Alexandra Hall is an independent spirit drawn to natural beauty. She opened her shop, Maven in 2015 with the intention of exposing the community to inspiring brands and artists beyond San Diego. Maven provides a platform for independent makers and is a carefully curated space that embodies creativity and thoughtful design. When not at the shop, Alex and her son Barrett frequent the museums in San Diego’s Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo. You can also find her at the beach with her dog and her fiance.
Walk us through the creation of Maven.
Maven is a curated lifestyle shop with a focus on handmade products and independent makers, and it’s the natural culmination of all of my interests and experiences. I was home after living on the East Coast for a year and had traveled quite a bit, which exposed me to what I felt San Diego lacked shopping wise. I came back knowing I had to help provide variety in our retail landscape here.
Being able to provide a platform for artisans, makers and businesses who don’t have a large presence in San Diego is so exciting to me. Having a conversation with a customer about why I love and stock the things I do drives me.
What motivated you to do something different with retail?
Even as a child I knew this industry was what I wanted to be a part of. It took some time to figure out my niche, but I simply adore all things design and creative. I love the process, the connection and the stories. And through the shop I get to share all those things with my community – which is my favorite part.
What was the most difficult part about starting Maven?
Initially, our build out was far more difficult than I anticipated. From termites to pouring all new floors–the entire budget doubled! I also sacrifice a lot of my time for Maven. I don’t get to clock out anymore and that can be difficult as a mother. I was lucky enough to be a stay-at-home mom for my son’s first three years of life so opening up shop really challenged us and changed things– and the shop still takes up the majority of my time. Figuring out a new routine was hard and remains something I struggle with.
How do you handle failure?
The days that are slow can feel like failures, and it’s hard not to take it personally. But a lot of what we do involves education. I’ve learned to accept the challenge and always look at change with an open mind.
What’s something unexpected you’ve learned about yourself?
Being an entrepreneur really shoves a mirror in your face. I am much more of an introvert then I ever knew. And I may struggle with multitasking but I thrive under pressure and my best work comes from wearing many hats.
Why are you so passionate about the work you do?
I am first and foremost a creative, Maven has always been a byproduct of that. My favorite part of my job is the diversity of each day – as I’m doing something new every day. It’s also amazing to be my own boss and build a community surrounding this shop. I’m so honored to have the tribe I do through my shop.
Why is it important for women to support one another?
We are a force together and can achieve so much more when we celebrate each other.
I frequently work with my neighbors, and fellow girl bosses at Little Dame to coordinate events like ‘Fem Block Flea Market’ that help bring together and highlight other female creatives in our community. I also love turning to other female business owners for advice — we’re all going through this together and I love knowing their perspective.
What is your vision for this industry?
Each item I choose for Maven has a story. I am happy to see that notion catching on with retailers big and small. I’m also excited that to see that responsible consumption is becoming trendy – that means someday it’ll just be the norm.
How do you go about sourcing the products featured on Maven?
I try to take frequent trips to Los Angeles and San Francisco – especially when I’m feeling stagnant. Most of the brands in the shop are ones I use myself.
For new brands, I typically look for quality and a certain design aesthetic that matches our look. I think what sets us apart from other retailers is that Maven offers design-focused goods for San Diego’s laid-back Californian lifestyle.
What have you learned from owning your own shop that can help someone with any creative endeavor?
Self-employment and owning my own business has definitely shown me what I am really made of. This route is not for the faint of heart.
I definitely feel more confident in myself now that I’ve run this business for the last 3 years. This process has taught me how to listen to my intuition, practice a whole lot of patience and to not compare my struggles to anyone’s success. It’s a constant reminder to find peace in the chaos and embracing change.