emilie inc. has found a home at 545 Congress Street in the arts district of Portland!
As you all know, I have been looking and looking for a studio space since I moved here three years ago. I nearly signed on a place in the Old Port by the water, but it needed a complete overhaul. Then I nearly signed at an old mill in Westbrook that was move-in ready and the rent was right, but I wasn't crazy about the location. Then I considered buying a loft condo in Portland, but knew being tucked away in an upper level residential building would be a bad move for exposure. At long last, while peeking in the windows of vacant storefronts on Congress Street the other week, I found it!
545 Congress used to be the Patagonia store, for those familiar with Portland. It's in the same building as White Heart (a trendy, urban lounge), the downtown Portland events office, and an organic Greek restaurant scheduled to open later this month. The upstairs consists of several New York style loft condos- a trend that is taking Portland by storm. Across the street is an LL Bean outlet store. And within a block is the Maine College of Art, 555 (a favorite upscale restaurant), a Starbucks (I'll do my best not to OD on pumpkin spice lattes) and many other shops and eateries.
Tracy Davis of Urban Dwellings is helping with the redesign of the space. I stumbled across her website months ago when researching the loft condo trend in Portland and am thrilled to be partnering with her on this project.
The space is nearly 2000sf (plus 800sf of storage in the basement. Wow!). There are soaring ceilings, bamboo floors, an exposed brick wall and low-voltage track lighting. There isn't too much work that needs to be done... aside from painting, cleaning, removing the counter & fitting rooms, and decorating (the fun part!). I hope to partner with a few other like-minded wedding vendors eventually (a bridal boutique of sorts), but will move forward with the renovations on my own at this point.
I hope to be open by mid-November and will surely keep you posted of the progress here. Be sure to check back for updated pictures! But for now, here are the "before" snapshots:
This is the exterior of the building. My space is on the far right. R to L after that is: the Greek restaurant (not open yet, so there is no sign and newspaper still shields the windows), the downtown Portland events office, and White Heart (which has al fresco seating at night. I wonder if the Greek place will too? Love that).
There are neat lamps just outside the storefront, as well as flags w/ Portland's motto: love. life. more. They just installed those beds and planted trees over the weekend.
Inside! Loving that exposed brick wall. And yes, the lime green paint is going immediately! As is the counter and florescent lighting (the track lighting stays).
Looking back toward the door (if you look closely, you'll notice LL Bean across the street in the left image).
This is the second half of the space, which will make a great shooting area, or room to expand with another vendor (or heck, tap dancing classes). The fitting rooms will be removed.
And this is me, alone in the new studio for the first time!
I am ecstatic about this! And, to be honest, I'm also completely terrified. Great rewards require great risk, as my mom likes to remind me often. I'm definitely up for the challenge! Thanks so much for your support during such an exciting time! emilie inc is growing!