Little Tienda Muse - Kelley Mullarkey
First Little Tienda Muse for 2023 and oh my she is extraordinary!
As a lover of creative adventures, no one gets me more excited than my friend Kelley Mullarkey. Kelley is an extraordinary human, that connects people like no other. Her love for culture, travel and support of artisans world wide is inspiring. Kelley opened her home to Little Tienda late in 2022 and was photographed by her talented friend Anisa Goshi.
Grab a drink and take some time out getting to know her, you will be better for it.
Tell us who you are and what you want us to know about you:
Hi! I’m Kelley! I’m the founder and creative director of majestic disorder, an independent art and culture magazine, creative and consulting agency, and majestic disorder travels, our sister travel company. All of which I run with my incredible husband and partner in crime, Sean.
With a focus on sustainability, travel and lifestyle, we work with an array of incredible businesses working across hospitality and design to clients such as the Moroccan Tourism Board, Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland, Visit Quito, University of the Arts London and more.
Our travel company, majestic disorder travels, acts as a bridge between artisan communities in Morocco and curious travelers, organizing an assortment of small highly curated group trips throughout Morocco (and beyond, new destinations soon!) exploring the diverse regions of the country, beautiful artisan craft and co-creating with phenomenal entrepreneurs. We also plan private trips for travelers from all over the world and have incredible partnership trips with our dear friends El Camino Travel.
I love my job and feel lucky every single day to wake up and work within a framework of such wonder, imagination and creativity. I am so fortunate to be surrounded by industry thought leaders at the forefront of innovation and change.
Where do you live and what do you love about it?
I was lucky enough to grow up in the great Midwest, in the city of Chicago, Illinois, raised by two incredible beings that created privilege for me in every possible way, from financial to educational to creative. Home for the past 10 years has been London, a city I continue to have an endless love affair with. From the energy to the unbelievably rich diversity to the vibrant arts and culture scenes to all the little nooks and pockets, I still find myself discovering and in awe. I love to travel but I am also a true homebody (and total bookworm) and love to tend to my 100+ beloved houseplants.
Finish this sentence: the book that changed my life is…
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. This book annihilated my soul. Relentlessly harrowing, exquisitely brilliant, emotionally all consuming. Truly one of the most heartrending pieces of modern literature.
Its West End stage debut in London was just announced for early spring 2023. My husband got us tickets to see it on my birthday.
What is your favourite part of your business, majestic disorder?
When we launched majestic disorder 10 years ago, we set out to build and connect a global community of curious, open-minded creatives in search of the why and how we move throughout this world and what that ever-evolving experience looks like.
I had no idea that would evolve into a global magazine, consulting agency and travel company.
The idea for majestic disorder actually came about back in 2010 while Couchsurfing (pre Airbnb) on a backpacking trip through Europe with a friend. For nearly three months we stayed in over a dozen countries with the coolest artists, activists, global nomads, surfers, musicians, designers, PhD students and a few unstable characters.
Their homes and personal style were as unique as the stories they told, the music they played, and the friends they kept and introduced us to. It was a perfect blend of the majestic - the magical soulful existence of one’s art and passion– and the disorder – the chaotic tapestry (or storm) that surrounds any human’s life.
I wanted to document it all in a physical format that felt relatable. Like you were reading about your friend’s interesting cousin or the neighbor next door who grinds away at a 9-5 but does incredible pottery on the side.
There was and still is a real lack of diversity throughout every sector, the media, arts, travel, design, etc, and nothing out there in terms of magazines felt relatable, authentic or approachable. I wanted to create a space that showcased everyone from first and second-generation immigrants to Native American women to artists making waves in smaller cities and towns that receive less coverage.
I am endlessly, hopelessly and obsessively fascinated by the way in which humans express themselves and the notion of all-encompassing personal style. From the way humans individually express themselves sartorially to their philosophies to their upbringings and cultural heritage.
Everything is interconnected. I love creating spaces that allow of these very nuanced dialogues and exchanges to take place.
Over the years with majestic disorder through conversations, pop-up events, curated experiences, collaborations and printed pages, we’ve brought to life thousands of stories from all corners of this incredible planet from musicians on the bustling streets of London to coffee producers in Cartagena to indigenous weavers in Morocco.
As our tight-knit community has grown and the desire to form meaningful connections off-line has deepened, we have explored how to be even more invested and provide one-of-a-kind experiences bringing to life the ethos and values of majestic disorder in the form of a shared journey. Travel has always been at the centre of our intimate work.
We are now interwoven and digitally connected more than ever, traversing geographical borders and imaginary outdated lines drawn up by old white men. I’ve been incredibly fascinated by hyper-mobility, neo-nomadism, the new socially conscious entrepreneurial movement and the roles race, class, social mobility and cultural privilege play. This was the framework of my research during grad school.
What’s one thing you have to do each and every day?
Aside from have coffee, I need to move my body. I started training Muay Thai, a form of martial arts, at the start of this year and now train several times a week, and work one on one with my incredible instructor and personal trainer, Christia, doing weight training throughout the week as well. I’d be lost without her.
I’m in constant awe of what the human mind and body are capable of. So much of the toxic messaging within our society around fitness and movement is sadly highly focused on aesthetic principles. We are so fixated on the appearance of our bodies rather than the functionality of them. Movement brings me joy, balance, humility and empowerment, alongside so many other benefits. It makes me a better person, business owner, partner, friend and overall human. It is a privilege to be able to move my body and challenge its performance capabilities.
We share a love of supporting artisans, why is it so so important in a modern world to keep these traditions alive?
Human skill and handcrafted traditions are the ultimate universal luxury. Traditional craft is more important than ever, both as a way of celebrating and preserving community and culture, but also serving as inspiration with its intrinsic reliance on eco-friendly and sustainable materials with handmade production processes.
For me, as travel and craft are very much woven together in my life, I am always seeking out craft, booking with locally owned businesses that deserve our tourism dollars and traveling with a mission to respect the land, which we are merely a guest on.
Supporting artisan craft and engaging with slow travel means questioning everything. The prevalence of mass-production and encouragement of mass-consumption is a detrimental cycle exploiting people and planet.
Slow travel also means questioning our consumption of travel and its impact. The very nature of artisan craft is exclusive singularity as quantity is limited, which creates an intimate connection between product, producer and purchaser. We should be considering this when booking a place or making a purchase, at home or while travelling. Less is more. Small is beautiful.
Go-to beauty product you can’t live without?
I’m not a product junkie whatsoever. My go to will always be simple - water. Water is life and keeps our bodies regulated and functioning properly.
Any podcasts you love?
I am not a podcast person at all, but I religiously listen to one. It’s called How Long Gone, hosted by two friends who chat with media, fashion, film, music and creative industry insiders. It’s ridiculously witty and ridden with off the rails humor.
Favourite Little Tienda piece?
This is such a hard one to narrow down! I think it would have to be the first ever Little Tienda Seasonal Subscription Dress, Oda. Oh my heart, this is such a gorgeous dress, a piece of art. I love mine so very much and pack it for every trip. It’s the dream dress. I’m sad for everyone who missed out on this one.
At a dinner party I am likely to be…the one always laughing, discussing all things literature and getting everyone to share their craziest stories. And probably talking you into an adventure!
Thank you so much for sharing your heart and home with us Kelley xxx