Creative Women: Joyce Romanoff of Maya Romanoff

Meet Joyce Romanoff, President of Skokie-based wall coverings company, Maya Romanoff.

She is focused on thoughtfully growing the company’s line of products without sacrificing its culture of cooperation and connection.

Romanoff also serves on the Exhibitions Committee for the Museum of Arts & Design in NY and on the Advisory Boards for HD Expo and HD Boutique.

What initially resonated with you about Maya Romanoff?
Actually, it was meeting Maya and trying to figure out what he did. Hand-painted wall coverings were very foreign to me. It was something that never really came to my attention. It was the appeal of the artistry and him as the visionary that attracted me.

How is the culture of the company unique?
The logo really typifies the culture of the company. The lotus is intertwining of people, materials and cooperation. I think it’s the Ying and the Yang, the balance that we’re able to create in this company that makes it so viable.

Most of your wall coverings are manufactured at your Skokie facility, correct?
We have 65 people and they’re all under this roof. Forty-five of them are painting or doing some type of product development.

How have you changed the business?
My husband ran the business for many years and was not a big risk taker. He ran the business without any debt. I keep that in mind, but I also want to grow the business.

How do you expand the business and keep it afloat and not have too many expenses and obligations? How have you approached that?
We’re always looking to the next incarnation of the product, which makes things interesting.  We also listen to designers. What’s not out there? What materials would you like to work with? We’re able to act on it very quickly.

How so?
I was shopping in a store in Hong Kong, and I picked up a little Mother-of-Pearl dish. I tracked down who purchased that dish and where they purchased it, ran to the factory and did the deal on one trip. I wish it happened like that more often, but when it does happen, it’s very exciting.

Are you ever worried a new product won’t catch on?
When we make a decision to make a product, it’s very expensive. I like to have educated partners to help me make decisions and we have those people who work for us.

How do you respond to trends?
I believe we’re trend makers. We try to create classics. When we go through the trouble of making something perfect, we don’t want to see it go out of style. We have products that are 20 years old plus that are still in our line.

And now you have the new showroom at the Merchandise Mart!
The showroom is 40 years in the making. It really transcends anything I thought we would ever have in Chicago. It really shows who we are. It’s really a crowning achievement of mine. I can’t believe we did this. Our employees were the first people who walked through the doors, because they made it. It was a good way to start off.

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