MOM CRUSH: ANNA MARGARET
Le Souk Le Souk proprietress and mom of two, Anna Margaret talks to us about running a small business, single mom-hood and how it's ok if you don't have it all figured out
Interview by Karin Hesselvik
Photos by Mikola Accuardi
WHAT'S THE FIRST THING YOU REMEMBER CREATING?
I used to spend hours making paper dolls, I would draw the dolls, both front and back, on paper then cut them out and glue them onto cardboard then make clothes for them…and simple sewing for my dolls and stuffed animals.
what's the most recent thing you created?
A little painting. I guess my updated website was the biggest recent undertaking (not the fun kinda of crafty creating!).
ARE YOU A KID OR A GROWN UP?
Grown Up. I had to grow up very fast. Having a child at age 19 was not easy but she is the most incredible human and I cannot imagine my life another way.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?
That I have managed to push myself past the difficult and dark times in my life and continued to better myself for my kids.
WHEN ARE YOU YOUR MOST CREATIVE SELF?
When I’m alone at home and it’s warm and sunny outside.
WHAT IS YOUR MOST PRECIOUS OBJECT?
My HOME. It’s my safe place, my haven and space that shelters my babies and lets us all be creative and unique.
HOW DO YOU NURTURE YOURSELF?
I don’t say no to myself very often, yes I try to eat healthy etc, but if I want a baguette smeared with butter and jam I go for it. If I NEED that pair of boots, I often find a way… And little rituals, coffee alone in the living room, baths with lavender salts, pedicures. Ladies YOU are worth it. Stop turning your babies and partners into excuses!
NAME AN OFFLINE AND ONLINE PLACE YOU TURN FOR INSPIRATION
Traveling is the ultimate inspiration, searching for unique textiles in dusty markets, architecture, color… Online I often research places that I want to someday travel to.
a trip that changed you?
I recently went on a trip to Morocco with my boyfriend (and rug shlepper) Srijon. We had a wonderful adventure filled with gallons of mint tea, camels and magic carpets. I can’t say that it necessarily ‘changed’ me but it did give me a lot of time to reflect on where I am at in my career life. It was in Morocco that I officially decided to close my brick and mortar boutique and take it exclusively online. While we were overseas our country's entire political climate changed and it left us both asking if what we were doing with our lives was really positive, worth it, why, etc.
WHAT DOES FREEDOM MEAN TO YOU?
Allowing each person to live their life as their true self and to their fullest possible contentment.
WHAT'S SOMETHING THAT ENERGIZES YOU?
Other than my vice, COFFEE, I love a good day scouring thrift stores and estate sales!
WHAT BRINGS YOU PEACE?
My house plants. I love rituals such as trimming them and watering them. It's very zen. I also really love watching our chickens, I know it sounds silly but I think it’s kind of like watching a fish tank. Oddly entertaining and relaxing.
WHO IS YOUR FEMALE SPIRIT ANIMAL?
Frida Kahlo - her strength, creativity story and style are all incredibly inspiring.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO BE A YOUNG MOM AND HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT IT NOW?
I was only 19, single, living in NYC - but I’m very resourceful and resilient. I decided right away that I was going to be the best mom possible, work really hard and make it work. It did! I didn’t have family nearby or any financial support and now I’m really glad because I truly know that I can make it anywhere. I’m not really afraid of anything. I've experienced motherhood, marriage, betrayal, divorce, love. I don’t think there’s anything else that could possibly happen that I couldn’t overcome at this point. Some of my biggest fears have already happened and guess what, I survived them! Women are so strong.
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT YOURSELF SINCE BECOMING A MOTHER?
That I am a bit of a control freak, I need my sleep, and it’s crazy how quickly your littles mirror your actions, good and bad! But most of all that I would do absolutely anything to keep them safe.
HOW DOES CREATIVITY PLAY A ROLE IN HOW YOU PARENT?
Both of my daughters are very artistic, Ava (13) is incredibly musical. Lili (9) is a constant DIY crafter/artist. I try to provide them both with the tools they need to exercise these talents and to expose them to as many art forms as possible. I let these things be their choice, if they want to play piano for just one year that’s ok with me. I think exposure is important for confidence and autonomy.
WHAT'S A BOOK YOU WOULD LIKE TO GIVE TO YOUR DAUGHTERS TO READ WHEN THEY'RE GROWN UP?
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.
THE BEST THING ABOUT HAVING DAUGHTERS?
They are so much fun - they are such beautiful strong people. We all three learn from each other and can laugh, love and disagree together. Friends! When you see them loving each other it’s heart breaking and you feel so accomplished.
THE HARDEST THING?
Seeing your babies grow up, not need you as much. Seeing them get hurt or feel disappointment due to other peoples actions. Mama Bear feelings come out!
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU AS A SMALL BUSINESS OWNER?
My children are my ultimate motivation. I want to be a strong example to show them that you can make your dreams happen, take risks and create your own employment.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT CREATIVE RISK TAKING AND HOW IT RELATES TO THE LE SOUK LE SOUK JOURNEY?
I opened my first brick and mortar shop in 2010 (Branch Birdie in SE Portland). I didn’t know what the heck I was doing but I wanted to create a beautiful space that uplifted the neighborhood. To my surprise it became a success quite quickly, however within five years I felt that my life had outgrown it. My kids were growing up, I had gone through a divorce, I was starting to have more time to reflect on my personal self. So I decided to rebrand, follow my personal aesthetic and heart and opened Le Souk Le Souk in 2015. I thought it was a smart move but honestly it was a bit of a struggle - retail has changed a lot in the last six years and as rent continues to climb shoppers continue to become “smarter” and are spending their money online on bargains. I could have continued and fulfilled my five year lease but was given an opportunity to exit and deep down knew that it was probably the most business savvy decision to go exclusively online.
WHAT'S THE MOST REWARDING THING ABOUT BEING YOUR OWN BOSS?
Being able to see my kids, pick them up from school most days, make my own schedule.
WHAT'S THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF RUNNING YOUR OWN SHIP?
Delegating tasks. It took me several years until I could walk away from the shop and not worry about things (too much), it was hard to get things out of my head and into the hands of employees. Learning to let go.
HOW DO YOU DEFINE SUCCESS?
Contentment. Feeling accomplished and proud, living comfortably having just enough. Happiness. I've never had the need to become one expert at anything. I still find myself thinking 'what am I going to do with the rest of my life?' I've had by own business for eight years and I still want to try new things. I love change. Experience feels successful to me.
WHAT'S YOUR BIGGEST STRUGGLE RIGHT NOW?
Being a single mom isn’t easy, I often question whether or not I’m parenting strong enough, or if I should be bringing home a “corporate paycheck." But at the end of the day, it feels all right for the moment anyway.
WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH MORE TIME?
I’d like to read more and maybe start sewing again or actually use the yoga/gym membership that’s covered in dust.
A LESSON YOU LEARNED IN 2016?
Flexibility. It’s never too late to start over or try something new.
ONE DREAM FOR 2017?
I hope to continue to grow Le Souk Le Souk as an online shopping experience, and I am also considering getting both my doula and birth educator certifications (something that I’ve wanted to do for years!).
what's A question you wished more people asked?
Help?! I wish moms could learn that it’s ok to ask for help, we all need it!
something you'd like to tell another pom pom mom trying to figure it all out?
Go for it! If you have a dream or business idea that you think is fantastic, I guarantee you that others will think your idea is fantastic too! It never hurts to try, and if it doesn’t work then at least you have gained that insight and experience.
There is no such thing as failure - call it change.