CARDIFF BY THE SEA — Twins Ash Francomb and Kris DeGranzio have enjoyed much success in their 42 years: Francomb as a fashion designer whose bikinis were featured in the 2005 swimsuit edition of “Sports Illustrated.”
DeGranzio as a professional photographer with credits that include shooting the annual swimsuit issue for “Surfing Girl” in Hawaii two years in a row and the Rip Curl campaign in Kauai.
They also collaborated in designing the graphics for sportswear for the girls division of Billabong.
Most recently they partnered in two businesses: Ash Francomb Made in California vintage surf and yoga clothing line and PCH 101 Studio, a California tropical-inspired design studio.
Their latest venture is Green Flash, a modern community center in Cardiff that celebrates the local art, music, yoga and surf culture.
“It’s a place for people to meet and connect,” DeGranzio explained. “People connect today, but it’s online. Real people are doing real things together here. They are getting face time again.”
The idea for the center arose last summer when the twins were looking for a venue for a two-day art show they wanted to produce titled “Blue Realm.”
Ultimately, they couldn’t resist signing a lease for the space, which boasted a stunning ocean view.
Since then, they have hosted six thematic shows, one showcasing the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and another the Cardiff campground. In addition to their work, they have exhibited the art of other prominent artists including Susan Wickstrand Roche, Kevin Roche, Skye Walker, Barry McGee and Thomas Campbell. There is no admission to art shows.
They also utilize the space for Green Flash Yoga, which is headed by popular yoga teacher Lauren Duke. There is no charge for lessons; the program operates exclusively on donations.
To generate money, Francomb and Degranzio rent the space for corporate events. They also started hosting their own parties, drawing crowds of up to 500 guests.
“In our other ventures the ‘people’ quotient was missing,” DeGranzio explained. “Our parties are really fun and they give North County a unique social outlet that was missing before.”
Plans are under way for a regular dance night with a deejay and café night with an open mike for poetry recitations similar to those of the Beat generation in the 1950s. The twins are also contemplating offering guitar lessons and art classes for children.
The sisters grew up on Wind ‘n Sea Beach in La Jolla. They lived in New York for several years, working in the fashion industry, prior to returning home.
“We are drawn to the relaxed, natural vibe of North County,” DeGranzio explained. “Cardiff is a quintessential surf town community — perfect for a surf art gallery.”
The sisters say the name of their community center was inspired by their mother, who used to tell them at sunset to “look for the green flash.”
In August, Marta Karwowska joined the team at Green Flash, handling sales and assisting with the production of art shows and events. Often a portion of sales go to charities such as Greenpeace.
Currently on exhibit is Green Flash’s first yoga art show titled, “Transpire.”
Green Flash is located at 111 Chesterfield in Cardiff. For more information, visit greenflashartshop.com or greenflashartshop.tumblr.com or call (858) 342-3031.