by Mimi Montgomery
photograph by Travis Long
Walk into Port of Raleigh on South McDowell Street and you might think you’ve left the City of Oaks and entered the gift shop of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Light filters in through huge floor-to-ceiling glass panes; a minimalist decor is a backdrop for the clean aesthetic of the store’s modern homegoods. Owner Ana Maria Muñoz opened the store in December 2015 to fill what she saw as a void for design-oriented yet functional wares in Raleigh. Hence, the name: Port of Raleigh, she says, aims to bring to the area unique and exciting objects from all over the world.
A true global citizen, Muñoz was born in Australia to Colombian parents. After a brief stint back in Colombia, she grew up in Los Angeles before jetting off to London and Kuala Lumpur. She already had a background in fashion, merchandising, and public relations, and her travels strengthened her passion for design. The clean aesthetic of Scandinavia, the timelessness of British style, and the handcrafted naturalism of Southeast Asia are all sources she cites as inspiration.
When it came time to move back to the United States, Muñoz and her husband scanned the country for the perfect place. In fall of 2014, they settled on Raleigh. “It’s got everything we want in our lives right now,” she says. A thriving downtown that’s only a 10-minute drive away from lakes and greenways, a vibrant and intellectual community, proximity to both the coast and mountains – “It’s just an impressive city.”
And one she’s excited to give back to. Muñoz says she’s happy to offer another creative option in an already-burgeoning downtown, where she and her husband live with their nine-month-old daughter. “Living downtown, you want to do things locally,” she says. “I want this to be a place of discovery.”
416 S. McDowell St.; portofraleigh.co