At the nexus of the University Heights and Normal Heights neighborhoods of San Diego sits maven, a locally owned and family-operated lifestyle shop run by Alexandra Hall. Originally from San Francisco, Hall is a California native through and through. Her store maven represents the intangible San Diego aesthetic, tinged with the metropolitan cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City.
maven is Hall’s ultimate creation, a beautifully curated space featuring brands and items from all over the nation. The shop features companies like Ali Golden, and the popular Seattle-based jewelry line Baleen. Each piece is selected with the customer in mind, but also maven’s mission: To bring “goods from elsewhere to our corner of San Diego…because we deserve it."
Hall attended Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising with a focus on apparel design, but found her passion and strengths in her merchandising classes. “I went to design school to make clothing, and I wasn’t very good at sewing. But I aced all my business of fashion classes…Ironically, because I never thought I would be into that. That was the root of it.”
For a time, Hall focused on her family. She got married and had a child, but the yearning to do something creative in the retail world still existed. “I’d always worked retail, but I wanted something of my own. In merchandising you get to have some kind of creativity in the context of the corporation, but it’s really not your footprint.”
Her passion and experiences in visual merchandising led her to develop the framework for maven, a space inspired by travel and the mass amounts of independent retail available in other cities.
“I travel a lot,” she says. “The real inspiration of the shop was going to urban cities, or even places like Hawaii–places with such mass amounts of independent retail. And coming home and feeling really bored.”
For the next two years, Alexandra Hall kept a journal of brands, makers, labels, independent designers and artisans from around the world that she wanted to see in San Diego. “Then I started making friends with all the other shop owners in the vicinity. I’d make lunch dates or coffee dates with them. It was two years of gathering information and studying, figuring out where I wanted to be and what niche I wanted to fill.”
Maven is a beautifully curated space, featuring the cutest and most unique collection of goods. One of Hall's central focuses in creating her space was to bring something different to San Diego, and in doing so, provide a platform for independent designers and makers.
Be sure to drop by maven at 2946 Adams Avenue and pick up some goodies.