A Local’s Guide to Maine with Designer Julie O’Rourke
Julie O’Rourke, founder of clothing brand Rudy Jude, whose studio is based out of Rockland, Maine, finds inspiration in the everyday. The natural colors and shapes of her surroundings lend a sophisticatedly simple aesthetic to her organic cotton blouses, pants, and onesies in hues like ochre, mauve, and olive green. Jetsetter recently talked to O'Rourke about her homeland, where she likes to shop, and what her perfect day looks like.
Tell us how Rudy Jude got started.
I’ve always had a love for fibers and colors derived from nature, and ultimately ended up studying in the Textile Design Department at the Rhode Island School of Design. Rudy Jude was always going to be in my future in some way, but having my son Diogo really got my gears turning. The brand started as a children’s and baby line but we are currently growing into the women’s market. Everything I design features natural colors made with plant-based dyes, sewn in the U.S., and directly related to the beautiful place I live, Maine.
What do you love most about living where you do?
I grew up in rural Maine. I think I’ve always loved and hated it, the way most people feel about the place they grew up. As a child, I don’t think I even noticed the magnitude of the place I was in—the deep forests, islands as far as the eye can see, the amazing dark green Maine ocean—but now, when I go back to my hometown if I’ve been traveling, it blows me away how unbelievably beautiful it is. I moved back about seven years ago, after college and lots of adventuring. I tried living in major cities, small cities, rural Ireland, and Hawaii, but nothing really stuck for me. Eventually, my path brought me back here, and I feel so lucky that it did. Maine gets under your skin, and if you’ve ever had a chance to visit for an extended period of time, you’ll know what I mean.
We at Jetsetter are firm believers that locals know their cities the best. What places do you recommend to visitors?
If I had to plan the perfect trip in my area, I would start in Rockland (you can actually fly direct from Boston on an eight-seater plane). My family’s favorite restaurant there is Sammy’s Deluxe, where chef Sam Richman and Matt O’Rourke (who also happens to be my cousin!) are easily making the best food in Maine. The menu is a perfect mix of traditional dishes (think fresh, ice-fished smelts and periwinkles in garlic butter) and other favorites like the best cheeseburger you’ve ever had. Then, I’d hop on the ferry, which is across the street from Sammy’s, and head to North Haven Island. Book a room for two nights at Nebo Lodge so you can have one dinner in Nebo’s Restaurant and another down the street at Calderwood Hall. During the day, Calderwood offers breakfast and a market to buy lunch for the day. Pack up some goodies before booking a boat or bicycle to explore—the island is the most beautiful place you’ll ever go.
Where do you love to shop?
For clothes, I make the trek to Portland to visit Judith. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that 98% of my wardrobe has come from there. Owner Brooke Beaney houses both small up-and-coming designers and some old favorites, and her trunk shows and special events are not to be missed.
What would an ideal Saturday look like for you at home?
It depends on the time of year, but if it were summer, it would be a morning spent picking blueberries, an afternoon of mackerel fishing, walks, swims, and a bite and a drink at Sammy’s before returning home to cook our catch and eat blueberries until we burst.
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