Why did you decide to establish ZaZoo’d in the Tampa Bay area?
I’m originally from Texas but have lived in several metropolitan areas in the U.S. St. Pete was always a favorite vacation spot. I recently retired from my 25-year career as vice president of training at Darden Restaurants in Orlando. While there, I kept a beach house in Treasure Island, where I spent most weekends. My love for the people and the Tampa Bay area grew as time went on. It’s always been a dream to utilize my design degree and have a store like ZaZoo’d. Spending time here inspired me to work toward making that dream a reality, and six years ago I opened ZaZoo’d St. Petersburg.
In addition to selling home decor and furnishings, ZaZoo’d also offers interior design, event and wedding planning services. How did you settle on those business areas?
Having studied design, it was always part of the plan to incorporate interior design in the business. Because of my previous experience in project management and the type of creative design elements involved, adding event and wedding planning services has been a natural fit. Having retail locations helps us create better brand awareness for all ZaZoo’d business areas. Being a brick and mortar retailer also allows for us to get better pricing on furnishings for our design clients, essentially saving them money in the long run on professional design services.
Where and how do you source the furnishings and decor in your retail stores?
Setting ourselves apart and creating a unique shopping experience is one of the most challenging but rewarding parts of our job. When curating the store, it’s always our goal to inspire seaside memories for each customer. Our designers travel extensively and work with local artists to select and design eye-catching pieces that make people smile. We source products from wholesale trade shows, timeless estates, vintage markets and more.
What are some of the home design trends you see locally?
Living by the water often inspires many to lean toward a coastal or nautical design style, which we love and is a big part of ZaZoo’d retail. As in all things, society is naturally affected by media; interior design is no different. Our clients get ideas from things they see on HGTV and various Instagram personalities and bloggers. Mid-century modern has made a huge comeback recently, and shiplap is still going strong, thanks to Joanna [Gaines, from the HGTV series Fixer Upper].
Which spot in the Tampa Bay area do you think really nailed their decor and design?
As far as our own designs go, we’re most proud of The Lucky Dill, New York Kitchen & Lounge and Stache House project in Tampa — three restaurant and bar concepts under one roof. We worked closely with the owner to create an updated version of The Lucky Dill restaurant in Palm Harbor. It was designed with the traditional New York deli in mind but definitely on a much larger scale and with our own Bay-area twist. NYKL is one of the largest bars you’ll find in Tampa. The design is inspired by the industrial and electrifying streets of New York. Tucked away in the back, you’ll find Stache, a stylish speakeasy with an upscale lounge vibe. Our client has done a great job accenting the design by creating an exciting atmosphere.
Your original location is in the heart of Downtown St. Pete. For our Tampa readers, what would be your ideal night out for someone coming over to DTSP?
Start with a beautiful ferry ride across the bay, then grab a cocktail and catch a rooftop view of downtown and the water at The Canopy. Walk up Central Avenue and stop to see us at ZaZoo’d, of course! Two doors down you’ll find Brick & Mortar, an award-winning restaurant with a deliciously unique, locally sourced menu — a perfect place for dinner. Walk back down a couple blocks and around the corner is The Galley. You’ll feel like you just walked aboard an old yacht with all the vintage nautical decor. Try a signature cocktail and see where the rest of the night takes you, but don’t miss the ferry back.
What is your favorite Bay-area brunch location?
Datz’s brunch is unbeatable. I’m so excited for the opening of their St. Pete location.
What are your favorite places in the Bay area for culture?
We are lucky the Bay area art and culture scene is so vibrant. My favorite places are the Dalí Museum, where the traveling exhibits are always phenomenal, and the Chihuly Collection, where the astonishing blown glass pieces never get old! The St. Pete Art Walk every second Saturday of the month is also a perfect time to visit some of the smaller galleries and explore the work of our own brilliant local artists.