Mackenzie Morris and Marion Dillon Morris
646 Congress St., Portland 370-7278
Founded: Fall 2013; shop opened March 7, 2014
One night, Mackenzie Morris was griping about bra shopping with a friend – and the idea to create an intimate apparel shop for women, by women, arose. Three years later, it became a reality when E?tai?n Boutique opened its doors, run by Mackenzie Morris and her mother, Marion Dillon Morris.
The shop, which features a variety of lingerie styles from brands big and small, was founded on the principle that finding the perfectly fitting bra can help a woman feel more confident and comfortable in her body – and she should be able to have that experience in a comfortable, embracing setting that’s not hyper-sexualized.
As Mackenzie explained, “I love the idea of having a space that belongs to women. So many establishments in our society are dominated by men, and this is a chance to turn that around.”
Q What initially gave you the confidence to go out on your own?
A Marion: Most of my working life I have been self-employed (as an art consultant), so the idea of embarking on this venture was not as intimidating as it might have been. And Mackenzie had an entrepreneurial urge from an early age, starting a babysitting agency in fourth grade.
A Mackenzie: I have an incredible network of friends and family without whom I never could have done this – my parents most of all. I have always had a lot of faith in this project, but it was the people around me who pushed me to take the leap.
Q Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give an aspiring female entrepreneur?
A Marion: Do your homework but understand that you will not know everything there is to know before you take the leap. And you should take it anyway. The thing about being an entrepreneur that is not always apparent is that you will be doing whatever it is that your business is about, and you will also be doing all the business and marketing to make that happen. It’s really like having two jobs.
A Mackenzie: Don’t let anyone intimidate you.
Q What keeps you motivated?
A Marion: Our customers and our suppliers. For many women, bra shopping can be a dreaded event – I would have counted myself in this group until just a few years ago. We want women to feel comfortable in our shop. I am delighted each time I hear a woman say that her life has been changed by finding a bra that actually fits. As for suppliers, it is wonderful to have brands that women have come to depend on, and to also carry smaller brands that bring new ideas on fit and style. Both large and small suppliers are constantly tinkering with fit and style to better serve women of all sizes.
A Mackenzie: I’ve spent a lot of time around other entrepreneurs – specifically my Uncle David, a barista and coffee roaster. He’s never been afraid to pursue his passion, and he never does anything halfway. The local business owners in Portland are also a huge inspiration. They’re making the city what it is. All of these individuals inspired me to make my own contribution. It never seemed easy, but it always seemed totally worth it.
Q Who inspires you?
A Marion: Honestly, my daughter and my mother. My daughter for the passion, fun and intelligence she brings to this effort, and all that she does. My mother who, at 80 years old, is the busiest person I know, still travels by subway and manages to make whoever she is talking to feel like they are the only person in the room.
A Mackenzie: The women who visit the shop. It’s always such a joy to have someone come in for a fitting when I’m in the midst of answering emails and ordering. I put everything aside, find her a bra she loves so much she can’t bear to put the old one back on, and everything comes into focus. It’s not fair that women are taught to expect perpetual disappointment from their most personal garments, and to change that for someone is an amazing feeling.
Q What is your life philosophy, if you can sum it up in a sentence or two?
A Marion: Still working on it!