2726 Cahaba Road, Birmingham, Ala.
Tucked into an original historic 1920s storefront in Birmingham’s Mountain Brook Village, Etc. is a breath of fresh air, from its mod-meets-industrial interior to its mix of designer and costume pieces. Etc. is one of those spots where time stands still: The combination of fluid displays and warm salespeople makes it nearly impossible to not while away an entire afternoon.
SPIRIT AND SMARTS
After college and a stint in Los Angeles, owner Meg Margjeka landed back here, where the original owner of Etc. offered her a job. “She opened the store nearly 40 years ago,” says Margjeka, “and was a pioneer for the well-edited boutique.” The move wasn’t far removed from her youthful passion (she juggled specialty retail gigs during high school). “It’s always been fun for me to help people pull together looks and try new things. I love building confidence through wardrobe.” The employee eventually took over Etc., moving the store up the street for room to grow.
A LUXE WELCOME
A chic French industrial vibe sets the scene for Etc.’s impressive arsenal of merchandise. “I wanted the store to be simple, clean, and polished but with an edge,” Margjeka says. Her husband, Armand, designed the wood-and-iron jewelry cases, which were built by local artisans. The iron chandelier dangling above the displays at the center of the store was a find by her mother. The hard metal lines are balanced by airy shimmery silver ombré fabric draped behind counters, and a front corner is anchored with creamy brass-studded leather chairs sitting atop a cowhide rug. “Many days you will find us taking a break and having coffee there,” she says. “It’s the best way to get a marketing idea or brainstorm for the next trunk show.”
OH, THE JEWELS!
When it comes to shows—and showcasing—Margjeka hones in on exclusive jewelry mingled with fun fashion accessories. “The mix of high and low makes it really easy to create unique looks,” she says. “We also carry the most amazing handbags, ready-to-wear, and scarves and leather goods.” She and manager Karen Trammell curate apparel and accessories with as much care as their jewels. “We are constantly scouring magazines, talking with friends in New York and L.A., following stores and designers on Instagram, and taking trips to get ideas,” says Margjeka.
Etc. boasts a loyal clientele who depend on the store for a fix from designers such as Hoorsenbuhs and Cathy Waterman (top sellers include her classics line and one-of-a-kind pieces with rubies and opals or sapphire and diamond slices). One of Margjeka’s favorites is Monique Péan, known for her use of fossilized ivory and bone: “Everything in her line is flawlessly made but has such an ethnic beauty,” she says. And no one, it seems, can get enough of Vaubel’s chunky gold vermeil bracelets or local artist Liz Legg’s Byzantine coins and geodes on beaded chains and leather. “We can’t keep her stuff in stock,” says Margjeka. “We are excited to launch her Tahitian pearl and diamond and drusy pieces this fall.” No matter the season, one thing remains steadfast: a dedication to refined style with an edgy punch. “I hear all the time, ‘There just isn’t another store like this,’?” Margjeka says. “I am so proud of how approachable our store is. We just want people to feel welcome to come inside and play.”
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