By Margaret Frymire
Eighteenth Street, in the heart of downtown Homewood, houses a variety of clothing boutiques, decorative shops and little lunch spots. Nestled among the stores is Rachel Vincent’s A Touch of Whimsy.
Light and airy, the shop holds everything from hanging daybeds and dining tables to wood picture frames, pottery pieces, throw pillows and scarves. The shop owners act as a great couple-team. Stephen Vincent, Rachel’s husband, builds all the furniture out of wood, and Rachel does all the finishing work. They do custom orders of wood furniture ranging from tables to bookshelves to daybeds.
Opening her own shop had long been Rachel’s dream, and it started to become a reality through a most unlikely circumstance.
Rachel had been in nursing school at Bevill State Community College while her husband Stephen attended the McWhorter School of Pharmacy at Samford University.
Her plan was to pursue nursing while her husband completed school and one day in the future open her own shop. Then on April 27, 2011, Rachel and Stephen found themselves among those hit by the tornadoes that ran rampant through the state last spring.
“When the tornado hit, it just turned everything around,” Rachel said.
The Vincents’ home in Pleasant Grove was damaged but salvageable.
The tornadoes jarred Rachel, and she decided not to put off her dream of owning and running her own shop.
“I just decided, this is something I really want to do right now,” Rachel said. “I didn’t want to wait.”
With the support of her husband, she began to pursue that dream. She started with her home’s front porch swing that was broken during the tornadoes.
“We made the front porch swing into a picture frame,” Rachel said. “When you tear apart your swing, it comes into three squares, so we started making those picture frames.”
Showcased on the wall at A Touch of Whimsy are several sets of the frames. Rough-hewn wood frames, crafted by Stephen and finished by Rachel, are sold in sets of three like the swing frame or individually for smaller spaces.
The couple started with the picture frames, added some mirrors and a few of Rachel’s paintings and headed to art and furniture shows in Atlanta. From there, the business began to grow.
Rachel asked Stephen if he would try his hand at building a custom kitchen table. He did. Adding a headboard, the table and a few more furniture pieces to their shop, Rachel and Stephen started receiving custom orders.
Rachel said she chose to open a shop in Homewood rather than in Pleasant Grove because she’s always had a fondness for 18th Street. She said she would not have wanted to put her shop anywhere else.
“I love this street,” said Rachel. “I love how all the stores complement each other.”
When driving in downtown Homewood one day early in the year, she saw a space available for rent on 18th Street. The original spot she looked at was too small to house the furniture, but she looked across the street and noticed another available space. She and Stephen were thrilled to settle on that spot in February of this year. They opened the doors of A Touch of Whimsy March 30.
The shop name itself comes from a favorite saying of Rachel’s mother and aunt. Both avid decorators, the women would bring home a cute soap dish or a quaint lamp and with that piece say they were adding “a touch of whimsy” to the room. When Rachel was trying to come up with a name for the shop, the phrase immediately came to mind.
A Touch of Whimsy houses a variety of decorative and gift items, carries pottery and an all-natural skincare line from local vendors and receives custom furniture orders for tables, beds, bookshelves and more.
A Touch of Whimsy
Where: 2937 18th St. South
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.