Rococo Design shop is a quaint boutique that sells artisan gifts, flowers, chocolates, and home decor. Shop owner and interior designer Ursallie Smith has been in the design and home furnishing industry for over 25 years. She recently opened her store in her neighborhood on Lewis Avenue in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, last November.

“I decided that I wanted to do something during the pandemic because it killed the interior design business, you can’t go in people’s houses,” said Smith.

The building she rents now for her shop was empty for two years, she said, and was just a few blocks away from her home. She said that everything in her shop is unique and not available on e-commerce sites, so she does pretty well in terms of sales. The main draw to her shop is that there’s no other ones like it in the immediate area, she said.

Her specialty crafted chocolates and ‘forever roses,’ that last up to three years without wilting, are best sellers.

Though this is her first gift shop, Smith has had several furniture and design centers. Her mission is to highlight other small business owners with her space. For Women’s History Month, she had several women entrepreneurs set up in her shop, selling their wares. “I’m helping all small businesses, whether they’re Black, white, purple, or red because small business is a struggle,” said Smith.

Smith is from the Turks and Caicos Islands. She moved from the islands to Richmond, Virginia. She then graduated with honors from the Art Institute of Atlanta, specializing in kitchen renovation, residential and boutique hotel decor.

She began her career in merchandising as a buyer in retail for about 20 years. She then made the switch to entrepreneurial ventures after getting fed up with the boxed lifestyle. “You never get holidays off, you never get weekends off. I was just over it,” said Smith.

She’s since been featured in The New York Times, the Washington Post, Living Spaces Magazine, and HGTV White Room Challenge for her designs.

Smith said she spent about five years working in Turks and Caicos designing lavish resorts before moving to New York City. She said she loves the BedStuy community and is involved in the local church. “Everybody waves. They know you,” she said.

Eventually, Smith said she wants to retire from interior design. Her main plan is to travel from the city back and forth to Turks and Caicos and hang out on the beach. “Just living my life like it’s golden in the next two years,” said Smith.

Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by clicking here: bit.ly/amnews1

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