The California Collective on the showroom model release


It was at the start of the pandemic when textile designers Stream Perdigone, Paige cleveland of To reign of Three and Alexis hartman of Lake August began to gather for coffee in the Cleveland Garden, leaning on each other for support in the face of the looming uncertainty. They were initially connected through common business advisers and had many of the same concerns about domestic sector production downturns, lead times and sales – and whether someone would even need fabrics and wallpaper at home. in the midst of a global pandemic. Ultimately, their response to an industry upheaval was to find one of their own.

“We were trying to prepare what the future of a small business would look like: Are people concerned about decorative things? [or] Does that sound silly in the bigger picture of what’s going on? Cleveland said to the host Dennis scully on the last episode of Home affairs podcast. “And then we said to ourselves, this is art, we are artists, we have to stay inspired. We’re saying something, and together we have a lot to say — and a lot of knowledge and resources. If we put them together, I was convinced that we could not lose.

The group came out of the garden talks with a new game plan for doing business in their home state: They would pull their products from showrooms in California and sell them directly to designers through a common sales representative. Along the way, they provided each other with research and support, forming a unique business partnership they called the California Collective.

All three designers continue to work with out-of-state showrooms and recognize the value of doing business this way. Yet their idea for a new model came from curiosity about customers they couldn’t reach through traditional channels. As a Collective, they put more emphasis on awareness, explore new markets and stand out from the crowd, an asset for small lines, which do not always thrive when sidelined from big brands.

In this episode, they share some lessons learned from the first days of change in their business operations and explain how the new approach fits an ever-changing industry.

Listen to the show and check out some takeaways below. If you like what you hear, subscribe to Apple podcasts or Spotify. This episode is sponsored by The Rohl house.

Learn to know you
When the designers realized that much of it was now on them to publicize their work, they put new efforts into the task and realized that working together was the motivation they needed to venture into uncharted territory. The shared perspective and research has helped designers step out of their comfort zone to access more clients. “Brook and Alexis introduced me to designers who I never imagined would work with me, or could see my work in their project,” says Cleveland. “They see my line through a different lens than mine. Brook will send me something, and she says, “You have to be in this library, you have to come in with this person”, and she is right! It’s a really awesome medium, which will only help sales.

Stand out in the boutique boom
There is no shortage of competition in the boutique textile industry. As Perdigon says, this is largely because the barriers to entry into the world of manufacturing have lowered: it is easier to access company information and set up production, and new methods such as screen printing and digital printing are more accessible. For the trio, having a direct channel to designers strengthens their brands above the noise, allowing them to focus on producing higher quality products. “Where you can stand out, and where we do, is quality and authenticity. We think a lot about what we create, and none of our processes are straightforward, ”says Cleveland.

From one artist to another
All three designers agree that community is at the heart of the California Collective philosophy. In the showroom model, the bond between the textile designer and the interior designer is often broken – and according to Perdigon, this is a scenario where all parties lose. As customers become more and more involved in the design process, it is an asset for designers to have more information about (or even a relationship with) the person who creates the products used in their designs. . “The connection of these two independent artists, [even if] they are in different areas, creates a stronger home for the end user, and a [mutual] appreciation, ”she said. “It’s a stronger connection when the doors are open. This makes the market a much more interesting place than when [they’re] closed.”

Front page photo: Lake August, Brook Perdigon and Rule of Three stylized textiles together | Andrew stewart

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