Margalaxy is a line of raw vegan superfood snacks made with busy people in mind. Margaux Muller wants to ‘bring your taste buds into orbit’ with her plant-based protein snacks made without refined sugar. Mercy Corps Northwest has been an important resource for Margaux in her two-years of business so far — especially when someone called up and threatened to sue her.
At the time of the call, Margaux was delivering products by bicycle in rain slicked Portland. She had been measuring, blending, pressing, and packaging her decadent moon bars made with raw cacao, dates, almonds, chia seeds and vanilla for local businesses like The People’s Food Co-op for around a year then.
The idea for Margalaxy came when she’d grown disillusioned at what she thought was her dream job. She was tired of her bakery’s reliance on what she calls the white stuff, refined sugar, as well as early bike rides across town for morning shifts.
“No one is out at 4 am, it just makes you weary.” She remembers. “My self-care was a struggle. I thought, ‘What else can I do?’” She would see erie things in the morning sometimes too. “Once I smelled smoke and came across a building on fire.” It was popular dive bar ‘The Nest’ burning down. She reported it to 9-1-1 and then watched the flames, alone on the street, until fire trucks blew past her to put it out.
Margaux took the Mercy Corps Northwest Business Foundations I class after seeing how helpful it was for her partner. Together they’d started another business, Best Friend PDX, a juice cart. Best Friend was a success, but Margaux wanted to get back in the kitchen. Once she did, she kept coming back to a banana bread recipe her grandmother used. Nostalgia, plus the events she’d attended at Mercy Corps like seminars on accounting and credit, as well as working with the Mercy Corps Northwest Women’s Business Center, brought about Margalaxy.
At the time of the threat, however, she hadn’t yet met with any lawyers. When it came, at 7:30 am, she panicked. The caller accused Margaux and Margalaxy of stealing a product name. If Margaux didn’t change that name, the caller claimed, she would be sued.
There was no way she could afford a lawyer. The call made her feel overwhelmed. A few days later a ‘cease and desist’ letter came in the mail.
Margaux had moved to Portland with the goal of working at the best vegan bakery in town. She’s been baking seriously for 13 years and actually has a degree in International Baking and Pastry Arts. Allergies to dairy products and eggs, belief in a vegan diet, and an affinity for superfoods have taught her to be creative with ingredients. Margalaxy is Margaux’s mission to stock your fridge with foods to draw you away from refined sugar. It was sad to think the dream might be over.
Luckily, Margaux was a part of the Mercy Corps Northwest community and that meant she could get low-cost legal advice. She made a few phone calls and found a lawyer who would meet with her. The meeting gave her confidence, it encouraged her to fight. “This is your dream,’” the lawyer encouraged, “You are doing what you are meant to do!”
The lawyer explained that since she’d actually been using the name longer than her accuser, she didn’t need to worry. She could simply ignore the threats; it was all bluster. The other company eventually chose a new name on their own. Margaux immediately started the process to get her product names trademarked thanks to the lawyer’s advice.
Mercy Corps Northwest has been there in other ways for Margalaxy. We helped reduce Margaux’s delivery times, especially as Marglaxy has grown. She received a Mercy Corps Northwest individual development account, or IDA, a savings account matched with a loan. She packed away $1,000 in a savings account over six months and then received a $3,000 loan from Mercy Corps Northwest to go with her savings. With that money she bought a motorized scooter. Margaux says saving for the IDA helped her track spending habits, focus in on what she wants for the business, and the scooter is a big hit!
Margaux’s dream is to help us all cook more raw vegan food. She wants to launch a subscription delivery service, a lifestyle blog, and maybe even apply for another IDA.
Nowadays, Margalaxy allows Margaux to get a bit more sleep and we all get to eat indulgent foods that don’t make us feel guilty.
Find Margalaxy at Best Friend juice cart on Division between 11th and 12th, at local businesses Prasad, Harlow, People’s Food Co-op, and Fly Awake Tea Shoppe; in Eugene at SeQuential Biofuels; and in Port Townsend, Washington at Alberta Rose Theatre.