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Framed x Design – Tracey Miller’s passion of a lifetime

August 26, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Constance Scrafield

Tracey Miller and her companion and business greeter, Toby, a West Highland Terrier are very happy with their business Framed x Design, located in the Foley House at 75 Broadway.

“I have been in the industry just over 34 years,” said Tracey Miller. “I wake up every morning looking forward to the day because every day is different.”

Ms. Miller started custom framing in 2000.

Her father was in World War II. She has all his war medals.

“My father died in 1991,” she told the Citizen, “My mother gave me his war medals because she knew I would preserve them. But I didn’t want to just put them in a drawer, so, I arranged and framed them. And I have framed many, many medals.”

The beginning of Ms. Miller’s love for framing began with a job in a gallery as a young woman attending Georgian College. The gallery owner, Victor Oh, “was in real estate at the time but had this gallery and he taught me how to cut matt for pictures.”

The art of framing appealed to her so much that she only did her foundation year at college, which focussed on colour.

“I made the Dean’s List,” she was pleased to say. “Then, I got a job at the Millcroft, bartending and I went working for the Queens Gallery in Mississauga.

“For about five years, I worked for Magnifame. The owner, Leon Dagon was my mentor. He was the one that taught me how to work with war medals.”

After those five years, once Mr. Dagon was selling the business, she left to open her own shop in Orangeville in 2000. This was the Bevelled Edge, with which she eventually took over the building, where the gallery was on the top floor. The downstairs mirrored the upstairs and her partner worked on the magazine aspect of the business.

The day came when, “I decided I was moving on and we sold the building to Maggie [Margaret] Moriarty with the Body Bar.”

Although Ms. Miller moved into and opened her business in the heritage cottage on First Street, she discovered that there “was not great accessibility and visibility.”

At the same time, she explained, “I was given the opportunity to go into the Foley House. I took the chance as the first retail business in the Foley for a year and a half at least. I don’t even look back now, business has done so well, I’m very happy to be here.” She commented, “I’m coming into nine years here, as of 2022,” and added, remarkably, “Through three closures through Covid, I am busier than I have been through some Christmas seasons.

“People have been stuck at home and they’ve been reflecting. I’ve been replacing old frames and framing things people have found. People are focussing on special memories and how to reserve them. Ninety per cent of my business is custom framing, although I do also represent local artists.”

People come into Frame x Design and tell Ms. Miller that they have a little piece with a broken glass and ask her, “Do you do something like that?”

She reassured us: “I tell them yes. I do it all, big or little.”

Her business has a wonderful client named Aaron Pilatzke, who owns Lauer Machine and Manufacturing MFG Ltd, manufacturing very precise components and tools. We called Aaron to ask him about his business. He explained that they do make very detailed and precise instruments and tools, for example, they do medical and nuclear work. His company is also operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Said Ms. Miller, “Aaron first brought something in and I framed it beautifully. He called to say he was buying the business from the owners and had all these photographs from when she [the original owner] was working in her garage in Europe.”

Mr. Pilatzke took all the beginning pictures to when the original owners retired and he took over the business. Plus, there were pieces of tools, drill bits, measuring devices.

“It all started with this young woman in her overalls back several decades in her garage in Europe,” he said admiringly. “She immigrated to Canada and set up business here. What Tracey did with it all was really amazing. I’ve taken all sorts of things in to her and what she does is just fantastic.”

Tracey Miller’s attraction to Orangeville came about early when her parents retired to Grand Valley in 1985. She lived with them there and was in the house when the very destructive tornado of 1985 hit, damaging the family home

“My mother didn’t have the heritage house torn down,” she said. “She had the joists replaced to keep the original house intact.

“That is why I came here. In 2000, I pulled in to an estate agent on Hwy 10, in Orangeville; it was pouring with rain. They gave me a name of an agent when I told them ‘I want to open a gallery here.’

The place she was shown at the time, was a used book store. The ground floor had tall windows with stained glass and she liked it right away.

“The demographics were fine and the next five years were wonderful for me building my business,” she recalled. “I have people walk in and ask, ‘Where should we go for lunch?’ There’s all kinds of places here and I suggest several of them.”

The beauty of being here in Orangeville for her is going for a bike ride in the mornings, as she is working seven days a week. Her beautiful little dog, Toby, is the greeter and her close companion.

‘He’s also on my business cards as gallery greeter.”

While Frames x Design was the only retail business when it was first opened in the Foley House, there is now the Top Hat Tea Room next door and the Honeybee Apothecary and Spa upstairs.

“We’re all very happy here and it should be noted that all the business owners here, bar the one partner in the tea room, we’re all women,” Ms. Miller commented.

As to how she does it all, on her own, the framing, the shop, the business, she told us, “I was brought up by my father in a regimented way: early to rise and I wake up and I have a list in my mind to do. I just am very organized with my business. I’m organized with my ordering.”

She said simply, “I just do what needs to be done.”

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