Trofeo: A 'trophy' of a business - 'Hidden' frame shop, photography studio and art gallery gets noticed in Fremont

When New York transplant Sara Tro decided to open a business in Seattle a year and a half ago, she had some difficulty deciding what to call it.

"I didn't want to chose a name that would alienate any one part of the business," said Tro, who envisioned a shop that offers services linked to her passions for art and framing.

She eventually settled upon the name, "Trofeo," which means "trophy" in Spanish, the language of her ancestors.

For Tro, the name captures her feelings about art as "something special that reflects on character, but is not a necessity like food or water," she explained.

Trofeo is housed on the corner of North 36th Street and Woodland Park Avenue North in Fremont, just a block west of Stone Way in the former location of a construction office. Picture windows, vaulted ceilings and a unique wooden loft create an ideal location for her custom frame shop, photography studio and art gallery.

"This space has a lot of beautiful, ambient light that is perfect for framing," Tro said.

The former manager of Museum Quality Framing in Madison Park learned the essential elements of her craft while supervising projects that gave her exposure to a wide range of unique pieces and fine art.

"If a piece of art is framed the right way, the framing really enhances and balances the work," Tro said. "The right combination of color and texture come together to create a fabulous piece."

Trofeo offers a variety of wood and metal frames from the Northwest and around the world, all of which are handpicked by Tro and displayed on a series of steel panels suspended from the rafters of a loft that now serves as her office and separates the display area from her work space.

As of now, Trofeo's framing clients are mostly individuals who hire Tro to enhance the look of their favorite works of art or family photographs. Her savvy customer service keeps them coming back.

"Developing strong relationships with clients really helps me begin to understand their personal style and get a feel for what they like," said Tro, who often visits clients' homes to assist in hanging artwork, or to offer expert advice about creative displays.

So far, the quality of her work has generated regular business through word-of-mouth. Client referrals and neighborhood locals who wander in after peering through the windows have also given her a solid customer base.

Participating in the Fremont Art Walk since the store's opening has resulted in increased exposure as well.

As one of several businesses that open their doors on the first Friday evening of each month to display paintings, pastels, prints and collages by up-and-coming local artists, Trofeo showcases another one of its functions: fine art gallery.

"I appreciate the art and I like the idea of trying to get peoples' names out there," Tro said. "Even though I don't have the traffic that Pioneer Square has, I hope that this exposure will help the artists eventually land shows in larger galleries."

Some of her own work decorates the shop's walls as well.

Tro fell in love with photography in high school and has made it a growing element of her business. She specializes in portraiture and maternity photos, but also enjoys taking family pictures and occasional wedding photographs.

Tro looks forward to growing the photography element of her business and enjoys watching Trofeo grow into the space that she has envisioned all along.

"Things have come together very nicely, and the business is growing all of the time," Tro said. "It's becoming a space that my customers and I will enjoy for a long, long time."

Trofeo is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Visitors are also welcome to stop by during the Fremont Art Walk from 6 to 9 p.m. this Friday, Jan. 7, for a wine-and-cheese reception as Trofeo presents a series of oil paintings on canvas by Joel Astley.

For more information, call 632-4600.

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