Together by Design, Led by Jeff HoltAuthor:Lindsey Shook
With over thirty years in the design industry, Co-founder of San Francisco showroom HEWN, Jeff Holt, has survived the ups and downs of the business. With the recent economic turmoil, Jeff and his partner Peter West knew they had to create a central hub of support where the Northern California design community could communicate about their feelings, strategies and needs during this time of uncertainty. In honor of their immediate action in the right direction, we are launching an editorial series that highlights what measures influential design leaders are taking to remain positive and productive, hand in hand with the community. Because in the end we all are better when #TogetherByDesign.
–Many social movements started from Facebook groups. What inspired you to create the Northern California Interior Design Group? Peter and I know first-hand, the power of community in our business. Most of our clients are small interior design firms that consist of five people or less. These firms often feel isolated and wonder how other designers run their businesses, find tradespeople, get new clients and handle difficult ones. When designers get together, they can’t help but talk shop. The interior design community in Northern California is unusually tight-knit. We often here that from people from outside our area.
With the shelter-in-place order, we thought an online forum where people can share stories and suggestions would help alleviate some of the panic we are all feeling about our uncertain future and build a virtual community that mirrors the physical one. With over 250 members in less than 48 hours, it’s safe to say, the industry in Northern California embraced it.
-What steps are you and your team taking to work with the design community while social distanced? After much consideration, and right before the San Francisco Mayor put the shelter-in-place order, Peter and I made the decision to close the physical showroom before any other showrooms. Our sales staff is working from home, meeting every morning via GoToMeeting, so we can actually see each other and review sales activity because there IS still activity!
Alex is manning a virtual conference room in which designers can drop in to chat about products or anything else. We are maintaining our presence on all social media channels to make ourselves available to designers and to participate in the conversations. We are directing designers to our website where several of our lines are shown with the ability to print tear sheets with net pricing, as well as suggesting other manufacturers websites where they can find product information.
-It is clear, the California design community is strong and collaborative. What steps can we all take to further support showrooms? Please continue to request quotes, samples and place orders. We hope that designers will specify products from trade showrooms before suggesting products from other sources. It’s important that designers remain loyal to their exclusive sources because showrooms only sell to designers, so we count on that loyal relationship. We also count on designers to champion the products we carry and sell their unique value proposition to their clients.
-What is giving you the most hope right now? The tenacity of our designers, pushing their design projects forward while taking care of their families and remaining calm and the fortitude of our team of HEWNicorns. They are out there everyday making themselves available to designers, offering assistance and figuring out new ways of doing business.
-Let’s end on a super inspiring note! Can you share with us any new collections or products you are carrying right now that we should all know about? Yes! We are featuring a new lighting line that is designed and produced in Burlingame, right here in the bay area called David Copello Guild. Fashioned from solid brass, it has strong lines and an architectural feel. We are very excited for their new collection.
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