Local design luminary makes national wavesAuthor:Mary Jo Bowling
Recently, when Lindsay Meyer walked a journalist through Batch, the immersive, shoppable new showroom she founded in San Francisco, she was calm, confident and witty. But three years ago, her overriding feeling was one of concern as she faced aggressive, unremitting sexual harassment. Her situation became a well-publicized case that helped light a spark that ultimately became a national firestorm.
Meyer’s showroom—a space that allows you to try a curated selection of covetable items in a home-like setting—is catching the attention of reporters (including here at California Home+Design). But Meyer herself has also been the center of media attention after being honored by TIME magazine as a person of the year for being one of the people behind the #MeToo movement. She is included in the large group the magazine dubbed “The Silence Breakers.”
The harassment occurred in 2015, when Meyer was raising money for her previous startup. She says a venture capitalist who put some of his own money into that company began harassing her, texting her inapproprirate messages, kissing and groping her. “No woman wants to go through something like that,” she says. “At the time, I didn’t know how to get myself out of it.”
Afraid of retribution, Meyer remained silent—until this summer. That’s when a group of women spoke to the media about similar experiences with the same person. Meyer had been referred to Katie Benner, a reporter at The New York Times, who was working on an article about sexual harassment, and she contacted the journalist when she decided she could stay silent no longer. “I felt a duty to other women and other entrepreneurs,” Meyer said in an interview with the podcast Stance. “I felt my experiences would add an additional layer of credibility.”
In the closing paragraphs of the NYT story, Meyer said: “I felt like I had to tolerate it.”
The man Meyer says harassed her, Justin Caldbeck, denied the charges. He later apologized to his accusers and resigned from his firm, Binary Capital. The company has since ceased daily operations.
After the NYT article appeared, Meyer was interviewed by USA Today and appeared on NBC News, where she was interviewed by Megyn Kelly. “But I turned down about 90 percent of the the requests I received,” she says.
When TIME contacted her, she initially thought it was just another interview request. “They said they were working on an end-of-year story,” Meyer says.
But it quickly became apparent that this was no ordinary article. Not only did the reporters ask for complete confidentiality, when they arranged for her to come to a soundstage in the Mission District for a photo session, Billy & Hells (noted high-fashion photographers from Berlin) had been commissioned for the shoot.
The photographs include people who are very famous (Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan and Taylor Swift) and people whose names aren’t well known. However, the photos were taken in shifts and Meyer was not aware of the identities of her co-honorees. “When the article came out, I was impressed by the highly inclusive nature of it,” she says. “They talked to everyone from actresses to service industry workers, and nearly every sector was represented.”
By the time the official announcement was made, Meyer had put the pieces together. “I was not totally shocked. However, I was humbled and honored,” she says. Totally shocked would be an apt description for her father’s reaction. “He learned about it when he saw my photograph on the news,” she said. “He almost fell out of his chair.”
Now that the word is out and the world knows her story, Meyer is glad she spoke up. “I certainly never wanted to go through something like this and, after it happened, I never wanted to step into the spotlight,” she says. “But, even after people spoke out against me and Internet trolls came after me, it still feels like the right thing to do. History has a funny way of writing itself.”
When asked if history will remember this movement as a sea change or a footnote, Meyer is quick to answer: “I certainly hope this will bring about lasting change,” she says. “How could it not?”
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