In the heart of hip and historic Woodlawn, Club Duquette offers a curated collection of goods that radiate good vibes, whether it’s through a sense of levity, health, art, high quality, chic fashion or plain ol’ love. And that open-hearted sense of goodwill — with a dash of rock-and-roll edge — extends beyond the Club Duquette buying philosophy and into their parties, fun blog posts and the way they greet everyone who walks through the doors.
“At the core of Club Duquette is the belief that each of us has an innate need to be seen, truly connected with and loved a little — or a lot! And that’s what Club Duquette is. Yes, it’s a retail experience — and we really care about the experience of it! — but it’s a place for community and connection,” says Morgan Johnston, who runs the show with her husband and the shop’s namesake, Duquette Johnston.
He adds, “We want everyone to leave here feeling incredible whether they buy something or not. Because even the smallest of interactions can help transform a person’s day. That’s powerful stuff!”
The Origin Story
The husband and wife duo are each artists in their own right. She is a painter, and he is a musician who’s been touring and releasing records since the early ’90s. They met 18 years ago and worked together for a long time doing production and consulting, making commercials and editorial pieces, and doing improvisational digital strategy and brand building for boutique companies — all the while nurturing a dream of what their own boutique would be. They soon married and continued their artistic pursuits, launching a lifestyle brand, Rugged and Fancy. “So many people kept coming to us and asking where to find the best pair of denim, the best Oxford cloth, our favorite natural skincare or amazing accessories, and we were having to send them to Atlanta, Nashville or online,” says Morgan. They did a series of pop-up shops that went really well. Around the same time, they found out they were having a baby.
“Life got a little intense,” says Duquette. “Morgan ended up with a life-threatening infection after having our son, and we basically stopped everything for 18 months to get her well. Suddenly, it was a miraculous recovery and we were like, ‘Wow. We get a second chance at life. What do we want to do?’ It was time to make that dream of ours a reality.” Wasting no time, they opened Club Duquette just nine months later.
The Club Duquette Shop & Culture
The shop is undeniably cool. It has been featured by The New York Times, Vogue, Nylon and was recently nominated for “The South’s Best Boutique” by Southern Living, alongside heavy hitters like Alabama Chanin, Draper James and Sid Mashburn. Club Duquette features their own graphic tees, organic cotton discharge-printed bandanas, jewelry, leather bags, candles, favorite clean skincare and chemical-free fragrances, hemp clothing and bedding, Turkish woven dresses and linens, art books, matcha whisks, adaptogens, incense and more. They proudly support talented Birmingham-based artisans like skilled leather maker Alan Slattery, who makes their Generations bags, and Woodlawn neighbor Great Bear Wax Co., who privately pours Club Duquette’s line of candles. They are also the exclusive retailer of Levi’s Premium brands in Alabama.
“It’s a little-known fact, but we are a 100 percent female-owned company. Morgan is the big boss — the creative director, content creator and strategist. And she wears so many more hats,” says Duquette, who handles front of house, vendor relations, client relations and brand building. “We share buying duties and big-picture projects. We support each other as much as we can in those roles while still being able to go home at the end of the day, and be a married couple and parents to our 5-year-old son, Tennessee.”
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Every other month, Club Duquette throws a “big, old-fashioned GETDOWN” in the shop, sponsored by Levi’s Premium, Cathead Vodka and Ghost Train Brewing Co. “We host musicians, DJs, artists and food trucks, and a few hundred people come out and just have fun,” says Duquette. And true to form, everyone is welcome. “The parties are all about building community and getting a bunch of people in one space that might not normally be in one space together. These events are also opportunities to raise funds and awareness for some of the incredible arts and music initiatives in the area.”
There’s an easy — and fun — way to keep up with their upcoming parties and other goings-on: their newsletters and blog. “The Friday Five” goes out to subscribers every Friday — it’s five things you need to read, see, watch, listen to or know about, and it always includes a playlist. And Cool People Doing Cool Things is a new self-explanatory series introducing you to some pretty awesome people such as their youngest customer, 9-year-old Riley, the creative director of Gunner & Lux in Atlanta.
“We try to just make cool stuff, tell interesting stories, make you laugh a little and smile a lot,” says Morgan.
Balancing the Biz, the Arts & Family
Despite their laid-back vibe, the Johnstons work extremely hard to successfully juggle the shop, their own artistic pursuits and family time. Like most normal people, they feel the pressures of the work-life balance.
“It would be naive to say it’s easy, because running your own thing requires so much work,” says Morgan. “There aren’t clear boundaries and you can’t ever really turn off your business mind. I’d say 90 percent of the time we are like, ‘Wow. I can’t believe we get to do this! I love my life! This is working! All the parts exist together so well!’ And then there’s 10 percent of ‘What am I doing? Is this working? Why did I have to be an artistic entrepreneur?!’ And then we take a breath, maybe do a little Headspace meditation or play Candyland with the kid, and remind ourselves that we are doing the thing. We get to design our lives. And it is fantastic.”
Morgan gets up as early as 4 a.m. to paint uninterrupted in her studio; Duquette carves out time for songwriting each night after family-time snuggles, reading or movies. Duquette will soon announce the release of a few records with a label, as well as touring and some cool ways it all ties into Club Duquette. And Morgan has been painting and booking commissions like the boss she is. They really are living their dream.
“We love that we get to be artists and a family, and share it all with all these incredible people — whether in our brick and mortar or online,” says Morgan. Duquette agrees, adding, “We are hippies at the heart, and these are crazy times. If our shop gets to be a little good vibe center in the universe, that’s incredible.”
Club Duquette is located at 17 55th Pl S, Birmingham, AL 35212. Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; closed on Mondays. Follow Morgan, Duquette or Club Duquette. And to learn more, call (205) 202-4647 or visit clubduquette.co.
All photography provided by Club Duquette.
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