LAKE WORTH BEACH – Denise Savela fulfilled her lifelong dream on Nov. 12. This was the day he opened The Cozy Cottage LWB.
Her husband Tim died in December. The pandemic had kept her at her home in Lake Worth Beach too long. Two close friends, a decade younger than her, also died. Her arthritis is getting worse.
“I decided that I want to live boldly. I choose joy. That’s why I did this. It’s been a life-changing experience,” said the 61-year-old Detroit native, stepping gingerly through the array of colorful macramés, stained glass, paintings and other handmade art at the Dixie Highway vintage and craft gallery. .
The economy is what keeps most small business entrepreneurs up at night. They worry about overhead, insurance, paying employees and keeping customers happy.
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Money is not her motivation, Savela freely admits. She hits her heart, wipes away a tear, and says that when Tim died, she was moved to make changes. “Tim died at the end of the pandemic, just when we could start living again. I realized how short and precious life is,” she said.
Savela renewed old high school friendships. She attended her 40th high school reunion. She researched her background.
One of the new friends she made was Nancy Kumpulainen, an artist and longtime Lake Worth Beach resident who lives in College Park. “Denise is very passionate about it. I’m excited to be a part of it,” said Kumpulainen, who has hand-cut collage art at Cozy Cottage.
Before opening Cozy Cottage, Savela turned down an offer from friends to go to Alaska with them, a decision she now regrets. But a friend invited him to Argentina after Tim died.
Eight glorious days is what she remembers. “In Buenos Aires, they live with joy and vitality. They drink coffee in the beautiful town square. There are puppet shows. It revived me,” she said.
Upon her return, she noticed that a building that had been vacant for about eight years on North Dixie Highway was up for rent. She knew the owner. She made an offer to rent the 700 square meter building. The owner agreed.
The gallery sells handmade art, paintings, stained glass by local artists
Savela spent about $12,000 financing, redecorating and painting the walls robin’s-egg blue. She invited her friends who are artists to exhibit their work at The Cozy Cottage. Savela receives a share of the sale price and a commission on sales.
Nora makes art glass and paints. Nancy makes collage art. Cathy makes folding paper designs. Kimberly makes rope lamps.
“I want people to come here and feel joy,” Savela said.
Like most entrepreneurs, Savela has led a versatile business life.
She came to Lauderhill in Broward County in 1982 while working for Detroit-based Little Caesars Pizza. She moved to Palm Beach County in 1984 while working for The Gap. In the late 1990s, she and a partner ran a roller hockey league.
“We had about 750 players. We leased the Atlantis Skateway,” she said.
She earned a degree in marketing and communications from Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2000. She worked at PBAU in the admissions department until 2003. For the past five years, she has worked remotely with a marketing and real estate firm.
She enjoys her eclectic store location. The New Church of the Nazarene is to the south. Amigos Grocery and McMow Art Glass are located along Dixie Highway. Carwash Tropical Detail is up north. Private houses and apartments are to the east.
Savelas hopes to keep alive the spirit created at the Nov. 12 grand opening. A guitarist played music. Friends and family came. People bought and discussed art.
“I want Cozy Cottage to be a happy, colorful place where people hold community events, have classes and make friends,” she said.