With the launch of minnow x Gathre, we were able to spend more time with our dear friend and founder of minnow, Morgan Smith. She is kind to the core and oh so driven. Here is our conversation we had, talking about all things business, traveling, balance and more.
Question: First up, tell us about who you are and what you do professionally.
Answer: I’m a wife, mom to two children - Theo (4) and Georgia (21 months) and I started and currently run the brand, minnow.
Q: We feel like everyone knows you, but how would you describe yourself to someone who didn’t know anything about you?
A: I grew up in Newport Beach, Ca and when I was 16 my family moved back to Laguna Beach, CA (where my parents were originally from/met), I studied humanities and journalism in college and then after graduation moved to NYC to work for ELLE, Harvey Faircloth, Kate Spade. When I got married we moved to Santa Monica where I worked for Guess? Inc, TT Collection, and Bugaboo. When I was pregnant with Theo we moved down to Orange County to be closer to my husband’s job and family. I then began consulting for Bugaboo, Freshly Picked, Storq and others and started minnow the following year. I’ve always been a worker, I got a job at 14 as a hostess and haven’t really ever stopped. In running a business, where you have to wear so many different hats I feel so grateful for all the different positions I was able to hold. Launching our showroom this summer, brought me back to my years spent in high school + college working retail and all my years babysitting connects me with the sitters helping me out with my children. I think so important to try out lots of things in life , to really see where your passion lies and where you most enjoy spending your time.
Q: Give us some background on what inspired you to start Minnow?
A: I grew up at the beach in Southern California and now am raising my family here, so swim if very much apart of our lifestyle. Although the idea actually came to me during a month-long home exchange in London. My family and I took a weekend trip to the Amalfi Coast, and I needed a swimsuit for my then 14-month old son. It’s mid-July in London – notorious for its massive children’s clothing offering – and I couldn’t find a single swimsuit that wasn’t covered with decals or slogans. I thought about the swimsuits I had back home, and realized they all felt like real “finds” – items I’d sourced on Etsy or in vintage shops. Finding a pair of trunks that hit above the knee was tough. I remember thinking: why is it so hard to find something classic, clean, and simple? We came back from our trip and I got to work, launching Minnow in 2016.
Q: Have you always wanted to own your own company? Could you have ever imagined that you would one day be creating such darling swimwear for little ones, and run your own successful company?
A: My background is in premium product marketing, working for other companies I was passionate about. Although yes, I always knew I wanted to do my own thing one day. I remember sitting in a quarterly review meeting with the US president of Bugaboo and her asking me my career goals - where I wanted to climb in the company? And my answer back, even then, was to be an entrepreneur. I’m endlessly grateful for my experience at other companies and feel it was part of my path to minnow.
Q: We think your accomplishments are off the charts, but tell us what have been some of your most gratifying achievements, both personally and professionally?
A: Professionally, the partnerships are one of my favorite parts of the business, working with other creative women and their talents and coming together to create something beautiful has been so rewarding for me. Personally, having my children be apart of the brand is so special - they are my muses and we use our swimsuits daily in our lives!
Q: We so admire how you keep your family near. What do you do to juggle your time with your family and your career?
A: I feel grateful to have a job that allows flexibility so that I can be with my kids more in the day, that being said I work almost every night. Right now as the business is growing, that time sacrifice has to made somewhere, and right now it’s my sleep. I’m tired, but I’m pretty sure all moms are ;)
Q: Success doesn’t come without difficulty. How have you overcome struggles that you’ve faced in running a business?
A: I’m not going to pretend it’s easy, especially as the business grows. The responsibility to manage my family and manage a business, some days feels like I’ve got this and others feels incredibly heavy. For me, a support system is everything, your spouse or friends in similar circumstances, a moms group. We just recently started a ‘breakfast club’ of a few mom entrepreneurs - we talk about everything from fulfillment centers to babysitters, and it truly lifts me up having the support of people around me that are going through similar scenarios. No room for judgement, that brings you down. Do you!
Q: Does Minnow have important focus or motto that is paramount?
A: Sunshine awaits! And happiness awaits. Live in the sunshine and lean into these moments with our families. We all have hard parts of our lives, but there is sunshine there to embrace. No hard times in a swimsuit ;)
Q: We don’t get to see the behind the scenes. Do you mind sharing what an average day in your life looks like?
A: Yes! I’m always curious about this for moms, because everyone does it so differently and it’s so personal your schedule and what works for you. I work at our office M-F from 9am - 1pm. I schedule this time so that I can be efficient and focused at work, and then when i leave be as present as possible with my kids. I then jump back on after they are asleep which is around 7:30/8. If an activity or something for them comes up in the am, I can move things around to be there and visa versa if there is a work obligation in the afternoon I can be flexible - but by creating a schedule it helps me focus and be most efficient.
Q: We all have a gifts. You have a gift to gather ____. Fill in the blank.
A: Warm moments
Q: Let us in on your best go-to’s to feel refreshed, recharged, or even spoiled.
A: A spin class, a great podcast, reflexology, a girl’s weekender, a walk/run by myself, travel - I feel inspired and happy when I travel
Q: If you didn’t own a company and had no requirements on your time, what would you do with your days?
A: I would love to live abroad with my family
Q: What are some of your favorite resources (books, blogs, websites, etc) you could recommend for a fellow dream chaser?
A: The book I read right before starting minnow was ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. Podcasts I like - NPR’s ‘How I built this’, Tim Ferris
Q: Just for good measure, do you have a favorite minnow piece? If so, what is it?
A: It changes monthly and also by ages and stages. I lived for my Theo at 20 months and chubby in the minnow briefs, but now he wears the boardies so well. And Georgia in the ruffle one piece is so sweet I can’t get enough of her playing on the sand.
Q: Who are some of your heroes?
A: My mother - 100%. Hands down strongest person I know. She taught me I can do hard things. Constantly in awe, and it reminds me “ok, I can do this.”
Q: We love hearing people talk about their dreams. What is your greatest dream? Big or small?
A: In so many ways I’m living out my dream now, I always wanted to create something that allowed my family unique fun experiences and opportunities to travel. I actually love listening to that Macklemore song “Good Old Days” to remind myself, to appreciate this growing phase, even with the sleepless nights, and stress to appreciate the journey and the gratification of building. That there shouldn’t be this idea of “made it” or when I get here, it will feel better, but to embrace this season. Which takes constant practice.
Q: Lastly, what is at the top of your travel list?
A: Australia, Buenos Aires, Bali