The walls of 1314 Frankford Ave. used to be the barren skeleton of an over 30-year-old welding shop — not exactly the most beautiful of spaces.
Today, thanks to Sarah Lewis, the space is barren no more. The walls now surround her boutique, Adorn, where she sells a collection of reclaimed metals and stones handcrafted into beautiful works of wearable art.
Lewis, a Savannah College of Art and Design graduate, also sells her own clothing designs, shoes and other pieces. She opened the shop over a year and a half ago, and has been making Fishtown a little prettier ever since.
Upstairs at Adorn, Lewis rents a stark white event room she simply calls “Space,” for $40 an hour to local companies and individuals. The space is used by yoga classes, artists, community directors, book clubs and support groups. Lewis gives nonprofit groups a discount for the space.
“I’m excited as the neighborhood picks up to focus on the store and business here in Fishtown,” she said in an interview at Adorn Aug. 24.
Lewis came to Philadelphia to work as an in-house jewelry designer for Free People, a locally based clothing company, but after a year with the company she was part of a layoff that took down the in-house design team.
She said it was a blessing in disguise.
“After I left Free People I started designing handbags and apparel, but I have a habit of putting way too much on my plate, so I told myself to focus, and focused on designing jewelry,” she said. “Opening the store has been a great way to connect with my neighborhood and community. I try to collaborate with other businesses and promote them, as well.”
Lewis currently trades discount cards with the Lola Bean coffee shop across the street at 1325 Frankford Ave., and has jewelry displays set up in Parlour Hair & Skin, at 1339 Frankford Ave., and Amrita Yoga, at 1204 Frankford Ave.
While a lot of her business is through web sales and wholesaling — she still sells pieces to Free People and independent shops like Frogtowne in Pottstown, Pa — she said she’s currently focusing on the neighborhood storefront.
“Running a small business, you end up wearing a lot of different hats,” she said. “You end up getting down and dirty and doing things yourself.”
Adorn’s storefront is made of reclaimed wood from an old warehouse in Philadelphia. Lewis also installed a bike rack in front of the shop.
She said she received help from the New Kensington Community Development Corporation, the members of which reached out to her when she moved her boutique into Fishtown after a yearlong stint in Northern Liberties.
“The NKCDC helped me through the process of getting a grant from the Storefront Improvement Program,” she said. “If you fix up a storefront in the city and give them an estimate and your receipts, they’ll pay back half of what you spent.”
The program, along with support from fellow local business owners and members of the NKCDC, was invaluable to Lewis and her work.
Regarding her work, Lewis said she works mostly with precious gems in simple settings when creating her jewelry.
Stacks of geodes, quartz and other crystals are piled high in small display boxes that sit on the central table of her shop.
They share space with long chains, bright chunks of turquoise, skeleton keys and mini pocketknives. She gets most of her goods from a gem show that’s held every February in Arizona.
She said her design philosophy is simple.
“The stones will dictate my design. I keep my settings really simple to showcase the stone. I try not to over design,” she said. “Instead, I let the stones shine, and let the setting be a vessel for which to wear the stone on the body.”
Visit Adorn online at adornbysarahlewis.com.
Reporter Nikki Volpicelli can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.