New shop brings texture to old Bradenton downtown district

Special to the HeraldAugust 8, 2013 

BRADENTON -- Veronique Lindell loves finding a new purpose for old things.

The fashion designer, who draws inspiration from her French background and love of textiles, has opened OceanRock Design in the aspiring antique district on East Manatee Avenue.

The store, which features the designs and handcrafting of Lindell and her seamstress mother Marie Salibene, will hold a grand opening Aug. 16 from noon to 7 p.m. Local shops like Braden River Antiques, Retro Rosie's and Cobwebs Unique Finds also will participate by offering giveaways and specials.

OceanRock Design, housed in a 1912 historic building just off Manatee Avenue, features custom-designed bags, totes and pillows made from leather, canvas and burlap. When mixed with the occasional antique bowl, table and mirror, the shop has an eclectic feel.

"Everything I use is repurposed," Lindell said. "It's a way of reusing older fabrics and giving them new life."

Like the World War II duffle bag remade into a beach bag with a water-resistant rubber bottom and the old leather U.S. Mail pouch transformed into a modern tote.

Lindell grew up watching her mother and grandmother, both from France, making clothes for family and clients. She grew up in Germany and spent her summers in France. When she was in middle school, she moved to Bradenton and graduated from Manatee High School. She

moved to New York to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology and when she graduated, got a job as a fashion designer with Ralph Lauren. When her children were born, she freelanced from her New Jersey home, working for brands like Nike, Lucky Brand and Nautica.

To showcase her original creations, Lindell opened a virtual shop on social media site Etsy.

In 2010, she moved back to Bradenton to be near family. Her online sales were doing well so when she saw a spot for rent near several vintage shops she frequented, Lindell decided to open a bricks and mortar store at 430 Ninth St. E.

OceanRock Design has a decidedly European flair. Lindell recently returned from a trip to France where she bought lots of vintage fabric.

"I get inspired when I buy a piece of fabric," she said. "I start sketching and use pattern making to give it a whole new existence."

Jess Sturtevant, owner of Braden River Antiques, is glad to have a new next-door neighbor.

"If I was a chick, I would totally buy there," he said.

Sturtevant, along with Nancy Cobb, co-owner of nearby Retro Rosie's and Cobweb Unique Finds, are hoping OceanRock Design will give a boost to the area's efforts to become a vintage shopping destination.

"The businesses that have come in, it's because we love the area, it's cool," Cobb said. "We are getting more restaurants and a new beer garden soon. This area lends itself to the type of businesses we have."

In the early 2000s, the Downtown Development Association talked about designating the area -- the original downtown Bradenton -- as an antique district. But it was never promoted as such and has struggled to gain a solid foothold.

But Sturtevant has recently doubled the square footage of his business, which he has owned for eight years. Both he and Cobb think OceanRock Design will attract more business to the area.

"We are really happy she's here," Cobb said. "Her store adds something different by repurposing old items. Every shop here is different."

Beginning in October, the shops are planning to hold sidewalk sales the second Sunday of each month and invite other vendors to participate.

"We are drawing people from all over, including Sarasota," Cobb said. "We are using the social media avenues and it is making a huge difference in our business."

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