Field Trip Fridays | Maven
How cool were Field Trips?! I'm bringing them back.
Over the next few months, I'll be sharing visits with various people and places that hopefully inspire you to skip out of work early on Friday's to travel, shop or get artsy. Our first one is close to home...
Located in the Normal Heights neighborhood of San Diego, Maven is a locally-owned retail space that seeks to provide a platform for independent designers and makers while informing its surrounding community. Founded in 2015 by california native Alexandra Hall, Maven features a diverse range of lifestyle products from apothecary to apparel to homewares. Carefully curated and inspired by major metropolitan cities across the country, Maven reflects the growing desire for mindfully made and aesthetically driven goods for a simplified life.
We sat down with Alex to pick her brain on why she started Maven, what brands she's been eyeing and which bands she's loving right now. I find her vision and dedication to bringing more independent design to San Diego inspiring. Hopefully she's starting a trend.
What made you want to open your store? And why in the Normal Heights neighborhood?
After attending FIDM for apparel design, I found I really enjoyed the merchandising and business side of fashion most. And after working a decade in big box retail the idea of a corporate job, even in my desired field, just wasn't an option.
Traveling really solidified my desire to open up shop. I was constantly inspired by what was going on in other cities and super bored of the shopping available here in San Diego. I kept lists of brands I wanted to bring home and interviewed every shop owner that would let me take them to coffee for about 2 years before I opened maven. I knew our cultural scene here was/is shifting and I really wanted to contribute to that movement as well. Although I am native to the Bay Area, I have been here in San Diego 15 years and have so much faith in it. Specifically in my neighborhood of Normal Heights/North Park/University Heights (much debate about our location, I call it "three points"). I live within walking distance of the shop and am 100% invested in it. I love that there is still heart here. It's less established than other neighborhoods in a way, and I like that grit. I found it fitting Maven be here, since we are different than the typical shop found in SD.
Tell me about why you like to work with independent brands and makers?
I love being a platform for brands that don't have an existing presence in San Diego. Exposing San Diegans to new things is my jam. Most of the products I sell are items I have in my own home/clothing labels I wear.
How do you find and select the artists and brands you work with?
I choose new brands to work with based on a pretty simple method: Does the brand's ethos speak to Maven's mission? Do they compliment our aesthetic? In supporting these independent brands, I can be proud of the things I sell. That's really important to me. Knowing and sharing the story behind an item, that's so special.
Noticed all the playlists on your blog, and I've recently become addicted to spotify (years behind I know) so I'm all about those. Any recommendations?
We are music fanatics here at maven so it felt only natural to translate that into our blog when Emily was developing it. We still haven't linked it to the shop's actual spotify. Whoops! But I'm so glad you dig our "playlists".
Personally on heavy rotation for me are:
I'm listening to Tennis' new album Yours Conditionally on repeat since seeing them last month.
Maggie Rogers is another current favorite since the release of her new EP, just saw her as well and she was ahhhhmazing live.
And the XX's new album is so good too.
Solange, Local Natives, Blood Orange, The Growlers are some others.
I'm super into this band called Sales, Nice as Fuck, Jenny Lewis. Also anything by Wet. She is my everything. Her voice. Ugh.
I also am a die hard Bowie fan, love Rod Stewart, T Rex and Fleetwood Mac if I'm in the mood for some oldies.
Okay I'll stop now... but I could go on forever.
Lastly, who are you favorite emerging brands / designers?
My favorite emerging brands/designers...hmmm...that's hard. There are a lot.
In our store_
Everyday Oil-I use this oil everyday and its the best, smells so good
Gravel + Gold-the best women positive brand and their clothing is beautiful, so lucky to carry them
Pansy Co-the most amazing organic cotton bras and panties, so comfy and their branding is sick
Paloma Wool-this Spanish brand seriously the most amazing art direction possibly ever. And their dresses are stunning
Blockshop Textiles-I love a brand I can feel good about, these sisters create gorgeous textiles and give back to the community where they are made. I love that
Norden-a local favorite, pretty much everything they touch turns into nordic gold. or black and white i should say ;)
Not in our shop (and wish they were)_
Ilana Kohn- i have one of her onesies and love it so much
First Rite-I just ordered some blouses from their site and the quality and design is impeccable in her designs
Mociun-Literally my dream jewelry. Want it ALL
Eric Trine-I love the few items in my home he has made and he is hilarious on insta!
Words of advice for aspiring designers to break into retail?
As a shopkeeper I deal with the not so fun part of telling aspiring designers that email or approach me that we aren't a good fit. So my advice would be to have a thick skin, you won't be for everyone and that's okay.
Have a well done linesheet and reasonable guidelines for your orders. Be on time with shipping!
Present yourself with a strong visual identity.
Don't be too aggressive and once you've established a retailer, service them and try to create a strong relationship! That makes work so much more pleasurable for all parties involved.