As newly minted Humboldt State University graduates, Paul "Yashi" Lubitz and Holly Hosterman didn't waste time figuring out the rest of their lives. While Lubitz, who had earned a degree in music and industrial technology, mulled over the idea of launching a frozen health foods business, Hosterman, who'd studied jewelry design, told him, "If you do jewelry, I'll do it with you." And they've been running the iconic Humboldt jewelry company Holly Yashi since 1981, selling in more than 700 shops all over the world and creating more than 200 new designs each year. Their jewelry has been featured in Vogue and country songstress Bonnie Raitt is a fan. 

The retail store, an expansive purple warehouse in Arcata's Creamery District, opened six years ago and now offers pieces from other local designers and international artists. Many faithful Holly Yashi collectors make the pilgrimage to Arcata to visit the studio and snap a few selfies with their favorite jewelry designers. After spending years on the road at tradeshows across the country, Holly Yashi loves welcoming customers to Humboldt County.

click to enlarge Bags and purse accessories. - AMY KUMLER
  • Amy Kumler
  • Bags and purse accessories.

Visiting on a rainy afternoon, I was happily surprised to find a new addition: the cheery Café Presto, Arcata's only purveyor of hand-pulled espresso. After a trip to Italy, Lubitz and Hosterman became devotees of the art of Italian espresso, hatching a vision to bring the craft to Arcata. Partnering with like-minded investors, Holly Yashi and its Cafe Presto business partners conducted an exhaustive search to obtain a Piaggio, the tiny Italian truck that houses the espresso machine. The team imported the first La Spazialle S40 Suprema — the Lamborghini of espresso machines — in North America. In 2016, with every last detail attended to, Cafe Presto opened for business. On sunny days, tables and chairs sit out front, inviting patrons of the Creamery District to slow down over a coffee and enjoy la dolce vita.

Authentic Italian cappuccino in hand, I perused brightly colored scarves and sample botanical hand lotions while waiting for a 2 pm tour of Holly Yashi to begin. Offered twice daily on weekdays, visitors can join an intimate guided tour of the workshop and witness the alchemy of jewelry making firsthand. All of Holly Yashi's jewelry has been created in Arcata since Lubitz and Hosterman worked in her one-car garage. On the tour, we heard how Hosterman learned to transform niobium, a humble gray metal, into rich, colorful hues through an expedited oxidation process. Lubitz explained that niobium is much "friendlier" to work with than other metals and its range of hues has long been Holly Yashi's signature style.

Stop by the Creamery District to experience Holly Yashi's unique brand of hospitality and find your own piece of "jewelry as art."

Editor's note: Cafe Presto is no longer in operation.

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Nora Mounce

Nora Mounce

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