Ah, Seaside. What a magical place. A place where white sandy beaches and $6 to-go wine from Modica Market make your worries melt away. A place where I held many summer jobs (including my infamous stint at the Watercolor Publix) during my teenage years.
I first met Morgan in 2007. At the time, she was a new assistant manager, hiring eager sales associates to spend their summer working at Perspicasity—a “Beachside Bazaar.” I was an eager 17-year-old ready to try my hand at fashion. Note: I was not asked back to work at Publix again (probably for the best).
This open-air market is the definition of coastal chic. It’s nestled between the emerald oceanfront and quaint Seaside Square on 30A. You can find locals and tourists alike browsing the Anthropologie-esque huts for the latest beachwear in their beachwear.
Exactly a decade later, I sat down with Morgan, now the buyer for the uber-successful boutique, at Amavida Coffee.
EP: Tell me a little about your background. Are you from 30A?
MT: Nope, I’m from Brandon, Mississippi and I moved here in 2005 when I was 25. Growing up, we vacationed as a family on 30A because my dad had never been on an airplane (he won’t fly so this is where we came). I always said I wanted to live at the beach someday because you just fall in love with the magic when you’re here on vacation; and it’s like, why can’t you have that all the time? Turns out you can!
EP: So, I think that’s around the time I first started working at Perspicasity, 2006/2007?
MT: Was I managing then?
EP: I think you were managing.
MT: I was not a good manager [laughs].
EP: Well I thought you were! Did you always want to work at Perspicasity, or in fashion in general?
MT: Kind of. I went to school, well a couple of schools, starting at Bellhaven College. And I did that thing where you go to an expensive school not knowing what to do in life, and after a year-and-a-half I finally figured it out. I wanted to be a buyer. I switched gears and pursued a fashion merchandising degree at Southern Miss. I could have saved a lot of money if I had not gone to Bellhaven!
EP: How did you get your start in fashion?
MT: When I got out of college I did my internship at a department store in the lingerie department. It was called McRay’s or something at the time and was later bought by Belk. I was there for about six months before the HR manager brought me in to try assistant managing this store-within-a-store concept.
EP: Okay, sounds… interesting.
MT: Yes, so it was this whole new thing called “Club Libby Lou.”
EP: Wait! Libby Lou! That little girl party and makeup boutique in the mall?
MT: Oh, yes. We did makeovers and parties, helped little girls make their own potions and lotions. Not my dream job, but I did get to travel regionally in the southeast and do some trainings for new stores which was a great experience.
EP: I’m sure you got burned out after a while. So many… kids.
MT: It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, so I started looking for a new job. I had this “ding ding ding” moment. I thought “I’m young, I’m single. This is a good time to try my beach idea.” I had always loved shopping at Perspicasity and had never forgotten about how magical it was. I always thought that one day I’d work at that store. Lo and behold they were hiring.
EP: I know Perspicasity and a lot of these other Seaside Associated Stores (SAS) have been around for a while. Can you tell me about its background?
MT: So, Perspicasity started as a fruit and vegetable stand back in Seaside’s early days. I think around ’83. Daryl, the town owner’s wife, would sell fruits and vegetables but people would always comment on her outfits, asking where she bought her clothes. So, she started going to Walmart and buying stuff for the store.
EP: Stop! Is that even legal?
MT: [laughs] I don’t know! But she did it, and it just grew from there into what it is today.
EP: Obviously, the clothes aren’t from Walmart anymore.
MT: Oh, no! Something that made my job as a buyer a lot easier was that the concept of the store and style of clothing was already in place. It’s evolved a little bit from “beach bohemian” to encompass “classic beach” with bright colors, natural fibers, and loose, but feminine silhouettes. It makes it easy at market to know if something is right for us [Perspicasity]. I try to find things that can easily be worn from beach to dinner, and be incorporated into your wardrobe back at home.
EP: What kind of advice could you give people who want to break into the fashion industry or become a buyer?
MT: I feel like I’ve found a diamond in the rough at my job, so it’s hard to say. A lot of it is determination and the power of the mind. My parents have always instilled that mantra in me. I think these younger generations are a little impatient. They get out of college and immediately want to land their dream job. You’ve got to work your way up, be patient, and lose that sense of entitlement.
EP: Absolutely, and I think that’s a testament to people who are successful. You also have to be okay with failing. Have you had any career setbacks?
MT: I’m glad you asked that. When I first started at the store I was an assistant manager, which is not my skillset or gift. But when I had the opportunity to get in front of the General Manager, I tried to plant that seed of “I want to be the buyer of this store.” I persisted but I got passed over for the job at least twice. I think one of the times was because I wasn’t dressing for the job I wanted. I had just broken up with my boyfriend of nearly six years, and going through that wild phase. My clothes reflected that at work and people noticed. That was a tough pill to swallow, but I didn’t give up and I didn’t have a sour attitude.
EP: Do you have a favorite designer at the store?
MT: I’m a very casual person. I like to feel very casual, effortless, and sexy. Except at work– I’m not trying to be sexy at work [laughs]. I love Hardtail because it’s all made in America and their price point is very reasonable. They develop a lot of innovative fabrics and all their own tie dyes.
EP: That’s great that your personal style also meshes with the concept of the store. But in your role, is it hard not to only buy things that you like for the store?
MT: Well, I found a way that works pretty well in order to avoid that mistake of only buying what you like. It’s good to travel with someone at market and get that second opinion. A lot of times I just buy with other people in mind. For instance, my boss Erika or the 25-year-old associate working for the summer. You wind up getting a lot of different styles for all customers and ages.
EP: Any trend you’re not a fan of?
MT: You know, I’m really not a fan of the high-waisted shorts. For me, I just don’t think they’re cute! I don’t understand why all these girls jump on the trend band wagon without paying attention to how something is going to look on them. I prefer a low-slung boyfriend short.