On a sunny fall afternoon, I stop into Restored by Design at 34 Governor Street to find Martha Jackson hunched over a work bench toward the back of the store surrounded by fabric, buttons and glass beads. Upon hearing me enter, she straightens and greets me cheerfully, commenting on the unusually warm weather. As I answer her, I let my eyes take in the whole of the space, its textures, muted colors and shine. The shop is unique and welcoming, much like its creative owner.
Martha, a talented jewelry and accessories designer, worked in the mass-market jewelry world for many years, where she developed an affinity for second hand items. She then began turning other people's trash into treasure – hence the name of her brand. After working out of a “wonderful” studio in Central Falls, she recently made the move to open her brick and mortar store on Governor. “I really loved my old studio,” she says, “but many people just weren't comfortable going there to see me. I hope to reach a bigger audience by being here on the East Side.”
The shop is decked with goodies (many of which she hand crafts). It's bursting from floor to ceiling with bejeweled accessories, vintage clothing and unique home goods, such as intricate flowers that hang by chains around little glass bottles. Placed a top a credenza in front of a window, the adorned vases are sure to radiate life into the room by reflecting the natural sunlight. “My husband and I collect lots of glass bottles,” she says. “These flowers are a great way to dress them up and make them feel special.”
Glass flowers in various colors are a constant in the shop. They're at their most magnificent in a larger-than-life statement necklace that's displayed to the left of the entrance door. It is truly a one-of-a-kind with its many crisp flowers combining to form a giant breastplate of magnificence, sure to make any wearer the center of attention during a night out on the town. I can imagine this fantastical accessory working wonderfully as a bridal accessory paired with a simple silk gown.
I notice several interesting dresses hanging on a rack against the back wall and I ask about their history. “I love to shop for vintage items,” she says, lifting a sturdy shirtdress for me to see. “This piece, for example, is timeless. It never goes out of style. It could be tailored to fit someone's needs – you could shorten the sleeves or take in the waist.” She also does custom work by appointment so feel free to inquire about anything you like but aren't 100% sure about. With a few quick tweaks from Martha's deft fingers, it could soon become the object of your dreams.
Speaking of which, I couldn't help but fall in love with a delicate branch hung from the ceiling by a chain. Dangling from its thin frame were rows of beautiful teardrop-shaped crystals. My hands flew to my mouth. “This would be absolutely perfect for a nursery, right above a crib!” I exclaimed, excitedly, before admitting that I'm not exactly pregnant quite yet. “No worries,” Martha cooed soothingly. “As soon as you're ready just let me know and I'll make you one to your specifications.” With that, I left the store happily, knowing full well I'd soon be back.