If you're looking to restock on healthy snacks during your next road trip to Ojai, Santa Barbara, and beyond, here's a plastic-free pit stop for your next road trip. After launching its zero-waste online grocery store in 2019, Sun & Swell is bringing its organic, vegan, and preservative-free pantry essentials and more to its first brick-and-mortar space in Ventura.
Located just off the 101 freeway and not far from the coast, the shop stocks the brand's natural and plant-based bites and sundries that are packaged in 100% compostable materials. Expect to shop açai bowl-ready superfoods such as chia seeds, hemp hearts, cacao nibs, and goji berries; dried fruits; nuts; rolled oats and other grains; spices and seasonings; cookie bites; nut butters; and more. Everything is free of dairy, gluten, peanuts, soys, and added sugars, and in-store shoppers will also notice that prices are lower than Sun & Swell's website (online products are $3 to $19).
Also on shelves are snack packs, pantry starter sets, teas, home goods, and other essentials for giving your life a low-waste overhaul. And the brand sources its ingredients from small family farms and other local companies to reduce carbon emissions from shipping and travel. The shop also collects their empty compostable bags and teams with White Buffalo Land Trust in Summerland to compost the materials locally.
The company was founded by married duo Kate and Bryan Flynn, who combined their backgrounds in nutrition, business economics, and sales operations to create Sun & Swell in 2017. In addition to being a certified B-Corp., Sun & Swell is also a member of 1% for the Planet and donates to environmental organizations that support ocean health and regenerative farming.
"When we started Sun & Swell, our mission was focused on making healthy, real food more accessible," Kate Flynn tells WhatRivaWore. "We always wanted to be a 'do good' company, but we were mainly focused on the ingredients we were using, not the packaging we were putting those amazing ingredients in. However, as we started to build the brand, I realized I was solving one problem — health — but contributing to another major problem: Single-use plastic."
She continues: "I remember the first time we received a big order of custom-printed plastic packaging. I saw boxes upon boxes of little plastic bags made just for our company show up, and I thought, We can't keep doing this. There has to be another way to sell healthy food that doesn't involve creating all this plastic waste that will live on for hundreds of years. And with that, we began our journey towards zero-waste packaging!"
Kate, who's also a certified culinary nutrition expert, says her daughter, Leila, is always top of mind when she makes business decisions. "My passion for building a business that positively impacted the environment was amplified significantly when I became a mom last year. I look at my daughter and think, What kind of world will I be leaving behind for her? I have to do what I can to make it the best world possible for her and all of our children," she explains.
For those looking to take the leap into reducing their waste, Kate has a few favorite zero-waste life hacks. She makes her own toothpaste with this easy two-ingredient recipe (no more squeezing from plastic tubes!), uses bar soaps instead of bottled liquid washes, and uses the leftover stems from veggies to minimize food waste (she often cooks up this sautéed beet stems recipe).
Scroll through the gallery above for a few more photos inside the light-filled shop, and see below for the hours and address.
Sun & Swell Foods, 2686 Johnson Dr., Suite C, Ventura, 93003; Monday through Friday from 12 to 5:30 p.m.