INFUSING DISCOVERY INTO EVERYDAY SPACES
BY SHALEEN DESTEFANO
Amy Rogala of Rogala Design & Gallery, is a friend, neighbor, mother, artist and overall salt of the earth human. We were thrilled to sit with her in her cozy boutique to chat about the exciting changes she’s made at 2911 S. Broadway.
It was definitely scary opening during the pandemic but my design aspect of the business was doing well enough to take the risk. For two years, to absorb the rent, I shared the space with Mimo, and we were pretty cramped. After Mimo liquidated, I had to decide whether to close or expand. Expanding was exciting, but doubling the rent was not. I decided to get creative and bring in other business-like gallery artists for the walls, blankets from Sofra Textiles and a few local furniture curators. I loved the idea of offering these artisans exposure while helping my overhead. This is an evolving process, offering short-term agreements to test the waters. These pop-ups are a win-win!
You are a huge supporter of local art, now more than ever, as you put an emphasis on the gallery portion of your boutique. Can you give us an idea of your current artists as well as who we can expect to see in the future?
Finding artists is the easy part. They seem to fall in my path. I met Cora Sexton Wheeler and asked if she wanted wall space. It was a perfect aesthetic match. I have other artists on the hook and hope to rotate them 3 months at a time. In addition to the gallery artists, I have many local artist prints framed on the under $500 to $1000 walls. I am particularly excited about a show in March with Brooke Proctor. She is a highly prolific and creative artist. I am also excited to start showcasing some pieces from Austin (of @styled.byaustin). He’s amazing at re-finishing vintage furniture in professionally colorful lacquers. His pieces marry beautifully with my affinity for color and texture.
What is typical? That is like saying what is “normal.” Each day begins with looking at clientele needs in their homes, working on curating new pieces and minding the shop hours. Some days I drive around all day with errands, some days I’m on my computer sourcing and corresponding and other days I putz around the shop all day doing instagram reels and re-arranging.
Sometimes I feel like my store is an expensive and well styled storage unit because I move my products from the floor into clients’ homes. I am thankful for that piece of the business, but I want the shop to “get on the map” with foot traffic, designers and artists. Lately, my “typical” day has been brainstorming how to make that happen, as my marketing expert, Heather LaMontage, calls it “growing my audience.”
You’re a mom to three teens, you curate everything in your beautiful shop from top to bottom and still manage to create art in the spaces in between, how do you do it?
I have very self-sufficient kids. They are all teenagers and have figured out a lot on their own. We still eat dinner together every night that we can and we travel a lot for sports. My husband is a huge supporter. He helps me move things around and takes care of the kids’ dinner and rides. We both work hard and do our part. I am sure I could do things better or differently but life is not about regrets. It is about the moment and moving forward, not back.
I am also not afraid to ask for help or network. I’ve developed relationships with my fabricators, upholsterer, seamstress, framers and woodworkers that make it so much easier to create. I have some young girls that are interested in design and they help in the store when I can’t be here. I love that I have given them their first job. Everyone remembers their first job!
Honestly, I don’t know if I am in the perfect location. I can say that we are right next to a very popular breakfast place, Breakfast on Broadway, and that pulls in some foot traffic on Saturday and Sunday. There is accessible easy parking in front and behind the store. We are across the street diagonally from the fabulous Birdsall & CO the garden boutique, who just expanded! We are across from Starbucks, down from Kaladi’s Coffee Roaster and across from Trompeau Bakery. It really is a great area with proximity to many shops. And, look for the new sign that reads “Rogala Design & Gallery.” Also watch for monthly events, as I am dedicated to this new ritual.
What is on the horizon for Rogala Design & Gallery?
Like I said, I want to grow my following and get noticed. I want to be one of those places that people think they should put on their circuit. I want designers to think they can come in and find something unique or collaborate and we can create something amazing together. I want individuals to think “hmm, I haven’t popped in RD in awhile” and swing by or text me and I will meet you here.
With the monthly events, I want to collaborate with other local business’ and artists. My space can be rented for the evening and used for workshops and art shows. The summer brings opportunities for outdoor markets and festivities too.
When you’re not juggling a million tasks, how do you spend your free time?
First thing I do is hang with my family. Even if it is just one kid and my husband or the whole gang, that is my first choice for free time. If they aren’t available, I go to yoga, Orange Theory, source items, or start creating something. I love to source textiles and frame them as wall decor or design pillows and furniture. You will see many framed textiles and upholstered finds in the shop.
What advice would you give someone looking to go out on a limb and pursue their dreams as a small business owner?
Start doing the proper research and start a business plan and execute. I did not create a proper business plan and I was learning as I went. So my advice would be to start doing a comparative analysis, ask other buisnesses about their success and mistakes.
My Dad said a few things that I incorporated into my journey; “If you throw enough mud on the wall, some of it will stick” and “The best time to look for a job is when you have one” and “Why put off until tomorrow, what you can do today?” We aren’t designed to have regrets. We’re built to live in the moment, make connections and keep moving forward.
We hope you land at Rogala Design, meet Amy and help keep this local treasure thriving. Visit rogaladesign.com for more information.