The Care and Feeding
of a Custom Picture Frame Designer
Sally Dallas, CPF,
Custom Picture Frame Designer
Custom Picture Frame Designer
Stage 4: On my own
In 1996 got an opportunity to purchase a building in Newberg, Oregon and took the leap, not to just owning and operating my own gallery and frame shop, but to property ownership and management (I had a tenant building on the property that sold in 2014). Wow, what a learning curve. To quote my mom "You couldn't just get your toes wet, you had jump in up to your neck" Yup!
I spent the next couple of years developing the frame shop and gallery following. I started doing The Room about 3 years in an after that every quarter a different window theme went up. I became known for those window displays as well as a to framer. I entered competitions with fellow PPFA Chapter members, joined the (then Newberg Chamber) and served on their board for a term. I really appreciated find a place in such a great community. I had a client recommend me as expensive, but worth it. That is one of the best things I ever heard.
In 2009, I joined with five other downtown shops to start ARTwalk. Our goal was to promote the downtown and create awareness that we had a potential gold mine here. Ten years later and we are still going.
In 2015, after a rough couple of years I made the major decision to lease out the main floor space and create My Personal Framer in the workshop space. Roger Hirsch, retired, helped me to carve out a space for the design and business side with the workshop on the other side of the wall. It has been interesting going from 1900 sq feet of showroom to 250. But it is what it is. I struggled emotionally for the first couple of years after moving on from my dream situation. Some folks wanted me to blame it on the 'Economy', but the reality is I wasn't able to adapt and change to work with the current economics.
I like my small space and really appreciate when clients new and old find their way to me.
Stage 3: Working in a variety of custom frame shops and gallery spaces.
Since moving back from the east coast I have managed to work in a large variety of retail framing establishments. Some were small and exclusive, others large national franchises and one somewhere in between (local custom frame designer that carried the major publishing lines).
I developed my talents further at North Wind Designs (John's Landing) where I learned gallery design and layout, display and fine tuned my framing skills. I next managed the framing department for Obeidi-Sinclair's Frame Department in old town Portland. I developed my management and diplomacy as I sometimes had to discuss, explain and help the owner (new to the business at that time) understand pricing and the bottom line. He was sometimes generous to a fault.
I next joined Deck the Walls, Clackamas Town Center. Here I learned to manage a mall store with huge volume while working closely with the owner. We then opened a store in the Valley River Mall in Eugene. Where I honed my window display skills and started a pattern of creating rooms, in a 3.5' deep window. It was challenging to create the illusion I wanted. After a couple of years we opened the Washington Square Mall location.
I decided to move to a different type of store and returned to Gallery International (I had worked a short stint here before Deck the Walls). Mike, the owner, and I had some tricky challenges in style and design the first time around. His way, please, but in the process we learned to like and respect each other. When I returned to Gallery International the times had changed and the way people were purchasing art had changed. No more collectors buying everything the artist produced-now the buyers were more discriminating and only bought the pieces they really liked. This meant the framing changed also and expanded into new ways of designing that were more art-centric and unique.
I have also started showing and selling my photography. The link will take you to sldallas photography
Stage 2: The DIY experience Frame It Yourself
My cousin Paula recruited me to move East and run her Ramsey, NJ "Frame It Yourself" business. I worked as a manager and expanded the design and technique capabilities of the shop. I brought skills from my Western Picture Frame experience to the NJ shop. Framing techniques such as french lines, painted bevels, fabric mats, closed corner frames and a more sophisticated style than the previous manager.
Paula and I had similar design aesthetics so it worked well. I enjoyed the time and the learning. In our shop customers had the option to save money by building the frame and fitting their project, or we did the piece custom. For the DIY, the shop cut the mats, frame, did the mounts and other technical work. Many times a customer would do it themselves and then in the future opt to have us do the work. They understood and appreciated the value of the work we did after trying it themselves. We had a die-hard DIY following that came on Thursday nights to frame and chat.
I lived in Southern New York state (the town of Warwick) and got to experience true seasons, snow, rain, heat (humidity-ugh!) and the much slower spring of the east. I, of course, did Leaf Peak tours with various family members. After 5 years I decided to move back to Oregon.
Stage 1: Introduction to Custom Picture Framing.