Brian Gibson, enthused, visionary owner of Jalan Jalan Imports, has hurt his back. Sitting behind his desk in the charming interior of his unique site at 525 S. Topanga Boulevard, he is obviously a robust guy who appears strong, vibrant and fit. I was just making a bed, he said, and something went.
It is amusing to imagine this energetic husband, father and owner of two Topanga businesses, engaged in so domestic an activity. His other enterprise is the popular Yoga Desa in Pine Tree Circle that Gibson and his wife, Mary Beth opened in 2000 offering classes and events.
It really began to flourish when Mary Beth became involved, he reports with obvious pride at his wifes admirable abilities.
Gibson opened Jalan Jalan, a Balinese and World Import business a year ago. Located on the enchanting property that used to be hidden and lost to view as a fenced Amerigas facility, it is now an esthetically pleasing, eclectic collection of treasures. Amongst the assemblage of artfully arranged items are furniture, statuary, gemstones, carvings, clothing, art jewelry, magic carpets, lighting, musical instruments, Goddesses and Buddas all surrounded by nature. The commutative effect is spiritual, calming and inspirational.
Let me show you something, announces Gibson, smiling like a kid.
He escorts me, as he moves gingerly across his terrain and we approach the heart of the property, Owl Falls. Moving across the stepping stone rocks, over the water, we arrive at an area where Brian points to a smooth worn rock. There, in the middle of it is a circular indention.
That was where the natives used to grind acorns, he shares. Cant you see it? He waves his hand to indicate the small Chumash Village that once graced the site, and paints a picture of their life.
This was a water source and the creek is right over there. There was fishing. Tribal Elders have said there are spirits here. The children used to play right here and swim at the foot of the waterfall.
One could almost hear them laughing as they splashed in the waters of a thousand years ago.
Claiming no experience in retail, Gibson learns as he goes and, although he admits having no mind for details, he is finding his way.
I feel important decisions should be made with the heart and intuition rather then the rational mind. When the property was first for sale I thought about buying it but didnt know what I could do with it. Then when I was in Bali I had a vision of buying it so I went ahead. It wasnt until the contracts were signed and I was given a key for the final inspection that I realized Owl Falls existed. There it was in the corner of the property. Seeing it brought tears to my eyes and I knew I had made the right decision.
In addition to rare and exceptional retail, Jalan Jalan has become a site for local celebrations and events such as the Topanga Film Festival, Art Tour and shows, and community and family gatherings (this reporter celebrated her birthday there).
Last month Gibson hosted a food tasting catered by Chef Lillian Kestone-Fazzi whom he met when she just stopped by to introduce herself. Gibson found her sweet and sincere.
On that evening in May, a tent was set up and the smell of tasty edibles filled the late afternoon air. Invited guests mixed and mingled while local musicians played in harmonious accord with the sound of the waterfall. Sitting on the beautiful natural petrified wood and teak chairs and benches, diners sipped wine and sampled the culinary creations that included a whole roasted pig, (poor pig). This being a sampler of Chef Lillys food, the menu was varied and perhaps just a bit pricey at $15 a plate but Brian and Lilly have plans to offer more inexpensive choices in the future to accommodate the whole family.
Brian explains, Id like to host theme based gatherings, maybe on Sunday evenings with a food truck. Sort of a picnic thing where people can bring their own wine and sit outside and enjoy the evening and the falls.
With his great collectors eye and apt appreciation of the fine, beautiful and mystical, look for Gibson gathering wonderful people together just as he has with his one-of-a-kind import items. He is generously open to sharing his sacred grounds with the community and confides his philosophy: I want to create a beautiful healing environment that will have people feeling better when they leave than when they arrived.
I know I felt better for being there and as we said goodbye, Gibsons back seemed already improved.
Watch for announcements about upcoming tastings, activities and gatherings. Jalan Jalan ,525 S. Topanga Canyon Blvd. , Topanga 90290, (310) 455-BALI; jalanjalanimports.com. Open Monday Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.