Women-owned business clustering at Malibu’s Trancas Country Market

We delve into ‘Why Trancas?’ and what it’s like to be a woman-owned business there

One of The Malibu Times’ reporters, Judy Abel, recently noticed that there seemed to be a way higher than usual number of female-owned businesses at Trancas Country Market. We decided to look into it and find out why. Our research turned up a total of seven — and that’s not even counting the businesses that are either managed or co-owned by females. And, although the female tenants may or may not know this, Trancas Country Market is owned by a woman — Wal-Mart heiress Paige Laurie.

“[Trancas] seemed more local for small businesses than the Malibu Country Mart or The Lumber Yard,” said Christine Berardi, owner of women’s boutique clothing store Hiptique. “I like the neighborhood feel here. You get to know the customers so much more.”

The “local feel” sentiment was echoed by Sea Lily florist owner Caytlyn McCloskey, a Malibu native. 

“I grew up here in Malibu, so I’ve been shopping in this center for years, and my heart is here, and it’s a special place,” she said. “My parents still live in Malibu, and the nursery next door I’ve gone to for 35 years … A lot of my clients I’ve had for over a decade; and you know everyone, and there’s a good sense of community.”

McCloskey has been located in Trancas longer than any of the other women-owned businesses there — 15 years.

“All of the other [female business owners] came in with the remodel,” she explained. “The center is aesthetically beautiful now, and we have the ocean and the ocean breeze, and the Malibu name here.”

The remodel and expansion of the complex by local architect Doug Burdge, completed around 2014, was a draw for the female tenants. According to the Burdge website, the center was “designed to capture the rural feel of western Malibu with barn-style buildings done in antique barn wood, metal roofing, and sliding barn doors for inside-outside retail activity … the center also has a commons area, a sycamore grove and a walking path.”

Starting a business at Trancas has served as a launch pad for at least some of the female-owned businesses there. In other words, they started off at Trancas, built a successful business, and then expanded. The Albertina jewelry store, owned by jewelry designer Winnie Johnson, is now expanding to a second location near Malibu Country Mart. The Nati women’s boutique first opened in Newbury Park, then expanded to a second store in Trancas over six years ago, and now has opened additional stores in Venice, Malibu Country Mart and New York.

The seven female business owners did not appear to recruit each other to come to Trancas Country Market, or know each other beforehand, but they support one another.

“We know each other and it’s a small community,” McCloskey said. “We support each other in the way we do discounts for each other, and shop at each other’s stores.”

Berardi explained that the business owners spend so many hours working that there really isn’t much opportunity to socialize, but said they do sometimes meet up for drinks or a bite to eat. 

“There’s a lot of camaraderie,” she said.

While not all of the women have families, several do still have children at home, and have to balance running a business with family time.

“I have a 16 month-old and a 4-year-old,” McCloskey related. “I have to juggle being a mom with being a shop owner, and I have to hire a nanny, but the sense of reward you get from creating something positive is worth it – you’re also doing something else of value.”

One of the things these business owners have in common is that nearly all had quite a few years of work experience before they ever decided to open a storefront and go solo; nearly all demonstrated some entrepreneurial spirit and/or sales ability along the way, and most were at least in their thirties when they started their business. 

Anat “Nati” Winston moved to LA from Israel 30 years ago. While raising her two daughters, she began selling select products at salons out of her car trunk, and also sold her own art and ran her own catering business.

Albertina jewelry store’s Winnie Johnson earned a BFA, co-managed a start-up jewelry business; spent five years designing custom bridal jewelry for a top LA engagement ring shop and two years overseeing high-end jewelry production; notably creating a diamond encrusted glove worn by Madonna on the cover of Cosmopolitan.

Melissa Smith, founder of SweetBu Candy Co., spent nearly 25 years working in advertising sales at Time, Inc. and Conde Nast before going out on her own.

Shine Beauty Collective founder Kat James, a trained aesthetician, has over 25 years’ experience in the beauty industry as a business manager, makeup artist, national trainer, account executive, and buyer for various product lines, including Bobbi Brown, Kiehls, Estée Lauder and Dr. Brandt; and collaborated with plastic surgeons and dermatologists on skincare and anti-aging products.

Alejandra Deluca of Malibu Meditation Journey, with 30 years of experience as an energy practitioner, has studied under various masters in order to provide meditation, yoga and healing arts services.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time, I have my rhythm, and I’ve established myself,” McCloskey summarized. “There’s a lot more acceptance [of women-owned businesses] than there used to be — more appreciation and support. It’s cool to see women succeed.”

Women-owned business at Trancas Country Market

  • Albertina (jewelry store) – Winnie Johnson – (310) 457-8632: Full-service dedicated fine jewelry for women and men, specializing in local designers and “beachy, gift-able” selections in silver and gold
  • Hiptique (women’s boutique) – Christine Berardi – 310-399-6105: The selections at Hiptique are carefully curated, with knowledgeable associates to guide customers on how everything fits and what looks best on most body types
  • Malibu Meditations Journey – Alejandra Deluca – (424) 402-1199: Private sessions, classes, retreats, ceremonies, workshops, Lucia light immersion, yoga, breath work, energy readings and balancing, sound baths, and more.
  • Nati Boutique – Anat “Nati” Winston – (310) 457-3427: Clothing boutique for women and teens, with in-store and online sales; focusing on clothes that are cozy, comfortable and affordable
  • Sea Lily (florist) – Caytlyn McCloskey – (310) 457-8100: Eco-friendly floral design boutique and full service florist, also including home décor, indoor plant installations, succulent arrangements, custom holiday wreaths; and floral arrangements for weddings, business events and holidays.
  • Shine Beauty Collective – Kat James – (424) 644-0667: A large assortment of high-end skincare and make-up products for sale both in-store and online, along with facials using state-of-the-art technology including radio frequency, micro- current, LED therapy, HydraFacial; lymphatic drainage, Gua Sha facial sculpting, and more.
  • SweetBu Candy Co. – Melissa Smith – 1.866.3SWEETBU: Nostalgic/old fashioned candy, vegan candy, organic specialty chocolate, British favorites, and more; along with beachy gifts, candy-themed toys, goodie bags for parties, candy “bar” catering and custom gift baskets (In beach pails).

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