Spotlight on Room Service
Take it from someone who grew up there and has seen the many faces of this town – Cleveland is making a comeback. There’s a bubbling scene of shops, artists, musicians and chefs who are making this city better than ever. One store that I’m particularly smitten with is Room Service, a lifestyle shop that I have to stop in every time I’m in town. One very lovely & important person who’s leading this movement is Danielle DeBoe, owner & creator of ROOM SERVICE, MADE IN THE 216 & DREDGERS UNION. Ciao Bella talks with Danielle to see how she gets so much done on any given day. And if you’re in Cleveland, be sure to check out the upcoming Made in 216 event on July 8th that showcases local artistic talents. Enjoy! xx Nina
Q: What is your background in design and what led you to open up Room Service?
A: I studied photography at school but dropped out to move to LA to work in film production for a few years. When an impending writers strike dried up a lot of the work, I ended up with a job working for an interior designer who owned her own retail store and this is where my brief interior design career began and where the roots of my buying and visual merchandising career were laid. I came back to Ohio and worked in buying and Merchandising for a great home furnishing store before going on to work as the Visual Manager for Anthropologie. After several years I felt like I needed a new challenge and having already left Cleveland and moved back, I didn’t want to leave again but there are only a finite number of jobs in that niche field here, so I figured unless I wanted to change my entire career path and start all over I would have to create my own job…so I decided to open my boutique.
Q: Cleveland has been through some pretty tough times but the creative community seems to be growing there. How else do you contribute and who are some of your other local favorites?
A: Cleveland is super tough, and the tough times are really a opportunity to create a new identity. In 2008 I started an event: MADE IN THE 216 (216 being our area code here), which is meant to highlight all the amazing people basing their creative endeavors here in Cleveland. The event serves to help vendors get started, to create awareness and an audience for new vendors, and to prove Cleveland as a viable place in which to be creative. There are so many favorites but the lovely prints by GREY CARDIGAN is definitely tops on my list!
Q: What are the challenges to being located in Cleveland? Would you ever consider opening a boutique in another city? If so, which one?
A: I am open to anything. I just opened a new store, The Dredgers Union a totally different kind of store than RS, in downtown Cleveland. I can see opening stores anywhere, but I think, particularly in rust belt communities, RETAIL is often the missing ingredient, so I would consider perhaps Detroit or Pittsburgh maybe first. I don’t think that Cleveland has greater challenges than any other city in terms of opening a retail store. The biggest challenges come from within, DECIDING to do it is perhaps the most difficult step in opening a business. I would contend that Cleveland is probably one of the EASIEST places to open because it is far more affordable than a lot of other cities. Also there are so many passionate young people working for the neighborhoods here that are so eager to help.
Q: Your displays are quite creative & lovely – what is your process for putting them together, as well as your goals?
A: When I first opened, I used to come up with little narratives in my head (like a Parisian picnic) that would help inform my display and merchandising direction and choices. Now, with my manager Jennie running the show primarily, we do a little of that still, we talk about the season and brainstorm together and then we kind of just play and see what happens!
Q: Out of all your merchandise, what items sell the best in-store vs online?
A: We carry a great selection of locally designed, Cleveland centric T-shirts, and they are often our best in-store sellers. The online sales are generally our higher priced decorative items or stationary.
Q: Your branding is amazing – who does your graphic design work and what kind of how role do you play in creating it?
A: Thank you! We are actually working on a refresh and a little update to our brand as it is 4 years old already! Originally the Uber-talented, Epstein Design Partners, did our entire identity….and we LOVE it, and while there is a lot of equity in that visual brand, I get bored with looking at the same thing all the time, so we are working with a super secret firm (that we will make a fuss about soon as they let me!!) to refresh it a little.
Q: Do you have a motto? If so, what is it?
A: Everything happens for a reason. It’s perhaps trite, but for me it means not to get hung up on any ‘set backs’. Getting hung up on the negative in life is certain death, and so often a self-fulfilling prophecy. I may have a moment where I indulge any negativity, but I very quickly remind myself that… “Everything happens for a reason” and I just trust that everything is as it should be!
A special thank you to Room Service’s Store Manager Jennie – it’s always nice to see your smiling face. Keep up the great work ladies!
Photo credits: 1) Nicholas Wojciak 2-7) Nina Isabella