When designer Bill Yosh decided to open a business, couldn’t think of a better place than “Little Brooklyn.” Never heard the name? You might guess it was coined by a realtor to put a more attractive spin on a backwater somewhere in Queens, but you’d be off the mark… by about 100 miles.
After graduating Saugerties High School in 1995, Yosh moved to New York City, where he became one of the Fashion Institute of Technology’s first students to enroll in the Home Products Development and Marketing program. In the intervening years, he’s seen his hometown transform into a bastion of cool. On visits back home, he’d find himself running into former classmates — from FIT, not SHS.
“I ran into people that I had gone to school with in the city in Saugerties a couple of occasions in the street,” he said. “It’s the town to be in right now up here, even more so than Rhinebeck. Somebody said to me the other day that it’s the Little Brooklyn, and that made sense. The area has changed with this influx of design conscious people, and my shop is right in the middle of everything.”
Rock Star Rodeo really is in the middle of everything, an eclectic storefront at 120 Partition in the heart of the bustling village. Prior to the October 14 opening, Yosh worked diligently to get some of his pieces into the shop window in time to catch the traffic from the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival.
“I took the wackiest pieces that I have, from football helmets to steer skulls to big antique strongman statues piled up in fun ways to catch people’s eyes,” he said. “I basically got everything looking good without most of my new product just to give people an idea. I had mostly vintage stuff, and I don’t want to give the impression it’s just that. But it seems to be happening. People are stopping, taking pictures.”
The idea, says Yosh, is to offer “outside the box” interior design, decorating and branding services to local consumers and businesses. He wants people to know it’s possible to redesign a space both artfully and inexpensively.
“I like doing things based on things people already have in their homes,” he said. “It’s a green concept that’s also inexpensive. For example, using wood instead of marble counters. It’s the kind of thing designers wouldn’t ordinarily suggest.”
Yosh brings to Rock Star Rodeo 12 years of experience with interior designer Raymond Waites Couture, designing spaces from Tokyo to Moscow to North Carolina. He also designed advertising pieces for use in The New York Times, Architectural Digest and a host of other periodicals. In addition, he was invited back to FIT to teach classes in the same program from which he graduated. By that time, he was living back upstate and doing enough commuting to realize the artistic connection between New York City and Saugerties was more pronounced than ever.
Earlier this year, Yosh began making plans to open his own design firm, one that would also offer unique art pieces, non-traditional gifts and other concepts, including: creative remixing, unexpected design, multifaceted development and visionary rule-breaking.
Yosh said the business is a natural extension of a hobby started with his family years ago.
“It’s always been a dream to open up a shop,” he said. “I’ve been collecting with my mother and sister for years, and we’ve run out of room in three different houses. I finally decided if I was going to work 12, 14 hours a day, I might as well do it for myself.”
Rock Star Rodeo actually started three years ago when Yosh considered a line of clothing that would make sense of the business’ catchy name.
“Originally I was starting kind of a fashion collection,” he said. “But I realized that I’d be marrying it and it would be my life seven days a week, so I backed off a little bit. But it was basically fun vintage leather jackets I was embellishing with studs. It was blinged out, basically.”
Though this is his first real foray into opening his own business, Yosh said he feels like he’s made the right move.
“I’m excited and nervous, but mostly anxious to get the ball rolling,” he said. “Interiors and design are my passion, and I’m confident that we will be very different from other shops in the area and will offer our customers unique products, services and solutions for their homes. I mean, how many shops do you know that have a fortune teller machine, velvet Elvis for sale and an ugly Christmas sweater photo booth?”
Check out Rock Star Rodeo on the web at rockstarrodeo.com.
This article originally appeared in the October 14, 2010 issue of Saugerties Times.