Archive » June 3, 2010
By Grant Harvey, Journal Intern
J Woeste in Los Olivos could almost be mistaken for a local’s residence: It has a quaint gate, lots of yard decorations and little dogs running or lying around. However, a regular Los Olivos home doesn’t usually have tons of people walking through its yard and purchasing its decorations.
Jefferson Woeste is the creator of J Woeste, and utilizing his business major and creativity he has created and operated a thriving business for 12 years. As he admits himself, the majority of his customers are locals, and the feel of J Woeste works to accommodate exactly that.
As Woeste says, “You can feel the love.”
J Woeste is primarily a succulent nursery as well as a home and garden treasure chest. A common misconception is that a succulent is exactly like a cactus; while succulents can hold water for long periods of time like a cactus, they do not have thorns. The succulents make up the majority of the plant life, but also included are olives, iceberg roses, boxwood topiaries, blooming begonias, African violets and a variety of seasonal blooming plants.
Among the treasure side of things, J Woeste offers an incredible amount of diverse statues, planters, fountains, ceramic flowers, statuary figures and repurposed metal animals of all kinds (made of recycled drums from Haiti). A trademark of the business is the potted special, which is a combination of a statue and a potted plant arranged together to make a beautiful and unique piece of art.
Some items from J Woeste are made out of something broken and turned into something unexpected, like a broken pot that was turned into a cute display of a little house inside of a bigger plant, a piece of art that wouldn’t have been possible if the pot had been thrown away.
A big part of the business’ appeal is the energy, which is bolstered by the dogs, Lucy, Lady and Buddy, the chickens and the Ringneck Doves.
“A lot of people will be having a really bad day, and they come here just to hang out and recharge,” Jefferson Woeste says, “J Woeste is a lot like a haven in that way.”
Woeste found the right place for his haven in the Valley, thanks to some family ties, including his mom’s sister Marie Carricaburu and his two cousins, J.C. and T.C., both Valley natives.
Jefferson’s love for plants came from his dad’s father, and his co-workers, known as team J Woeste, act as family as well (they are all sort of inter-related), so the family vibe has always been a lifeblood of J Woeste.
Jefferson Woeste says proudly, “Without my co-workers, this business would not exist.”
Among those co-workers is Lesa Cervantes, the resident CMO as Woeste calls her (Chief Merchandising officer), which basically means she is charge of all the planting, displaying and organizing that give the business its appeal and makes J Woeste what it is.
As Jefferson says, “She’s J Woeste’s inspiration. It’s her vision.” No matter whose vision J Woeste is, it has become quite the destination spot for locals, and especially for locals to bring their out-of-town guests, most likely due to the uniqueness of the store, and is a nice break from the hustle and bustle of daily life in a big city. If you are looking for succulents, lawn treasures or a nice place to look around and unwind, J Woeste is the haven to choose.
Here’s what else the Valley Journal learned about J Woeste:
Why did you start this business?After selling my half of a business if the Five Cities area in 1997 I decided to take a year off. One day as I was chillaxin’ my partner Bruce said, “We’re going to find you something to do.” We found the location for the store that day in January 1998. We quickly acquired our talented parnters Lesa and Jerry to assist us in opening J Woeste in Los Olivos. April 3, 1998, we were established.
What is your business background?
I owned and operated a retail garden center in the Five Cities area. I did attend Cal Poly in Business Administration and Accounting. I am blessed that I still get to work with numbers and own a home and garden store on a much smaller scale.
What is the best piece of business advice you have been given, and who gave it to you?Only one piece of advice? Well, hmmm. “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it,” and one more: “Learn from other’s experiences, you don’t have the time to do them all yourself!”
What is the biggest challenge your business faces today?Mother Nature is the biggest challenge. I joke that if God had ever been in retail, he would not let it rain during operating hours!
What is the simplest thing you’ve never learned to do?Keeping a clean/uncluttered desk!
What sets your business apart from your competition?I do not see myself as competing with others (leave that to sports). I feel that other businesses are a great compliment to what we offer. We strive to find unique and special treasures. We hope that we inspire others to enjoy their garden space just as we do. We are told that we offer a healing environment. A place for one to just come and recharge and find some peace while relaxing.
What books are on your bedside table?There are no books. If I am awake in bed, it is not to read! Why did you choose to set up your business in the Valley? My mother and now deceased Marie Carricaburu are sisters. My first cousins J.C. and T.C. still live here. So I guess that answer would be family.
How could local elected officials make it easier for you to be successful?I feel local officials should spend a day walking in the “footsteps” of every self-employed business owner. Maybe then they would understand our day to day reality and with that, more respect would occur on both sides.
Where do you see your business in five years?
Finally, what is on your to-do list?We look forward to the opening of our Reiki room. (BTW Reiki is a technique for stress reduction that also promotes healing. It harmonizes the energy flow in our bodies.) We would like to offer a cafe service in our garden setting. Special events featuring local artists and their wares are in the making as well! We also want to hold more evening events with “beverages” and light fare being served.
We want to be a destination that Santa Ynez residents are proud of and have been tremendously supportive the past 12 years.
Business name:J Woeste
Address:2356 Alamo Pintado Ave., Los Olivos, CA 93441
Hours:Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily