December 14, 2017

Renaissance Man Chad Stark Gives Us a Peek Into His Mad, Mad World of Design

VP of STARK and President of Scalamandre, Chad Stark, shares the behind-the-scenes work and what the iconic brands have in the works now.

by New York Spaces

Chad Stark; Photograph by Genevieve Garrupo.
Chad Stark; Photograph by Genevieve Garrupo.
Chad Stark; Photograph by Genevieve Garrupo.
Chad Stark; Photograph by Genevieve Garrupo.

NYS: Tell us about how you grew up in design?

Chad Stark: I have been around design for as long as I can remember. From playing hide-and-seek in the rolled up antique rugs in our showroom to interning with STARK over the summers in middle school, I have always been very close to the business.

NYS: Did you ever consider having a career outside of design? Why or why not?

Chad Stark: Yes, in fact. I didn't think I was ultimately going to end up in my family's business at all! I am a huge technologist and was involved in various marketing, event-planning, and tech start-ups prior to joining STARK full-time. The drive to do something different I think stemmed from wanting to establish my own legacy. However, once I started working at STARK, I realized that I could make my own unique impact here!

NYS: As the Senior VP at Stark, the company your grandparents founded, what is a day in the life like?

Chad Stark: An average day in my life is chaotic. We are making great changes to many different aspects of the business—in product, sourcing, operations, customer service, and technology—so every day is exciting, challenging and completely varied. My schedule is very unpredictable, but I love it – there's never a dull moment!

NYS: How do you balance dual roles that includes acting as President of Scalamandre?

Chad Stark: My workload has definitely increased since becoming President of Scalamandre. The only way I am able to balance the demands of both roles is by trusting our managers and giving them enough autonomy to make many decisions. Fortunately, we have built an incredible team of managers to oversee the day-to-day of the business, which allows me to be involved in STARK on a more strategic, conceptual level while overseeing the nuts and bolts of daily tasks and projects at Scalamandre.

NYS: Tell us about the heritage of Scalamandre?

Chad Stark: Scalamandre is a story of American excellence at it's finest. The brand, formerly known as "Scalamandre Silks" was founded in 1929 by Franco Scalamandre, who was born in Italy, but moved to America at a young enough age to consider himself an Italian-American. He started his business in the New York metropolitan area, establishing a brand at a time when there was a growing movement in the United States to restore and reproduce textiles for historic homes and furnishings. So much so, that within Scalamandre's first year of business, it received a contract to weave a fabric for a William Randolph Hearst estate. This first contract paved the way for Scalamandre and over the years the brand has assisted with countless historic restorations and cultural commissions, which has remained an important part of the brand. Now that Scalamandre and STARK Fabric have merged, we are excited to show the world what we've been up to, demonstrating that Scalamandre is brimming with energy and new ideas, and will continue to move the needle in modern design.

NYS: How do your brands promote the interior design trade?

Chad Stark: STARK and Scalamandre have always been and will always be trade-first companies. We continue to promote the trade through a variety of programs and initiatives, the most recent of which is my new role as President of the Decorative Furnishings Association, a non-profit group committed to the health, growth, and future of professional interior design. Through the organization, we are launching a consumer-facing website that will educate the public on the value of professional design and the shortcomings of DIY. With the use of proprietary new technology, the site will then be able to match consumers with the best design firm for any given project, based on such factors as scope, budget, and style of work. So far, we raised over $100k from the industry for the development of the site, which is slated for a January 8th launch. I can't wait! Our industry is evolving rapidly; while the trade-only business model is being affected by recent changes, we are confident that our involvement in the trade organization, as well as our trade benefits programs (which includes exclusive products, services, commission protection, and trade referrals), are effective tools to promote the industry.

NYS: What are you working on in terms of collections for both brands?

Chad Stark: When developing new collections, we are constantly asking ourselves what we are uniquely capable of, and what we can bring to the table that nobody else can. Our expansive distribution network allows us to take risks on products and stock more inventory than most companies would be willing to. At Scalamandre, we are about to re-launch Grey Watkins and Boris Kroll, while at STARK we are working to launch Stark Studio Rugs, a more modestly-priced collection that leverages STARK's production expertise to create stunning products without compromising on quality, durability, or style. Additionally, we have robust in-stock outdoor collections coming out in the spring for both companies.

NYS: Is there anything new down the pipeline you expect the trade would benefit from knowing?

Chad Stark: We are investing heavily in technology that allows our trade customers to access product and order information more quickly and enables them to work with our showrooms 24/7 in collaboration with their dedicated Account Managers. You can expect a new and improved website to roll out in early 2018 that will allow designers to check inventory and place orders with us online. Additionally, new internal programs are being instituted to allow our Account Managers to focus 100% of their time on satisfying their clients and providing exceptional customer service.

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