May 28, 2019 08:37PM
● By Dawn Garcia
Somewhere between Los Angeles and San Diego is Long Beach (aka the LBC). The city of nearly half a million residents is one of the few in the area that can tout its own identity in the California story. This port city is abundant in culture, food, and a colorful array of locals. It also happens to be home to a rather impressive number of female-owned-and-operated retail stores, a thriving LGBTQ district, and a hub for cruise ships heading to Mexico and Catalina Island.
One local spot in particular makes basking in the golden California sunshine the easiest decision you’ll ever make. The 3 Women Company, founded by Natalie Mumford and Crystal Early, up-cycles antique and vintage textiles. They turn reusable cotton sacks from the Depression era, for instance, into a line of jumpers, jackets, wrap dresses, and halter tops. They also sell a gorgeous array of vintage clothing, accessories, knickknacks, and the like, dating as far back as the 1800s. It’s not just an impressive selection, it’s the women’s charismatic and upbeat attitude that makes this store so special. When I stopped into their store on 1st Street to talk to both Mumford and Early, their love for what they do was apparent.
“We are honored to carry on the Depression-era practice of resourceful homemakers of repurposing rice or feed sacks into clothing. Our designs are working class and also chic,” says Mumford, “Our first rice sack jacket was used from the muslin bags from Crystal’s grandparents’ Chinese import business during the 1950's.”
Carrying 1930's style shoestring halter tops, beach jumpsuits, and 1970's style wrap dresses, Early chimes in and says, “We have an obligation to the planet and our community to open eyes to vintage and antique clothing. The most fulfilling part of what we do is the idea that we’re not creating waste and we’re making a dent in the toxic fast-fashion industry.”
The store is a design house and collaborative space that opened its doors in 2017 after Mumford and Early gleefully sold vintage clothing together at flea markets. After a month of doing that, they took the leap and opened the brick and mortar in the East Village neighborhood of Long Beach. Mumford and Early have called Long Beach home for years and knew this is where their retail story would begin.