At This Atlanta Furniture Shop, An All-Women Staff Designs, Sculpts, and Builds Every Product

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In our Ask a Shopkeeper series, we tap the coolest store owners we know for a tour of their space and to ask them what items are trending right now—and beyond. For this installment, Francie Lowman—founder of the Mangata Experience in Atlanta—takes us inside her shop, where she celebrates for-women-by-women design through eco-friendly and fair-trade–focused practices.

Courtesy of the Mangata Experience

Walk us through your store. What’s the shopping experience like?
We list ourselves as the Mangata Experience for a reason. We want you to feel fully immersed when you come into our store. I set up the store as I would my home. When you walk in, you’ll find lots of vignettes incorporated with our furniture, lighting, mirrors, and ceramic pieces. Then you get in a little further and can actually watch us making our products. We have a small counter in the back where we craft our smaller goods like vases and coffee cups. We also offer ceramics classes on-site because we love teaching others and allowing them to see what it’s like to create as we do. 

Courtesy of the Mangata Experience

How is your creative style reflected in your designs and storefront?
I have a four-year degree in furniture design and I’m a master carpenter, so I’ve been living in a very male-dominated industry for a long time. In mass production and commercial stores, I see a large chunk of the aesthetic driven by men—hard edges, dark colors, things like that. And many times when men try to design for women, it’s like a hot pink velvet sofa or florals or bright colors. They’re designing what they think we want. 

Courtesy of the Mangata Experience

When I worked for a larger corporate company, my team was so male dominated, especially at the senior level, it was intimidating for women wanting to get into the industry. Here, our entire staff is made of women. Of course, we’re not intentionally trying to exclude anyone, but I think the energy of our store makes more women drawn to work with us. So instead of putting a trendy hue or a flower on an object and insisting it’s “feminine,” we search for a more authentic approach with soft textures and gentle lines and forms and more neutral palettes. 

Courtesy of the Mangata Experience

What do you feel the home furnishings industry is missing?
So much is created just for the sake of creating, so we have a very simple mission: to provide an ethical solution for decorating. Unlike most big-box stores and online conglomerates, we care about where our materials are from and how the people making them are treated. Anything coming from overseas and into our studio is from countries with fair labor laws, and we ensure people are making livable wages during every step of our process. We also prioritize finding environmentally friendly solutions as makers. For example, all of our wood is sourced from local tree-removal companies that would typically chip the tree up and send it to a landfill. Instead we save those trees and avoid deforestation at the same by turning them into our pieces.

Courtesy of the Mangata Experience

What are some best-selling home/decor pieces or trends you’re seeing take off in the store?
Our consistently trending items are the ones made with mixed materials that show off all of our skill sets. People love to see how we combine brass, textile, ceramics, and wood—a great example is our Vega Planter.

Courtesy of the Mangata Experience

Shop Talk

Music that’s always playing in the store: My current obsession is Durand Jones & the Indications—the perfect combination of groove and funk! 

Instagram account I go to for inspo: I really don’t seek out inspiration from Instagram, but I really admire the work of my dear friend @Bored.Robby.

Dream person to walk into the Mangata Experience: Probably Owen Wilson. He has a house five minutes away! 

Favorite nearby shop that is not my own: Souk Bohemian.

Favorite piece in stock right now: Definitely the Milky Way Chair. From top to bottom, it’s our most sustainable piece: The frame is local wood, the fabric is organic cotton naturally dyed in-house, the cushion is made from recycled plastic, and the filling is cruelty-free down.