I’ve always been a big fan of RÓ home shop in Buffalo, New York where they specialize in home goods, furniture, interior design and art. It’s been my favorite go to shop for gifts and decor for our home and just walking into the store brings me a sense of peace because of how intentionally designed the layout and items on display are. I’ve visited RÓ a lot over the course of the last few years, (actually, even before it was RÓ I visited the shop before when it was called Reimagine), but it wasn’t until last month ago I got the pleasure of meeting Hayley, the owner of RÓ at a local business meet up and I immediately felt connected to her as a small business owner.
I asked her if she’d like to participate in my interview series that features other local small business creatives and entrepreneurs and she immediately said yes. Below is the conversation we had and a few of my favorite images I photographed of her when I stopped in quickly to say hello.
If you are interested in getting business portraits done and live in the Buffalo, New York area, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected] . I would be honored to work with you!
To someone who is just learning about your shop today, what does RÓ specifically do?
RÓ helps to create peaceful environments using local artisans work, ethical designs, and beautiful goods that will last a lifetime.
3-5 words to describe your style, vision, philosophy behind RÓ:
Calm Living Through Functional Design.
How long has RÓ been operating and how has it evolved since you started?
It’ll be 9 years this upcoming March. But it wasn’t always called RÓ. My first business, Reimagine, which I co-founded with my life long friend, Cortney was an up-cycle sort of a place. On the weekends we’d go to estate sales and buy unique vintage pieces and repaint and upholster them. At the time, our shop was in a small basement without a storefront. It’s fun to think of what started as a hobby transformed into a profitable and sustainable business.
There were still things that weren’t ideal about our location, so eventually we moved to 732 Elmwood. Not a much larger storefront, but high walking traffic and great visibility. Location, location, location! Our business doubled that year.
I have found that as you grow, learn and live, so do your passions. Although vintage hunting, selling at markets and traveling to distant cities was a great learning experience, it was also a bit of a hustle. The market for vintage fluctuates so much too, that it’s hard to sustain a business. So, in 2012 we rebranded to RÓ. Our new mission was to find ways to support our community and the craftsman within it by selling custom pieces designed for the shop. We moved away from vintage and sourced items from innovative designs firms that paired with our Scandinavian aesthetic.
To this day RÓ is a hub for unique handmade furniture sourced locally. Upholstered furniture by Gus* Modern a Toronto base company that believes in Modern Furniture Made Simple. Nordic home goods. Curated environments to help clients find calmness within their homes and office spaces. We still host bi-monthly art openings to reflect the wonderful world of art within our shops gallery.
I’ve always been fascinated by the threads that lead someone right to the moment they are in. What were some key moments/threads in your life that lead you to where you are with owning and operating Ro?
After graduating from Alfred University in 2009 my plan was to spend the SUMMER in Buffalo then move to NYC to pursue my art career. Late that fall I was approached by my Grandmother to see if I’d be interested in helping represent their company Eucalan (My Grandmother founded in 1989) at a trade show in London, England. I could not pass this up and I got Cortney on board too.
We began planning a trip around Europe after the trade show. It seemed that I was in the right place at the right time. I was vastly interested at the convention and was curious about the vendors and wholesale in general. The long train rides and unique shops & diversity seemed to help develop our business plan while overseas. At this time we’d already been talking about opening a business and now with inspiration from afar it seemed the idea was closer than ever. When we got back I decided to stay in Buffalo and open the shop, get married and settle down.
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from starting and running your own
I’ve learned so many valuable things about business over the years. Being self taught is a rough route at times. It’s invigorating when you accomplish a goal, project or even simply meet someone who really gets what you’re doing. To be accountable within your business is important and to build strong relationships with customers. I’ve learned to do the market research of what works within your community, economically.
The study of customer behavior is key. After rebranding in 2012 there was a lot of moulding, and tweaking the business to analyze what worked. I learned that what I personally “liked” and wanted to sell doesn’t always sell. This can be devastating when you’ve invested so much in certain aspects of the business especially inventory. Over the years I’ve come up with a system of buying. This changes depending on what I’m inspired by at the time, season, and trends.
What inspires you to create and what keeps you inspired?
Many things! I find inspiration in the daily trek of life. But to be more specific, lately I’m interested in Anthroposophy and the New Thought philosophy. I use this information to fuel the evolution within my business growth and personal expansion in my art and life. Other ways I continue to remain inspired is through travel, collaborations with like minded entrepreneurs and creative accomplishments like exhibiting my work in galleries.
Is there one or two pieces of wisdom you can share with someone else looking to start their own
business? Writing a mission statement right off the bat is a good idea. Sometimes in midst of the excitement, chaos and frustration of starting a new business it’s easy to loose sight of why you began in the first place- to circle back on the authenticity of your goal is helpful.
Describe your ideal day when you’re not working on or with RÓ?
I love Mondays, thats my day off and the shop isn’t open. Its my day to regroup and get ready for the week. Ideally I’d start off with a yoga session, come home make coffee, check emails and get ready to head to my studio. My most cherished moments are spent in my studio where I block out a serious 5-8 hours of quality creative time. This means I try to remain completely centered on my art process without distractions- which can be hard! My studio is the most magical, so much natural light and a kitchen to make lunch. I share it with four other artists at
the moment and enjoy the camaraderie.
Is there something you haven’t accomplished with yet that you’d like to do?
I’d like to launch a small home goods line. A grouping of items that reflect my design and culture within RÓ. I’m currently seeking ways to expand internationally too. To be honest I’m not sure what that looks like yet!
Where do you see Ro evolving in the next 5 years ?
I see expanding at some point in the future. Possibly a multi functioning space that’s not only a curated lifestyle retail store, but a design studio and collaborative workspace. Housed under one oof with multiple floors. Modern look with an adventurous feel.