ISSUE 94  |  Handyman Special

Studio Visit: Small Trade Company Gets Big

October 15, 2013 5:00 PM

BY Sarah Lonsdale

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When we first posted on Matt Dick’s Small Trade Company, the designer and creative director was installed in a sliver of a narrow studio in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. So it was no surprise that when Cathy Bailey and Robin Petrovic of Heath Ceramics offered him studio space in their 60,000-square-foot Mission district factory, he jumped at the opportunity.

It has only been a year since the company moved in, but Matt’s hard-to-pinpoint business—among other things, he specializes in creating clothing and restaurant staff workwear with a Japanese vibe—has quickly expanded to fill the new workroom. As he tells us, “Now we can have our sewers together under one roof and are able to make everything visible, from inspiration to creation.” We took a tour of his studio recently and came away inspired by his far-ranging projects and his flair for offhand organization.

To learn more, visit Small Trade Company. And for a good selection of pieces (clothing for women as well as bags and accessories) available online, go to Mill Mercantile.

Photography by Mimi Giboin for Remodelista except where noted.

Above: Matt at his desk in his Mission studio with an energy-efficient Clamp Light by Pablo Studio (acquired in exchange for Small Trade aprons for Pablo Studio’s design team). 

Above: Small Trade Company fabrics. Photograph by Andrew Paynter.

Above: Sample uniform designs hang on the showroom wall. Matt spent time in Japan studying with a master indigo dye expert and tells us, “I’m still doing a lot of work with indigo and am collaborating with a young Japanese artist that we met through the World Shibori Network and the Slow Fiber Studio.”

Above: Tunics and smocks are a Matt Dick speciality. A good selection of his clothing designs are available at Mill Mercantile. Photograph by Andrew Paynter.

Above: The bookshelves were made by local furniture designer Sebastian Parker (the color coding of the  books is Matt’s touch). They display Small Trade Company bags, most of which are in shades of indigo.

Above: A closer look at Small Trade Company’s totes. The braided design is by Llane Alexis and available from BardessonoMill Mercantile also carries Small Trade Company bags.

Above: Matt’s latest line features this reversible yak-down and hemp-wool “coat” patterned with indigo shibori treatment. The large work tables are modern classics by the Castiglioni brothers.

Above: Scissors are an acknowledged “obsession” of Matt’s, as evidenced by this table display. Photograph by Andrew Paynter.

Above: Matt’s partner, self-taught artist Llane Dominquez, at the far end of the table assisted by Carson Bell. Llane creates braided vessels, rugs, and monsters from apparel scraps; the pile of braided colored balls on the table are made from recycled Dosa fabrics and will be part of the upcoming Dosa Mercantile at LA’s Hammer Museum in November. 

Above: Llane stitching one of his braided bags.

 Above: Vintage wire baskets organize textile samples and scraps.

Above: Hanging on the wall is a tutu bag made of an industrial all-weather fabric and hand-cut leather straps. It’s a custom order for Maria Kochetkova, principal dancer of the San Francisco Ballet, who commissioned a series of bags for her costumes when traveling.

Above: The stair wall is layered with posters, magazine pages, newspaper clippings, invitations, and Japanese shopping bags. 

For more on Matt Dick, see our Style Counsel Post. For more on furniture designer Sebastian Parker, see our Shopper’s Diary featuring In Fiore (Matt’s old neighbor in the Tenderloin).