The World Is Your Oyster, Shuck It!
THE JOHNSON LEGACY
Our story started in the late 1800’s when the Johnson family arrived from Scandinavia to the Pacific Northwest.
Originally they set their sights on the fishing town, Port Ludlow, in hopes of breaking into the budding seafood industry. Their plans changed when two of the Johnson brothers discovered a tiny bay tucked along the west side of Marrowstone Island. Already inhabited by a few settlers, they found Mystery Bay to be an idyllic place to continue their new lives. The property they found was peaceful and the tidelands fruitful, so they resettled their roots.
NORDLAND TRADING COMPANY
Karl Johnson went into business digging clams and rowing them across the bay to Port Townsend.
A few years later, Karl opened the Nordland Trading Company which served as a general store to the families and farmers living on the Island.
In 1922, ownership of the business passed to his son Harry Johnson, who with his wife Lola and their four kids, worked long days and weeks to create an existence on the island. The Trading Co. was named because of the barter system established by Harry during its early years. Local farmers and the few Native Americans who still lived on Indian Spit exchanged their eggs and milk for feed and grain at Harry’s store. In order to supply the store with the needed provisions, Harry made the journey, by boat, to the Seattle waterfront twice a week. He would leave Nordland (the town on Marrowstone Island) with fresh clams to keep the boat weighed down, and in turn, he would bring back the necessary groceries, farm supplies, and of course, plenty of lutefisk!
CLAMS & OYSTER BUSINESS
Years passed, and WWII came and went. Harry's son Carl Johnson came home from the war wanting to start a career but had not yet landed on the where and what.
Passing over the opportunity to run the family business, Harry gave his son Carl the seafood portion of the venture, and the company - Carl H. Johnson Clams and Oysters - was born.
With his new bride Eileen, they began interstate marketing of fresh live clams to the coastal states of California, Oregon, Hawaii, Alaska, and their home state of Washington. During this time, the introduction of Pacific oysters from various Asian countries was being experimented with by many enterprising tideland owners on the Westcoast. Carl and Eileen joined the group, and pacific oyster was introduced into Mystery Bay and Kilisut harbor.
MARROWSTONE ISLAND SHELLFISH
My grandfather Carl operated the successful shellfish operation for almost 70 years.
He set up many of the high-end accounts managed to this day by his son and my uncle, Jake Johnson. Once the hands were changed, the company became Marrowstone Island Shellfish and they remain a significant source of quality shellfish for seafood restaurants and International markets in the Pacific Northwest. Their deliveries consist of fresh clams, oysters, and Dungeness Crab. The family company continues to reside in the same picturesque location along the banks of Mystery Bay on Marrowstone Island, just past the Nordland General Store.
Today, I am a 4th generation member of the Johnson family working in the seafood industry.
As a child, my life has always revolved around the sea and the plentiful bounty it brings us. Many early morning sunrises were spent picking oysters with my dad and brother along our family tidelands OR driving to Seattle for our weekly wholesale deliveries.
In 2006, my father - Leonard Johnson - started a seafood catering company, Mystery Bay Coastal Cuisine, with the vision to share our love of cooking seafood for people from all walks of life.
As this business ramped up, we started spending our summers and weekends driving to festivals and farmers markets throughout the Olympic Peninsula - selling our freshly harvested oysters and clams and serving our gourmet seafood chowder. We eventually joined the Seattle farmers market scene and today we are partners with 11 markets, including the historic Pike Place Market.
AS TIMES CHANGE, SO DO WE...
After several years refining my skills in the marketing, event planning and the catering industries, I eventually found my way back to my original passion - serving authentic seafood dishes to the public - alongside my family.
I knew it was time to combine my passions and my entrepreneurial spirit to build my own seafood brand. I started Island Girl Seafood in 2019 with the intention to share my seafood connections with others, whether it be on site, retail or wholesale, and to do my best to support the businesses of commercial fisherman and shellfish farmers alike.
We bring the seafood extravaganza to you with our unique recipes, event management experience, energetic team and of course, the best quality seafood.
We are your resource for sustainably sourced wild caught seafood - and we know how to cook it for you.