Shopkeeper Spotlight: Morningtide

Created by graphic designer Lisa Jackson (owner of Good on Paper Design) and ceramic artist Lisa Fontaine, lifestyle store Morningtide on California’s West Coast, brings together their creative skills and passion for design. We caught up the ‘Lisa’s’ to hear about curating collections, supporting artisans and the joys of being each others work-wives.

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When and why did you decide to open Morningtide?

We opened up Morningtide in the fall of 2017 because we felt like our neighborhood was in need of some fresh new retail. We both love design and curating a shop felt like a natural next step after running our own creative businesses for years. We were ready for a new project!

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What had you done before? Did any of these skills help?

Our experience with our own businesses helped us greatly. We both understand the work ethic and dedication it takes to create a successful start up. Our styles align, so curating the shop is easy and fun. We are both committed to excellent communication and to work on our work-wife relationship as much as one would a domestic partner.

Photo: Marble & Rye Photography

Photo: Marble & Rye Photography

How did you decide on the name?

We both wanted our shop name to evoke a feeling of a calm and slow morning (we both have young kids so we don't know what that's like!) We brainstormed a big list of words and the words "morning" and "tide" were included in that list. After a late night perusing Thesaurus.com, we discovered that morningtide is the archaic word for morning. It just felt right and we are so happy with it.

How would you describe the interior style of the store?

Modern, clean, minimal and natural with a Californian/West Coast beachy aesthetic.

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You're passionate about supporting artisan and ethical production, why is this so important to you?

We only get one chance at treating our planet with kindness and each of us has the opportunity to do our own part. For Morningtide, we can make a positive impact by stocking local artists who create natural products free of toxins.

You’ve recently added a sustainable living section to the shop, tell us more about it…

The new sustainable living section includes bamboo ware, reusable straws, and ceramic and silicone to-go containers. Adding this section aligns with our own personal ethics, while still maintaining a Morningtide aesthetic for clean and modern design. We are excited about expanding this section of the shop.

We are also really excited about our Morningtide Loop—a curated selection of gently used independent designer brands created to encourage the investment in slow fashion brands, upcycling, and sustainability. In addition, every piece of clothing purchased new in our shop could be resold through our Morningtide Loop.

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How do you source your gorgeous stock?

We travel to Los Angeles to attend independent designer trade shows and showrooms to source our women's clothing. We find our ceramic artists, jewellery and gifts at local shows such as West Coast Craft at Fort Mason in San Francisco. We also find out about many new brands through Instagram.

As well as stocking wares from independents, do you create anything in-house?

Yes! Lisa (Fontaine) is a ceramic artist, she creates some of the ceramics we sell. Lisa (Jackson) is a graphic designer and designs all of the event flyers and sells a few of her greeting cards and notepads in the shop.

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Which item is your bestseller? Why do you think that is?

Everyday Oil is our best selling product. It's unisex skincare for your face, body and hair made from 100% plant-based botanical oils and smells divine. Everyday Oil also makes an unscented version, perfect for babies or those sensitive to essential oils. Also, the price point is great.

What do you enjoy most about running Morningtide?

Interacting with the customers each day is a total joy. Our shop is in a very small community so we have dozens of customers who pop in weekly. We've gotten to know their children, their dog, and the types of products they gravitate towards. We love bringing people together at our pop-up events too.

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What has been your career highlight (so far!)?

Opening up the shop has been the highlight! We were excited but also scared to open a shop at a time when people warned us that retail is dead. It felt like a risk in the beginning but it has really worked out well in our favour. We find that our community still values being able to come into a brick and mortar shop, talk to a friendly shop keeper, and make their purchases rather than shopping online.

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What is the neighbourhood like? Do you have a community of independent stores around you?

Our neighbourhood is very family friendly and the locals love supporting their local businesses. The main street does have a lot of independent businesses that have been there for 30+ years, mostly service businesses. We don't have a lot of direct retail competition on the street which is nice for us, but we have a nearby coffeeshop that shares a customer demographic to us so we make a good pair.

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Before you go, do you have any top tips/advice for those thinking of starting their own store?

It's a lot of work and can be overwhelming at times but having a great business partner has been huge for us. Since we share the workload, we are able to take a lot on and try out a lot of different ideas without ever reaching full burnout. We could not do this without each other nor would we want to!

Find Morningtide at 847 Cornell Avenue, Albany, CA

Online at morningtideshop.com and on Instagram