MADISON, NJ - Growing up in Queens, Melanie Tomaszewski has made the transition to small town New Jersey quite nicely and has impacted downtown Madison as well.
With a background in fine arts and 19 years tending bar, she began working at Rocco’s Pizza upon relocating from New York. After a few brief months there, the owner saw a motivation in her and said she needed to start her own business.
Although she was quite hesitant to open a company, Rocco pleaded with her and she finally caved. So, four years ago she started Tivoli, a creative design studio, "one stop shop for all of your design and printing needs."
“If it wasn’t for Rocco I would not even be here,” she said.
When they first opened, the primary focus was giclee printing, which enlarges photographs into big canvas prints. Shawn Backe, who started the company with her, specializes in this.
While it was difficult at first, her contacts she made through bartending in town really paid off. People got to know her and because she is quite personable, she gained many clients.
“We’re not a town of small businesses; we’re a town of micro businesses,” she said.
Tomaszewski said she assists new businesses and helps them as they grow as well. While they don’t do printing there, they are a vendor for invitations, letters, cards and logos.
If she had this type of business in Queens, forget about it, she said. She would be one among many and it would be difficult to maintain success, she said. But in a small town like Madison, everyone comes to her.
She has also become known in the community because she is extremely active in the Chamber of Commerce and does a lot of charity work as well. While most of her work is done through referrals, people often bring designs to her ready to be printed and others ask her to create something for them.
“I’m the only person who really does everything,” she said.
One unique thing about Tivoli is many of her clients don’t ever meet with her. Because she is a well-known vendor, people in New York and England order from her.
Tomaszewski said the biggest challenge is the business aspect of things. While running Tivoli is extremely stressful and difficult, she enjoys it.
“I had no expectations,” she said.
Tomaszewski’s ambition always keeps her motivated and looking ahead. She still works at Rocco’s Pizza part time and plans to open a pottery store in town within a year. She is excited for this new opportunity and also will be adding a photographer and a sales person to Tivoli as well.