Nestled in the industrial district in Portland, OR is the trendy lighting and home décor store, Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. Started in 2003 by Brian Faherty, this small business has grown in the past 10 years into a unique retailer.
Schoolhouse Electric was founded on the idea of bringing back authentic American hand-crafted light fixtures that aren't available in the mass market. Faherty had been selling and remodeling historic properties and was intrigued by how light fixtures were being put into these homes. “I saw that the projects were falling short when it came to lighting. They were turning to mass manufactured lighting from big box stores. To me, that was an area people needed to pay attention to,” said Faherty. With this idea in mind, Faherty did some research and found a company in up-state New York that had kept their collections of cast iron light molds from the early 20th century. He bought the collection, returned them to working order and started a small shop reproducing period light fixtures. In 2008, Schoolhouse Electric began to gain notoriety with home design bloggers and the business started to take off. Faherty established the Portland warehouse in 2011 and followed with a store in Tribeca, NY.
The fixtures that Schoolhouse Electric makes are simple, but present a sophisticated style. Faherty and the other designers at Schoolhouse find inspiration from the decades of yore and make the fixtures and home accessories modern and sleek, which is their appeal to customers.
Along with making one-of-a-kind retro home fixtures, Schoolhouse uses materials that are only made in the United States and by local vendors. Faherty uses this concept in marketing his company: making accessories for the home that are not only unique aesthetically, but are functional as well. Branching out from lighting was an easy step to home furnishings. Industrial meets mid-century modern, each furniture piece has the same hand-crafted authentic, American-made prose and brings forth wistfulness that Schoolhouse has adopted as their brand.
As the business continues to grow exponentially they are experimenting with new avenues; such as a line of bags, office supplies, and hardware. Coming from a collaborative mindset, Faherty has opened the Portland showroom to house Ristretto Roasters and Anna Mara Floral Design. The expansions have effectively made Schoolhouse Electric a one-stop shop, or a place to knock three birds with one stone.
BY Bridget Shelton & Brooklyn Di Raffaele
Photography by Brandon Williams