LAKE WORTH BEACH — Denise Savela fulfilled her lifelong dream on Nov. 12. That was the day she opened The Cosi Cottage LVB.
Her husband, Tim, died in December. The pandemic kept her in her Lake Worth Beach home for too long. Two close friends, a decade younger than her, also died. Her arthritis is getting worse.
“I decided I wanted to live bravely.” I choose joy. That’s why I did this. It was a life-changing experience,” said the 61-year-old Detroit native, stepping gingerly among the myriad of colored macrame, stained glass, paintings and other handmade art at the Dixie Highway vintage and craft gallery.
The economy is what keeps most small business owners up at night. They take care of overhead, insurance, paying employees and keeping customers happy.
Independent bookstore:Lake Worth Beach is getting its bookstore back thanks to an unconventional 24-year-old entrepreneur
The dining room:The former Blue Front BBK restaurant location in Lake Worth Beach could become a new Mexican restaurant
Money is not her motivation, Savela freely admits. She beats her heart, wipes away a tear, and says when Tim died, she was prompted to make changes. “Tim died at the end of the pandemic, just when we could start living again.” “I realized how short and precious life is,” she said.
Savela renewed old high school friendships. She was attending her 40th high school reunion. She researched her origins.
One of the new friends she made was Nancy Kumpulainen, an artist and longtime Lake Worth Beach resident who lives in College Park. “Denise is very passionate about this. I’m excited to be a part of it,” said Kumpulainen, who has hand-cut collage art at Cozy Cottage.
Before opening Cozi Cottage, Savela turned down a friend’s offer to go with them to Alaska, which she now regrets. But a friend also invited her to Argentina after Tim died.
Eight glorious days are what he remembers. “In Buenos Aires, they live joyfully and cheerfully.” They are sipping coffee in the beautiful town square. There are puppet shows. It revived me,” she said.
Upon her return, she noticed that a building that had been vacant for about eight years on North Dickie Highway had been leased. She knew the owner. She made an offer to rent a building of 700 square meters. The owner accepted.
The gallery sells handmade art, paintings, stained glass by local artists
Savela spent about 12,000 dollars for financing, remodeling and painting the walls. She invited her artist friends to exhibit their work at The Cozy Cottage. Savela receives a part of the sale price and commission from the sale.
Nora makes art glass and paints. Nancy does collage art. Cathy makes designs on folding paper. Kimberly makes rope lamps.
“I want people to come here and feel the joy,” said Savela.
Like most entrepreneurs, Savela led a varied business life.
She came to Lauderhill, Broward County in 1982 while working for Little Caesars Pizza in Detroit. She moved to Palm Beach County in 1984 while working for The Gap. In the late 1990s, she and a partner ran a roller hockey league.
“We had about 750 players. “We rented the Atlantis Skateway,” she said.
She graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a BA in Marketing and Communications in 2000. She worked at PBAU in the admissions department until 2003. For the last five years, she has been working remotely with a marketing and real estate firm.
She enjoys her eclectic store location. The new Church of the Nazarene is to the south. Amigos Grocers and McMov Art Glass are across Dixie Highway. Tropical Detail Carwash is in the north. Private houses and apartments are to the east.
Savelas hopes to maintain the spirit created at the November 12 grand opening. The guitarist was playing music. Friends and family came. People bought and discussed art.
“I want Cosi Cottage to be a happy, vibrant place where people hold social events, have classes and make friends,” she said.