Q+A: Pamela Shelala, Journey
Since 1995, Pamela Shelala has run Journey, a vintage and contemporary furniture store with a handpicked selection of amazing accessories. We sat down with Pam to talk DUMBO, India, and how she got her start.
How was Journey formed?
I formed it 21 years ago. At a young age, I was always collecting furniture and fixing my room. I always loved furniture, and it became a part of my life. I started my professional life as a photographer, but back then, photographers didn't really have a steady job. It was hard to get a job at a magazine. I started substitute teaching second grade with the Board of Education in between photo jobs. I did that for six years, but I realized that teaching wasn't my calling. I really needed to get back to photography and do something a little more creative. While doing photography, I did a lot of interiors. I would go to beautiful homes and photograph people's houses. So I opened up a small store in Park Slope in 1995 while I was teaching just to see if I could take a shot at it.
How do you choose your furniture pieces?
I started off only selling vintage because I loved vintage. I was getting a lot of Mexican items because it was popular at the time, but then I noticed a lot of great things coming out of India. So, I went to India and made some connections and I've been going there for many years. A lot of the wood pieces and vintage items [in the store] are from India. Recently, we stopped bringing in Indian pieces because as times change, you have to change. As apartments are changing and becoming smaller, the Indian items are sort of big so we started to bring in more contemporary lines. It is getting harder to store furniture around here, so I got rid of my warehouse and I am scaling down.
There aren't that many small stores out there that do a mix of both [vintage and contemporary pieces.]
Pamela Shelala, Owner of Journey
What is unique about your store?
I always liked having a mix of furniture, old and new, and vintage items with the contemporary. That's definitely what is unique about this store. There aren't that many small stores out there that do a mix of both.
I started in Park Slope. I was there for nine years, and then I moved to DUMBO. In Park Slope, I was importing containers from India, so I had to get a warehouse. I would work in the furniture store and take people to the warehouse at the same time— the store was too small. I came to DUMBO and saw all these huge spaces. It wasn't really developed so much back then. Two Trees had started, and though there weren't a lot of businesses yet, I knew it would grow it something really great and I took the plunge. Front Street also wasn't developed at the time so I had to take a space on Water Street between Jay and Pearl. I have been in this space [on Front Street] for about six years.
What are your favorite places in DUMBO?
I live here so I just love the neighborhood. Hands down, I love the park. I love being by the water. I run the two bridges all the time. I also love walking the new spot that they made in the park that takes you over to Jay Street where it's a little quieter.