Ten years ago, would you have believed that there would be museums dedicated to selfies? Embracing the ever-rising social media wave in new and innovative ways, these spaces are more interactive than typical galleries and exhibitions at other museums – and are instead tailored to provide the most dynamic backdrops for visitors to snap picture-perfect photos.
Inspired by the emergence of popular sites like the Museum of Ice Cream popping up on the East and West coasts, sisters-in-law Erika and Christa Klotz decided to pursue an idea of their own: The Selfie Room. They’re no strangers to owning businesses, either. Erika Klotz has a tech startup called PopBookings, and Christa Klotz is the president of Painted Clover, a BYOB paint-and-sip studio.
The pair were at a weekly family dinner in November 2018, and while everyone else was watching football, they began to mull over an idea together: What if they were the first ones to open a selfie-oriented space in St. Louis? Although they both live in Kansas City, Erika Klotz went to Saint Louis University and knew the area would embrace the idea.
“We’re both business owners, and it was kind of a slow time [of year],” she says. “We decided we should start a project together, and by the time the game was done, we had a full plan of how to proceed.”
With the help of an uncle with St. Louis commercial real estate connections, the Klotzes were able to find the perfect location for their museum downtown at 1424 Washington Ave., steps from The Last Hotel and the City Museum.
Just a few months after the pair had the idea, The Selfie Room made its debut in St. Louis’ historic garment district in early February. The selfie museum offers an all-ages experience for $30, and visitors can bring their own camera and changes of clothes to get flawless photos in perfect lighting. The sisters-in-law bill The Selfie Room as the perfect place for nights out, birthday parties, influencers, photographers, private events and just general photo shoots. Sessions are typically around an hour, Erika Klotz says, but there’s no time limit on admission.
“Generally speaking, a lot of our clients will walk through first, then start from the back and move toward the front,” she says. “We have a powder room if you want to switch outfits or style yourself. It’s a fun experience, but also good for photographers who want to do a full-production shoot.”
The Selfie Room offers 12 unique rooms, and each of these spaces has its own theme. The pair partnered with Henry Kitchen and Bath to create a rubber ducky room, and other spaces feature a pool-sized ball pit, colorful backdrops and oversized props. Erika Klotz says since they’re both creative individuals, she and her sister-in-law put together all the themes themselves and spent a lot of time on Pinterest combing for ideas. The current room themes won’t be there for long, however. The Klotzes aim to switch out their spaces quarterly and are already planning for summer spaces like a beach ball-themed room. Swapping out the spaces regularly, Erika Klotz says, ensures that The Selfie Room isn’t a one-time experience.
“We want to be a staple in downtown,” she adds.
The Selfie Room plans to host monthly events to attract visitors to the space, like a “dog day” event in March where customers could bring their pups to get in on the selfie action. In fact, the pair’s April event, scheduled for the 27th, will be a ’90s-themed party, featuring music from the decade, goody bags and activities.
The Klotzes have high hopes for their new venture and hope to expand in St. Louis and even in other cities. But for now, they say that being located right on Washington Avenue is perfect.
“[Because] we’re close to the City Museum, visitors can pair [The Selfie Room] with their City Museum experience, since they’re already planning to play,” Erika Klotz says. “We’re also right across from The Last Hotel, so out-of-towners can experience it and the nightclub scene surrounding it.”
Overall, though, she says the museum’s first few months in business have been a hit.
“People are loving it,” Erika Klotz says. “It’s a millennial playground.”
The Selfie Room, 1424 Washington Ave., St. Louis, 636-299-0449, theselfieroom.com