Talented artist/designer Lisette Milham Normann left her hometown just long enough to realize she’d always make it back. To the bay that stirred her heart and the town she wanted her children to know as their own.
Lisette grew up with a passion for all things creative from her artist/writer mother, and a love of the water from other generations of Milhams. The shapes and colors of sun and bay heavily influenced her whimsical artwork and its blend of abstract and realism. Self-taught then trained at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art , Lisette’s oils, acrylics and mixed media earned awards and commissions during her successful gallery days in NoLa. But by 2008 – with a young Lucy and John- the artist was ready for a fresh canvas as single mom and entrepreneur. Over a summer weekend at a cottage on the bay…. Lisette filled a sketchpad with a design that would change her life.
That first mark of pier and cottages dubbed “Utopia by the Bay” celebrated the dreamers that founded this town at the turn of the last century…. and the idyllic and very Fairhope life Lisette lived growing up.
She manned a candy and ice cream stand at the foot of the Fairhope pier, where her grandfather opened the iconic Yardarm restaurant in the 1960s. His sailing school would celebrate a family devotion that often found Lisette’s grandmother, mother, aunts and other Milhams taking off on an afternoon breeze.
A true bay rat (as locals call themselves with pride), she jumped piers and biked the streets we call the “fruit and nut” section with names like Kumquat and Pecan to her downtown home which happened to be The Fairhope Hotel.
Boating, catching jubilees and knowing your neighbors like family were the stuff of childhood and the inspiration for her designs today. The changing hues in her collection – always three at a time – are equal parts color theory and shifting shades of the bay.
The Fairhope store opened in 2011, and soon grew into its expanded flagship now home to a line of designs embracing all walks of bay life.
Celebrating our fifth anniversary, we’ve added bike rentals and a wide assortment of gear to enjoy life from wharf to water and everywhere in between- whatever the season.