Meet August’s featured business: swallowfield
You may know Jennifer Judd-McGee’s work without knowing her. Her iconic patterns have appeared on products in Ikea, Land of Nod, and large and small retailers and galleries internationally.
While selling her art to others for almost ten years, Jennifer dreamed of having a retail location. When a historic building that she’s always loved on Main Street in Northeast Harbor came up for sale a couple years ago, it seemed like fate.
“I have an interest in small-press stationery, and supporting small, independent business. It’s really fun to put all that stuff together.”
Through her previous work, Jennifer knew some companies she wanted to work with. “It’s fun to do it on my own terms, and figuring out how it fits together. I actually find it easier to sell other people’s items than my own.”
Unfailingly modest and a self-described introvert, Jennifer’s passion for helping small businesses is clear to anyone who meets her. “I genuinely love everything in here. I love telling the story of who made it, and what they were thinking about when they made it, and anything I know about its connection to Maine, or Northeast Harbor.”
Besides having goods like trays, greeting cards, and puzzles with Jennifer’s custom designs, Swallowfield also has wearables like wraps, sweatshirts, and Salt Water sandals, which are among her favorite items. As she quipped, “What other shoes can you wear to a wedding and the beach?”
She also has contemporary jewelry under $100 (most less than $50) like laser cut wood earrings and bright beaded necklaces.
Having recently gotten a Goldendoodle (and listening to customers), Jennifer began carrying some pet items this year including leashes, bowls, and a New Hampshire made natural tick spray that works for dogs and humans.
And if you’re looking for a gift, Swallowfield has something for everyone at every price point, from wood puzzles that summer residents trade with each other to temporary tattoos meant for kids but that are definitely cool enough for adults, too.
Because of the selection and the beautiful gift wrapping she does, Jennifer often gets visitors on their way somewhere. “I get a lot of drive-bys on the way to a party, which I like. I want anybody to come in and feel like they could find something that they could afford comfortably.”
Want something beyond a one time gift experience? Swallowfield also offers gift and wedding registries, local delivery, phone orders, and shipping. An online store is in progress and in the meantime, Jennifer tries to make things as easy as she can. Many of Swallowfield’s artists are small, so they can also do special orders that are often available in two weeks or less.
Being in Swallowfield is a cross between an artist’s studio and Anthropologie. “I love being around beautiful things all day.” Jennifer says looking around, adding that owning Swallowfield has curbed her need to buy things since she gets to be there most days.
You may also know Jennifer from her work on the board of The Neighborhood House, Island Readers & Writers, or the Mount Desert elementary school PTO. She has been generous with her time, talents and energy on a wide range of community events and gatherings for many years.
In terms of future plans, Jennifer will expand what is available online and wants to be open more in the winter. Currently she is open one day a week in the winter and has her phone number on the front door. Living a couple miles away, she can easily go in when someone wants something. “I’ve also thought of maybe a second location somewhere, but I like Northeast Harbor a lot. This feels like my vibe.”