Brooklyn, NY — Our customer and friend, Margeaux House, owns a couple pairs of our 'boucherouite' babouche slippers — an inside pair for cozying up in her Brownstone home and an outside pair for walking around Brooklyn. She always keeps it cool and stylish. And even cooler, Margeaux has dedicated her life to creating and designing beautiful spaces spanning from her career work in the hospitality and interior design space, to her new and expanding presence via her lifestyle blog and Instagram, @thiscuryworld, to her passion for practicing and teaching yoga. Margeaux is on a mission to live more joyfully today.
"You know you have those friends who are like, 'When I take off 20lbs, I'll…' It’s like, no, live now! Tomorrow is promised to nobody. You have to live in where you are in this moment. If you are working just for the validation of others — there is is no joy in that — and you’ll never be fully happy because your happiness is wrapped around the validation of someone else. I spent a lot of years looking for validation from the outside. Finally being seen by companies, it is just good for me to get business. But the person that really matters to me is the person that shows up to my class every Thursday at five-thirty. I know that they are there because they genuinely want to receive what I have to offer."
As part of a continuous blog series, we are sharing our customers' inspiring stories as we are getting to know them better. Many customers are actively creating opportunities centered around travel, joy, and beauty in service to their own lives and the lives of others. Many of these stories start out as simple get-to-know-you conversations in our stores and evolve into friendships and deeper conversations about our lived experiences and shared core beliefs. We hope sharing these stories will inspire others to open their hearts and minds.
We sat down with Margeaux to learn more about her journey and the many spaces where she is creating more opportunities for joy for herself and so many others — especially for people in underrepresented and marginalized groups, communities, and their surrounding environments.
On Margeaux's Background & Interior Design Career
Margeaux was born in Pennsylvania and she grew up in the North Fork of Long Island, NY, about twenty minutes from the edge of the island in fields of potatoes and farmland. Today, this area is a sprawling wine country.
Margeaux moved to NYC to attend FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology), for advertising and design. When she graduated there were no opportunities available for her that were paying any kind of reasonable salary, so she took a job with a showroom that did textiles in the D&D building (the premiere building for residential furnishings) in Manhattan.
"I started in high-end residential interiors working customer service and ended up in showrooms in sales. I would do side projects here and there. A friend of a friend who had money — I would do a house for them."
As you will soon learn, Margeaux forever embodies this kind of side hustle.
In 2007, Margeaux pivoted to the position she holds to this day as a Hospitality Sales Specialist working with top interior design and architectural firms, including Rockwell Group and Wimberly Interiors, among notable others. She specializes in interior wall-coverings and textiles for the highest-end hotels (4, 5 and 6-star hotels) and restaurants all over the world.
If you have ever walked into a nice hotel and said, “Wow this is beautiful,” you probably do not realize all the work that went in to getting there.
"I don’t think people stop and realize when they’re in a hotel that every single finish has to be chosen."
Many Americans have not traveled in over a year, so this year has been especially trying for the travel and hospitality communities. For the year-over-year numbers since February 2020 at the start of the Covid pandemic, "almost four in 10 of all the U.S. jobs lost since February of last year are in the Leisure & Hospitality industry." With travel and tourism at a standstill, Margeaux has seen her industry, including design and development, ravaged by the pandemic.
“Covid has been a big problem. When people think hospitality, they just think of the service industry, not even thinking about everything that goes into getting a hotel open — a huge stall in developing in addition to the millions of service jobs lost.”
While Margeaux has been lucky and endlessly grateful to have long-term clients who have supported her throughout her design career, including through this tumultuous year, the pandemic has helped her further discover that what really brings out her joy in this life. That all began on her journey four years ago.
On Margeaux's Wellness & Lifestyle Journey
In 2017, Margeaux went on a wellness journey. In trying to reexamine her life, she wanted to find a way to lose weight and find consistency in feeling healthy, fit, and comfortable in her body.
"In 2016, my doctors told me I was pre-diabetic and first time in my life my weight was a health concern. I had to figure out how to take off the weight and keep it off. Before it had always been a lose gain, lose gain, lose gain."
Many Americans' New Year's resolutions include making exercise a top priority. In 2020, it was estimated about 50% of all Americans made exercise their top resolution. However, not everyone has the desire, access, privilege, and comfort to go sign-up at their nearest gym or fitness studio and get going.
When we think of spaces like gyms and fitness studios, we need to think critically about how those spaces facilitate and serve their communities. As both private and public spaces, who do they traditionally advertise to and more than likely attract? They do not always reflect equity and promote inclusion across diverse groups and populations representing all communities.
As an alternative fitness practice and space, yoga and yoga studios have been widely growing across the U.S. so much so that about 55 million Americans in 2020— up from 36 million in 2016 — practice yoga. A year into this pandemic with gyms still widely closed, the yoga community has likely grown significantly in just a year. It can, after all, be taught virtually from the comfort and privacy of your home.
“I had been driving by a yoga studio in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood in Brooklyn NY. You know, Jay-Z and Biggie grew up there. And it has been gentrified like I can’t even tell you.”
Flashback to the mid-2000's in Brooklyn, NY. In 2005, in lieu of a large wedding, Margeaux and her husband, Ron, invested in a house in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood. She says this is one of the smartest things they ever could've done even though she admitted she was crying wishing they had that big wedding.
"When we moved into it, I never imagined doing yoga in my neighborhood. It has come a long way. There was a yoga studio that I would drive by very regularly when I would drive into the city for work. I started noticing different people coming in and out of it — people of color, people of size, people of age — so after a few months of driving by, I decided new year, new you — January 1st I’m going in, right?”
"So I did. I went in wearing a full black oversized t-shirt hiding in the back of the classroom not wanting to be seen. And the woman that walked into the classroom was a Black woman. That was the first time I had ever seen or been in a room where the teacher was a person of color.”
In 2012, one in fifteen Americans practiced yoga, but almost 80% of all yogis were white with studio spaces concentrated largely in white neighborhoods. Nearly a decade later, from the yogis to the yoga teachers to the color of the yoga studio walls, the white reckoning and decolonization of yoga spaces as white spaces has been a long time coming.
“I always thought Yoga was for skinny bitches in Lulu Lemon. My husband was practicing hot yoga and he was digging it and I have another friend who enjoyed it. I thought I would give it a shot one more time. It is not that I hadn’t tried it before, but I’d always been to studios where I didn’t feel like I fit in there.”
On Margeaux's first session at that studio, she immediately noticed and felt the presence of diversity perspiring from the other yogis. Her teacher also instantly made her feel welcomed and comfortable.
“I looked around the room and saw there were all kinds of people in this space, from age, size, and color. It was hot Vinyasa Flow yoga and it was challenging. Every time I’d taken yoga before I felt like the teacher was asking you to throw your leg behind your ear within the first 10 minutes."
"My teacher brought over blocks and offered me modifications without making me feel like I didn’t belong there. So I started going very regularly, and it was the first time in my life that I wasn’t counting every calorie, bite of food, I wasn’t being crazy. I was just showing up for myself on the yoga mat every day, and then I was taking that mindfulness into the rest of my day. I started to notice that I was changing in that my road rage was less, and I was losing weight. By the end of 2017, I had let go of like 90lbs and a little more in 2018. I really started to work on my inner-self and the three-year old baggage that you pick up and put down. You think that you’ve unpacked it all. But you realize you re-packed it and carried it around again."
"I wondered why I was chasing this unrealistic expectation of what the world thinks of what my body is supposed to look like. I need to come to a place for me where this is what feels good for me. I’m never going to be a size 2. That’s not who I’m supposed to be. I need to be fit and healthy in my size 14 - 16 size body and that is comfortable for me. And I can maintain that. I can live my life. I can work out. I can be well. Get good doctors visits and be happy."
On Creating a Lifestyle Blog & Community
In 2017, Margeaux’s friends also encouraged her to create a lifestyle blog to share her journey and all the stuff she likes to do. But she wasn’t on social media (gasps!).
“I’m always having people over to the house and having big holiday parties, one year I had a jazz quartet in the living room. I love to entertain and create spaces or environments that make people feel welcome and they just want to enjoy themselves. I love watching them have a good time with it.”
Margeaux is also that friend that loves to shop who says, “Look what I just found — you need to check this out." She had all the readiness to create the helpful content including recipes, yoga meditations, and cool products. She knew what things should look because she is a creative and went to school for advertising and design.
“I know what I want to look at. And then I thought, if I’m going to do this I’m going to do this right. I hired a friend of mine, a great photographer, and I started writing and sharing my experience. And people started to respond.
"Plus, I have a shopping habit. I love to share what I love. I love to cook, entertain, all of that is very joyful. Creating spaces and environments that allow people to enjoy the beauty in things — I love beautiful things — that is why when I came into your shop in Nantucket I knew I had to have these shoes." More on that later.
Over the past four years, Margeaux has developed a significant following on her Instagram, as well as readers on her website & blog, This Curvy World, that also includes many of her design colleagues and clients. And she continues developing content that goes well beyond showcasing her shopping habits and delicious recipes.
“My interior designer clients follow me on IG and feel inspired by me. At the start of Covid, I was offering guided meditation and yoga classes and they didn’t realize how much they needed it. It is inspiring and inspiring me to keep going. I realize I wasn’t put on this earth to sell wall-covering. There is more to what I’m supposed to be doing.”
On Teaching Yoga and the Importance of Diversity & Representation Across Spaces
As part of her journey, at the end of 2018, in a familiar and an empowering call to action, the owner of the yoga studio she attended and some of the other teachers suggested that Margeaux teach yoga. And after thinking about it, she decided she would.
“I want to be the person that was the person that was there for me. I want to be the larger bodied person of color that is teaching yoga and is helping you through your journey — because when I was growing up, that person didn’t exist.”
Margeaux completed her 200hr Vinyasa yoga teacher training with Sacred Brooklyn in 2019. She said it was brutal and much more spiritual than she imagined it was going to be.
“It was very physical. But it was wonderful. I felt like it would solidify what I was trying to share so that people could really see not only me practicing yoga but that I could actually teach this.”
Margeaux has been teaching classes virtually very regularly through Covid. Many of her classes are with her private corporate clients from the design world. Still, she is missing the community and environment of the studio space.
“With Covid it has been hard because one of the things I like is being in the space with others. The community of it — especially when it comes to Yoga spaces.”
All of this is a side thing that Margeaux makes time for outside of her sales-design job that pays her bills.
“It’s funny. We have so much time but then we really don’t have any time. You know what I mean? And I also think too with getting older like I just turned 50 in November. I don’t want to say I don’t give a shit what people think anymore but like, I don’t care. You know?”
Covid, for so many, has been a curse. But there have been blessings.
“Yeah it impacted my career that I’ve had for so long, my business. But it actually also propelled me in the wellness space for several reasons.”
She discussed how during Covid, most brands couldn’t bring people together to have photoshoots and promote products. So they started looking heavily through the internet to find people like herself who you would consider like a micro-influencer. With the Black Lives Matter movement over the summer of 2020 and with Covid, all these brands and big business started reaching out. All the sudden, she began to be seen and started working with several brands, including Nordstrom, creating online wellness content for them, and just signed a contract with Sweaty Beaty to produce monthly content for the brand.
"It’s hard to find people of color in the wellness space. It opened up a door for me to be seen in a way that I hadn’t been seen before. And then before you know it, I’m doing IG live yoga for SELF Magazine, Well+Good and Mind Body Green included me as one of their top favorite Yogi’s in NYC and things started to blow up. I was like, it sucks that this is what it had to take to get noticed because I was doing this work for 3-4 years now, but I am grateful that I am being able to be seen in this space. And, I’m actually starting to make money which is great because this stuff needs to pay for itself.
“I’m tired of people thinking because I’m a larger bodied person that I’m not in shape. I’m tired of people thinking that they can’t do it. You can do it. Everybody can do yoga. Yoga isn’t about the physicality. Yoga is about the modification of the mind stuff. That is what it really is.
“That is what I’m sharing. And just to live in a positive way. Not getting caught up in any of that — who people think you should look like or who you should be. But just owning and stepping into who you are. I’m mixed race Black and white. I grew up in a very small town. And I’m also adopted by white parents and I’m the youngest of five. We’re all different nationalities. I have a sister who is Korean. I have a brother who is Cherokee Indian. I grew up in a very diverse household but not in a very diverse environment.
"It is important for people of color, I think, for everyone to be able to see a representation of themselves in wellness spaces and spaces that feel good. That these spaces are not exclusive to white people or people with money. Being well is for everyone. That is why I do what I do."
She gave some insight as to what helped guide her in success the beginning and what might help others find their start.
"I feel like people take my classes because of my energy. When I first started yoga, I know for me that I went to the same teacher for three months because I’m a creature of habit, but also her energy. I was all about it and was drinking her Kool-aid. You feel connected to the person. I still take her classes virtually. Francine, she was my first teacher, and I always mention her publicly because she is a part of my journey. I’m still very connected to that studio and she is subbing my classes for me while I’m on vacation."
On Travel & Her Res Ipsa Babouche Shoes
We often find we love to travel as much as our customers love to travel. Margeaux loves to travel to one of our favorite places — Nantucket Island — home of our flagship store.
“The last three years my husband and I have been visiting my sister and her husband in Nantucket. I’ll tell ya, the minute you step off the ferry or the plane, it is just magical. It’s just like a story book. Everything is a photograph. It is beautiful. I’ll be back this summer!”
She is telling the truth. If you have ever traveled to the island, you find out right away how and why it is such a magical place. If you have never visited Nantucket, we recommend you add it to your list for the future, even for this summer or fall if you have the opportunity. We would love to see you there.
"When I walked into your shop, I was like ‘This place is fantastic!!’ What a novel idea taking old rugs and turning them into shoes. So smart.”
It’s no surprise that Margeaux fell in love with our Babouche slippers. She loves and sells textiles for a living because she loves fabrics, prints, patterns and mixing them together. Our women's and men's babouche slippers are repurposed into one-of-a-kind slippers handmade at our atelier from boucherouite rugs that are hand woven.
“I think it is the most interesting way to express yourself. When you mix fabrics and textiles the right way because not everyone can do that.”
Our brand is evolving. We used to be known as that cool shoe store. And as part of our evolution and after building of our atelier in Marrakech, over the last 18-24 months, we feature more repurposed clothing, accessories, and home goods.
“You also have lots of other things to find inspiration from. I find my inspiration from shops like Res Ipsa. Sometimes I don’t have to buy things, but I usually do.
“I wear my shoes everywhere. If it is not cold and wet, I’m wearing my shoes all the time. They broke in perfectly. I like that they are all one-of-a-kind. That is it. You can get the style but you cannot get the exact same shoe.”
Margeaux also frequents the Hamptons in the summers with her friends from NY.
“I would love to see you in the Hamptons. Although, I don’t want to see everyone wearing my shoes.”
What's Next for Margeaux?
Like many, Covid postponed Margeaux's plans pre-pandemic. The last 12 months have allowed more time for serious reflection on whatever it is that you may have been putting off or planning for in the future — from planning weddings, pursuing new careers/businesses, doing home improvements, writing a book or simply finishing the books you keep by your bedside.
"Before Covid, my plan was to open up an actual physical yoga studio. And I had started the business with a two of my girlfriends in 2019 where we doing these pop-up wellness experiences in these big loft spaces in Brooklyn. It was great you would come work out in the morning. We would teach — yoga, pilates, African dance — and we would bring in different people and do a full sit-down brunch for 30 people and I would curate the entire event. I was tablescaping and creating the atmosphere, the whole nine yards. But Covid completely ended that since it was built around bringing people together. That made me rethink, if I had that yoga studio right now, it would be tough.
“Everything I’ve been doing the last four years is building and still, maybe in four years, I’ll want to do something else. Right now I’m laying the ground work to plant seeds to create a lifestyle brand. ‘What does that look like?’ Things are always shifting and I’m always thinking about changes around that. I see this wellness space and the journey I’ve been on — that is where I see myself moving into full-time. Right now I’m laying the bricks like Res Ipsa did in the beginning with a job on the side. That is the direction I see myself moving. If I had my druthers, I would probably write a book and keep promoting self-love, body positivity, living well and living a beautiful lifestyle about what feels good for you.”
We look forward to watching wherever Margeaux goes next and wish her the best and success on her journey. To be inspired to “Live your best life now” follow her on IG @thiscurvyworld and her beautiful blog thiscurvyworld.com.