Eye of the Day
4620 Carpinteria Avenuet
Carpinteria, CA 93013
From the moment you slip behind the wrought-iron gate and into the elegant courtyard framed with ornate wall fountains, English stone birdbaths and lush palms, you understand why the husband and wife team were determined to pursue a dream.
The intoxicating décor sets the stage. Step into the enormous conservatory, and you are greeted by a sprawling view of thousands of inspiring home and garden ideas from around the world. Dozens of French and Italian solid-stone limestone fountains, American concrete fountains, reconstituted English limestone fountains, and vibrant Asian jars transformed into fountains, border the meandering walkways through endless collections of distinctive hand-crafted pottery. Whether you’re after an Italian hand-carved statue of St. Francis, slow-fired terracotta from Tuscany, Asian-glazed jars, English-lead urns, French Anduze, or an American-made garden bench, Carpenteria-based Eye of the Day is worth a visit. “Our goal is to deliver the finest products from the U.S. and abroad while maintaining a level of impeccable quality and service,” says owner Brent Freitas.
The 52-year-old California native, along with wife, Suzi, gave up real estate and acceptance into culinary school to chase a vision. “I bought an old pickup truck and began with empty wine barrels,” recalls the passionate gardener. “I cut them in half and sold them as planters.” Suzi remembers those years. “One evening while we were watching City Slickers, Brent turned to me and said, ‘I have a better idea, I know what we’re going to do.’” Brent likes to call it his epiphany.
He soon expanded his line from wine casks to Mexican pottery, but found himself dissatisfied with the quality. After attending the Paris Gift Show, Brent and Suzi rubbed elbows with some of the world’s finest artisans. Tours of French and Italian factories and extraordinary product lines soon followed. “I rented a car and drove through the regions twice a year meeting new people, new manufacturers and buying authentic pieces representative of each country,” says Brent. “These were items no one had seen in the U.S.”
Today, thousands of those pieces are on display at Eye of the Day (meaning Daisy in Old English; also the name given to their daughter who will be attending culinary school). The colossal retail store has its sights set high on becoming the premiere garden center of America. Through word-of-mouth and ingenious marketing efforts, the Freitas’s, along with business partners Debbie Hazard and Julia Thomsen, are enthusiastic about their products and committed to their customers.
All levels of affordability are available to the consumer, though much of the garden ornamentation is for the high-end home. But interspersed with the rustic cartwheel benches and ageless hand-made pots from Greece are impressive collections of American-made reproductions for a lot less money.
“Our advice to anyone is to buy within your means while looking and learning about your options,” says Suzi, who divides her time between bookkeeping, customer service and sales. “Fine pottery is like a piece of fine jewelry. If you prefer quality craftsmanship and timeless beauty then spend a little more and buy something that will last.”
Visitors to Eye of the Day range from the out-of-town guest picking up a simple flower pot to elaborate designers needing to decorate a Montecito estate. Fifty-percent of the business is derived from professional trades such as interior designers, builders and landscapers. Delivery, installation and custom coloring are available, and the Freitas’s will be happy to turn any pot into a trickling fountain. Cher, David Crosby, Rob Lowe and Michael Jackson are just a few of the notables who enjoy what the unique garden center has to offer.
“People are now thinking outside the box,” adds Brent, referring to the home as the box. “They are including the outside. That is their sanctuary, the home and the garden.” And what better way to spruce up your sanctuary than a masterfully-crafted fountain or piece of pottery hand-selected by Eye of the Day.