THROUGH THE GATE
Interior designer, Rozanne Jackson not only possesses an uncanny ability to transform any interior into a home, but is also one of the friendliest forces in interior design and home décor through her business, The Iron Gate. Shannon Bowers, MILIEU’s Editor-at-Large and a prolific interior designer herself, sits down with Rozanne for some “shop talk” revealing what’s behind the welcoming spirit of The Iron Gate and how it endures with time.
It’s been twenty-six years since Rozanne started the retail side of her life in design and, as she says, “I continue to enjoy the ride and to be a part of the design community as a whole.”
Although Rozanne was already an established interior designer, she wanted to expand her scope. “I knew that clients needed to actually see things in person to understand their own sense of design. A person needs to see ideas. And that is why I established The Iron Gate, first in the lovely town of Franklin, Tennessee, and later in a showroom space in Nashville.”
She recalls the moment she found not only her calling in professional life, but also the perfect place in which to launch it. She discovered a small house in the historic town of Franklin that had a beautiful courtyard area, and given her inherent design eye, she was able to envision as a retail space.
“While I was conceiving the space as a commercial business, I had a local blacksmith design a gateway entry to that courtyard, hence the name,” she says. “That cute little house evolved into what has become The Iron Gate. People still think that’s what we do, make iron gates! We can do that, certainly, but the real thrust of our business, is our wide and ever-evolving range of decorative accessories for the home. We stayed there for three years.”
With the wild success of that first brick-and-mortar presence, she set up business in a larger space on Main Street in downtown Franklin. Rozanne was attracted to the history and patina of a spacious circa-1890 building there. While that flagship presence continues to thrive, she subsequently opened an even larger showroom space in Nashville, in a building she shares, in part, with her husband’s architectural practice.
Rozanne has been in business long enough to have seen—and adapted to—the changes in the world of retail. “When I first started, people, of course, didn’t have Internet exposure,” she says. “In those early days of my business, people would walk in and see things they never saw before. It was fun. Once online retail life began, that dynamic certainly changed, but because I’m such a touch-and-feel person, I know how important it is still to see objects and furnishings and textures and patterns and colors in person. I will admit, that transition was very hard.”
And then there was the onset of Covid, which continues to transform how we all shop and interact. As someone who likes to be around people—indeed, has a talent for personal, one-on-one interaction—Rozanne has had to make a huge adjustment in how she does business. “Fortunately, through Instagram and other venues, we have been able to maintain a strong presence in the marketplace during this health crisis,” she says. “And people do come into our stores again, very safely, of course, and that continues to hearten me. Ever since everybody has been locked up, in a sense, we have all been able to reevaluate the spaces in which we live—and in ways we never had before. We have all come to realize how important home is. March and April were very hard months, for business and for all of our spirits. But we feel blessed that everything continues to bounce back.”
Like all talented designers, Rozanne understands the need for quiet time and a place to reflect. Her creative well fills up when she and her husband, Architect Glen Oxford, are at their Florida home, (which is featured in MILIEU’s Fall 2020 issue). She admits, “When my mind gets on something, I can be like a hamster. I just won’t stop if I start a new project. I’ll jumpstart something and run and run and run with it. I can run until I make myself sick! It’s about nervous energy and adrenaline. I make good use of that energy in the business and in my design work. I have to say, I have heard that I do come across, though, as calm and cool and I’m sure that helps with my business. It’s my genuine personality. It’s not an affect. I was tell my clients that there is no design project that is problem-free. But I always reassure them that the problem can be solved.”
Through her stores, Rozanne maintains a wide selection of home accessories—everything from candles to sofas, “anything that makes one’s life more beautiful at home,” she emphasizes. “Our goal is for anyone who comes here to feel wonderful the minute they come through the door—or gate!” It’s fair to say that a visit to The Iron Gate is to be immersed in a design milieu that is inspiring, an effect enhanced by her expert staff members.
As a decided “people person,” Rozanne sorely misses going out into the market to see items to carry for the business. “When you see things in person, and meet the people behind them, you get inspired and I miss all that. I miss important markets like High Point, which, after all, I have been attending for all of the twenty-six years I have been in business. I look forward to the day when we can all return to these events and others and be together, be inspired together.”
For more information, please visit theirongateonline.net
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WRITTEN BY SHANNON BOWERS
Images courtesy of The Iron Gate