As a child, Jessica Faircloth thumbed through Sears and Spiegel catalogs, imagining how she would redecorate her grandmother’s home using what she saw on those pages. Those early dreams have evolved into a life of interior design work for Faircloth, a life that includes two successful businesses and even an appearance on an HGTV design show.
An Apalachicola native, Faircloth and her family made Gulf County home in 2000.
A few years later, she opened a business called Lemongrass Interiors, lI located inside WindMark, and her hard work and the support of her clients have made it a success. She said she is happy to have made her business work in Port St. Joe, even through all of the local economy’s ups and downs over the years.
“Work and school brought us here, but my love for this community has kept me here. My sons, Dylan and Jake, were raised here and both have a deep affection for this town,” she said. “I started Lemongrass Interiors in 2006. The business ebbed and flowed along with the local real estate market and national recession, but started picking up steam again in 2014.”
That love for the area coupled with her passion for interior design brought about the idea for her recently opened second business, Cabana 15.
The furniture and interiors store features everything from sofas, chairs, and tables to lamps, candles, and pillows. Faircloth, along with her son and recent FSU graduate Dylan Dunaway whom she has partnered with in the endeavor, purposefully chose to create this new space in the heart of downtown on Reid Avenue.
“For me, downtown Port St. Joe was the perfect location. Not only is this our home, but it was very important for me to once again be a part of Reid Avenue,” Faircloth said. “Everyone’s response to the new store has been so kind and encouraging. I am so proud to be part of the revitalization of downtown. Seeing how everyone has come together and worked so hard after the storm has really been beautiful and made me love it here even more.”
Even if you haven’t ventured into Lemongrass Interiors or Cabana 15 yet, Faircloth may look familiar to you for another reason; she was the featured designer on an episode of Beachfront Bargain Hunt: Renovation on HGTV. During the “Cape San Blas Bliss” episode, she helped a Texas family during the renovation and redesign of a home at the cape. The opportunity was one she says was unexpected.
“It was a great experience, and I’m still in touch with those homeowners regularly. I had no idea what to expect and really only thought I’d be furnishing the home, but maybe not be featured in the actual footage,” said recalled. “However, the homeowners were very gracious and wanted to make sure I was included … you never really know what the Lord has in store for you!”
The addition of the new store seems to be an extension of that openness and faith, coupled with the knowledge she has gained through her hard work over the years.
“Working with clients through Lemongrass, we began to see a need for a retail store. We decided on certain priorities, such as price point, the ability to purchase immediately from the store, and quick lead times for special order items. Once again, it was kind of a thing where it felt right and I jumped in,” she said.
However, the store is not only for her design clients. Shoppers who stroll in off the street simply looking for inspiration, as well as anyone hoping for a gift or some small item to brighten their home, are invited to pay the store a visit.
In that vein, Faircloth offered a couple of suggestions for folks with smaller projects in mind.
What she would suggest for a customer who had $100 to spend to improve their space, and for a customer who wanted to spend $1,000?
“For a quick, inexpensive change, it’s incredible what new throw pillows can do for a living or bedroom,” she said. “With a $1,000 budget, I’d suggest a fresh wall color and a new rug.”
The store does have a nice selection of rugs up to size 8’x10’ for customers to peruse, she added.
When asked what design trends she is excited about right now, Faircloth gave some insight into her personal aesthetic.
“I am excited to see that interiors are becoming a little less fussy. I like simple, livable interiors with fewer ‘tchotchkes.’ I’m also happy to see that trends in metal finishes or styles aren’t as definitive. For example, natural brass has made a comeback, but oil-rubbed bronze and nickel finishes are still popular. So basically the rule is, if you love it, use it!”
She does strive to give her customers something fresher and unique to their own lifestyle and personality than the latest trend, she pointed out.
“Trends are tough for me, so generally when everyone is doing something, I want to move away from it,” she said.
For example, “The farmhouse trend (modern or otherwise) has been very popular, but I already see it fading much like the tumbled stone and travertine trend of the early 2000’s. That being said, if you really love it... go ahead, channel your inner JoJo and embrace that farmhouse style,” she said, referencing Fixer Upper’s Joanna Gaines, another self-taught interior designer.
When asked what inspires her and what advice she would offer to other women hoping to start their own business, Faircloth had this to say.
“My advice would be to listen to your intuition. If you have a great idea, do your research, be ready to work really hard...but then do it! Failure is a possibility, but I would rather fail and recover than always wonder if I could have been successful,” she said.
She lived that out herself in her early days with Lemongrass.
“I knew nothing about the business really, but I filled a spiral notebook with tons of research that turned into a rough business plan and then into a more polished presentation that got me my first projects for clients in Barefoot Cottages. I felt I could make it work and I went for it. It was and has been a lot of hard work, but I never get tired of it. I could talk about houses, construction and interiors all day every day. I honestly feel blessed!”
Every business has its difficult times, of course. How has Faircloth stayed motivated through the ups and downs of being a small business owner?
“My faith is a very important part of my life, so prayer is literally constant. My sole motivation is my children. I have two sons and a daughter-in-law," she said. "Making them proud means everything to me."
Cabana 15 is located at 229 Reid Ave.