top of page

Passion, Purpose, and Perseverance: The Galerie Sommerlath Way

When the Art of Curating is rooted in a European Design Sensibility

Published on:

April 16, 2023 at 10:42:01 PM

Ignite Business Insider shares the stories of businesses that are making an impact in their local markets. We highlight their stories in order to inspire entrepreneurial growth and to let readers learn more about businesses across the world that are growing and scaling.


Michele Sommerlath


Galerie Sommerlath

Thank you for taking the time to sit with us and share your story. Can you share a little bit about you and your company?

Galerie Sommerlath is an art and mid-century furniture shop located in Pasadena, California. It specializes in American and European 20th-century art and design. Galerie Sommerlath has a front store at the Pasadena Antiques & Design Center, where customers can browse a curated selection of furniture and artwork from the mid-century modern era. I have a passion for design and have carefully selected each piece in the collection to reflect my unique aesthetic.

A question so many people are interested in, is how you got started. Can you share a little bit about what you were doing before this, and what that moment was like for you when you decided to start this new journey?

I started my journey in France after having my two children. While being a mom was fulfilling, I realized that I wanted to do something more with my career. I began specializing in 18th and 19th-century European design, which sparked my interest in antiquing. At first, it was just a hobby, but it quickly grew into a full-time business. It all started with a simple ad in a local newspaper and before I knew it, I had found my calling in the world of art and furniture design. For me, the decision to pursue this new journey was exciting and invigorating, and it allowed me to pursue my passion for design and art in a more professional capacity.

Let's take a little bit of a detour, and rewind the clock a little bit. What did you want to be as a kid? And how did that influence the person you are today?

As a kid, I was always fascinated by horses and their untamed majesty. I dreamed of working with horses and being a part of their world. This fascination with nature and the world's wonders also fed my appetite for beauty and refined art and furniture pieces. I was drawn to objects that reflected the beauty and elegance of nature, and this fascination with beauty and nature has continued to influence the person I am today.

Have you fully let go of that childhood dream? And where do you see yourself going in the next ten years?

I didn't let go of that childhood dream of working with horses. I owned a stable while developing my antique business in France. It was a wonderful experience. I had 17 horses for three years in Dampierre, and I loved every bit of it. They did hurdle and steeple-chase races. However, as my antique business started to take off and require more of my attention, I, unfortunately, had to let the stable go. While I no longer actively work with horses, I deeply appreciate their beauty and majesty. Looking ahead to the next ten years, I see myself focusing more and more on the art side of my activity and less and less on the furniture side. Additionally, I would love to revisit Morocco, where I grew up, as it holds a special place in my heart.

Now, I have found that with successful people, there is always someone pivotal as either a mentor, parent, teacher, or someone that you look to for advise, that helped set you on this path. Could you share who that person was? And what impact that had on the person you are today?

For me, a few people played a pivotal role in my journey. While I had a lot of common ground with my dad and shared the same approach to life, I turned to my mother for advice regarding balancing my work and personal life. She had a unique way of looking at things and offered a different perspective that resonated with me. Unfortunately, my dad passed away before I started my business, but I'm convinced he would have been proud of me and liked seeing me lead such an exciting project. My parents have profoundly impacted the person I am today, and I'm grateful for the lessons they've taught me and the support they've provided along the way.

What was one take away that you learned from that person? And how did it translate into your business today?

One key takeaway I learned from my mother was the importance of balance. She helped me to see that it's not just about working hard but also about taking time for yourself and your loved ones. This lesson has been instrumental in shaping the way I run my business today. I've learned that success isn't just about making money or achieving certain goals but also about maintaining a healthy work-life balance and cultivating relationships with the people who matter most to me.