Fishtown entrepreneur thanks her community

Sarah Lewis says community backing means "you don't have to be a Stephen Starr to open a business here."
Sarah Lewis says community backing means "you don't have to be a Stephen Starr to open a business here." (SHUMITA BASU / Staff)
Posted: May 07, 2013

For jewelry artisan Sarah Lewis, this month is a time for celebration.

Celebration, yes. Easy breathing, no.

She opened her boutique in Fishtown, Philadelphia's latest neighborhood-on-a-comeback, on May 6, 2011. Experts say five years in business is needed before survival can be declared for small start-ups.

Lewis's smile gave way to a slightly pained expression when she was asked last week about her total investment to bring Adorn Boutique to life at 1314 Frankford Ave. There's a mortgage, and the cost of transforming the former welding shop into an inviting retail outpost. She would not disclose the value of either.

The 29-year-old transplant from around Albany, who also sells her jewelry at www.adornbysarahlewis.com, said she prefers to focus on Fishtown's progress.

"Adorn shows that a young entrepreneur willing to invest a lot of heart, dedication, hard work, and a great deal of time can foster success in this neighborhood," she said.

Yet bills are bills, thus making the way she has chosen to help celebrate her anniversary that much more of a generous gesture. She is raising money for an organization she credits with so much of Fishtown's transformation, the nonprofit New Kensington Community Development Corp.

The nonprofit provided matching grants to help Lewis with her renovations. As thanks, Lewis has designed a 5-inch-by-2-inch decal consisting of a single word - Fishtown - that she intends to give every Adorn customer who spends more than $100. She'll offer them for purchase at $5 each.

For every decal sold or given away, Lewis said, she will donate $3 to the development corporation.

"I'd really like to reinforce that with such great support from the community, and organizations like the NKCDC, you don't have to be a Stephen Starr to open a business here," Lewis said, referring to the city's prolific restaurateur, who has two new eateries just down the block.

The development corporation is grateful for Lewis' decal initiative, economic-development assistant Laura Semmelroth said.

"We are thrilled that our work of the past 20+ years has paid off for entrepreneurs and residents alike," she wrote in an e-mail.


Contact Diane Mastrull at 215-854-2466, dmastrull@phillynews.com, or follow @mastrud on Twitter.

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