Hint: it’s not pronounced ‘Mott-iffs’

Motifs, a funky new store, comes to Rockland

Store’s soft opening is Oct. 31 and officially opens Nov. 1
Fri, 10/31/2014 - 12:15pm

ROCKLAND — Within moments it’s easy to see that Paula Jalbert with her rhinestone glasses and black fingernails will be a perfect fit in the emerging downtown Rockland scene. She and her husband are just about to open a duplicate of her Portland-based boutique store, Motifs, on 415 Main Street. Motifs is a funky mixture of clothing, jewelry, housewares, candles, perfumes, and humorous signage. She describes it as a boutique somewhere between an Anthropologie and a classic French flea market with an assortment of merchandise for stylish living.

But don’t get the impression that this is an “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it” type of store.

“One of the things I believe as a retailer is that you have products that appeal to different levels of shoppers,” she said. “You can come into my shop and find a $2.95 item or a $450 Nicole Miller dress and somehow it all blends together. That’s the way I’ve always been.”

She added: “I don’t like the word curate. There’s something really snooty about it.”

Her original Motifs store started about seven years ago, sits on Commercial Street in Portland and is doing well; but, Jalbert and her husband have always loved the character and slower pace of Rockland. 

For years, when she’d come up here, she had her eye on what used to be the location of the Caravans store. So, when the owner of Caravans vacated the building, Jalbert knew it was the right time to open a second store. 

“For me it’s finding products, creating a story with that product and having people experience that in the store,” she said. 

A strong design element is something Jalbert is passionate about.

“When I thought about doing this store, it was about a sense of design, not just what’s in the store, but also how the store was put together,” she said. “I joke that I’m the bar back because all of my staff look nice and I’m in jeans and a T-shirt, schlepping around doing the display work. But, that’s what I love to do.”

 With a degree in art education from the University of Oregon, she’s been in retail for approximately 30 years and clearly has a thing for French words, because her first store in the Old Port was called Communiqué.

“Of course, when I first had that store, people didn’t know how to pronounce it or spell it, calling it  Comm-unique. So, when I put together the store for Motifs, I thought, well this is pretty easy.”

Not so. People coming into the store or vendors she talks to usually pronounce it Mott-iffs.

A sense of humor is big with Paula and she is delighted to experience how friendly people are in the Midcoast, noting that the other Rockland clothing shop owners have been very welcoming. 

“In Portland, things can get edgy sometimes between shop owners,” she said. “Here, I feel respectful about what other stores carry and I feel the same respect back.”

Paula’s store had an informal debut during “Rockland’s Got Style” fashion show Oct. 29. Motifs will do a soft opening on Oct. 31 and officially open Nov. 1 to the public. For more information visit: shopmotifs.com

Kay Stephens can be reached at news@penbaypilot.com