New businesses continue South Portland’s ‘downtown’ revival

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Knightville will welcome three new businesses within several weeks and a few hundred feet of each other.

Earth Angel Arts gift shop opened Valentine’s Day, and Beachdashery Jewelry will open its doors March 24. On April 15, Maine Bodyworks will open. All are on Ocean Street between C and D streets.

They join another recent arrival, Ocean & D studio and shop, which opened last November on the southwest corner of Ocean and D streets.

The owners of all four businesses said Knightville, historically the city’s downtown business district, is an up-and-coming neighborhood and they want to be part of the community revival.

Organic jewelry

Beachdashery Jewelry at 79 Ocean St. is owned by Kate Clark and is scheduled to open Friday.

Clark has had private studio space on Ocean Street for about four months,and previously worked out of her South Portland apartment. She has been making jewelry for more than 12 years and has been selling online since 2007.

Clark makes nautical-influenced jewelry, and said her bestsellers are made with beach sand. Her pieces include earrings, necklaces, bracelets and charms.

She will be expanding with a men’s line of cuff links and keychains.

Clark uses surgical steel to make her jewelry.

“I love working with (surgical steel),” she said. “It doesn’t tarnish, it’s hypoallergenic, so it is perfect with those with metal allergies.”

Clark also creates some sea-glass jewelry. Other jewelry features nautical charms, such as anchors and mermaids.

Making jewelry started out as a hobby while Clark had a full-time job as an accountant. She sold at craft shows and fairs on weekends, and eventually the demand grew so much her hobby turned into a full-time business.

“I have fun every day,” Clark said. “It is great to wake up in the mornings and work for yourself. Jewelry is fun. I don’t take it too seriously.”

Clark also has a jewelry line at Beall’s department stores in Florida, which carry her line under the private label  Beach Chic, but all the jewelry is hand made by Clark. Prior to the opening she employed five temporary employees to get ready for the launch of the department store line.

“I love (Knightville),” Clark said. “It’s a great group of people I am surrounded with. It’s a great up-and-coming neighborhood, and I think it is slowly becoming an extension of Portland.”

Mixed media

Earth Angel Arts, owned by Julie Bernier, opened at 81 Ocean St. Feb. 14. It is a gift store and an art studio, and a place where art classes are hosted.

Owning a business and being self-employed is not new to Bernier, who previously ran a puppy nursery school in South Portland for more than 10 years.

Bernier said she did about 30 art and craft shows a year, and people began to know her for her art, which prompted her to decide to open a retail location.

Bernier is primarily a mixed media collage painter, and uses a variety of material: old books, dictionary pages, tissues, art markers, acrylic paints, inks, stamps and found objects to make textured pieces.

Many of her pieces feature earth angels or a faceless woman. She said she wants her work to be universal, so when she paints a faceless woman it represents all women.

“Most of these paintings are a reflection of my own life,” she said.

Bernier said many of the prints are purchased by people who are experiencing the same thing. She and her husband are downsizing their household – they are alos moving to Knightville – so she created a painting that says, “Own less and live more. What would you need to let go of, in order to be free.”

Other people who are downsizing have purchased the painting to help them let go, she said.

Bernier sells her own work in various forms: original art, prints, calendars, inspirational decks of cards and a line of greeting cards. She also sells what she called a “carefully curated collection of gifts in the theme of empowering and supporting woman as they walk through life.”

All the gifts fit into two categories – they are either supporting or empowering, or they have a color palette that is joyful and happy; many are both.

“All the gifts in their store help to connect people and make themselves feel loved and understood and held,” Bernier said.

Bernier said she “loves” the Knightville neighborhood.

“You can see the ocean from everywhere down here,” she said. “It is the best-kept secret. It is a true neighborhood.”

Massage therapy

Maine Bodyworks is owned by husband-and-wife team Guy and Tatiana McChesney, who are both licensed massage therapists.

They have a location at 3 Gold St. in Portland’s Old Port, and plan to expand to 72 Ocean St. on April 15.

The 1,000-square-foot office will have two large treatment rooms and one multi-use room, to provide several types of massage: Thai, myofascial, deep tissue, ashiatsu, pregnancy and couples.

The multipurpose room will allow small-group and individual yoga classes, and strength and balance classes.

Guy McChesney said he wants to give people the tools to take care of themselves through strength and stretching.

The Old Port location has become really busy, he said, and the new location will provide easier access for clients who live in South Portland.

The Ocean Street business will be staffed by current employees and new hires from the area.

“The neighborhood is cool and blooming,” McChesney said. We live in South Portland and we’re becoming in love with the neighborhood. It feels like our neighborhood.”

Textile arts

Ocean & D is owned by designer Emma Lockwood, who said her business is part gift shop, part studio, and part gallery. She also displays artwork by local artists.

Among the items Lockwood designs, makes and sells are printed textiles, tea towels, quilts, sachets and pot holders. Pillows and throws designed by Lockwood will also be sold in the future.

Lockwood also sells other gifts, including housewares like handmade wooden spoons, ceramics, stationery, baby gifts, and handmade soaps and candles. 

Lockwood, who moved to South Portland two years ago, said her corner storefront at 87 Ocean St. is ideal.

“People are happy not to have to go over the bridge when they need a special gift,” she said.

Lockwood has been making quilts and tea towels on and off since she had her first child six years ago.

“I love that Cia (cafe) is here. I love the corner space. I love that there are other artists and makers that are coming into the area,” she said. “The more the merrier. It feels like a good time to be here.”

 Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or msochan@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.

Julie Bernier, artist and owner of Earth Angel Arts at 81 Ocean St. in Knightville.

Kate Clark, owner of Beachdashery Jewelry at 79 Ocean St., makes jewelry in her shop.

Kate Clark, owner of Beachdashery Jewelry at 79 Ocean St., makes jewelry in her shop.

Maine Bodyworks, at 72 Ocean St. in Knightville, is owned by husband and wife team Guy and Tatiana McChesney. The couple is getting ready to open their second location. Behind them is a wall of reclaimed wood.

Ocean & D opened last November at the corner of Ocean and D streets in South Portland.

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