By Maggie Trovato
ELLSWORTH — When Melissa Bradford, owner of The Alchemist Salon in downtown Ellsworth, set out to open a clothing and home goods shop, she knew that she wanted it to seem approachable to anybody and everybody who passed by it.
It’s safe to say that Bradford has succeeded in her goal with FIKA Boutique, located at the corner of High Street and Buttermilk Road. Since its opening in mid-June, the shop has welcomed a wide variety of customers.
“There is something for everyone,” Bradford said about her range of carefully curated, quality pieces that are geared to both younger people on a budget and those in search of higher-end items.
FIKA is so approachable, in fact, that people will come in just to ask about the building itself — the exact color of the gray siding, where they got their tall, sleek windows… the list goes on.
An orange-and-white-striped sundress and timeless linen blouse are among the garments displayed in the newly renovated, light-filled and inviting shop. FIKA’s clothing lines range from a selection of jeans to neutral-colored, organic cotton T-shirts to flowing summer skirts to garments that Bradford calls staples that fit the “capsule wardrobe” concept. “Capsule wardrobes” are curated essentials that are interchangeable and complementary. Home décor, skincare, soaps and other Maine- or U.S.-made products are sold too.
Bradford and her team have found this business model to be successful in downtown Ellsworth, where there are some small retail shops, but nothing quite like FIKA. Staff member Karen Waldman has noticed that many shoppers become repeat customers.
“They know our names now,” Waldman said. “They look for us.”
The building itself, purchased from the owners of The Christmas Shop in April of 2021, has been a labor of love for Bradford and her husband, Andrew, a custom woodworker.
“When we met with code enforcement, it was a rainy day,” Bradford said. “There was water coming in through the ceiling.”
Bradford designed the space and Andrew, who has an architectural background, made it happen.
The interior of the store, which is airy and uncluttered, has what Bradford describes as a “Scandinavian feel.” Its name, a Swedish word, follows suit.
FIKA means “to slow down and take a moment to enjoy the good things in life.”
“Which I need a dose of myself, because I’m just too busy all the time,” Bradford said, laughing.
A stylist for 15 years and salon owner for 11, Bradford wanted to create a store with ethically and sustainably sourced quality products. Many of FIKA’s products are from Maine artisans and jewelers.
“When I get home from the salon after doing hair all day,” she said, “I start working on [sourcing products]: doing my research and reaching out to companies.”