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Whiskey a Go Go

Retail’s power couple, Mike and Sarah Dowdell, are welcoming a new baby into the family of hip boho boutiques.

Step inside Sarah and Mike Dowdell’s Love & Whiskey shop, and you’ll find a refined mix of men’s and women’s apparel, home goods and gifts from exclusive and local brands in a rustic yet luxe environment.

A passion for fashion—that’s what drives Mike and Sarah Dowdell. With one successful retail endeavor at The OC Mart Mix (Deer Lovely for the ladies and Whiskey Tango 1977 for the gents share a spot), these O.C. natives have added a second outpost to their family of boutiques with Irvine’s Love & Whiskey (2967-A Michelson Drive, 949.660.5659, loveandwhiskey.‌com)—a chic, open space for showcasing a “Nicely Curated” (the shop’s moniker) collection of boho-Americana fashions.

The store’s vibe is the result of Mike’s vision—a mix of minimalistic modern and rustic, utilizing more than 80 percent reclaimed materials. It’s an eye-catching, simple but luxurious atmosphere. “We purposely left the space open,” says Mike. “It’s comfortable and approachable, with the feeling of exclusivity.”

The shop’s merchandise is equally impressive. Sarah aims to be the first to offer local fashionistas new brands and present them with one-of-a-kind items. Take the Will Leather line. The bags are made from recycled materials with handcrafted leather elements. “The Dhurrie bags [$185-$650] are my personal favorite,” says Sarah. For the fellas: T-shirts and button-downs by Seal Beach’s Tankfarm and Co.

Also found among the goods: cause-driven brands like TOMS shoes (for every purchase, the company donates a pair of shoes to a child in need), and O.C.’s own Krochet Kids accessories and 31 Bits jewelry (handcrafted by people living in impoverished areas of Uganda and Peru). Exclusives to O.C. come from labels like Tanner Goods, Peg and Awl, and Crosby Denim. You’ll also find home goods by Saturday Morning Pancakes, and a broad selection of gift items, including handmade letterpress cards, candles and perfumes. The couple use a simple criteria for choosing what the store will carry: “Comfort, quality and price,” says Mike. “The materials and craftsmanship [of the products] are impressive. I love talking about our process.”

Work and marriage come together seamlessly for the couple, who are expecting their second child next month. “We have very different personalities,” Sarah explains. “I’m more free-spirited, and Mike is methodical and particular. Two things we share in common are the desire to be creative and a need to constantly evolve.” Mike agrees—they make a great team: “I’m constantly making small changes, and Sarah gives me the freedom to express those ideas.”

Among those ideas: Wine Wednesday the first week of every month and Whiskey Wednesday every third week. There’s no purchase required—Mike says the events are intended to be intimate gatherings. “We have several knowledgeable industry insiders that will come and educate our clients in all areas of whiskey and wine,” says Mike. Wine and whiskey—got to love that!