Happy Six Years, Rowe

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

This Sunday marks exactly six years that Short North boutique Rowe will be open.

To celebrate, owner Maren Roth is throwing a birthday party for the store. It'll be open until 8 p.m. instead of 5, and Roth is bringing in catering from Bleu & Fig. She'll also offer drinks, specials and promotions.

"It's just to celebrate Rowe and thank all of our customers for supporting us for six years and keeping us around," she said.

We talked with Roth about the highs and lows of the past six years and what she has in mind for Rowe in 2013.

On her biggest challenges:

Right after I opened, we hit one of the hardest times in our financial history. I had to make some changes, obviously, to go with what was happening and still have a business. At that time, I ended up getting rid of the men's business that I had, which we missed so much because I loved having stuff for the guys. But I have some really great financial store advisers, and they just felt like the space would be better used for women's because of the way women shop and what was selling. So that's what got me through that time, and as a result, I was able to expand.

On what's most rewarding:

It's kind of two-fold: Just being able to have a business that employs other people, and being able to make other people's lives better by being able to create jobs and seeing them grow as well. I feel so lucky to have Sara and Claire, who've been with me for five years. And just to see their careers start to grow and being able to really kind of foster that has been so rewarding. And then also working for myself. I never realized how great that could really be. As much as it can be so exhausting and you're working all the time and you sacrifice a lot, it's so rewarding because you have so much freedom, and you can make adjustments and change things and actually put things into place that make everybody's lives better. And it's just been so rewarding having a successful business in Columbus and being able to give back to the community.

On the evolution of her inventory:

I opened up this business with the only knowledge I had, which was my own taste and my own style, and clearly you learn very quickly who your customer is, and you start buying for them. It's your taste, but you're buying for them. Although there may be things that I don't necessarily see myself wearing, I know that it sells well, and I like the way it looks, so I'll bring it in. I had to learn that lesson early-to be able to grow and to be able to keep those customers. You don't want to tick people off because you're only doing one thing, one style… We have a full wardrobe for you if you come in. We can dress you for everything, which I wasn't able to do that at the beginning… We've also really tried to foster our accessories business.

On the brands that have been there from the start:

Iro and Lauren Moffatt. I was at a trade show in New York before I even opened the store, and I went up to them, and I said, "Listen, I don't have a store, but here's what I want to do." And I started doing these trunk shows. They thought it was great, and they let me buy small amounts of inventory, and I've been buying them ever since.

On what's next for Rowe:

I'm not really talking about it a lot because I don't want to say we're doing this for sure and have it be something else, but I'm definitely looking at the next wave of Rowe online. As much as I'd like to have a second store, I just keep seeing what's going on with social media and how involved we are with it and how far it reaches. It just makes sense to go online. So that's sort of what we're looking at for the next year.

-Taylor Rogers, @rogerstaylorj