We had the good fortune of connecting with Maggie Stoll and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Maggie, how do you think about risk?
I think about risk, for me, in terms of passion and instinct. I am a tried and true Capricorn to my core, so most of my life decisions are thoughtfully calculated and planned out. However, when I find things I am truly, deeply passionate about, that is when I find myself willing to take risks. Perhaps because my passions give me the most confidence. But the few big risks I have taken in my life have truly blessed me with the life I have. The first, when I took a risk of moving to California from Ohio with just what would fit in my car with a couple hundred bucks and no real plan. That risk led me to Long Beach where I have been for the past 11 years and to a community I call home. The second being leaving a comfortable corporate job to take huge financial and personal sacrifices to start my own business of owning a sustainable retail boutique. I’m two years in to owning my business, and seeing a real surge of growth for the first time, even amidst a global pandemic, because I’ve risked everything to start something I believed in that offers something important to the community. I would have never known I would end up in a dream location with a dream job – but a couple of gut instinct risks brought me here!
What should our readers know about your business?
My shop Burke Mercantile is a lifestyle boutique, a clothing shop, but to me it is much more than that. I am most proud that I’ve stuck to a specific and core set of values and ethics for both the way I run the business and for the products I carry from day 1. I sell only sustainably and ethically made clothing and accessories from small, independent brands in an effort to combat the harms done in the fashion industry through fast fashion. I commit to selling only brands doing good for the environment and for humans who make the products. I also am officially a certified Green business in the state of California, meaning I have passed a certification that requires things like proving water and energy efficiency in my retail space, committing to buying only recycled and recyclable supplies, and shipping/packing materials, and much more. I want my customers to know they are supporting a business that does it’s part for the environment and humanity, as well as knowing I have already done the research on the products I carry so they are supporting ethical brands as well. Morally, this decision was a no brainer for me but it wasn’t easy. Most of these decisions cost a lot more money unfortunately, and not buying the cheapest options available to you as a new business with no cash flow is extremely challenging. It meant I would not make an income from the business for a long time (I still don’t), and that it was going to take a lot of work educating my customer on why they should spend their valuable dollars on my products that come with a higher-than-average price tag. Educating people on what sustainable fashion means, how much it costs to produce goods that pays workers fair wages and helps the environment and creates less waste, on how investing in higher quality goods actually has greater value in the long run than buying more quantities of lower quality goods. I feel like it took a good two years to establish all of this and create value for my business and my brand both in my community and with my customer base. But I have learned that consistency and resiliency absolutely pay off. I have cultivated such an incredible, strong, conscious community through my continued efforts and I feel so proud of where we are and the supporters I have!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ahhh great question because Long Beach is the BEST! I could plan an entire month in Long Beach but I’ll try to stick to some of my very favorites!! During the week, we’d probably stick to some shopping and outdoor activities! A nice walk or bike ride on the beach path is perfection – I live in the shore so the pier and beach path are just a block away from my apartment! One day we would hit 4th street Retro Row which you can make a whole day out of! Start with coffee and brunch at Wide Eyes Open Palms which is just one of the best cafes in town. We’d stroll some vintage shops being sure to stop in my favorites The Hangout which has the beautiful Golden Garden inside of it with the best plants, and Old Gold Boutique which is one of my favorite store designs in town! We’d grab a fresh made juice or acai bowl at Salud Juice for a mid-day pick me up. For Happy Hour and dinner we would hit Lola’s Mexican Cuisine or The Social List, and then see a movie the Art Theater with maybe some live music and a late nite cap at 4th & Vine! Another day we’d spend in my own shop’s neighborhood the East Village in downtown Long Beach! I’m surrounded by what I think are the best shops in town from BYO Long Beach shop for zero waste and plastic free living, to 6th and Detroit, 3 Women Co, and Ay Que Vintage for the best in vintage clothing and homegoods, there is so much to discover in our neighborhood from housewares to menswear, to women’s fashion, plants, and so much more! For lunch we’d go to Ammatoli which has the best Levantine/mediterranean cuisine in the city. Happy hour and dinner we would head to the Promenade to enjoy great food and drinks at Michael’s Pizzeria or The Ordinarie, or maybe Portugese Bend Distillery or Lupe’s De la Mar. You need a few days downtown to try all the amazing restaurants! Some other favorites are Burger Daddy and Thai District on the same block as my shop! If they are lucky to be visiting on the 3rd Sunday of the month, we’d head to the Long Beach Flea Market early in the morning, followed by brunch at Panxa Cocina for amazing New Mexican inspired cuisine and mezcal cocktails! Then we would hop over to my friend’s shop Kuarto on Redondo where Burke first started out! A quick trip to the Zaferia district we’d grab an afternoon coffee at Commodity Coffee and walk across the street to Urban Americana to find any amazing vintage home goods we didn’t score at the flea market! A final dinner would most definitely be had at Ellie’s because it’s one of the best restaurants in the entire city, and if we’re lucky enough to score some seats when their secret Ginger’s dining room is open we’d definitely jump on that! Some other great spots to see are the Queen Mary, the Aquarium of the Pacific, all the art museums including LBMA both on Ocean and the branch downtown and MOLAA, we’d go on a tour of all the Pow Wow art murals around the city because there’s so many incredible ones to see, and maybe a kayaking adventure, duffy boat, or gondola ride through Naples! There’s just so much to see and do!! 🙂
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Wow, so many people deserve a shoutout for my success! Even though I am my only employee, I did NOT get here alone! I would shout out my parents and relatives who have been my biggest supporters and number one fans with no questions asked from day 1, I would should out my partner Omar who has never complained for the quality time lost in our relationship to running my own business 7 days a week and has instead asked how he could help all along the way, I would shout out Melissa Carpenter, owner of The Hangout, who hired me before I opened my shop and helped teach me everything I would need to know to run my own knowing I would eventually leave with that knowledge, and I would shoutout Emma McFarland who ended up as my intern by walking in and asking how she could be a part of what I was doing, and now I can’t imagine Burke without her!
Photos taken by Steven Clouse.