Maybe it’s the holiday display in the window (including the wonderful snowman apron and old sewing machine). Maybe it’s the riot of color from row after row of practical, fanciful bags. Maybe it’s the giant paintings. Or maybe it’s the fact that all this is a reflection of the bubbly personality of Kim herself. Whatever it is, JustKim is a shop that draws the eye and draws you in.
The bags are the marquee product here, as they should be. They are sturdy, whimsical, and perfect for everything. Messenger bags, wine bags, tote bags, shoulder bags, even yoga bags and Christmas stockings (think of them as “loot bags”) …. Kim Pauley makes each one by hand and each is a unique work of art. Many styles are fully reversible, which essentially gives you two bags, two looks, for the price of one.
The bags, though, are not the only art in the store. On the walls are large scale paintings by artist Brian Brogan that use a deceivingly simply palate and technique to communicate complex themes. The shop also features a wide assortment of jewelry handcrafted by a curated slate of local artisans, along with soaps and candles, a few hats and scarves and holiday items, all of which are clearly items that the mistress of the shop loves and feels passionate about sharing.
My favorite part of the shop, though, is at the very back. The back of the shop is the artist’s workshop, where shelf upon shelf of color-sorted fabrics sit behind an industrial sewing machine. Kim’s shop is more than a gift shop, more than even just a specialty bag shop. Instead, in common with many of the best and most interesting handmade-economy based businesses in the city, it is a living space where art is imagined, created, and then pushed out of the nest and into the world to be enjoyed.
justkim is located at 615A Congress Street in Portland, one of the businesses in the State Theatre building. You can Like them on Facebook, visit her web page, or read a little more on the Portland Downtown District website. You should also check out this article about Kim and her bags from the Newburyport News.
Distance from the Maine State Pier: nine-tenths of a mile, about a 15-20 minute walk.
Still can’t find them? Here’s a map!