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Small Business Spotlight: Morningtide Emphasizes Sustainability and Equity

Morningtide boasts a thoughtfully curated collection of eclectic goods on their mission to support the community and environment.

Morningtide, a lifestyle shop on the corner of Solano Ave and Cornell Ave, is the perfect example of a small and sustainable business. Established three years ago by Lisa Jackson and Lisa Fontaine, the shop sells everything from clothing to pottery. Fontaine and Jackson share more than just a first name — both have a passion for high quality, sustainable products and an appreciation for a minimalistic aesthetic. 

Brought together through their similar work in design, Fontaine and Jackson began to discuss the lack of lifestyle shops in the East Bay, eventually deciding to create Morningtide. Indiegogo, a crowdfunding campaign that allows customers, family, and friends to contribute, allowed them to purchase a storefront.

“We wanted to provide a lifestyle shop,” said Jackson. “We wanted a little bit of everything and we wanted it to be made by local artists with natural materials.”

Their products include ceramics, jewelry, clothing, and cosmetics, all thoughtfully sourced and selected to fit their aesthetic. They have both a clothing line and a second-hand section, called Morningtide loop, entirely made up of what they consider “slow” fashion — clothing made with consideration for the environment, animals, and people. Small brands, independent artists, high-quality materials, and a minimalistic look all contribute to what makes the clothes that fill Morningtide’s racks so special. 

As Jackson explained, “We find unique things that you might not find at Target or Amazon. We’re thoughtful about the things we bring in.”

Over the past couple of years, Fontaine designed her own women’s clothing line, Hygge, and sold her pieces at Morningtide whenever they were available. As of now, all pieces have sold out, so her focus is on curating the shop’s clothing collection.

Morningtide serves a wide variety of customers, including young women, families, mothers, and older people. Their clothing most often appeals to women, but they have a kids section, along with products that are designed as gifts for friends or family. “We try to have something for everyone,” explained Jackson.

With so many conversations happening recently about race and the inequities that People of Color face, Fontaine and Jackson have taken on the 15 Percent Pledge. This is a commitment to fill at least 15 percent of their shelf space with products created by b=Black-owned businesses in order to reflect the 15 percent of the US population that is Black. Supporting the community, and especially Black-owned businesses, is extremely important to Morningtide. The pledge was brought on by Aurora James, the owner of a shoe company called Brother Vellies, and calls on major retailers to support the initiative. Despite Morningtide’s small size, Fontaine and Jackson felt it was a necessity to support the pledge and diversify their shop.

Alongside products from Black-owned businesses, sustainability and emphasis on local creators are fundamental aspects of Morningtide. Jackson and Fontaine believe in putting care and dedication into every item.

“We want people to come in and appreciate all of the work that can go into a single piece,” said Jackson. “People should come in and think about what they’re buying, know the artists that made it, and bring something home that they won’t throw away in a month.”

On top of the many difficulties that come with starting a small business, Morningtide has also had to tackle the issues that have arisen with a global pandemic. Before businesses were forced to shut down, Fontaine and Jackson were about to purchase a second location and expand into another storefront that would focus solely on their women’s clothing line. Currently, they are searching for locations, but Jackson explained that they needed both the space and the timing to be right.

When the shutdown began, the duo was forced to close the shop and revert to entirely online sales, but because Morningtide had an online source since the beginning, the transition was somewhat easier. Despite the adjustments Fontaine and Jackson have had to make, their online sales have skyrocketed and, as of now, Morningtide is open four days a week.

Fontaine and Jackson have taken necessary precautions with hand sanitizer, masks, and customer limits. Despite having to pivot certain merchandise in order to fit the needs of their customers, the overall store has remained the same.

Jackson remarked, “We’re really grateful for all the support people have shown us and we’re really appreciative of this community. One of our goals since the beginning has been to bring everyone together.”

Morningtide expertly balances sustainability and community with a modern and minimalistic style. Despite its small size, the store manages to provide something for everyone. With both economic and social hardships brought on by the pandemic, shopping at small businesses is a great way to contribute to the community and show support for local business owners. 

As Jackson put it, “For anyone looking to support small: support us and, in turn, support the local artists who make our products.”

Information about Morningtide’s hours and location can be found here, or visit the online shop to view the catalogue and place orders.  

Update: This article was updated to include links to Morningtide’s website.

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