Meg Galligan, jewelry designer and founder of Margaret Elizabeth, welcomed us into her and her husband’s beautiful San Francisco apartment earlier this year. After running the business from their apartment for a year, things quickly began to outgrow the home studio. Meg realized it was the right time to find a separate studio that could serve as a large workspace, a showcase for the growing collection, and a convenient location for customers to see pieces in person.
With a bright, open layout, it’s no surprise that the studio Meg found in Cow Hollow clicked instantly. Once the lease was signed, she put together a stunning space with some great budget finds and crafty DIY pieces, creating a warm and welcoming environment in the process. From the financial decisions to the decorating decisions, Meg fills us in on what it takes to make the transition from home studio to rental work studio a lovely and well-decorated success. Whether you’re looking to expand your office space or just seeking inspiration to grow your business, Meg has some great advice to share!
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After working from the comfort of your home, you’ve expanded and moved Margaret Elizabeth to a new studio space. How much time passed of running the business before making this leap? Why did you decide to move your workspace?
The move into our studio has been SO exciting. I worked from my home studio for a year before deciding to move into our new Cow Hollow location. I loved the convenience of working from home, but it was so hard creating boundaries between work life and home life. Now that I’m going to the studio every day, I have a much more structured schedule and clearer ‘working’ hours. I decided to move into the space because we had literally outgrown my home studio! We had gotten to a point where we were working from my dining room table and our storage and shipping room was bursting at the seams.
How did you determine whether you could afford the financial expense of having a separate workspace?
Have you had to make any adjustments to the company’s budget? Have the additional expenses for rent and decor been worth it?
One of the biggest factors in choosing the space was determining if it was an environment where our customers could come and see our pieces in person. The fact that we get to see and meet customers on a daily basis has been so incredible. From a financial standpoint, it has also opened up a sales channel we didn’t have before, which, in turn, helps defray the cost of rent. Above all else, though, we physically outgrew my home studio- so it was time! The extra expenses have definitely been worth it! We love working from the studio every day and it’s just so nice having more of a presence within the San Francisco community.
What was the most important thing to you in finding a new space for Margaret Elizabeth? Do you have any advice for Everygirls looking to expand their office spaces?
I wanted to find something that felt bright, open, and lofty. It was important to me that the space serve as a hybrid of our every day “behind the scenes” work needs and also a place that the jewelry could be on display. The studio is just one big open room, so as a way to hide the not so pretty parts of the office like shipping supplies, etc., we cornered off the back part of the space with pottery barn linen drapes. Having distinct areas sectioned off helps us stay a bit more organized, too.
My advice to Everygirls looking for space is to find something that feels right. We all know that feeling we get when we walk into a place and something clicks. Try to wait it out until you have that moment. I looked at so many spaces that I was trying to feel excited about, but deep down knew something wasn’t quite right. Finally, I walked into what is now our studio, and signed the lease the next day.
When you were decorating your home, you told us that you took your time finding pieces that fit. Has the decorating process been the same for your studio?
It has been really similar. Like our home, so many pieces in the studio are flea market finds. We did a lot of work to rehab much of the furniture (the marble topped bar had an orange laminate with pleather rim, for example). I had so much fun finding special pieces and figuring out how they could fit the space.
Can you share any words of wisdom about making a new space feel like your own while staying on budget?
Don’t be afraid to shop you local thrift stores, flea markets, and sites like eBay and Craigslist. There are so many treasures out there! One thing that helped me stay on budget was to make a list at the beginning of the decorating process, before we had anything at all. I wrote down the big pieces I felt like I had to have, followed by the smaller decor items that would make it feel like the Margaret Elizabeth home. Once I worked through the list, I created a budget and looked for areas where we could find creative alternatives to some of the expensive pieces I initially wanted.
Did you find any great budget pieces while you were decorating? Did you undertake any DIY projects? Tell us about some of your favorite finds and creations!
My favorite budget find was our sofa. Ruby Living Design had a warehouse sale here in San Francisco and the second I walked in I spotted the Mitchell Gold Bob Williams Chesterfield Sofa. In a matter of minutes, it was on its way to our studio! As for the DIY projects, they go on and on! We sanded and repainted all of the shelving units and display cases…and the bar, as I mentioned before, was a lovely shade of brown with a neon orange laminate top and black pleather rim. We took off the delightful laminate and pleather border, sanded the whole thing down, and painted it a glossy black. To complete the piece, we found a piece of marble remnant for the top.
We adore the signature elephant logo on your studio doors. Do you have a favorite decorative detail in your new studio?
I love the hanging rattan egg chair. Everyone who comes in takes a swing- and it’s a cozy nook for getting work done under the skylight!
Credits for various pieces:
Linen Drapes, Pottery Barn
Bar, Alameda flea market
Large Round Table, Alemeda Flea Market
Large White Vase, Crate & Barrel
Elephant (painted) (no longer available at West Elm, but they have similar pieces in stock now!)
Clear Acrylic Shelves, Container Store
Gold Fabric on Curtains and Closet Door, Caitlin Wilson
Lamb Pillow Cover, West Elm
Desks, Cost Plus World Market
Sofa, Ruby Living Design
Nested tables, DIY from flea market
Jewelry Display Boxes, Crate & Barrel
Brass Wired Side Table, Target
Brass Desk Lamps, Robert Abbey via Lamps Plus
Black Accent Table, Pottery Barn
Brass Curtain Rod, West Elm
Flax colored Jute Rug, West Elm
Geodes, Margaret Elizabeth
Coffee Table Books, Margaret Elizabeth