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Vanilla Squid and Friends
Shirley King | Avenida Primavera

Isabel Nielsen, Diana Carolina Becera and daughter at Vanilla Squid.  Photo Shirley King.  Click on image to enlarge.


Finding products that have not been mass-produced requires time and persistence. It is even tougher, but all the more important when choosing children’s clothing and toys made with sustainable materials, natural colors and quality construction – especially for those precious babies and young children in our lives. Now we can turn off our search engines. A recently opened baby, maternity and children’s boutique, Vanilla Squid and Friends, Ink at1150 Camino del Mar (beside Café Secret) is committed to the small manufacturer especially ‘mom and pop’ entrepreneurs who design and build their products that are meant to last.

Isabel Nielsen and her daughter, Diana Carolina Becerra, co-owners of Vanilla Squid have combined their business acumen, love of children and deep respect for the social and environmental responsibility of the sustainable manufacturing practices in the production of children’s wear and toys. For several years they planned their first retail business drawing upon Isabel’s experiences as an office furniture designer in her native Colombia and Diana Carolina’s career in public health research and interventions with low-income Latina women.

Isabel and Diana Carolina share their deep appreciation for sustainably-produced materials that extend the life of products – particularly with children’s wear that is outgrown quickly but is coveted by value-conscious parents as premium ‘hand-me-downs’. They want their merchandise to have a long-lives through the use by many. About 60% of their merchandise is made in the United States and the other 40% internationally. In addition to local artisans they have found small businesses in Peru, Colombia and Mexico that match their product development requirements – organic, breathable fabrics, soft, natural colors and impeccable workmanship.

From the outset Vanilla Squid was influenced by the younger members of Isabel’s and Diana Carolina’s families. Their children out of their affections of all things ‘vanilla’ and their intense interest in sea life, especially Diana’s son’s serious study of squids, proposed the business name. Their store location in a small community such as Del Mar suits their goal of becoming not just a retail business focussed on customer loyalty for high quality products, but also addressing the needs and questions of expectant parents with product and community resources to ease their pre and post-partum uncertainties and the necessary breast-feeding supplies, which will be stocked next spring.

Just like some of the big retailers Vanilla Squid offers personalized services including special orders for sizes and colors within the age range of newborn to 8 years, the maternity fashions and accessories and any out of stock supplies, gift wrapping, phone orders and delivery by staff of gift baskets to the local areas of Camel Valley and Del Mar. A beautiful collection of special occasion children’s fashion ideal for wedding parties and other formal events are on hand and can be ordered. Business hours are10 am to 7 pm seven days a week and at any other time by request. Donations to ocean protection organizations will be contributed from profits.

Vanilla Squid and Friends adds much-valued new life and service to the commerce in the southern end of our ‘village by the sea’ – while bringing a retail model that deserves our deep respect and support.



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