LONG BEACH, Calif. — Anyone who uses social media has been there. You get a great idea for an Instagram shot, spend more time than you’d like to admit arranging it and then—click!—your magical moment in time has been captured. Once it posts, you check the geotag and realize your perfect picture has been taken by everyone else who’s been to the same spot.
Your problem is Nathan Tourtellotte’s solution. Co-owner of the popular Rose Park Roasters in Long Beach, Tourtellotte opened the coffee shop six months ago in a space where another cafe died a slow, painful death.
“A huge part of that was it had no marketing, no visual presence outside the shop,” Tourtellotte says. “We had to figure out how to create that for Rose Park.”
The result has to be one of the most photographed walls in Southern California. The coffee sign, along with the equally iconic “Welcome to the Process” inside the shop, is the brainchild of Camp Design Group. The small Long Beach firm, headed by Dan Rossiter and Ruthi Auda, previously worked with Rose Park on its branding and they were eager to tackle the challenge of designing the shop. Tourtellotte originally suggested a mural on the outside wall but quickly came around to Camp’s idea for simplicity.
“It’s simple, it’s direct, it’s iconic,” Tourtellotte says of the hand-painted sign. “It has great marketing value but it also aesthetically stands in its own right. As soon as the coffee sign went up, it basically went viral.”
The Instagramable aspect of Rose Park was not an accident. Tourtellotte and co-owner Andrew Phillips wanted to create a shop that would invite social media photos. Everything from the dishes they selected to the large, square ice cubes in cold brews not only served functional purposes but also were visually appealing too.
“Good design is good composition, which then equals a good Instagram,” Auda says. “It’s creating those good aesthetic moments. Things people notice are what becomes Instagramable. And people notice good design.”
Rossiter noticed that in addition to the pictures of the two signs, people were frequently taking the ubiquitous, heavily arranged pictures of their tables from above. They used coffee, pastries and flowers but nothing that said Rose Park. Rossiter took the initiative and made leather coasters with the Rose Park logo emblazoned on the top. The next morning, he dropped off a dozen at the shop.
“About six hours later,” Rossiter says, “I got a text from Nathan that said, ‘Way to get our logo into every Instagram shot.’ ”
The customer-created marketing has had an impact beyond the local community too. Shortly after opening, Tourtellotte got a phone call from a scouting agent who was filming a commercial for Samsung and wanted to feature Rose Park in the shoot. A couple months later, the commercial debuted during the Oscars broadcast on ABC. The airing surprised Tourtellotte, whose phone immediately began buzzing with texts from friends. The commercial now has more than 10 million views on YouTube.
The popularity has played out in the day to day as well. So much so that Tourtellotte and Phillips have acquired a warehouse near downtown Long Beach, with plans to build their own roasting facility with another retail coffee location as well. As the project begins taking shape, Rose Park plans to use Camp to design it.
Rossiter can’t wait. He lives around the corner from the current shop and is proud of how his company’s design has given the neighborhood a gathering place with caché.
“When we pulled the veil off the sculpture, we got a lot of this space is cool and there’s nothing like this in Long Beach,” Rossiter says. “Every time I go in there, I see people I know. I designed a coffee shop I would want to go to. So now I go to that coffee shop all the time.”
On a recent afternoon, three sharply dressed women in their mid-20s entered Rose Park on their lunch break from jobs in downtown Long Beach. Cappuccinos and lattes were ordered, purses were hung on the chairs and out came the iPhones. One of the women focused her camera on the Welcome to the Process wall. Click!
“I just like the way it looks,” she said.