As many of you well know, Crystal Early and Natalie Mumford of 3 Women announced that they will have to close their brick & mortar shop/studio in the East Village Arts District at the end of January. I, their next-door neighbor and Burke Mercantile shop owner Maggie Stoll, am starting this GoFund Me to support them. I am hoping to raise up to $50,000 for Crystal and Natalie to give them the option to secure their brick & mortar space for some additional months should they choose to do so, to be able to pay business debts, to invest in their clothing line production where it is needed, and to be personally financially secure so they can refocus on getting their business back to a comfortable position.
If you’ve had any interaction with Crystal and Natalie, especially within their shop space, you know well what a special community space it is. From my first week of business in the East Village, Crystal was organizing meetings inviting all the neighborhood business owners together to meet, get to know each other, share resources, and share ideas to uplift our neighborhood. For 5 years she has been getting to know, connect with, and support everyone, and I truly believe we would not all be so close with one another if it weren’t for her singlehandedly. Her efforts and her infectious energy inspired me immensely and so Crystal also became my partner in advocating for and volunteering for the betterment of our small business district. She and I (along with Amy Stock who has sadly moved away) have met once a week for the past few years to discuss and work toward ideas for improving and promoting our corridor. Crystal revived and has been the manager of the East Village Arts District Instagram account making sure all our businesses were being highlighted. She has applied for Grants on behalf of the neighborhood using the money to offer entertainment to other businesses throughout the neighborhood to drive foot traffic and to spend on marketing highlighting different East Village businesses. She has planned and put on events to benefit local artists, musicians, creatives, and business owners. All of this in her own free time, with no compensation, and without needing recognition because she truly just loves this community that much. I will always continue to carry the torch to do what I can for our neighborhood, but I would be lying if I said I could do it without her. She is the glue between us all.
Natalie is just pure joy all of the time. If you’ve ever stepped into the 3 Women space when Natalie is there she will make you feel like the most important and the only person that exists at that moment. It is her vision that you see through the beautiful photos and videos captured on 3 Women’s platforms, always collaborating with the community to style outfits and photo shoots and capture the beauty of our neighborhood and its people. She is one of the best collaborators and go-getters I know, always being able to effortlessly pull in amazing sponsors, pop-up vendors, volunteers, and talent to join in with 3 Women and the East Village. She has made sure so many emerging creatives have also had opportunities to share space at 3 Women. And even when their business was struggling, they always created opportunities to compensate artists by hiring locals and friends for graphic design, sewing, modeling, makeup, and so much more. Natalie makes sure every single person who comes through the space not only feels welcome but feels special and loved.
3 Women has hosted nights at the shop for friends and community to come in and just explore making art, they’ve always been there for me with a glass of wine (or Crystal’s special hot totty) to celebrate good days or be comforted during the bad. They’ve created a safe space for people lacking resources to feel they can come and not be judged. They always spend their money eating and drinking locally in the neighborhood. They’ve had the absolute most fun dance parties, Friendsgivings, and so many countless joyful gatherings. They have been the anchor of our little “sustainability row” on 1st Street, they’ve hosted Clothing Swaps and an Earth Day Event with me to help educate the public and offer them resources for FREE. They’ve often taken earnings from events and donated them back to local non-profits also supporting our Long Beach community. I can’t even imagine being in my shop without having their music and bursts of laughter coming from the other side of my wall. Many people strive to build and create community spaces accessible to everyone, and Crystal and Natalie managed to do it without even trying simply by being who they authentically are.
All of this doesn’t even get to the 3 Women brand and its’ beautiful importance. A clothing brand built and created in and from Long Beach. A brand that taught the community about the importance of sustainability, about caring for antique textiles with love, and about giving a sense of individual expression to anyone by offering one-of-a-kind, made-to-measure custom garments to celebrate these values. They made it through 3 years of a pandemic seeing their following and brand grow exponentially, and managed to produce an incredible ethically made clothing line taking it all over the West Coast and even to the East Coast! Their pieces were featured in hit shows, movies, on prominent musicians, and in major magazine publications. They successfully navigated some rapid growth all while keeping their production local to support local female seamstresses and local screen printers, and never wavering on their ethics. The brand continues to be full of unending potential. Like all of us, they have experienced rapid changes in business trends and rising costs of expenses as we continue to navigate a fragile post-pandemic economy. Doing what they do while simultaneously serving the community is expensive and challenging, and they’ve reached the tipping point of needing to make difficult decisions to be able to continue supporting themselves. I know many small businesses are going through these same challenges, but very few of them GIVE to the community the way that Crystal and Natalie do. Doing business the way they do in our Capitalist society is nearly impossible, but I do believe it is the future, and we will be worse off without free-spirited women and small businesses like them leading the way. It is inherently intertwined into their business model to give, like a three-fold cord that is not easily broken. And so I am asking you, whether you are a proud Long Beach resident hearing about 3 Women for the first time right now, whether you follow them online for inspiration and genuine content, whether you have attended events in their space and enjoyed complimentary activities and refreshments, whether you have been hired by them to collaborate on a project, whether you are their neighbor whom they have helped support, whether you are their customer who loves their shop and their brand, whether you have always wanted to purchase from them and never had the chance, whether you visit them when they pop-up at Rose Bowl or Pickwick, whether you are an East Village resident they say hello to every day, or whether you are a good friend. All of you, all of us, this community, WE are the third woman of 3 Women right now so let's show them our support!
I could write a whole additional essay on how they’ve changed me as a person and how I believe Burke would not be here in the capacity it is today without having been their next-door neighbor, but I’ll simply say Crystal and Natalie have been like my unofficial business partners and I simply can’t imagine Burke, the East Village, or Long Beach without them. So, I am hoping to raise up to $50,000 for Crystal and Natalie to give them the option to secure their brick & mortar space for some additional months should they choose to do so, to be able to pay business debts, to invest in their clothing line production where it is needed, and to be personally financially secure so they can refocus on getting their business back to a comfortable position. If we can not make it to that goal (we can!! if every one of their followers donated $1 we would double it!), they will still be given all the proceeds from this GoFund Me as a THANK YOU for all they have given this community over the last 5 years.
Thank you for your consideration and support of this small business, these creatives, and these amazing WOMEN! XO