As owners of a graphic design and website development agency, Matt Harding and Joe McDonald have worked with companies that sell a variety of products. Now, they’ve opened up their own fashion boutique, Curate Co., in Solana Beach.
“We specialize in e-commerce and we wanted to take that expertise and open our own retail store,” said Harding, who lives in Carlsbad.
Located on Cedros Avenue, Curate specializes in hand-selected sunglasses and watches.
“We are curating a product,” Harding said. “We have a lot of stuff that’s not available in San Diego.”
Harding, 38, and McDonald, 43, have been business partners for seven years.
Harding, a graphic designer, and McDonald, a web developer, met when a mutual client hired them as freelancers. They later teamed up to launch Durrani Design in 2007.
“We saw each other’s skills and what we could bring together,” Harding said. “Everything just seems to kind of have an ebb and flow of division. We come together and each bring our strong points to grow a new business.”
Four years ago, the pair opened an online-only store called Skulls & Wings that offered sunglasses, watches and apparel. Harding and McDonald decided to open a physical store to offer brands that could only be sold in stores. They also hope to provide access to up-and-coming brands.
“We’ve seen brands not able to make it because they weren’t given the opportunity or a chance in retail because they didn’t know the right reps or how to get in with the buyers, but the product is still really good,” Harding said. “We want to keep an eye out for those that could use the opportunity and see them succeed.”
Curate opened about five months ago and recently moved to a new location on the corner of the same building. The roughly 550-square-foot space at 337 S. Cedros Ave., Suite A, has multiple windows and offers more product displays.
From well-known brands like Ray-Ban to emerging brands like TAVAT, Curate offers a variety of brands and styles. Harding and McDonald choose all items they carry in their store. Other brands include IVI, 9Five, Sabre, South Lane and Vestal.
“With us, you can actually come in here and walk away with a brand you’ve never heard of and be confident in its mechanics and its function, and that the fashion that we’re providing is all over the place,” said Harding, who noted Curate was the first or one of the first stores in San Diego to carry TAVAT, IVI and Sabre.
“You’re going to come here and find things that are hard to find, which I think is huge. We don’t want you to choose a particular one, we just want you to walk out feeling good.”