Tell us about Room Tonic and why you started it. Room Tonic (the shop) was, in a way, created for me. It was the name of my staging and design company in NYC before I moved to Marblehead in 2017. I had never owned a brick-and-mortar shop, or even worked a day in retail, but it was a dream of mine to open a shop. Our current location at 22b Atlantic was up for rent, so I decided to do some research. When I went to visit the space, the landlord told me there were 5 other people interested. I immediately said, “I feel terrible I’ve wasted your time! I don’t even have a business plan or anything!” It wouldn’t be exaggerating to say I kept apologizing and maybe even bowed as I left. The next morning the landlord called and said, “We want you”, to which I responded, “For what?”. They said, “To rent the space. This is a family-owned building, and we like your personality and think you’d fit right in.” (Cue the long pause from me). My husband had to come over to check on me, probably because my face was pale, and I was stuttering. I was stunned, scared, excited, unsure, (trying not to throw up), but I said “Ok!” So, Room Tonic the shop, as I said earlier, was sort of started by the lovely Fagone family believing in me and granting me space. My goal then was to bring color back! I love the Chinoiserie style because it’s classic, funky, and quintessentially Marblehead. Our sea captains here would bring back Chinese exports to show their prominence, and nothing looks better than some beautiful Chinoiserie pieces in our Marblehead historical homes. I’ve been overwhelmed with the support of Marbleheaders and it thrills me to my core when I hear customers say, “I love everything here!”

What is the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received? A friend who owns his own business told me, “Don’t let the business own you, make sure you own the business”. It’s so easy to let the business run your life. That advice helped me make the decision to be open Wednesday – Saturday to leave time for my family life and my design clients. It’s just me at the shop, so there needs to be balance.

What is your favorite spot in Marblehead, and why? Hands down, my favorite spot is Castle Rock. I moved to Marblehead because my, now, husband lived here. We wanted to get married at Castle Rock, but our wedding day turned out to be an unexpectedly cold and rainy day in September, so we moved all the boxes in the home we just bought and got married in our living room. I like to take my walks to Castle Rock whenever possible. I joke that it’s my church.

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? People are always surprised to learn that I was a working actor in NYC for 25 years before moving to Marblehead. In the beginning of my career, I was building and designing theatrical sets by day and performing in shows or comedy clubs by night. Soon I was working solely as an actor in television and would take on Room Tonic design clients if time allowed. Later in my career television and design were blended. My designs were on HGTV and later I was Ty Pennington’s design coordinator for one of his shows before moving to New England. It’s fun when people come into the shop and say, “You look familiar”. I just say “I have a lot of doppelgangers” rather than tell them they’ve probably seen me on TV.

Room Tonic
Owner: Susan Bott
[email protected]
www.roomtonic.com

 

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