The Evars Effect: reimagining the trade showroom experience for the modern age

After successful stints in public relations and launching her own interior design firm, Evars founded Evars Collective in 2020, which includes two multi-line showrooms in the California Bay Area that serve as a creative hub for the design community. 

Evars Collective – Our Story from Made by K on Vimeo.

In her insightful interview with DNN, Evars offers her perspective on the trade showroom model, consumer trends impacting the industry, and the importance of fostering community among interior design entrepreneurs:

DNN: First, I am a big fan of and firm believer in the trade showroom model. I think you have a unique, bird’s eye view of the industry and are keenly aware of designers’ needs so I am excited to get your take on the state of the industry. Let’s jump into it: Why does an interior designer prefer to use a showroom like yours? 


Nancy Evars (NE): We find that they prefer to use a showroom like mine for a number of reasons:

  • We are an extension of their team. We have a dedicated production coordinator who tracks all orders and items weekly and sends status emails every Friday — there is no need to chase down order status updates! Essentially, the more designers order from us, the more work we do on their behalf in tracking and expediting.
  • With my almost 20 years of design experience, designers can really use me as another designer on their team. Oftentimes, design firms will send over their inspiration boards and FFE documents and ask me to pull furniture, fabrics, rugs, and more. They can trust my design eye and I can save them time when it comes to sourcing because I can quickly pull from the lines I’ve curated.
  • We are small so everything has a personal touch. We really get to know the design firms we support and know what they like. When new products come in, we know which designers to reach out to. We can easily run samples over to designers when they are in a time crunch too. Designers feel supported by my team at Evars Collective
  • Designers love the smaller, artisanal lines we’ve curated, and they love to support these smaller lines.

What it takes to run a multi-line to-the-trade showroom for interior designers

DNN: What are the common pain points in running a showroom? How can designers or manufacturers be more aware of or help alleviate them?

NE: I think what’s important to remember is that the showroom model as it exists today is run on commission-only structure. We get paid a small percentage of the sale only when the sale is made, so volume is really important to us. A lot of work can go into a potential sale, but it might fall through for a number of reasons, including the budget, the client changing their mind, and stock availability, so sometimes we can work with a designer for weeks or months and the sale still doesn’t go through, and to no fault of our own. 

I have to pay my bills, regardless! I am not going to sugarcoat it — it takes a lot of hustling and focus on sales to run a showroom. That’s why you’ll see a lot of showrooms have other revenue streams to help fund the monthly overhead to have a physical showroom. This is why I relaunched my design business, DECORATE by Nancy Evars.

I think it’s helpful for manufacturers to know that we are using a lot of our own money to market their lines, whether it’s mailing out samples, hosting lunches at designers’ offices to showcase new lines, in showroom events to draw people in, social media campaigns, attending networking events, and more. 

Luckily, most of our lines really appreciate the time and effort we put in to market their products, even though it can take time for it to pay off. There are a lot of small textile lines out there — right now it seems more than ever — so it really takes a lot of work for us to get in front of busy designers to make sure they source from us!  

Changing consumer preferences

DNN: How have consumer trends and preferences shifted in the home furnishings industry since the COVID-19 pandemic, and how has Evars Collective adapted to these changes? And what changes from the pandemic are still lingering, if any?

NE: In my experience, people are really using their homes more now than pre-pandemic. Yes, travel is back, but when people are home, they want their homes to feel cozy, welcoming, and thoughtfully designed. 

I’m biased, but I think there is no better place to source from than Evars Collective, as so many of our lines offer beautiful patterns and colors which are perfect for those final layers of pillows and window treatments to make a room feel complete.    

DNN:  With the rise of e-commerce and online shopping, how important is it for trade showrooms to maintain a physical presence, and how do you see the role of physical showrooms evolving in the future?

NE: This is still a tactile, personal business, so I believe having a physical space will always be relevant in our industry. Even with the rise of ecommerce, designers and their clients still want to touch the fabrics, sit on the sofas, and look through rug samples. 

I think the evolution will be more about how showrooms complement their physical spaces with an ecommerce offering. You really need both to succeed going forward. 

Sourcing and trend-setting

DNN: How do you go about curating and selecting the brands and products that Evars Collective carries, and what factors do you consider when making these decisions? 

NE: A lot of it is word of mouth and Instagram. Often, designers will request we look at certain lines they love but are not represented in our area. I’ve found that other showrooms across the country will also reach out and recommend a line they have that may be looking for California representation.

Instagram is a great place for sourcing — we are constantly getting DMs on Instagram from lines. The key with our curation is that I really want the lines to complement one another. We find so many designers will use several of our lines in one project because together it is so beautiful — we did that on purpose. 

DNN: How closely are you following trends – or perhaps a better way to ask the question is; What does a trend mean to you?

See Also

NE: I keep an eye on trends but I think what we’ve curated at Evars Collective helps us to stay ahead of trends by remaining timeless. Everyone knows I love pattern and color, and that is the majority of what I offer.  So when jewel tones started trending, we were already the perfect place for sourcing. The same goes for wallpaper and patterned upholstery. 

Community building with interior designers and furniture brands

DNN: Can you share some insights into the process of sourcing and working with global artisanal brands, and the challenges and benefits of doing so?

NE: The rise of social media has given both designers and homeowners the ability to find and access global brands more easily. I am so excited by some of the smaller lines we now represent from the UK and Netherlands who have contacted us on Instagram. Because the access to global brands is so much easier, there really are not many challenges to working with them!

DNN: Can you discuss the importance of community-building initiatives like The Club at Evars Collective and the role they play in supporting and empowering interior design entrepreneurs?

NE: Community building was one of the biggest reasons why I started Evars Collective. I’ve found that many designers operate as solopreneurs or run a small team, which can feel isolating. We have about 25 designers in The Club at Evars Collective.

A broad range of experience is represented and all members are completely open to sharing best practices or painful learnings. A designer may ask the group for a specific clause in a contract, how to price a project per square foot, or for a recommendation for a painter and immediately they’ll get several responses. I LOVE that! 

I host quarterly get-togethers, whether it’s to give designers a sneak peek of new lines in the showroom, provide access to a business leader during one of our workshops, or just for a social get together. I also mentor some of the younger designers which I find so rewarding at this point in my career.         

The future of the interior design industry and multiline showrooms to the trade

DNN: What are your thoughts on the future of the home furnishings industry, and how is Evars Collective positioning itself to stay ahead of the curve?

NE: Homes are being really lived in like never before. This bodes well for the interior design community! I am excited to continue to offer everything we’ve built so far while continuing to support designers like we always have!

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