We had the good fortune of connecting with Camilla Gibson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Camilla, what matters most to you?
The value that matters to me most is Integrity. From my perspective, Integrity is the visceral understanding that every thing has a deep effect on every thing else, and then acting from that place of understanding. Integrity is ultimate honesty to the core of being. For example, the way I take care of myself and those around me has a direct effect on how my bread tastes to my newest customer. The way that I feel when I am preparing food infuses a certain vibration into that food and therefore into anyone who eats it. On a more obvious level, the sourcing and quality of the ingredients I use have a direct effect on how tasty the food is, and how nourishing it is for the body and the planet. Camilla’s Sourdough offers an alternative to the highly-processed, mass-produced, often exploitive and disposable nature of our commodified, consumerist culture. Abundance of quality, enjoyment, health, and peace is more important to me than anything else. As my business grows, my intention is to maintain the highest level of Integrity in all areas at all costs!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I started baking sourdough nearly three years ago after a horrible surf injury left me physically inactive for many months. Before the injury, I had recently visited a friend who was making sourdough bread for his community at a Zen center in Santa Fe. He explained the basics and referred me to the book Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz. I got the book and I became fascinated with fermentation. As I healed, I spent a lot of time experimenting with sourdough and feeding loved ones with my yeasty creations. My labor of love organically grew into a small weekly bread pop-up at my boyfriend’s shop, The Venice Love Shack. My art and food practices are deeply rooted in expressing love and joy, nourishing bodies and souls, and maintaining the highest level of integrity in quality, intention, and impact. My journey has been trust fall after trust fall into the Universe. Following my highest excitement and my greatest joys have led me closer to mastery. Up until this point, I have lived my adult life as a nomadic artist, practicing photography, filmmaking, painting, gardening, cooking, and yoga. The prospect of starting a cafe and being tied to one place and project felt a little overwhelming and terrifying, yet also exciting, challenging, and inspiring. This recent chapter of my life has given me the opportunity for exponential personal growth, and I am feeling more grounded and confident than ever before. While the work at the cafe is rewarding, it is not easy. The majority of the baking process is grueling, dirty, HARD work, while only the small portion that’s on display is buttery, warm, delicious, and beautiful. I relentlessly perfect my art by honing my microbial intuition, attention to detail, muscle memory, and enthusiastic creativity. My art is a product of dedication to craftswomanship. In everything I do–yoga, surfing, visual art, bread making, and relationship building– my approach is to show up and be present, and to make change by molding daily habits. With baking, and with all my artmaking, I aim to balance hard work, dedication, and a healthy dose of drudgery with the wider perspective of enjoyment, gut feeling, connection, and whispers from spirit.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
We would start at the Venice Love Shack, exploring local art, imported furniture, vinyls, custom bean bags, rare vintage vehicles, and collectible curiosities. I would take them surfing at County Line Beach, my favorite surf spot, and then hiking at Point Mugu. We would definitely do Hot Yoga and get a green juice afterwards at Rainbow Acres. I would bring them to Topanga Canyon, my favorite nearby nature refuge outside the city. We could go to South Venice Beach with the dogs and watch the brilliant winter sunset. If we had time we’d drive up to Hesperia and camp at Deep Creek Hot Springs, and soak for a couple days!!!! We would hang out at our house and listen to Udi’s collection of reggae vinyls, and then enjoy a nice dinner around the bonfire after hours at the Love Shack with all my favorite people.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Starting Camilla’s Sourdough has taught me about community. It truly takes a village to raise anything worthwhile!!! I owe immeasurable credit to my life partner Udi, my Mom Ellen, my Dad Todd, my cafe collaborator and best friend Lee Ann, all my friends throughout my life that I’ve enjoyed cooking and eating with (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE), as well as every single person I’ve ever come into contact with. From the deepest depths of my heart: THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! Thank you Sandor Elix Katz for writing the wonderful book Wild Fermentation, and laying out the magic of fermentation in such an inspirational, beautiful, practical, and spiritual way. And thank you Henney for getting my hands in some sourdough for the first time ever. Thank you Udi, without whom Camilla’s Sourdough would not exist, for encouraging and empowering me no matter what I am doing, for loving me, for finding an old bread-oven and installing it at our home, for giving me a space to offer bread to the public, and for being present in support at every moment. Thank you to Lee Ann, for jumping out on a limb and feeling called to come and work with me on the cafe, for being my kitchen soul sister, for showing up fully every day with me to create something beautiful and worthwhile to share. The chemistry that has developed between Lee Ann and I has become the bedrock of everything that we do at the cafe-bakery, and without it, I literally wouldn’t be able to do half of what I’m doing now. Thank you to my mom Ellen for being my faithful accountant and always available to talk on the phone about anything I’m working through. Thank you to all of our artisanal suppliers (Cafe Lipkis Coffee Roasters! Prodhealth Organic Produce! Our compost collectors at Homegrown Gardens! Local Grain Millers Grist and Toll!) for providing the highest quality ingredients and services as well as the deepest of friendships. Thank you to everyone who has ever bought bread from me, shared my bread, or come to the cafe. I am humbled every day by the way community builds in love and support! Here we grow!!!