A Manhattan Beach resident turns a passion for pattern, color and graphic design into a full-time career.
Marcie Carson, owner of design studio and newly opened retail space MIXT Studio in Hermosa Beach, abides by two important sayings: “Good is not good enough” and “Don’t take no for an answer.” This and other qualities (including being a gumshoe) she learned while working as a clothing stylist for Madonna when she was 25.
“I owe her for a lot of my successes in life,” says the Danville, California native, who toured with Madonna for a year. “I remember scouring Los Angeles for this pair of socks that she wanted, and I couldn’t find them. But I was terrified, and I didn’t want to go to her and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t find these socks.’ So you just get resilient and get creative. I ended up contacting a buyer at Nordstrom—where there’s a will, there’s a way. I’m always telling my staff, ‘We’ll figure it out.’ And so I learned a lot from her.”
Marcie, who initially founded her graphic design firm, IE Design + Comminications (based on the last two letters of her first name), with husband Cory Baim in 1995, majored in fine art and communication at University of California, Santa Barbara. “I knew I wanted to be a graphic designer my entire life, but it wasn’t an industry like it is now,” says the mother of two boys. “I was always super creative, and my mom had me in art classes. I always knew I wanted to be in commercial art, as opposed to fine art, even though I majored in fine art.”
Three years ago Marcie decided to go a different route, though, and venture into product and paper goods. “I just kind of burnt out on corporate, and in 2012 I launched a line of paper goods and called it MIXT Studio,” she says. She debuted the stationery at the New York Gift Show.
“It’s been doing really well, so we decided to redesign and separate the two ,” Marcie continues. “When we went through the remodel of the space, it just made sense to open it up to the public and sell retail because we are predominately wholesale.”
Her self-described “boho beach” products made on-site span reversible, hand-printed tote bags made from Tyvek; batik-pattered reusable wine bags; soy wax wood wick candles wrapped in scrap, leftover Tyvek; growth charts; and art prints of world maps with sayings such as “Love Makes The World Go Round.” They are carried at more than 200 boutiques, and also Crate & Barrel, Container Store and Whole Foods, as well as in the newly revamped retail space.
“This used to be the design firm’s conference room,” explains Marcie, who reconceived the light-and-airy storefront using repurposed materials like concrete blocks, an old ladder found on the side of the road, salvaged Ikea cabinets and an old bicycle basket. “The windows were all frosted, and nobody could see in, and it was very private and ‘by appointment only.’ Now we’re like, ‘Come,’ so it’s a big transition for us and for the locals that drive by. They’re very curious.”
The store, outfitted with rattan chandeliers and concrete cinder block partitions, also carries a mix of coastal-inspired gift items—from coffee table books such as The California Surf Project to hanging macramé potted planters by Roost and cashmere sweaters by Birds of Paradis by Trovata depicting the words “California.” For her own goods, Marcie takes cues from colorful patterns and nature.
“I try and be a little forward-thinking in terms of fashion and trends,” she says. “Some of the cards and wrapping paper are inspired by flowers and butterflies, and I think there’s a common thread of nature that runs through all of the products.”
She continues, “It’s been very fulfilling designing products that are coming from me. My entire career, I’ve been designing for other people, and it’s very different to be on this side of the table. It’s so great to see the ideas that pop into my head actually happening. I joke that I launched a line of paper goods and now I’m a bag lady! It’s been a labor of love.”