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Women Bisnow
September 2, 2008


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By Karin Tanabe for Bisnow on Business

When Laurence Maroney of the New England Patriots, Antonio Freeman of the Green Bay Packers, Anthony McFarland and Shaun King from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Redskin's Demetric Evans wanted to revamp their digs, they turned to Dennese Rojas, interior designer and owner of Rockville design store "ia etc."


Rojas' new store is three times the size of the last one Silver Spring; people have already asked to use it for their book club meetings, political parties and lectures. Rojas was introduced to McFarland and Freeman's agent through a Maryland-based builder; the two players shared an interior designer who was not up to snuff. asked Rojas to step in. "I don't look at them like another meal ticket," says Rojas who pursued NFL clients with the help of the DC-based NFL Players Association. Born in Trinidad,and raised in the Virgin Islands, Rojas came to Florida to study design in college and then moved straight into a career that had nothing to do with design. After spending several years at New York's Channel 13 and in marketing, Rojas found herself in Washington, a single mother contemplating what she really wanted from her career. Moving back to her first love, interior design, she began working out of her bedroom, basement then with the help of a micro-loan, to a showroom. "I knew that I loved what I did and I loved being self-sufficient. I was determined to never deal with corporate America again."


Heavily involved with NFL players and their families, particularly the group PFPMA: Professional Football Player's Mothers Association, Rojas has stayed very close with many of her clients. She speaks to Laurence Maroney's mother Terri Terrell, also a client, once a week. "Because of the exposure of HGTV, etc., people are more aware of design but not well versed on the process," says Rojas. "On these shows changes happen overnight, not in reality." The long-term approach is what Rojas brings to the NFL and her other clients. "You have to take into consideration how long they are going to be on the team, can they integrate things down the road. You also have to take into consideration that not every player makes big dollars like people think." Just call it design within reach, NFL style.

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