The Creators of LA: Boutique Owner Whitney Bickers
For the last 10 months, self-taught photographer Megan McIsaac has been traveling the West Coast in an RV — a 1977 Toyota “Dolphin” — and gathering portraits of friends and creative types she met along the way. Now settled in Los Angeles, with a Mamiya c330 camera, McIsaac decided to document the community that’s inspired so much of her work: Tumblr. This is part of a series of photographic profiles.
Whitney Bickers is the mind behind Echo Park boutique Myrtle. I first met Whitney when I photographed her springtime tomboy lookbook and fell in love with the colorful items in her store — jewelry and clothing from independent women designers, vintage clothes, even stationary. For the fashion obsessed, Myrtle is a perfect playhouse to spend an afternoon in.
What has been the most challenging part of opening your own shop?
Sometimes owning a business feels like a never ending series of new problems. Commercial real estate especially stands out as a whole new world for me. Ultimately though, the most challenging thing is just having patience. It’s very easy to come up with some grand ideas, but it takes time to implement them, especially when you’re on a budget. And to build a business that is organic and going to last requires a lot of customer feedback and trial and error.
You always say that Myrtle is so close to your heart it’s like having people shop in your home. Do you take things home with you?
No surprise here: I do take clothes home. But really, I often find the reverse—that I bring more and more of myself and my home to the store.
Whats the best part about sharing your shop through Tumblr?
I started the tumblr page in January 2011 — almost a full year before I actually opened my doors — as a place to track my progress on this crazy idea that I had for a store. Sharing that process turned out to be a really wonderful thing because I started getting outside encouragement really early. It helped me have faith in having a good idea while I was still stuck in the logistics. I also feel like it gave me some credibility long before I had a physical space—I could just send people to my tumblr page for a sense of my ideas and style.
You’ve been around for a year now. What’s next for you?
I feel like a parent in that I would say “no, no, not a year—8 1/2 months!” I still have big things to accomplish in year one. I just opened a webstore and really want to grow that presence, both as a shop for those outside LA and as a source of information on the talented designers I work with. As for personally, in year two I’d like to finally have a real day off! I hear Big Sur is nice this time of year…
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