If you time it right, Stinson and Muir beaches are a quick dash over the hill.
But with the exception of the multi-faceted Proof Lab and a few others over the years, our deep connections to the beach haven’t always been represented within Mill Valley’s commercial areas.
That seems to be changing. First there was The Local, the beach-centric offshoot from Ronnie Unger and Evan Woolf, owners of The Store on Throckmorton Ave., who took over the former home of the EO Exchange retail shop in 2021 to serve both locals and visitors readying a beach jaunt.
Now comes Surf + Sand, Mill Valley resident Lauren Friis’ homage to beach culture, sustainable products and an of-the-moment service component: she opens up her gorgeous space at 55 Throckmorton Ave. twice a week to offer 30-minute, community meditation classes on Tuesday and Thursday at 9:15am.
Friis is hosting a Grand Opening this weekend, Feb. 19-20, with massages by HELLO Massage, refreshments, a chance to meet some Surf + Sand’s brands, get an oracle card reading and more. Five percent of every purchase will go to the NGO A Walk on Water, which seeks to empower children with a feeling of pride and accomplishment through the emotional and transforming experience of surfing.
Born and raised in northern San Diego, Friis studied international advertising and communications in college and also at the Parsons School of Design, primed for work in the fashion industry – “I pictured myself as an editor at a big fashion magazine,” she says.
She later moved to the Bay Area, diving deeply into the tech industry, including several years at music startups. That era, with the revolutionary Napster, LimeWire and a revolving door of peer-to-peer music platforms that eventually saw their demise via lawsuits from the music industry, was as turbulent as any moment in the music industry’s history.
Friis worked for imeem, which eventually acquired SnoCap, the company created by Napster creator Sean Fanning, and was later bought by MySpace Music in a firesale. Friis has also worked in the nonprofit education sector, and in these recent, turbulent pandemic years, she found herself drawn to a new, sustainability-focused venture.
“I thrive around people,” she says. “I wanted to create something that gives back to the community, focuses on and curates sustainable products that are ethically made and have an ethos of a better tomorrow.”
“We live in this gorgeous environment surrounded by all these touchpoints of water and such an active lifestyle,” she adds. “I wanted to bring that coastal culture together for people like myself, being so close to the Pacific Ocean.”
In doing so, Friis wanted to create some distance from the surf shops of her hometown of San Diego. “Those shops are a dime a dozen to me, very much catering to a specific demographic of Billabong and flip flops.”
Surf + Sand’s products are steeped in “slow fashion,” which “considers the processes and resources required to make clothing, advocating for buying better-quality garments that will last longer, and values fair treatment of people, animals, and the planet along the way.”
Friis moved to Mill Valley four years ago with her husband and her now-third grade son. “I’m thrilled to be able to create something that gives back and is built on the idea of supporting community,” she says.