Girls Rule at Myrtle, An Eastside Haven for Indie Designers
Welcome to Mama Shops, an FM Journal series that highlights beautiful stores owned by mothers.
Photos: Ruby Nichols
I’ve been fangirling over Myrtle for quite some time now, as it combines so many things I love — style, indie designers, and women. Owner Whitney Bickers has an amazing eye for unique, whimsical finds from talented women all over the globe. In her adorable pink shop (because of course), you’ll find goods ranging from apparel and accessories to home and apothecary goods, to sassy stationery.
I met the new man in Whitney’s life, Max, who kept us entertained while we talked about her transition from film to fashion. She also shared her list of up-and-coming superstar women to watch. Hint: you may want to book your ticket to Spain pronto. Get ready for new obsessions, ladies! And be sure to stop in Myrtle next time you’re in Echo Park.
I absolutely love the female-centric concept of your shop. Can you tell us how the idea originated, especially since your background is in film?
The two actually go hand-in-hand. The film world changed a lot while I was in it, and I found myself in a very male-dominated corner of it, both in company culture and output. When I started my own project, it was a backlash to this — wanting to do something really small and celebrating women creating things. I had always loved fashion but was afraid to go to design school when I was younger, so when I realized I had a talent for seeking out and sharing other designers' work, the store idea really came together for me. And then my agency and film development background turned out to be great training — working the long hours of entrepreneurship was nothing new to me!
How would you describe your aesthetic?
Colorful, feminine, and unique, but practical.
Name one item in your closet on constant rotation right now.
My Father's Daughter jeans. Su made exclusive, petite cropped bootcut jeans for us which has been an elusive style for me — I'm 5'1" so most crops just look like regular jeans on me. I think there's nothing like a great fitting pair of jeans to make you feel good about yourself, even if most days I'm in playground-friendly clothes.
Are there any newer indie designers we should look out for?
The whole Father's Daughter collection is amazing; they're on their first season and I already own three pieces that I wear non-stop. I can't wait for spring Hannah Kristina Metz to arrive, she's done some small collections on her own but this is her first season branching into stores (note the peach eye blouse in the photos is hers). Outside of my store, I'm loving some designers I follow on Instagram who are still creating every piece themselves — Tessa Perlow, Abbey Rich, and Anna Allen. I'm also getting really inspired by some kidswear designers these days and wishing they would scale up!
You scour the globe for the best female indie designers. What has been your favorite destination for the best finds so far? In other words, where are the ladies killin' it?
Right now I'm really loving Spain; I wish I could actually go on a buying trip there! My very favorite collection in the shop, Heinui, is Barcelona-based and I'm also carrying Diarte, Pale Swimwear, and Paloma Wool whose collections run the gamut from sweaters to bikinis. The styles are all pretty timeless, but there's such an emphasis on the right details and lots of great color.
You've been in Echo Park since the beginning, for a good six years now. How does the neighborhood inspire you?
The neighborhood is always changing so there's always a lot of new energy around, both in our neighboring businesses and our customers. We get so many creative women in the shop, and it's great to hear their wish lists and see how they're styling things. Plus the neighborhood itself is really colorful, from the murals to the plant life, and that's a great backdrop that I love seeing our colorful clothes against.
Aside from having less time, has becoming a mother affected your career or business in any way?
It totally makes me appreciate how hard it is for women to shop in an even greater way than before, which is affecting my buying. I had never understood that complaint, "I don't know what size I am," and now I really get it! Nursing took me from a size small to a large in tops, and then breastfeeding helped me get back to pre-baby weight, but everything is...lower, ha! It's also really forced me to look at the big picture necessities of growing; it's hard to get bogged down in the little stuff when some days my focused time is limited only to nap times.
What's the best and most challenging part of being a mom who owns her own business?
The fact that both are around-the-clock jobs. In many ways I never get time off, but I also have pretty amazing flexibility to do a park playdate if I want and then be on my computer late at night. I can't even imagine how I could still have a corporate or entertainment job and spend the time together that we do.
Myrtle is located at 2213 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026. (213) 413-0004. Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 11am to 7pm, Sunday 12 to 6pm, closed Monday.
Ruby Nichols is a Fashion Mamas LA member, the founder of Almanac of Style, and mama to Dash.