitely knows the way to San Jose), you don’t have to. (I mean, I know who I’m voting for, but my lips are, as they say, sealed.) —Nicole Clausing, digital producer

A Riding Retreat

Devon Combs Unbridled Retreat

I didn’t grow up around horses, but ever since a bucolic trot around the trails at Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort with my kids some 10 years ago I’ve toyed with the idea of making them a regular part of my life. My kids learned to ride English, but dropped that like they did soccer, ballet, lacrosse, baseball, surfing, and all the other fun activities on the California kid buffet. My horsey fantasies were reactivated when we ran a Q&A with Unbridled Retreats founder and equine therapist Devon Combs in our Wellness Issue (on stands now!). Combs uses horses, riding, and gestalt therapy to help women tap into internal reserves of courage to realize their best selves. Turns out she’s hosting a retreat at Alisal April 25th-28th in which guests will spend two days filled with horse encounters, hay rides, and meals in the stunning setting of the rolling hills of the Santa Ynez Valley.


Read the 2021 Wellness Issue

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