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ShopLocalSD: The Little Boutique That Could

Maeve Riley

Loads of the best in local designers.
Photo by Rebekah Sager

Maeve Riley is the little boutique that could. After withstanding a crushing economy, the South Park store stands strong. The secret to their success was their ingenious decision to transition from selling well-known and pricier clothing lines to offering deals on unique clothes and beautiful accessories--all made by local designers.

The store once housed a car repair shop. The new owners, husband-and-wife team Michelle and Mike Smith, took it over and remodeled. Much like the current development of the South Park neighborhood, the new space is fun, diverse and growing in popularity.

Manager/buyer Kristin Matoba.
Photo by Rebekah Sager

When Michelle got pregnant, the Smith’s brought in Kristin Matoba as a buyer/manager for the store. Equipped with a Visual Arts and Media degree, and a minor in Ethnic Studies from Univeristy of California, San Diego, as well as a recent Design degree from Mesa College, the Smiths hit the jackpot with this up-and-coming dynamo. Matoba worked her charm and wit developing relationships with local artists and designers, bringing out their best, and capturing them before they inevitably moved on to larger pastures.

One intriguing jewelry designer is Brazilian born Miriam Chor Freitas. Now living with her husband and two children in Poway, Freitas creates hand-crocheted one-of-a-kind works of art. She recently traveled to Lima, Peru, to learn the ancient stitching technique from experts in the art of making the wire crochet jewelry. Her studio is located in the Spanish Village Arts Center in Balboa Park. Her work combines the durability of hard metal with a light airy feel of crochet. Freitas’s prices are extremely affordable at $25-$150.

The Hammered jewelry line began as a simple idea in the kitchen of designer Corrine Grant--a North Park dweller. Each of her pieces is handmadewithout the use of any machinery. The letters of her simple bracelets are manually hammered onto the sterling silver discs one at a time. Her jewelry is something people can wear everyday, and designed with basic phrases like “Carpi Diem,” and “Live, Love, Laugh.” They’re fun, fresh and timeless. Hammered can now also be found at Fred Segal in Los Angeles.

San Diego State University design graduate Robin Tabana and his Proper Etiquette Art Dealer clothing line creates unexpected and fresh clothing for men and women. His bolero style reversible bomber jacket is fresh and versatile. One of Tabana’s dresses was made using actual leaves, sewn and pressed permanently into fabric. Tabana’s innovation and raw energy sets him ahead of many well-known designers.

Whether the designer is a student at one of the many design schools in San Diego, or emerging and ready to take flight, Maeve Riley represents a kind of revolution in fashion for San Diego.

“People are starting to dress up here," says Matoba. "They’re leaving their flip-flops at home and beginning to discover the artistry and style the city has to offer. Small boutiques are a great way to find high fashion for less money and keep your style ahead of the trends."

Details »
  • City: San Diego, CA 92104
  • Phone: 619-501-3500
  • Name: Maeve Riley
  • Address: 2328 1/2 30th Street