Interview by Bo Crew | Transcription by Linette Hidalgo
G and Ry Roslie are the owners of the new boutique shop Slo Curio in the River North Art District. As they describe it, Slo Curio is a “‘slow makers’ space, a curio shop, art gallery and a quiet respite.” Not only are they business partners, they are also “partners in life and [are] in love with the process of creating.” We sat down with the couple to hear about the highs and lows of moving to a new city and starting a business in the ever evolving landscape of startups in Denver.
Denver VOICE: How did the idea of Slo Curio come to be?
G: This was just like a pure stroke of luck.
Ry: We thought we’re just going to get an apartment, she’ll get a studio, and open that up.
G: Before we knew it was a retail [space], we were able to open it up, I was just going to use it as my studio space downstairs.
Ry: It morphed pretty quick.
G:There was a lot of luck involved.
DV: How is what Slo Curio ended up being different than what you envisioned? Did you come here with an entrepreneurial mindset of “we want to run a business?”
Ry: I had in the past, when we were in living in Hawaii, had a refill business because the plastic situation is so bad over there […] We had sourced all cleaning products that you can think of, from your hand soap, laundry detergent, multi purpose spray conditioner[…]and it had to arrive to us in a 55-gallon HDPE barrel.
G: His real passion was he wanted to start another refill business.
Ry: And she was like well I just want a little studio so I can sell my clothing. And we both entered this place and I was like we could do both and she was like I don’t want to do both. So we got out here winging these thoughts.
G: I was going to continue with my clothing, that was something I was already doing, clothing and bags.
Ry: And I figured I could still do what I want to do and just feel it out, [see] who is doing what around here. I was thinking maybe I can get an alliance going with someone outside of what we are doing here.
G: We are always wanting to try new things, and do new things. It’s interesting that it’s really kind of morphing into a gallery kind of space where we can feature artists […] and really making it a makers’ space. I am naturally more of an introverted kind of person, but living in a city with so many friendly people, it has changed my idea of what I want to do with this space. The more we meet people the more we can collaborate with people. I feel like anything is really possible in this city. [...] I really really love supporting the artists. That’s been a joy, meeting such creative people and giving them a space.
Ry: The neatest thing I think is we don’t do a whole heck of a lot of marketing. We’ve just been peppering this local hood area with some flyers. We did some postcards, she designed those, so we thought let’s just do a little grassroots marketing and see what sticks. Hopefully the word of mouth will get out there.
G: I’m on Instagram, that’s probably the only thing I really do. We collect emails and do blasts.
DV: Where did the name Slo Curio come from?
G: ‘Slo’ is for slow made, slow fashion. There is the slow fashion movement. The slow food movement. It’s taking your time making things. We cut it to ‘SLO’ because it’s slow, luxurious, and organic.
Ry: Or sustainable, but that word’s just so punched around.
G: And the Curio, it’s the curiosity factor. The curio of just little things we’re carrying, something that’s been hand picked, so there’s a story behind it. A curio element to that. It’s a very important thing to always keep alight, a sense of being curious.
DV: What would you tell someone who is starting out on their own?
G: The very first thing, I think the most important thing is again the curiosity factor. I think you really have to live your life in a way where you are constantly stimulated by things that are new to you, different to you, want to learn about things. It’s all about curiosity. And I feel like that is a big motivating factor. I think that is a good way to figure out what you want to do.
Ry: I’m always impressed with the folks that are selling those papers. They all have their unique way of selling that paper.
DV: It’s a lot harder than it looks.
Ry: I’ve accompanied G in the past to pop-ups and she used to say you have to stay but I understand it’s not easy. I’ve been in hospitality or things of that nature so for me it’s a little bit easier but I still feel intimidated at times, it’s not the easiest thing in the world.
DV: Are you using an online platform to sell as well?
Ry: Yes, and G starts with her own creations and puts them up, and any other inspirations that come along. That’s one thing I love about her is she is a wordsmith. She writes very thoughtful beautiful pieces. Everything that she does revolves around poetry, there’s meaning behind each garment, there’s inspiration. She sits on this stuff for so long and then finally it happens. I get a little inpatient waiting…
DV: It’s Slo Curio though, you can’t really say too much.
Ry: We always tell people, ‘well, we’re living up to our name.’ It’s very slow.
DV: You really are though, that’s one of the things that stood out to me during this conversation is when I ask you what is the biggest tip you have and she says to stay curious.
Ry: Totally. The business I was doing in the past allowed me to fail, she’s failed on certain levels. But you can’t let you pin you down. It’s learning. Asking what didn’t work? How do we make it work this time around? [...] we both have been trying to find mentors, people that can help out and we have found them in the most random and odd places which has been really neat. That has been super helpful to be open about that. Come with an open mind. You put that energy out there, it will eventually come back around. And if you can keep a steady stream of conscious about it, and two heads are better than one, it’s wild how things will manifest. If you stay focused it will be there, eventually.
DV: What have been some of the biggest roadblocks or challenges you guys have had?
Ry: I think trying to see eye-to-eye, looking around the shop what would we agree on trying to fill this space with? [...] I think it’s not getting so stuck when you feel like you haven’t arrived at a solution; trying to keep finances in check, just getting over those hurdles. I don’t think this would have happened unless we could actually work here, create here, and we’re not holding another lease somewhere else. I think trying to overcome the challenges of normal businesses. We’ve both taken business courses, we’ve had help, I think we’ve utilized a lot of resources.
G: As a small business owner or entrepreneur you should constantly be thinking of new ways to make it interesting and adding components where it’s going to be interesting to many people.
Ry: And at the end of the day it’s what makes you feel good, what makes you tick. ■