flexiblefullpage - default

From Designer to Designer Resource: Nancy Evars

Nancy Evars, founder of Evars Collective, found her design niche during COVID through helping other designers source furniture, wallpaper, textiles and more.

Printer Friendly, PDF & Email
After an interior design career, Nancy Evars decided that her passion was as a resource to other designers, so she curated artisinal lines and her furniture collection to start Evars Collective, much to the delight of the designers that source from her and have become her community.

Nancy Evars, founder of Evars Collective, found her design niche during COVID through helping other designers source furniture, wallpaper, textiles and more in her northern California location. Located in San Carlos, on the Peninsula (also known as Silicon Valley), Evars decided it was time to address the needs of local designers who weren’t in the heart of San Francisco, where more of the sourcing seemed to be. ”There was nothing down here on the Peninsula for designers, so I wanted to build a community to help the design firms, many much smaller than those in the San Francisco area,” she says.

At Evars Collective, a boutique showroom by designers for designers, Evars has curated everything from artisanal wallcoverings and textiles to furniture, rugs, lighting and decor. She focuses on small-batch brands primarily to bring a unique perspective to her clientele. “I really love working with lines that are female-led,” she notes, and she represents these lines from locally to throughout California to nationally in some cases. In addition to being a resource for designers, she says, “I designed and now utilize this space as a place to gather for the design community as well.”


The Path to Collective

The road to Evars latest business venture was not a straight line.

After 13 years in PR and marketing, she built a home with her family about 18 years ago, and got what she calls the “bug” when designing that home. Bitten, she decided to jump full-time into interior design and opened her own firm. She worked solo for several years and then teamed up with a business partner. With her partner, they launched a furniture collection that was manufactured in Southern California. “I realized I enjoyed the product side,” she says. She also found that her favorite part of her design career was meeting other designers, and sharing insights and advice. “How could I take what I’d done and put it into this new business idea?” she asked herself.

As COVID changed the landscape, Evars realized it was time to pivot once again, so she dissolved her partnership, took over the space, took the assets of her upholstery line and incorporated it into her business planning for Evars Collective.

Serendipitously, as she was embarking on this new venture, she had the opportunity to work with a friend on a spec home, where she was able to decorate with the lines she was representing. It became the Evars Collective concept house. She provided drapery, wallpaper, upholstered headboards and more. “A lot of designers would rather do the builds and remodels,” Evars explains. “What I have to offer is on the decorating side. I love decorating. There’s something about the tactile stuff. That’s my sweet spot.”

Her initial idea for Evars Collective started out really big, she says, but she’s refined that over the last few years to the more curated focus it has today. “I wanted to be a big design center on the peninsula. Then coming into 2023, I realized I wanted to specialize and hone in on being this boutique to the trade. I originally wanted [Evars Collective] to be a place where designers could grab products before the install,” she says. However, because she wasn’t a retail location, it was hard to hold inventory.


Curating with Intention

Evars honed in on her specialty, which has become textiles and wallpaper collections, supporting boutique artisanal lines that aren’t available everywhere. And of course, her upholstery collection plays a big role. “Everything is made to order,” she says. The furniture is private-label and Evars’ designs.

As a to-the-trade showroom, she continues, volume is important as this isn’t a high-margin business. She wants to keep the costs as low as possible so the designers who come to her have an opportunity to profit from what they source from her. “It’s hard to make money as a designer. I wanted to make sure we were giving competitive pricing so designers can mark up and feel good about it,” Evars says. “I want them to think of me as their custom workroom, so I’ve built in healthy margins. From retail price, it’s 50 percent off for designers. I would rather have volume than a couple of big sales. Plus, I’ve been in their shoes. I want their businesses to be successful.”

To further facilitate that success, Evars offers a concierge level of service. The more her customers do with her, the more she does for them. She considers her business as a dedicated project coordinator for the designers who buy from her. “We track inventory and provide a status report on the progress with each of our designers,” Evars says. “We consider ourselves an extension of the team.”

She provides weekly updates that are easily accessed by her customers.

The Evars Collective showroom is designed to showcase styles for designers and their clients, with seating vignettes, fabrics and beautiful art on the walls. “A lot of these designers are in the younger life of their businesses. It’s hard to sell a custom sofa without sitting in it; you have to come from a place of confidence,” she says. Whether clients come in with designers or come in on their own, everything for the client goes through the designer. Evars is also a great resource for people who don’t necessarily want a new sofa. With all of the fabric choices she offers, there are opportunities for reupholstery as well. “I love the steady furniture sales, but when things slow down, people still gravitate toward the textiles and wallpapers to provide a refresh,” she says.


Creating Community

More than just a showroom, Evars has also created an opportunity for designers to convene in her showroom to talk and share advice. She has started the Club of the Collective A-list. Twenty designers pay a yearly membership fee and have the opportunity to come to events, go on trips and attend educational opportunities. There’s also a lot of information sharing as the designers range from new to experienced. Much of the collaboration happens organically, including in a dedicated Instagram DM group where they can also share advice, resources and more.

“In person or via DM, the group is lively and fun,” Evars says. “It’s great from a community perspective that we’re sharing resources and building loyalty. We see that our club members are buying more from us.” They also turn to Evars for advice on design. “That’s what I’m here for. Nothing gets me more excited than when a designer asks for advice on a project. I’m happy to share my knowledge,” she says.

Evars’ flagship showroom has been successful, and in June she opened a satellite showroom in San Francisco to further connect with designers and expand the presence of the artisans she represents. She got a call from an art gallery she was sourcing from that the building was being sold, so she and the gallery owner decided to go in on the space together. “She needed the walls, I needed the floors,” Evars notes.

Business has expanded to the point where Evars now has a showroom manager, a part-time CFO and a project manager. While she’d like to work more on the business, she still has to work in the business. But she’s happy where she is and with what she’s doing. “I’m so passionate about what I do and what I can provide. This was the right pivot in my career,” Evars says. “I love running a business.” It seems she’s found the right one.

leaderboard2 - default