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Michelle Mercado: Celebrating five years at Sourced

Story by SAMANTHA WASHER

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

When Michelle Mercado was in high school, she would pack her ’57 Chevy with friends, ditch school in Anaheim and head to Thalia Street beach for a day of fun. “I was drawn to Laguna,” remembers the owner of Sourced.collective, the business Mercado has helmed for the past five years. In a nod to the mysterious workings of the universe, her business is located on Glenneyre at Thalia.

A place for creative people to come to work

Sourced.collective is a place where “creatives come to work, create and play,” according to its website. It is Laguna’s only shared workspace. “It’s natural for us,” explains Mercado. “Real estate prices are high, people are working from home, and there is a craving for people to work together in a shared space.”

And have events, and do yoga and celebrate artisans

In addition to a shared work environment, the space, a charming, shingled beach cottage, is used for events, pop-up markets, artist residency and even yoga classes. If it seems an eclectic mix, it is, but Mercado’s approach to her business is anything but haphazard. However, it would also be incorrect to imply that this has all been part of Mercado’s master plan when she took over the space in 2013.

LLP Michelle closeup

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Michelle Mercado, owner of Sourced.collective, at 950 Glenneyre St

 When she started, “Things weren’t formal enough to create a five-year plan,” she says. Even now, when asked where she sees things going in the next five years Mercado hedges. The only thing she will commit to is to helping the people who are working in her space reach their potential. “At this point, the biggest opportunity is how do we showcase the work that people are doing here?” she says. 

A trip back to Orange County changes her direction

Mercado’s background is in hospitality and event planning. She had been working in San Francisco in what she thought was her “dream job” planning high-end weddings when a trip to Orange County for her grandfather’s funeral changed the course of her career.

Falling for a shingled beach cottage on Glenneyre

A close friend, Rachiel Macalistaire, had found this delightful space on Glenneyre and Thalia. Mercado and Macalistaire shared a love of vintage finds. At the time, Macallistaire already had a shop in south Laguna. “After talking to Rachel, I thought ‘ don’t know what it is, but I want in.’ I was just so drawn to the building,” remembers Mercado. The thought of partnering with Macallistaire was too tempting to pass up, so they embarked on their new venture.

At that time, Sourced offered a retail component in the front that Macallistaire handled and rented office space in the back. The office space sold out in a week’s time. Mercado formed her own event planning company, Sourced Events, and the people who rented the space were mostly involved in various aspects of the wedding business. It was a symbiotic group.

However, after two years, Mercado started to wonder what else she could do. “I dropped the events planning and clicked back into my hospitality days. We became just a ‘creative source.’ People thought we were people who made stuff, but that’s really never been true.”

Adapting and changing to find the right formula

Eventually, McAllistaire moved on to other things, leaving Mercado to take over the retail portion of the business herself. “I just went down another path and then thought ‘How did I get here?’” So she did what everyone should do when faced with life’s big questions, she went to Bali for a month. She closed the store and when she returned, she had a vision. She would create a business that offered office space, co-working memberships and events. “These things supplemented the absence of the retail,” she says. Sourced.collective was born.

LLP Michelle at table

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Mercado is thrilled to be helping creative businesses grow and reach their potential

“This formula totally works,” she says enthusiastically. “The most interesting thing is I get to peer into and support these different businesses. It allows them to go after bigger things. For example, a client comes in for web design, but then they realize they need a graphic designer, and then one person’s client becomes everyone’s client. It’s something you don’t get if you’re working at home by yourself,” she says.

She’s not interested in being the only game in town

Mercado is hopeful that the shared workspace idea will expand in Laguna. “I hope there is more. I’m tapped out. There is no ownership of co-working,” she explains. In the beginning she says the idea was “self-serving,” because she wanted to make her event planning business seem bigger. As the concept grew and developed, she saw the potential of where it could go. 

It may start out as self-serving, but it doesn’t stay that way

The same can be said for the donation-based yoga classes she offers at Sourced. Mercado says she was having trouble finding the time to get some exercise. The idea of bringing the exercise to her was, again, “self-serving,” but it has grown to be a communally beneficial experience that has exceeded her original intentions. And that kind of sums up Sourced.collective. 

LLP Michelle party

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Sourced.collective celebrates five years with an office party “for people who don’t have office parties”

The theme for Friday’s anniversary party was “Something in the Middle.” “It’s where the future meets the past,” explains Mercado. “Our building is a testament to time, but we’re doing something new here.” Using her party planning skills, Mercado blended spaceships and paper airplanes, and other past/present motifs, but the event was not her singular vision. True to the business being celebrated, Mercado says the party planning was collaborative in all aspects. Of course, Mercado could have done it all herself, but that is no longer the point.

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut is our Chief Photographer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists. Scott Brashier is our photographer.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

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