ANNA MARGARET is in the process of bridging one of Portland's longstanding divides: Eastside vs. Westside. Margaret—who's in the process of legally ditching her former surname "Fickle" ("No man names anymore," she explains)—is the founder of Branch Birdie, a textile-heavy shop that's winding down in the cozy insider-y Montavilla neighborhood, gateway to East Portland.
She's starting her new venture, Le Souk Le Souk, with a new location in the heart of Nob Hill, where the neighborhoods are lusher and pricier, and where there seem to be more suburban or tourist shoppers than natives. We asked her to split the difference.
MERCURY: How will Le Souk Le Souk differ from Branch Birdie? What will you keep?
ANNA MARGARET: Branch Birdie [BB] was where I was at five years ago: a mom with two littles. Hence the playroom and kids' section. Le Souk Le Souk [LSLS] is where I am now: still a mom of course, but beyond the baby stage and into that fun middle school, "Let's go shopping and daydream together" stage. I'm starting to rediscover my own dreams and steer a bit of my focus back onto myself again. I am really excited to express myself, and my passion, with a new concept shop! But don't worry, my favorite designers are crossing the river with me: Ulla Johnson, Ace & Jig, and Psyche Jewelry.
The vibe is very travel-inspired. Will you be bringing in imports?
I love to travel and I plan to seek out treasures that way, as well as through several admired vendors that I've been working with. My partner, Srijon Chowdhury (an artist who helped LSLS' interior design come to life) is from Bangladesh, so visiting family there is a good excuse to bring [back] new and unique items.
Are there particular countries or craft elements that LSLS will focus on?
Textiles, rugs, embroidery—those are my weaknesses. While many of the apparel designers are based in the US, most of the decor and home items are imported. You can find treasures from India, Morocco, Thailand, Turkey, and Bangladesh.
Will the new store have BB's merch combo of women's, children's, and housewares?
LSLS offers a collection of my favorite women's designers, globally inspired jewelry, fragrances, and textiles galore.... Just as my children have grown up over the last five years, so has my style. LSLS will focus more on my new personal style and less on the mommy that I was when opening BB in 2010. So no more kids' section.
What other cultural influences are you manifesting in the shop?
I've always been really inspired by the fashion of the '70s, that free big-haired boho vibe—lots of prints, high waists, long locks. I guess as trends come and go I always come back to that. I grew up in a tiny hippie town just above the California border, and remember falling in love with my mom's friends' long velvet skirts and beaded necklaces. Stevie Nicks, Annie Hall, flowers, photos of my mom in her Guatemalan dresses before I was born. Flowy dresses and platform sandals make me happy! So I'm taking that vibe plus Moroccan textures and calling it "market style," a modern take on "hippie" femininity.
How did you decide to go from a neighborhood spot like Montavilla to the hustle of NW 23rd?
It was a difficult decision—Montavilla was my beginning, where I experimented at business, and learned so much about myself and my customers. I went through many personal life changes over the five years that I had BB, and with those changes developed a new dream and need to start fresh. I'm looking forward to learning and growing in a new environment. Le Souk Le Souk, 820 NW 23rd, grand opening Fri Sept 18, 6-9 pm, soft opening Tues Sept 15