318 Art and Garden
You don’t just go to 318 Art and Garden to shop — you go for the experience.
“When customers buy from us, they’re helping support around 50 different Louisiana artists and artisans,” said Cassie Rome, the owner and visionary behind the year-old one-of-a-kind boutique that features everything from hand-crafted pottery to organic Cajun spices to oyster art.
“We curate arts and art products from all over the state,” Rome said. “The majority of our products are purchased from Louisiana small businesses. I go to New Orleans and other south Louisiana cities, see what the trends are and bring items back to town. This gives Shreveport access to things that are in demand down there.”
Customers never know what they’ll find in the shop. The inventory has frequent turnover, and when one item sells out, its replacement may never be quite the same. Visitors usually make several laps around the building, and due to the thoughtful placement and layering of the space, they often discover something new every time.
“People love to hear the stories behind our products,” said Rome, a Shreveport native who is happy to have made her city a more vibrant place to shop. “One thing I especially love is the sense of community support we’ve felt since the day we opened. When customers come to our store, they tell us they get a peaceful feeling — that it’s somewhere they want to linger.”
Several years ago, Rome never thought she’d be where she is now. She decided to leave her corporate background behind — she was particularly tired of all the travel — and figure out what she was passionate about.
“My friend came to my house one day, looked around at the art I had from floor to ceiling and the container gardens I had in the backyard, and told me, ‘You need to open an art and garden store,’” Rome said. “I started fleshing it out, put my business plan together and that was the start of everything.”
Her sister-in-law Lisa Johnson is the store manager, and the two are quite the duo. Rome can’t imagine running the place without her. While Rome mostly handles the creative side, Johnson has amazing business savvy and sense and keeps day-to-day operations running smoothly — especially when Rome is off hunting for new wares to add to her collection.
“We make a good team,” Rome said. “Together, we develop relationships with customers. We enjoy making those connections, and people are always happy when they leave here.”
Rome is an outgoing people-person who never meets a stranger. Her dynamic personality makes her the perfect small business owner, and she’s glad she made the leap and left her old career behind.
“Everyone is naturally drawn to her,” Johnson said. “If anybody is going to make anything happen or work, Cassie is that person. She gives 200 percent in everything she does.”
Both Rome and Johnson admit they’ve worked harder making the shop successful than they ever have at any previous job. But it usually doesn’t feel like it — and they don’t mind, anyway. “It’s true what they say,” said Rome. “If you’re following your passion, you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Once per quarter, Rome offers painting parties in the store. They’re usually hosted by Carla Davis, who specializes in Louisiana wildlife artwork, and patrons learn techniques they can use to spruce up their own space. Every time they’re announced, they sell out that very same day.
Rome also enjoys having garden parties. For the last one, guests picked out terrariums and learned how to layer plants aesthetically inside them. Jan Cooper, or as Rome calls her, “the plant whisperer,” is usually in charge of these. The retired school teacher, originally a loyal customer who couldn’t get enough of the store, is now a part-time employee. So is Erin Ducote, a full-time student who helps out periodically and is responsible for IT and graphic design.
“We have so much talent in our state that there is no need to look outside it,” Rome said. “I’m glad to help promote our own talented artists, artisans and Louisiana small businesses.”
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