Mari Davis and The Beehive.
Good music, good vibes and handmade items of careful origin. These are the founding principles of Beehive, Atlanta’s oldest boutique collective that offers clothing, household items, jewelry, consumables, art and more.
Owned by Malene Davis and run by her sister, Mari Davis, the store is stocked with unique products made by independent, mostly local, handmade designers. Each designer manages their own screens within the store and focuses heavily on entrepreneurship. There is something for everyone with items starting at just $ 1 so no one feels out of place when shopping here. The sisters want the handmade products to be accessible and not exclusive.
Originally founded in 2004, the concept was called Beehive Co-op and operated from a small shotgun showcase in Buckhead. Malene and Mari had started their own line of independent jewelry and when Malene started selling to the Cooperative, the concept intrigued him and he became interested in the business. In 2010, he had the opportunity to buy the assets, turned the concept around and opened the hive in its current 2,600-square-foot space in the Edgewood retail district. The central location of the store ensures that there is continuous traffic on foot and Mari estimates that every day there are about 10 new customers who discover it.
Mari described working with her sister as “fantastic” and says Malene her best friend. “She has always been good at taking care of people. She is very sweet and very smart. She is a strong woman and she is like that, but she cares and wants to help her creators build her business ”.
Malene offers particular strategic meetings with its suppliers to discuss the steps manufacturers could take to grow their business and potential designers can conduct workshops that are offered in-store to learn how to make products and start their own business. Some students who take classes in the store even go on to sell their items in the hive. In this way, the store provides a channel from the buyer, the student, the manufacturer and the employer.
“That’s what sets us apart,” Mari said, “we’re open, we all want to share as a community. Here, the Beehivers, we want them to grow. We share resources and ideas. We’re really a community, that’s what we do. “We are a real community. My sister believes that there is enough for everyone and that you don’t have to be a hungry artist.”
Last year has not been without its challenges for the hive. As with many retail outlets, foot traffic declined significantly in early 2020 before they were forced to close their doors altogether and cancel workshops as the pandemic gripped the city. Mari described how Malene’s tenacious commitment to ensuring the continued survival of the store paid off when they received an EIDL grant in the summer of 2020.
“Our request was 3,934,000 more, she saw it as a hawk and we were one of the lucky few to get it. We also had the help of our parents and clients; they came here like, ‘No you can close, ”Mari laughed.
To keep the light on, the sisters changed their business to an online shopping experience, and this is an element that has become a necessary part of the new normal.
Throughout all the struggles of COVID-19, Malene and Mari have remained committed to their community of buyers, manufacturers and entrepreneurs. As the number of vaccinations increases, there is a clear sense of hope in the air. The workshops will resume this summer and manufacturers continue to produce handmade items in a constantly changing environment.
For more information, visit thebeehiveatl.com.