Located on SE Hawthorne and 33rd, Mag-Big is the brainchild of owner and designer Cassie Ridgway. When asked how the store came to fruition, she gives me a very detailed and inspiring answer:
The idea for Mag-Big came about after a couple years of vending at street fairs among some of the most talented designers I have ever seen. The insatiably creativity and inventiveness inspired me to keep my designs fresh and spontaneous. Street fairs felt like a community to me, where all of our ideas were coming into conversation. It became a preference of mine to singularly wear locally made jewelry, apparel, and accessories, simply because the craft and design was so edgy, contemporary, and individualized. I had also been observing how art was influencing fashion, and how the two are inextricably linked when it comes to local design.
Working at street fairs, I started inviting other artists to vend in my booth. We soon grew into two booths, then took up the whole street corner. We were helping each other sell our products, telling each other about upcoming craft events, sharing food, wearing each others products— quite simply, we were supporting each other as artists. My shop is effectively the fully realized version of this. We have, at present, over 140 artists involved and counting. It is a dream come true, and an answer to the Winter decline of vending opportunities for our local artisans.
Mag-Big is a retail shop/art gallery with a a monthly artist. Ridgway tells me, "It is elegant yet accessible, and its presence lends to the atmosphere we are cultivating at Mag-Big: Art is Portland."
I'm sure you're wondering—what the hell does Mag-Big mean? The short answer: "The fundamental inspiration for the shop is the artists themselves. They are brilliant. Magnificent. Big."
The long answer:
Mag-Big is the title of my first collection of poetry. When I was choosing the name for the shop, I had received word that I had won the Kellogg Award at Portland State for my submitted manuscript. It was a huge crossroads for me, and I felt that it would continually lend to the biggest project of my life: this shop.