Rachel Ambrose and Jennifer Bravo of Home Remedies on Locally Sourced Fabrics
Forced to drive to Boston for high-quality fabrics, Rachel Ambrose decided to open Home Remedies, a home decor shop in Portland, in 2010. “We created a one-stop shop for home furnishings,” says Ambrose. “It’s still based in the dream I had of opening a fabric store, and fabric is still the driver of so much of what we buy and sell.” Ambrose and marketing liaison Jennifer Bravo stopped by the Maine Home+Design offices to chat with MH+D Inside Out about the one thing you should always do to make your home feel finished and more.
Q. How did you get into this?
Rachel: I’ve been in retail for a long time. My parents used to have a furniture company that made tables and chairs in Lisbon. I had started a store in San Francisco that was selling my parents’ furniture, along with some furniture by Maine Cottage, and I would visit Maine on shopping trips. When I moved back to Maine, I saw a hole in the market for home decor fabrics. I always had this dream of opening a fabrics store. Even though the economy had collapsed, I just decided I was going to do it.
Q. What attracts you to textiles?
Rachel: There’s endless possibilities for what you can do with fabric, and I also love color and pattern. It’s wonderful how a yard of fabric can be just about anything. It could be your tank top, socks, or drapes. Fabric speaks to me with all the things that it can become.
Q. Maine has a history of textile production. How has that changed in recent years?
Rachel: Maine used to be known for textiles. And that’s not happening very much anymore here, but we still make fabric the same way. It’s on looms with different weaves and the same fibers. Digital printing is a change. Otherwise, it’s pretty much made the same way it was decades prior.
Jennifer: And it’s still an art.
Q. What type of environment do you try to create at the store?
Jennifer: Our goal is to be very approachable. We like to show everything that we do, and we want our customers to feel like they truly had a hand in designing their home. In our on-site workroom, clients can see our process of upholstering furniture. They can hear the nail gun, they can see the upholsterers working with their hands, and they can touch and feel fabrics. But we can also show them to the front of the store, and they can just shop for something that’s right there and ready to go. Whatever happens, they know that it’s a local place. We do the best we can to find things that fit into our mix of inventory that is supporting local folks.
Q. What’s the top investment you can make in your home?
Rachel: Dress the windows. You can have a Roman shade, drapes, a roller shade, or a honeycomb shade. It’s so practical to be able to control light and privacy, and bring pattern and color into a room.