MASAYA: A Design Experience of Joy
10/31/2022 | Sara McLean |
Set along Pine Avenue in Long Beach is a new experiential design space called MASAYA. Meaning ‘joyful’ in Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines, this shop combines men’s clothing and home décor blended with weekend workshops and a network of artist collaboratives. The brainchild of proprietor and owner Rich Rodriguez, former marketing communications manager at Dunn-Edwards. I sat down with Rodriguez to learn more about his journey and the inspiration to achieve his version of the American dream.
What was the inspiration for MASAYA and how did the shop come to fruition?
I actually had the idea for opening a shop back in the early 2000s when I was living in Brooklyn, New York. There was something about having my own space where I could be creative, meet people and have conversations, and curate my own collection of goods that excited me. There were times I would imagine walking up to the shop’s door to open for the day and greeting people as they came in. I worked out a business plan at the time but, unfortunately, I was never able to get it off the ground.
When my husband and I moved to Long Beach in 2014, we fell in love with the city because of its diversity, relative walkability and the breadth of small, independent shops where we live. I got to know some of the local business owners and began talking to them about their experiences and letting them into my dream. By the end of 2019, I was beginning to form the idea for the shop and started developing a brand identity and story.
The pandemic forced me to shelve the shop project for another year, so I pivoted to designing tote bags inspired by Tagalog words to sell in the meantime. One of the words I chose was ‘masaya.’ The meaning of the word perfectly captured the spirit of the Filipino people and the design was so stunning that I ultimately chose it as the name of the shop and the design as the logo.
By the summer of 2021, I was starting to zero in on a location and beginning the process of finding a contractor and commercial design firm. Through many starts and stops along the way, MASAYA officially opened on May 6, 2022!
Describe the design process for the shop's branding and products, and what challenges you faced along the way.
I’ve been a PR expert my entire professional career, so I come from a brand-building background. I believed it was really important to start with a strong brand identity and story that would inform everything from the look and feel of the shop to the types of products I would carry. Authenticity was also key, so I dove into my personal history to help develop aspects of the brand.
As a Filipino-American, I had a rich history to research and explore. I looked into the Philippines pre- and post-Colonial art, the language, textiles, mythology and other cultural touchpoints. The ocean has always been a big influence on my life because my father was in the U.S. Navy for 30 years. I’ve always lived in coastal communities and it’s where I’ve found joy and relaxation—and the diversity of people, communities and cultures that make the world thrive. It was important to incorporate references to the ocean and sea life into the brand along with a sustainable approach. The result of my research is the logo and icon, a sea turtle, [designed by Chris Diaz from Long Beach] with a vibrant expression of color and graphics that represents my personal history and my long journey to becoming a shopkeeper!
The shop design process began by producing a creative direction presentation that included specific references to designs I liked along with the executions of the brand identity. I worked with the team at Long Beach-based Citron Design Group to develop the overall look and unique display options, such as the monochromatic color blocking, brass tube and rope hanging systems, and the custom cash wrap. Throughout the entire project, I consulted with you [Sara McLean, color expert and stylist for Dunn-Edwards] on the color and design choices before making final decisions.
While selecting the brands to sell in the shop, I wanted to ensure they aligned with the MASAYA ethos. Each one is an independent brand with a sustainable approach to its production and choice of materials. Two of the brands—Meso Goods from Guatemala and Rags2Riches (R2R) from the Philippines—are also focused on social impact by way of sourcing materials locally, elevating artisanal craftsmanship from their respective cultures, and providing trade opportunities to local artisans.
The global pandemic was the biggest challenge I faced and it caused so many delays, from securing a location and planning a design/construction schedule to receiving permits from the city due to changes made to the submission and review process. The costs for materials also increased across the board, which affected my overall budget for the project.
You tie art into the shop through murals … can you walk us through the pieces, the ideas behind each, and which Dunn-Edwards colors were used in them?
The shop’s first mural behind the cash register area was created by downtown LA-based artist Caroline Geys (she also painted the color blocks throughout the shop). What I love most about her work is her use of color in shapes that create motion and momentum. Instead of painting a replica of the logo, I asked her to come up with her own interpretation of the MASAYA sea turtle icon. Her version is more abstract and deconstructed, which fits so well into the space and features the shop’s colors: Hot Sun (DE5349), Veranda (DET543), Two Harbors (DE5813), La Vie en Rose (DET416), Hinterland (DET509), OK Coral (DET436), and Cloistered Garden (DET523) as the background color.
The newest mural is by Long Beach artist Luis Zavala Tapia titled Autumn Moons and was painted in Dunn-Edwards 2023 Color of the Year, Terra Rosa (DE5096). His art is informed by ancient antiquity and a colorful palette from Mexico through the use of figurative and abstract elements. It centers on the importance of being seen as our own selves in a world where many feel unseen or misrepresented. Luis is able to convey so much intimacy and emotion through the lens of color using simple shapes and lines.
Now that you're open, what successes have you had and what types of unique components to your shop keep people coming in?
I always wanted to create an experience for customers that would tap into their senses and make the brand memorable. Obviously, there’s the visual experience with the murals and artwork and also the music from the sound system. I’ve also hosted a number of weekend pop-up events at the shop by partnering with local artists, makers and creators to offer things like home interior décor, fresh bouquets, handmade goods, and even Filipino desserts! The events have created awareness for the shop, helped build relationships with the local community, grown word of mouth, and increased sales each time.
What do you see as the future of MASAYA? How do you see it evolving?
On November 1, I hit a big milestone, which was the launch of the online shop. I also plan to offer virtual styling appointments soon to help customers choose the best styles and fit online and to provide easy tips on building a solid wardrobe. And I’m very excited to enter into more product collaborations with other brands similar to the collection I co-designed with R2R and to create other brand partnerships. And, there just might be a second MASAYA shop popping up somewhere out there!
To read more on MASAYA and shop the merchandise, visit Rich at masayastore.com.
All photography by Bethany Nauert Photography
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