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“We began with an idea which sprouted into a mission and with amazing grace has blossomed into a developed, innovative and reputable company….We are immensely grateful for all of the support we have received from our family and friends but most importantly the customers who have made our every effort worthwhile.”
— Michael Gentilucci
Our company originated in May of 1999 in the community of Pacific Beach in San Diego, California.
Designer Stone – Alisa and I had met the year prior while working for a local oceanfront blues bar. One day, while relaxing in our patio garden amidst planters and garden accents, we contemplated our future together and the idea of Designer Stone was born. We began making molds in our garage and soon realized we were onto something. At that time, it was a stretch to imagine our endeavor would amount to anything more than Swap Meets and Farmer’s Markets. But while driving way too far to do Home Shows and “tailgate cold calls”, we would frequently discuss the type of company we desired to become. Our very first thought was always “highest quality”, followed by “original designs and reliable service”. Once our core business values were recognized, we realized our goal was to become the best. With this unified vision of greatness, our immense companionship, some perseverance, sacrifice and a dash of good fortune. The result landed us in many of the most prestigious Southern Californian garden centers, which included Sperling Nursery and Roger’s Gardens. Once established, the word was out and we gained a solid foothold within the industry and we were well on our way of becoming a respectable “Statuary” company.
DS Garden Shop – We bought a mixed-use property in Ramona. The property had a dilapidated Victorian cabin without a kitchen or bathroom, some crumbled out-buildings and a unfinished two story warehouse … and it was beautiful. Together we saw beyond the problems, we saw potential. It allowed us to live, work and save time and money. With the help of Alisa’s father, we remodeled our home on nights and weekends and soon the house actually became livable. The cabin was built in 1906 and was a rather interesting building with two front doors. The left front door led to a small private room and in September of 2001, this room became Designer Stone Garden Shop. In the months prior, I spent that summer gutting our front yard, hand picking river rocks, mortaring them one-by-one and built a rustic iron stone fence and pond. Alisa spent her time creating a wonderful garden and preparing our cozy shop for business. While at trade shows promoting our products we found other American craftsmen, some created whimsical ceramic mushrooms, others rustic wooden birdhouses and others eclectic iron work. Our inventory consisted of ornamental garden art, with a strong sentiment for American craftsmen.
Seeds of Change – It was about this time we met Dee Early, the local high school’s art teacher. Dee, an amazing sculptor but evidently an even greater teacher of the arts. At one time, Dee had three of her students in the top ten of a national art contest. Truly Amazing! Then while at a trade show, I met another lady who worked with an organization called “The Sparrow Foundation”. This foundations principle mission was supporting children who help children. Their book called “One Small Sparrow” had a cover photo of a sparrow in a child’s hand. Basically, one thing led to another and we held a sculpting contest in Dee’s class, who could sculpt the best rendition of the book’s cover. We contracted the piece with “The Sparrow Foundation”, released it to our wholesale accounts and sold oodles through our Garden Shop.
While working with Smith & Hawken, we learned they were interested in a head planter, so we created it for them, actually we made two. Another catalog company we had great success with was Red Envelope. We had previously sold thousands of Sleeping Elephants and Meditating Buddhas, so naturally we tried to segway our success and we created a blend of those two pieces called a “Wise Elephant Buddha”. The irony is neither of these efforts were approved and published, so we released them through our wholesale accounts and sold oodles through our Garden Shop and again found great success. The response for these unique pieces was eye-opening, a light went off in my head and a transition from a “Statuary” company to “Garden Artists” had begun.
The Gentilucci Collection – I felt a good deal of personal satisfaction sculpting my original thoughts into clay, creating them in our special blend of cast-stone and watching them become popular. The positive response we received from these unusual spirited designs was an extraordinary feeling. Our customers would smile while holding our art in their hands and tell us intimate stories about who they intend to give this gift to. So, that’s what we did. We began creating unusual works of art, one piece complimenting another, evoking emotion and touching our consumers. We contracted local artists to sculpt my artistic visions and my personal satisfaction of creating was being fulfilled. By 2005, we had dozens of original sculptures and our company had taken on an entirely new direction, thus beginning “The Gentilucci Collection”. A compilation of amusing, expressive and inspirational garden art.
10 Years Old – We began with an idea which sprouted into a mission and with amazing grace has blossomed into a developed, innovative and reputable company. Designer Stone Garden Shop is now commonly known as DS Garden Shop. The cozy room has become the bird room and the rest of the house is a full garden shop with ornamental and practical garden goods, but still mostly ornamental. The Gentilucci Collection has hundreds of original sculptures, complete lines of Head Planters, Zen Animals and Garden Hands. We have since added arrangements of Pot Feet, Book Saucers, Garden Chess, Hopscotch and our latest concept Spirit Stones. All product continues to be designed by myself, sculpted by local artists and hand crafted with immense pride, in our garage behind our shop. We distribute our product nationwide to some of the finest garden centers, book stores, yoga studios, catalog companies and of course, right here at www.dsgardenshop.com.
My wife and I are immensely grateful for all of the support we have received from our family and friends, but most importantly the customers who have made our every effort worthwhile. We appreciate those letters expressing how our art work has made you smile and it inspires me to create. My personal thanks to Stephen Howie, Jessie Early, Charlotte Perrin and Jessica Holmes for sculpting my designs.
We look forward to establishing lasting relationships with our customers, building careers for our employees and creating the next great design. Happy Gardening!