For years, Elizabeth Casalinho saw For Rent signs in downtown Jersey City during her commute and envisioned a transition from the finance world to a creative industry. She’s now opened Feena Boutique, which is, among many things, a modern celebration of her Portuguese heritage. “We wanted to create a cultural destination,” she says. The Jersey City shop is located right on Grove Street.
The shop’s inventory is comprised mainly of Portuguese gifts and accessories like fragrances, handbags, jewelry, and handpainted espresso sets. A mix of higher-end companies and independent artisans are on display, all of whom represent Portugal’s rich history in updated ways. You’ll also find products from U.S. based companies and local Jersey City artists. Coco Chanel and Holly Golightly are the shop’s unofficial narrators. Their words of wisdom are scattered throughout, exemplifying heavenly fashions and earthy attitudes.
The boutique itself is a source of constant stimulation. Every surface and structure has a purpose, and there’s an interesting blend of extremes that balances the place out: European countryside in the city. Audrey Hepburn’s image next to exposed brick. “I love the idea of everything being entertaining, everything being an experience,” Casalinho says. When she tells you that she spent her childhood in France, that she grew up surrounded by people from all over the globe, and that she spent time traveling internationally while working in finance, you realize you’re standing in the collision of all of those influences. She designed the space in such a way that the products she’s sourced don’t have that feeling of being randomly brought in from somewhere else. Nothing looks lost or homesick.
Feena Boutique is one part of a much larger family endeavor taking place on Grove Street. Casalinho’s brother is set to open a Portuguese eatery right downstairs from the shop early next year. The menu will include authentic pastries and small plates. They’ve also opened a joint project next door called JC Made, a store that operates at about 90 percent consignment with local artists, giving them the space to sell their t-shirts, mugs, magnets and other handmade items. “There’s an amazing number of creative people in Jersey City,” Casalinho said.
It’s a love letter to a city that she has deep affection for, a place where she’s found not one, but three homes.
Feena Boutique, 297 Grove St., Jersey City, NJ 07302