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Made in San Diego

Celebrating local ingenuity

From San Diego-inspired sunglasses, watches and surfboards to hats, scarves and textiles, locally made goods are an easy way to take a bit of San Diego back home with you.

By: Sandra Veum, Personal Shopper

Designed locally, desired globally

Known for our hi-tech giants—think Qualcomm and Illumina among others—San Diego also has a thriving consumer products industry. As millions flock here to enjoy the boundless beauty and laid-back lifestyle, local entrepreneurs are busy producing goods inspired by their own experience with San Diego’s spirit and vitality. These San Diego-made goods aren’t just for locals to enjoy. Many have made a name for themselves across the country and around the world. Here are just a few of the companies that are doing San Diego proud.


Coola Suncare is a full line of luxury sun and skincare products made with a simple, Farm to Face® sourcing philosophy, designed to protect and nourish the skin with vitamins and age-defying antioxidants. This 70%-certified organic sun care line was developed in the beachside community of Carlsbad, and as much as possible, ingredients are all natural, organic, sustainable and locally sourced. The founder and CEO was motivated to develop the company in 2007 when both of his parents were diagnosed with melanoma, luckily catching it in time. The company keeps its employees happy and healthy by being dog-friendly, and having surfboards (the only board meetings allowed), bikes, and paddleboards available for use anytime.


San Diego Hat Company is a design-driven brand featuring a wide variety of chic and functional headwear and accessories for women, men and children. Collections are updated every season making this fashionable company the go-to place for hats, scarves, bags and tunics. The founders’ passion for world travel and love of hats led to the creation of the original cotton crochet hat with a trip to Bali, Indonesia in 1993. Originally based out of a San Diego garage, the founders' drive for bringing together design, materials, and craftsmanship led to their current 50,000-square-foot facility based in Carlsbad. In addition to worldwide distribution in major department stores and more than 3,000 specialty boutiques, you can find your new favorite hat or accessory at the Village Hat Shop in Seaport Village, Bazaar del Mundo in Old Town or the Shops at the Del within the Hotel Del Coronado.


The founder of Rusty Surfboards spent the first 12 years of his life in inland San Diego. When the family moved to the shores of La Jolla, this teen discovered his love of surfing and began shaping his own boards. By the early 1970s, Rusty was riding professionally and shaping boards for G&S Surfboards. Through the years he continued to hone his shaping skills and his reputation grew as more and more surf competitions were won by surfers riding his boards. By 1985, he founded Rusty Surfboards and grew the company into one of the most successful global surfboard brands. They were also one of the first surf companies to extend into skate, snow, and wakeboards, supporting such athletes as Tony Hawk and Willy Santos. You can find Rusty's creations locally in surf shops from La Jolla to Oceanside, including Rusty Boardhouse in La Jolla Shores and Rusty Del Mar, along with Surf Ride in Solana Beach and Oceanside, and Hansen Surfboards in Encinitas.


Modra Style was founded several years ago by local artists who were passionate about bringing fine art to market through textiles, wallcoverings and fashion. Modra Style is headquartered in the heart of La Jolla. Their scarf collection is organic yet polished, contemporary yet wildly sophisticated. Gaining inspiration from extensive travel to locations such as Lake Turkana in Kenya, the Amazon Rainforest and tide pools in California, the luxury scarf collection is a true representation of the artist’s passion for nature and art. Many of the patterns are derived from original artwork like paintings, bronze sculptures, paper, batik, wood, glass and photography. The cashmere/modal textile is pure luxe at its best. These patterns are further developed into home decor and textiles through Modra Studio, their interior design collection. San Diego is highly valuable to these designers, providing continuing inspiration from the ocean in the west to the mountains and deserts in the east.


Established in 2005, Knockaround Sunglasses was the creation of a graduate art student at the University of California, San Diego. The founder merged the classic East Coast prep-style of his Virginia upbringing with his interest in design and fashion and his newfound love for the always sunny, laid-back lifestyle of San Diego. The company was originally centered on a sunglass line that was simultaneously practical, stylish and classic. What began as a tiny operation in an art studio has since grown to its current headquarters in downtown San Diego, just a short walk from the ballpark. While exciting developments continue with the design and color choices for the sunglasses, the company has also expanded into other accessories such as belts and duffle bags. Check out their "Custom Shop" where you can create your own unique sunglasses.


Nixon is a highly successful surf/skate/snowboard watch and accessories company based out of Encinitas in the historic Lumberyard Building. It was started back in the '90s by two good friends and work colleagues who saw a need for a hip surf watch with tide tables that could be checked between wave sets but that was nice enough to wear when you went out at night. By collaborating and getting feedback from surfboard makers like Rusty and Hobie, apparel companies like Volcom and Reef, and sports professionals like Tony Hawk and Jeremy Jones, they have been able to tap into who their customer is and how they live. The Nixon team’s unified goal: team-designed, custom-built watches and accessories for a life well lived.

Today Nixon is best known for their hip and functional watches for sports enthusiasts but they have also evolved into bags, clothing and accessories. With over 90 watch models to choose from, many of the large retailers such as Nordstrom, Macy's, Barney's, Sun Diego, Tillly's, the majority of surf shops, and many more, now carry Nixon. By establishing their watches as a lifestyle brand they have been picked up in more than 70 countries, most a long way from any beach. Nixon can be found at over 115 locations throughout San Diego.

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