PORT MORRIS — When Hurricane Sandy battered the old brick building where Jamie Jones lived and ran a print shop, the sky didn't fall that October afternoon — but the ceiling did.
In the months since a 1,200-square-foot chunk of ceiling crashed onto the floor of her live-in loft and print shop on East 135th Street, damaging equipment and making the space unlivable, Jones has had to find other places to stay and work.
Business has slowed to a trickle, at a loss of about $5,000 per month, Jones said, forcing her to cancel her cellphone service and take meetings at the nearby Clock Bar.
“It’s been really, really difficult,” said Jones, 41. “I haven’t really been able to recover.”
Which is why the grand opening Monday of Exclusive Exposure, a new design, marketing, print and apparel shop that Jones formed with designer Brian Miranda in a storefront just steps from her out-of-commission loft, could not have come sooner.
“This is the only positive thing that’s happened for my business since [Sandy],” Jones said Monday as a DJ provided a backbeat for the shop's launch party. “I hit rock bottom — but now I’m just starting to climb back up.”
Miranda and Jones met last month at the Clock Bar at Lincoln Avenue and Bruckner Boulevard.
They were trading ideas for shops they hoped to open — Miranda had planned to sign the lease on a space that day, but the broker had canceled their appointment — when they both noticed an empty storefront directly across the street, at 127 Lincoln Ave.
“I said, ‘Don’t look at that space. That’s mine!’” Jones recalled. “But after a couple more drinks I thought, ‘Maybe we could do this together.’”
Shortly after, the pair signed the storefront lease together.
“It was so crazy,” said Miranda, 24. “We have the same vision for everything.”
Miranda, a web and graphic designer, ran a website in Connecticut that promoted local artists and models and connected them with talent seekers.
The new shop merges this service with Jones’ printing business and her ties to the Bronx art and business communities.
Local artists and merchants will be able to print their designs, which Miranda can help perfect, on everything from billboards to T-shirts, display them on the racks and walls of the storefront and publicize them on the store’s soon-to-launch website.
“It’s an opportunity to open up to new people,” said Rotten co-owner, Benjamin Briu. “And it’s right across the street from our studio.”
Jones’ own T-shirt line, Addic’tus Addicere, whose graphics reference archaic wonder drugs and whose slogan is “No Judgment Clothing,” also is available.
While Jones has reeled from the storm damage — debris still covers much of her loft, electricity has not been fully restored and city inspectors have yet to lift a vacate order — her neighbors have lent their support.
The Clock Bar held a fundraiser, local merchants donated piping and welding work for the clothing racks and the storefront’s landlord, Gordon Roth, provided some furniture and a canvas by the graffiti artist, Serve.
The new store, with its mission to boost local artists and businesses, is one way to repay her debt, Jones said.
“We need to support each other here in The Bronx,” she said. “That’s been my goal for a long time.”