It was a simple table that set multi-disciplinary artist and designer, Sandra Macaron, on the path to independence and owning her own business…
“While working on the interior design of an apartment,” recalls Sandra,“I designed a set of tables for that particular client that interested a lot of his visitors. I started receiving calls about making more, and as the orders increased, the collection started growing from furnitureto home accessories. So the process came naturally, it ended up choosing me!”
Born in Beirut, Sandra began her creative education with Masters in Interior Architecture from the AcadémieLibanaise des Beaux-Arts. Keen to expand her learning and creative influences, she then took part in a Master of Fine Arts in Lighting Design from the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York city, followed by an internship in industrial design at Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.
Upon her return to Beirut following the 2009 financial crisis, Sandra began working as a faculty member at the Académie Libanaise des Beaux Arts in the Interior Architecture and Lighting Design departments. This work, along with freelance work as an interior and lighting designer continued to inspire her.
Then, in 2010, Sandra’s path changed again following a commission. “When I was back in Beirut, a trip to Damascus came up for an interior design project I was working on. I was totally inspired by the geometric patterns of the Near East, which were all injected with bold contours. This led to the ‘Damas’ Collection being born.”
Inspiration from around the world
Different countries and cultures would become a familiar theme in Sandra’s work, including collections such as the ‘Remene’ series, which is inspired by her Armenian background and features geometric representations of pomegranates, which symbolize fertility and abundance in the Armenian culture. And ‘Blatt’ which is inspired by the old cement tiles that are found in every traditional Lebanese house.
Now equipped with years of experience and a near endless supply of passion,
Sandra was ready to move forward and create her own lifestyle brand. Throughout the early stages of her business, Sandra sold and promoted her products through Facebook and Instagram under the brand Sandra Macaron Home.
“As a startup with no budget for marketing or a store to display my creations, Facebook and Instagram gave me a great platform to showcase my products. I have sold my products on Facebook and Instagram since the beginning, and promoting my page helped me gain a larger audience.”
In 2015, Sandra further expanded her business and broke the practice into two distinct but intrinsically linked brands: SMAC, which is a design brand featuring vibrant, dynamic and bold home accessories. And the Sandra Macaron Design Studio, which works on interior design and high-end furniture commissions.
Designing the future
In 2016, Sandra’s business took another step forward when she acquired a physical store in Beirut’s cool designer district of Mar Mikhael. The SMAC Boutique now acts as a base for Sandra where her and her growing team can showcase their creativity.
As the business has grown, Sandra has still found time to share her knowledge with other woman. And she often works with women from Arsal in the Beqaa area, which is known for its local handmade carpet industry.
“I do my best to encourage women to work,” says Sandra. “I empower those particular women [in Arsal] by showing them how important their effort is, for handmade traditions are valuable and are part of the strength of our culture.
As for my students, I always push them to explore and jump into what they are passionate about while sharing my insights about practical life experiences and obstacles they might face in the business world.”
Obstacles into opportunities
When starting a creative business, one of the major concerns is protection of intellectual and creative property, and Sandra is no different, but she didn’t let it hold her back. In fact, she turned them to her benefit. “I went through so many problems where I discovered other ‘designers’ imitating and reproducing my own designs,” she says.“At first, this got me really mad. However, I overcame this issue by looking at the positive side, which lead me to be more creative and productive.”
Sandra is nowhere near finished building her business, either. Along with her continued belief in social responsibility, she has big plans for SMAC. “My goal for SMAC is to grow it in all aspects: a bigger design team, in-house production, multiple branches and an international franchise. I’m hoping to reach New York, Paris and Tokyo one day. My recipe for success is a pinch of passion, a touch of belief, and a lot of hard work.”
Learn more about Sandra Macaron and SMAC