Venus Collective aims to inspire women through art, community

From left, The Yackenlada Sisters Hana Ulep and Hailey Zheng play for the crowd at the Venus Collective popup on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020 in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Serena Guentz, Features Editor

Sam Page cheerfully greeted a girl admiring a light blue jean jacket with a hand-painted back.

Page sells vintage clothing.

The pop-up, put on to feature and support local artists, was organized and hosted by five young women who call themselves The Venus Collective.

Page remembers painting the jacket when she was in high school. Because the piece of clothing was personal to her, Page said it was difficult to part with. However, she was happy to give the jacket a new home with someone excited about art.

“We don’t want to just be exclusive with it,” fellow artist Kamilla Bello said. “We want to rise in the art industry, but we’re doing it in a way that we’re all supporting each other.”

The Venus Collective consists of Page, who sells secondhand clothing and handmade perfumes, Alena Holroyd, who sells handmade skincare products and plant-dyed clothing; Bello, who creates ceramics based on the female anatomy, Helena Rae, who creates clay figurines and Valentina Mugnaini, who sells jewelry made from plants from countries around the world. Most of these women either currently attend or previously attended City College.

Page started the collective in late November after about a month of selling vintage clothing through her business, Sugar Moon Shoppe. She soon realized she needed a community of other artists around her.

She knew Rae and Mugnaini from other pop-ups, had worked with Holroyd and met Bello through Instagram. 

Page remembers a “kind of soul connection” when the girls came together for their first collective meeting. 

“It was really organic how we met and came together,” Page said. “We feel more than just friends, it’s like a sisterhood.”

The Collective supports its members both artistically and spiritually. 

“When I see y’all doing well, my heart sings,” Rae said to the group.

The Venus Collective’s members primarily focus on different mediums, but common themes of femininity, healing and empowerment can be found in all of their art.

“We all have medicinal properties coming through our artistic expressions,” Rae said.

She makes her own clay “goddesses” and feels it as a way of “tapping into some sort of divine energy.”

Rae started creating paintings portraying healing affirmations as a way to accept herself.

“You’re supported by The Venus Collective and you’re supported by your own art, so I never feel alone,” Rae said.

Page said clothes with healing colors have helped her feel safe, so she wanted to help others also feel safe and loved through the clothes she curates.

Similarly, Bello’s yoni cups and Holroyd’s body butters are all about self-love and empowerment.

Holroyd was 15 when she first concocted her all-natural “Venus Butter,” body oil. She started with coconut oil, but that was too oily, and African shea butter too sticky. It wasn’t until she was 18 and living in Mexico that Holroyd discovered cocoa butter. Something intuitively told her to put the three together. 

“It was a dream product,” said Holroyd.

Venus Butter is still one of her best sellers.

“Creation has always been my outlet,” Holroyd said. “I’ve learned so much making my products.”

Mugnaini describes her plant jewelry as a “resurrection of beauty and what is forgotten.

“It’s like a voice of the unheard,” she said.

These pop-ups have featured other Santa Barbara creatives, including local bands and tattoo artists.

“I can’t think of anything more important than lifting other women up,” Rae said.

“That’s our mission. Make love, make art and empower women,” Bello said.

Page, who also curates and invites other artists for pop-ups, looks for artists who are authentic and true to their message.

“It’s pretty validating having people see your art,” said Jesse Turetsky, one of the artists invited to the event. “I really appreciate [The Venus Collective] opening this space for me.”

The Venus Collective has hosted pop-ups around Santa Barbara in an effort to reach as many potential artists as possible. The collective plan on more events in local coffee shops or boutiques, and even a full moon ceremony for the coming month.

“[The pop-up events are] really rewarding… it creates a space where it’s easy to meet people,” Page said. “It’s also really nice to work with other artists.”

The Venus Collective welcomed dozens of more visitors throughout Friday afternoon to browse through the artists’ products or to just hang out and have a good time in the “magical, accepting” environment, as Page said.

“In this phase of life, we’re discovering ourselves,” Bello said. “We have so little time, but time is relative at the same time.”

Bello also said they are “really embracing authenticity and vulnerability” through The Venus Collective.

“I’m so thankful for the collective,” Page said. “I feel so genuinely accepted.”