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Meet Bettina Fogliano Rudat of Bard’s Decorators

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bettina Fogliano Rudat.

Bettina, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My grandfather opened Bard’s in La Jolla in 1958 (he actually brought the family business to La Jolla from Germany, but more on that later). Because so many of my family members worked there, I grew up around beautiful fabrics, furniture, all different styles and types of custom furniture and home accessories. My love and appreciation for detail began to develop as a small child. I took advantage of the opportunity to decorate my room however I liked, and as often I liked. My mother, Irene, would make my bedding. My uncle, Karl, would upholster my walls and build me custom pieces.

In my early twenties I studied the field of interior design at Mesa College, while simultaneously working two jobs in the field. I managed a fine linen store in La Jolla where I was able to expand my knowledge of luxury textiles. I was also an Estate Manager in Rancho Santa Fe. This estate was like a museum. All of the furniture was from the 16th century. Wall to wall silk rugs, hand-painted ceilings, a vast collection of fine art, the list goes on. While employed there, and at the linen shop, my attention to detail was refined and my passion for custom quality decor evolved. I began to re-evaluate my future so I had a meeting with my uncle Karl. He owned Bard’s at the time, and was just starting to think about retirement.

In January of 2018, I became the 3rd generation to own Bard’s Decorators in La Jolla. I have since remodeled the store to create a much more customer friendly environment. I took note of the high demand for quality custom work — which is what we are known for — so I saw an opportunity to take the store to the next level and into the 21st century. All while maintaining our family legacy and integrity.

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We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There are always going to be struggles. It is how you learn to roll with the punches. I think the biggest struggle for me has been not being taken seriously. As a female business owner in my early 30’s, I experience age discrimination on a regular basis.

There have been people who have doubted my vision from the beginning. I don’t let it stand in my way though! Nothing good comes easy. Seeing my business grow in my first year has been an affirmation that I am doing the right thing. I believe the space where we spend our time should be beautiful and that is why I do what I do – age and gender are just not relevant.

When you put your heart into what you do, you will always be successful – you have to take it one day at a time. I try and run my business and live my life with love, integrity, and honesty. As long as I do that, everything else falls into place.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Bard’s Decorators story. Tell us more about the business.
My family has been doing this work for nine generations! It’s in our blood. My grandfather brought our family, and the business, from Germany to La Jolla in 1958. We’ve always specialized in furniture upholstery and custom-made furniture. Over the years, we’ve expanded our line of work, and today, the possibilities are endless. We offer decorating services, custom window treatments, wall coverings, pillows, cushions, antique restoration, and more…

What I am most proud of is keeping my family’s business alive. My grandfather took pride in bringing the business here from Germany and would be very proud of me if he could see the store thriving now. Unfortunately, he passed away before I took the shop over from Karl. To be able to carry on the family legacy is beyond fulfilling.

What sets us apart from other upholsterers is our commitment to handmade pieces. Unlike factories and many other shops, we still do everything by hand the old school way, and we are proud of the work we do. Many of the craftsmen and women who work at Bard’s have been here since the days my grandfather ran the shop. Newer employees are hand picked for their passion and skill. For us, this is not just a job; this is our livelihood. Every piece that leaves Bard’s has a story, and we are part of that story.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I don’t believe in luck. I think it’s more about karma. I believe in doing the right thing and trying to be of service to my customers and the people that help me. This way everything works itself out.

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