Oh.... about a million years ago or so, I dreamed about opening a shop where creative people would find materials that were not readily available. Materials like silk and linen fabrics, nice ribbons, good buttons, millinery flowers, stamens, and lace trims. But not some stuffy needlework shop, a beautiful shop that non-creatives would like to shop at too. I would sell the things that the creative people would make from the hard to find materials that I sold, and those creative people would also teach how to make what they make to other creative people, and even to those self proclaimed non-creatives. It would be wonderful.... and very creative.
What would I call this shop? I wanted to use my maiden name of “Rose” somehow, and at the time I was really into “millinery”, (a fancy name for hat-making) I thought “Mille Rose” would be nice, besides, my grandma Rose’s first name was Millie! But then I thought it was too close to “Melrose” since I was in California, so I just flipped it around, “Rose Mille”, whaa la!
On November 15, 1998, I opened Rose Mille at 1203 Lincoln Avenue, in San Jose California, right in my own neighborhood of Willow Glen. My kids were still really small 2, 5 and 16, but I forged ahead anyway, with the complete support of my husband Bob. The little cottage on Lincoln Avenue was perfect. It used to be “Lisa’s Tea Treasures” a darling tea house, just like in England, so they said. I dined there many times before. It still smelled like tea when Rose Mille moved in, (it still does now, I visited it in September of ‘07!) We displayed home accessories and clothing in the living room, the check out counter in the dining room, the small bedroom had Lotions and wedding items, and also the dressing room. The second bedroom was the creative room. We even hung fabric bolts on the walls in the hallway.The Kitchen we reserved for our “back room”.
Just before I opened Rose Mille I was teaching hat-making in Los Altos which is where I met some of the creative people who would soon teach at Rose Mille. Oh, we had wonderful teachers, Candace Kling, who wrote “The Artful Ribbon”, Kenneth D. King, who wrote a book about “Designer Tips and Tricks”, Nancy Nearing, author of 50 Buttons you can make, and Barbara Willis the well known doll artist. I too, taught classes in straw and wool hat making, fabric flowers, pillow making 101 and Christmas Stockings. There were many other teachers and classes as well. The only problem with my vision from way back when, was that these creative people did not make products to sell, they were too busy teaching and writing books. So I went to San Francisco and New York to find creative people who made things from the materials we were selling, with great success. Over the years I have put together a truly wonderful collection of artists and craftspeople to pull together the look of Rose Mille.
As popular as the shop was, retail is a lot of work and is really hard to keep going, my husband Bob was traveling a lot which made things even harder. On some of his trips he went to Minneapolis, the city where I was born! My family moved away when I was just starting grade school, so I really grew up in San Jose, but I had lots of family still in Minnesota. On one such trip I was able to accompany Bob. It was then that we both fell in love with the small town of Stillwater. It is near the Twin Cities, on the St Croix River which borders Wisconsin. Of all crazy things, we decided to move there! With the proceeds from our San Jose house we were able to build a larger house for our growing children. So in the summer of 2001 we made Stillwater our home.
Rose Mille stayed open in San Jose for a while after I moved, but it became clear that I needed to be there. So we closed it (April, 2002) only to re-open later that fall in my new town. Six years later, Rose Mille is thriving. Not to say it hasn't had it’s pitfalls. OMG. But all in all we are glad to be here!!! This fall will be Rose Mille’s tenth anniversary. My how time flies.