industry insider | May 15, 2020 |
This designer moved his business across the country—during a pandemic

Another item for the long list of things the coronavirus has made difficult: long, lingering goodbyes. Designer Scot Meacham Wood (you might know him for his turned-up-to-11 line of tartans and toiles) has been a San Francisco resident for almost 26 years. After his partner landed a job in New York this January for vibey prep fashion brand Rowing Blazers, Meacham Wood had been planning a gentle, gradual transition to the East Coast. Enter COVID-19.

“I was in the process of figuring out the Tetris of where everything from my apartment and showroom was going to go, and then [on March 16] San Francisco shut down,” says Meacham Wood. “And I just left.”

So what’s it like to move an interior design business and fabric line across the country in the midst of a global pandemic? In a word: surreal. “You couldn’t even plan around it, because it kept changing every day,” says Meacham Wood. “I was thinking, Are there going to be armed guards on the bridge when I get to New York?”

The first order of business was closing down a showroom in the San Francisco Design Center, and unloading the floor samples. Meacham Wood had the most success selling through Sotheby’s Home. “I’ve been surprised by how people are buying expensive stuff,” he says. “Though, the struggle has been getting a mover to come pick it up—even from a storage facility it’s tough to get [movers] to come.”

This designer moved his business across the country—during a pandemic
Scot Meacham Wood’s textile lineCourtesy of Scot Meacham Wood

Next up: figuring out how to get his business set up in New York. Interestingly, though Meacham Wood has been in San Francisco for almost three decades, he isn’t too concerned about fitting in on the East Coast. “I think of my design work as being very Southern, but turned up in a Manhattan kind of way,” he says. “I’ve worked with some transplanted East Coasters in the Bay Area, I’ve done three or four apartments in New York—I think my ‘thing’ actually works better here. San Francisco has changed a lot. When I first moved [there] it was this crunchy, artistic place, and now it’s a tech city. San Francisco used to be proudly weird, but now it’s proudly monetized.”

Even without a showroom, Meacham Wood’s fabric line has always had better sales in New York than in California. Speaking of ... scouting out a physical location is on his to-do list—though he’s not in a particular hurry at the moment, for obvious reasons. “I’d love to find a cute little 400-square-foot showroom that’s open and available, but there’s no way to suss out what any of that’s going to be just yet,” he says. “And I’m really curious, once the city starts back up again, what does commercial real estate look like? Is rent going to be like ... a dollar?”

Interestingly, though the cross-country move was certainly made more stressful by COVID-19, in some ways it has made things simpler. “As we start to build our way out of [this time], it’s actually nice to not have the fixed costs [of a showroom] hanging over our head,” says Meacham Wood. “It’s so hard to figure out what the other side of this looks like, but I’m not in any great panic about business—we’ve actually had decent sales [online] even in the middle of all of this.”

For now, it’s mainly about hunkering down, getting through the shutdown, and getting to know the three or four blocks around his East Harlem apartment very, very well. And when the city opens up for business? “I want to go out and just touch fabrics.”

Homepage photo: Courtesy of Scot Meacham Wood

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