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How a Canadian Family Business Became a Go-To for HGTV Stars and Industry Experts

How a Canadian Family Business Became a Go-To for HGTV Stars and Industry Experts

  • 7/9/2017
  • Gary Butler
Janine Morrison knew she’d found her business name when she previewed a fabric that looked like bubbles on the inside of a glass. It reminded her of gin & tonic, a favourite summer drink. That resonated with the energetic founder and creative director of the design business she christened Tonic Living. “ I believe that no matter what our stage of life or income bracket, we should always surround ourselves with a tonic — a sense of wellbeing.” Tonic Living aims to brighten its customers’ lives with home accessories in lively patterns.

At first, Tonic Living — co-founded with her husband, Jon Beer, in 2004 — only handled fabrics, but Janine knew to keep the name fairly general so they could grow without constraints on the type of merchandise they handled. “As I build relationships with artisans and maker groups, I am so glad to be able to add their beautiful wares to our store and feel that they’re in line with our ‘lifestyle’ name.”

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Janine loves sourcing fabrics that elicit enthusiasm in her sales reps. She also looks for flexible foundational styles that can fit into modern, traditional or mid-century looks. The result: customers can select from a huge variety of prints and home décor items. Janine tempers her passion for colour and texture with her sense of what will fit into a contemporary home. That still leaves a lot of vibrant and exciting choices.

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Social media keeps Janine and her staff busy — she’s an active Instagram user, with thousands of followers, and Tonic Living also posts frequently on Twitter, Pinterest and their blog. But it wasn’t always that way. Janine built the company “behind the scenes,” without a public forum to interact with others in the design world. At the time, she was raising small children, and while she found it “lonely and intense” to work this way, it helped her stay focussed. Once the kids were older, she found social media was a great way to connect to the design community and “meet” fellow enthusiasts in the home décor world. “Instagram was a massive change for me, that coincided with opening our first (brick-and-mortar) store after nine years of online-only.”

A full-time team of a dozen people assists Janine and her husband: designers, cutting and sewing staff, and more. Though they’re not blood relatives, the team feels like a family to Janine and Jon. Now Janine has started the Tonic Living Trade Program, which lets her partner with designers and decorators on their client projects. “It’s really broadened our customer base. It’s a thrill to work with such talented designers and to see our products and work in gorgeous, world-class homes.” Not only is this gratifying, Janine and her team have made some great friendships along the way as well.

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Being part of the Canadian design family is important to Janine. “I can connect with a creative group of passionate people. We all have different styles but we also have a common goal: to feel comfort and inspiration at the same time.” Janine finds her location in Toronto, among a community of designers and enthusiasts, is key, “but it doesn’t stop there — I am influenced by the online community, too. They inject new ideas and feelings into my design sensibilities.” Browse Janine’s inspired designs and inject a little “tonic” into your own life by visiting the Tonic Living.

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