It's tough to stand out on Maryland Avenue. This little street in Annapolis has more character than entire cities! Mango + Main stands out. And not just because of the bright coral storefront.
Mango + Main is the brainchild of Shannon Riesenfeld. She started the business online in 2016 and took it to the streets in 2019. It's been a local favorite ever since. Even celebrities like Jessica Alba have noticed the shop!
Shannon hasn't always been a small business owner. In a past life, she graduated from Clemson University in South Carolina with a mechanical engineering degree. She then got a job at Johns Hopkins overseeing construction projects such as lab clinic renovations.
After a visit to the famous Fair Trade shop called 10,000 villages, Shannon started working with a Fair Trade wholesaler. And she got hooked.
Later on, a group of Rwandan seamstress friends wanted to expand their business. Shannon opened an online store to bring their products to the US. This idea of bringing foreign products to the US inspired the name Mango + Main. Rwanda has many mango trees.
Shannon chose the name to symbolize bringing Rwandan goods (as well as other countries) to Main Street USA. Or in this case, Maryland Avenue USA.
Shannon didn't set out in 2016 to open her own Fair Trade shop. But slowly, she added artisan partners. She kept adding and adding while also managing technical parts of the online store herself. Let's hear it for engineers!
2019 marked 5 years in Annapolis for Shannon and her family. It was time to open a storefront. Her love of the city was real and she decided it should be Mango + Main's official home base.
Did we mention Shannon also homeschools four kids? In case you needed more proof she's a superstar. Ok, back to it.
It's all about relationships
Ask a business owner what their favorite part of owning a business is. Most—me included—will say the relationships. Shannon takes that to a whole new level.
Mango + Main supports artisans in 25 countries and counting. And these aren't just online business relationships. Shannon knows these artists personally. She visits them in their home countries and greets their children by name. Their photos proudly sit next to the goods they create.
90% of Mango + Main artisans are women. That's no coincidence. Mango + Main exists to empower women near and far. In many cases, these women are the sole providers for their family.
Shannon feeds her friends the US trends. Her philosophy with Mango + Main's inventory is to stock trendy items people were going to buy anyway, then convince them to buy Fair Trade. It supports hard working women and makes the world a little smaller.
Her favorite part of running the business is working with and knowing her artisans. Shannon's always making new connections through her trips overseas and through the Fair Trade Federation—of which Mango + Main is a proud member.
Since starting, Mango + Main has donated over $3,000 to local non profits. To make this happen, they host events in the shop and donate a part of the sales.
Shannon in Annapolis
Reynold's Tavern. I love the garden and the basement tavern.
Favorite small business (besides your own)
Lilac Bijoux, HERE. a Pop Up Shop, Old Fox Books, Brown Mustache Coffee, and Rasa. I can't just pick one.
Hardest thing about running a business?
Work life balance. You have to give yourself permission to experience your passions. It makes me a better mom and it's a good thing for my kids to see their mom doing what I love. It's also important for them to see I don't use my college degree!
If I took away your business, what would you do?
Start a travel company. Travel inspires courage. We would do adventurous trips to get people out of their comfort zone.
Keep up with Mango + Main
The best way to get to know Shannon is stopping by the shop! Mango + Main is located at 88 Maryland Avenue, Annapolis, MD 21401
The Maryland Avenue Minute is a collaboration with Alli Nurthen, owner and chief photographer of ALN Images. Alli shoots weddings all over the United States and has been featured in the New York Times, the Knot, and several regional publications. Alli took all photos seen in this story.
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