Meet Kristin Miracle-Lewis...owner of The Garage Collective in Laguna Beach, California. She recently went from doing pop-up shops in her garage to a brick and mortar location on Pacific Coast Highway. We love the vibe of her eclectic store and the way that she thoughtfully resources what she sells, and who she buys it from. Her business keeps growing, and we wanted to share her story with you!
Tell us a bit about your background and what you studied in college. I think it is so interesting to hear what people study versus what they end up doing:
I have always been interested in design and fashion but my mother insisted I get a business degree first. Mom always knows best! I graduated from ASU with a degree in marketing and then worked for CB Richard Ellis in Phoenix, AZ managing office & retail portfolios. I moved back to California and wanted a career change, something creative where I would not have to wear a suit and be behind a desk. I ended up working at Quiksilver as a swimwear Merchandiser. Although I still worked behind a desk I was introduced to fabrics, the design world and I also met my husband there (yay!!!). My father encouraged me at that time to get my Master’s Degree. I worked at Quiksilver while attending the graduate program at Pepperdine University. I majored in Entrepreneurship. Upon graduating I began working for our family real estate business which specializes in developing, leasing and managing retail shopping centers. I now work for the family business and have The Garage Collective. It’s funny how my path led me to exactly to where I am now.
You juggle a few hats, between running The Garage Collective and working with your family. What is your role in your family’s real estate company?
Yes, it has been a challenge separating the two but I feel blessed to both keep my day job and pursue my creative endeavor. I currently do asset management which includes property management, accounting and long term planning for our local retail portfolio. In addition to the management, I took an active role in leasing. During the leasing process I also became involved in working with the Tenants on Space Planning and Tenant Improvements. Our properties are long-term investments and it was important for me to learn all aspects of our family business.
You have been the President of the Laguna Beach Parents Club for a few years. How did that come about, and what is the purpose of the club?
As a working Mom I joined the Laguna Beach Parent’s Club as a way to connect with other moms, families and our community. That is the mission of the Parent’s Club. It started as it always does….. I volunteered to coordinate some events, then took on the 2013 playgroup for two years, then became the Co-President for two years. Us moms have a way of multitasking and saying yes to things we love. The Parent’s Club is near and dear to my heart and has created some of my closest friendships.
You devote some time to philanthropy. Can you tell us about what you do for the Laguna Beach Food Pantry?
TheFood Pantry offers free, fresh and nutritious groceries to low-income families and individuals who live, work, and attend school in or around Laguna Beach. Susan Thomas, who is the Treasurer for the Laguna Pantry Board, is a family friend. She approached me to help with accounting for the Food Pantry about seven years ago. As my family and business grew, I transitioned to a Board Member for the Pantry and was on the Board as the Secretary for about a year and a half.
How and when did you decide to start doing pop-up with your friends, selling from your garages?
I have always had an interest in fashion and design, specifically interiors. In 2015, I read the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and to say I was inspired would be an understatement. The book, which I have read about 4 times since then talks about creative living and not allowing your fear of failure (and other fears, insert list of a hundred other fears here) hold you back from doing what you want to do. It also talks about inspiration and acting on an idea. I reached out to a couple of extremely talented friends to see if they would be interested in doing pop-ups out of our garages and The GARAGE Collective was born. For a year we transformed my garage and a couple other locations into a store. We also began to do pop-ups with local businesses. Each of us offered a unique product. I specialized in rugs, textiles, pottery and leather.
Can you explain the Collective and how it works? It is so interesting, and really smart. Not a lot of stores take a risk like this to buy from unknown vendors!
I wanted to expand my product lines and you can’t be good at everything. I found women in my same position. They were makers and wanted to branch out from doing only pop ups or online to the retail aspect of business. So in essence, their shop is within my shop. They rent shelf space for a specific time and eventually are rotated out with new makers so that the products change. Some of them also work in the space and use it as their creative time which allows them to connect with their customers and curate their products. In addition to sharing in overhead, we also collaborate and support one another. I have become extremely close to the girls that are currently part of my collective: Carma Collection, Raegan Knight, Lea Heigden and Lu + Elle.
How do you choose what you sell or find your artisans? I love all the textiles you have, and the jewelry is so special and really well priced as well. A lot of local interior designers are discovering you.
I’m constantly reading magazines or design books and of course scrolling Pinterest. I choose things that I would put or have in my own home at a price point that I could afford. We have a great mix of products: higher price point, classic items that are timeless and some more affordable on trend choices. It was important to me that the price points were reasonable. I didn’t want there to be anything in the store that I wouldn’t buy myself.
What are your best sellers?
Rugs, leather wall hooks, Moroccan Pom Blankets, pillows and gifts are top sellers for sure. Belly baskets for storage and mid-Century plant stands do well. We are priced well below other stores...and I'm happy to pass that on to my customers!
How do you utilize social media for your business? Do you find that you are generating a lot of sales from social media? It is so perfect that you have an online store also now for customers that aren’t local.
Social media is the greatest thing to happen to a small business since I don’t know what? In the last 7 days 96% of people who purchased an item or viewed me online came from Instagram (or so Shopify says). That is amazing! I have also found other businesses to collaborate with and grow brand awareness. I’m so grateful to have these tools.
Who inspires you?
If I didn’t list my mother first, she would kill me. She is my best friend, the person who has supported me unconditionally and taught me business and ethics. Getting a little cliche here, but my husband is my biggest inspiration. He has pushed and encouraged me to follow my dreams. When I wanted to open the store, he said yes. When I wanted to expand to the new store, he said yes! He is always sending me product and build out ideas and continues to push me to be my best. Amber Lewis of Amber Interiors is my favorite designer, I’m pretty much obsessed with her style. Elizabeth Gilbert has been the most inspirational writer, as I stated before, her book has continued to push me creatively. I listen to her podcast Magic Lessons as often as I can.
You have the cutest family. Tell us about Brian and your two boys:
My husband is my best friend, I am truly blessed! Fun fact about Brian is that he has reinvented his career about five times. He was a professional volleyball player for 14 years on the AVP tour and then worked as a national sales manager at Quiksilver. He then moved on to the title business and has recently transitioned to real estate development. My youngest son is Blake, he turns 5 in February. He is definitely my baby, the snuggler of the family, gentle and sweet. Weston, my oldest is 7. He is extremely smart, super social, kind and has the build of his father so maybe we will have another athlete in our future? I also have two step sons, Carson (16) and Dylan (18). They are in high school and busy being independent but it has been an amazing journey watching them grow from little boys into young men.
What is the hardest part about juggling two careers and all of the work that goes into raising two busy young boys?
Well your AOBF blog on marriage connection says it all. I think that when you have a career and a family, it is very important to stay connected to your spouse, do some things for yourself and to have devoted time for children and family. It is a challenge but being cognizant of those things keeps it in the forefront. Plus, my husband is great at reminding me to scale down and enjoy the moment.
When you have me time, what are your favorite things to do to decompress?
I love to spend time with my girl gang, exercise, read and just have some quiet time zoning out on my favorite Netflix shows. Sunday is my day for self care. Every Sunday, I take some time for myself, whether it’s a face mask, magazines and coffee, yoga. There are no rules except that it happens every Sunday!
We have been talking on AOBF about dating your partner, and taking the time to plan dates. What do you and Brian like to do when you have time to go on a date?
I wish I had all of these great ideas but we are super simple and we are wino’s so it usually involves a nice meal, a bottle of wine and an occasional movie. We also like to work out together, I know, silly!
You are such a natural beauty, and you like using natural products. Can you tell us a few of your go-tos? Your skin is beautiful …and everyone is always looking for a new product to try, and natural more so than ever!
Awww, love you! I use non-toxic products and make-up with the exception of Lytera Skin Brightening Complex. I wasn’t willing to give that one up. I buy most of my product from Roots Beauty in Laguna. My skin is very sensitive and my products are light and typically unscented. My go to moisturizer is from Pai and I’m obsessed Tata Harper’s eye cream (a definite must since I hit my mid thirties). I’m a skin product junkie!
I’m obsessed with two beauty lines, RMS and ILIA. RMS favorites are: Uncover Up, a concealer with coconut and jojoba oils to hydrate your complexion and Living Luminizer for cheekbones and under the brow. ILIA is my go to lipstick or lipgloss. Once I started using natural products, my skin cleared and brightened. I’ve also noticed that natural make-up soaks into the skin rather than sitting on top.
I love your style. You always look so put together but with a refreshing and original twist. How would you describe your style, and what are some of your favorite brands?
I like to make style trends my own. Since I have two boys I have to be aware that it may get destroyed. I’m always a sucker for a designer pair of shoes, purse or belt but I mix it with more casual looks like jeans, a vintage piece or sneakers. My favorite brand would have to be Chloe. I will take one of everything please! I wear a lot of jeans and RE/DONE is my go to when I cannot decide on an outfit. SALT. Optics is my favorite sunglass line, I have four pairs. I love that they are stylish and the polarized lenses are amazing. You can’t help but feel happy when you are wearing them, the world is brighter!
At AOBF, we know girlfriends are an important part of our lives. How do you stay connected to your girlfriends at this busy time of your life?
Thank goodness that I have my best friend Andrea Ballesteros. She has two boys that are the same age as mine and our husbands are close. We get together at least once a week and travel together. She works full time and we have a lot in common in work and family. I have a monthly get together with my girlfriends. It started as Bunko night last year and now we rotate themes. A couple months ago it was champagne, palm reading and a sitar player. I also do monthly girl nights with the Parents Club and we are part of a supper club (which includes husbands). Staying in touch with friends and nurturing those relationships is so important but it takes time and commitment. My husband would probably say I get A LOT of girl time!
Any advice on those who are struggling to keep it all together and feel like they can’t keep up as a wife, mother and member of the workforce?
If I had the answer to that one, I would quit my job(s), write a book and travel the world doing lectures.!! I think for me, I have to limit the number of things I do and do what I am doing well. I have learned that I don’t need to say yes to every volunteer opportunity or activity that comes up. Less is More!!
The Garage Collective
1854 South Coast Highway
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
@artofbeingfemale on Instagram