WASHINGTON — Since the pandemic forced cities to close, beloved local institutions across the DMV have been forced to closed their doors, facing unimaginable losses.
But two longtime friends and local residents, Leela Bhatia-Newman and Mariana Magala, are doing their part to help these businesses stage a comeback.
They started off sending Instagram DMs back and forth, sharing with each other DMV businesses they loved, which soon turned into a spreadsheet of local shops. Finally, their database became a website: DistrictlyLocal.com. The pair created it to show the community just how easy it can be to shop locally.
“[These local brands are] what makes the city so interesting to live in,” Bhatia-Newman said. “We love shopping local whenever possible. So we want to offer up that resource for others where you can have a searchable directory that has filters, categories, and descriptions to enable others to shop with purpose.”
Aside from showcasing exclusively local businesses, Districtly Local allows visitors to filter through items by their category, or whether the product is Black, POC, LGBTQ, or Woman-owned.
“A lot of the brands that we're showcasing, they’re local entrepreneurs, but they're doing more to help the community as well,” Magala said. “So by supporting these brands, you're creating a ripple effect that's helping the community expand and grow and stay strong.”
The two friends met in college and researched how to make the website together in the after-hours of their full-time jobs.
Overall, the goal is that local residents and those that share a love for D.C., have an easier way to find great products, all while supporting local businesses.
“Our hope was to create a platform where people could log in, bookmark it hopefully," Magla explained. "And next time they needed to make a purchase, they would look for a local replacement before they went anywhere else."