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Meet Karl Rowley of Mid Century Style Shop in Palm Springs

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karl Rowley.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I have always been drawn to the arts in general, not so much for personal expression, like the fine arts, but more towards what I call the functional arts like architecture and design. Having a purpose has always been a driving force for me. I was even a teenage set decorator at one point, it was so rewarding on each premiere night. After graduating from University in graphic design, a perfect match for my ambitions, a startup reached out for help launching the first fully computerized agency in Quebec City, my hometown. A huge learning curve that proved to be determining. Years later, I opened my first studio thanks to a technology grant.

My recent past was already bearing fruit. The graphic design field was changing so fast but I knew I was in the right lane. Conditions were reunited for an exciting future. That’s when I was recruited to work in Paris during the “dot com” frenzy. I was just starting to design websites back then. When the bubble busted a couple of years later, I came back to Canada, in Montreal this time. Facing sluggish career opportunities after 9/11 and being underutilized for my skills, I made the life decision to become a freelancer through my own company, Krafix. It’s been almost 20 years and I never looked back. It now has a brand new sister studio in California, Krafix Design.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It’s been very bumpy! And I thank life for it because I learned things that no other life challenges could have taught me. Even when you think your route is mapped, life is an incredible magician! I was raised by my grandma, a first-grade teacher for 30 years. She taught me a basic principle: Work is the recipe but patience is the secret sauce. Just when everything was carefully planned for a new California milestone in my career, there were many unexpected stepbacks. Once able to cross America from coast to coast, it was through a perfect storm of political, social, public health, and financial turmoil. That road trip proved to be one of the most bizarre experiences of my life. Through life’s bumps and crossroads, work and patience have always kept me grounded, either with relationships, finance, or happiness. Now I feel I’m on my “X”. Of course, I still look for new adventures around the corner. I know that I have been extremely lucky. I also profoundly adhere to a friend’s motto: When you want fudge, you make it yourself! So here I am and it feels great!

Please tell us about Mid Century Style Shop.
I’m basically a designer. That’s what I do every day for my clients and I love it. The online store is a pet project I started three years ago. When I first visited Palm Springs, California, ground zero for mid-century modern architecture and design, I fell in love with the joyfulness and modernity of this timeless era. While remodeling my vacation condo, I searched for items in the spirit of the mid-century modern design movement without the vintage look. That turned out to be too hard of an order to fulfill. As a senior graphic designer, I decided to do it myself. Then, why not share them online for the world to buy. I felt it could be fun to offer my take on this classic style by creating my own designs, applied to modern products. That’s how it all started. Now, these exclusive products are offered solely through the Mid Century Style Shop brand at the MidCentury.Style online store. Considering the incredible potential I see in this, I’d say it’s still in its infancy. I’m hoping to make this into a worthy niche business in the years to come. I’m in the midst of learning a ton of new tech and marketing skills, working hard on it every day, with the utmost patience I’ve ever had to put into a project. You could call it my ultimate batch of fudge!

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I “know” I could have done things differently but I’m not sure I would. I feel it’s a misconception that you could just go back and try something else. Life throws at you everything it can grab and you work with your strengths and weaknesses. Everything I did was beneficial, I know that after the fact of course. Except for one thing: I should have worked harder to find a way to stay in Paris at the time. There was so much more to learn. I had build a great life with amazing friends. Technically, I had to come back but ultimately, I would have loved to spend more time there. It’s my only occasional look back in the rearview mirror. But it’s useless to see things through this lense because at the end of the day, you have to appreciate what you have now and my path has been so amazing, I wouldn’t change a thing.

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