Meredith Clark always had an eye for opulence.
Clark admired the grandeur of the California theaters where she performed as a dancer while growing up and in college. She was drawn to their magnificence and splendor.
But Clark hadnt given chandeliers much thought until 1996, when she started buying vintage chandeliers for Shabby Chic boutique in Los Angeles. Clark couldnt find enough used chandeliers to fill the boutiques demand, so when she stumbled across a bunch of rough, English-cut crystals at an L.A. flea market, her mental gears started turning. She bought the crystals and made a chandelier 15 inches tall and 10 inches wide.
Today, shes made chandeliers as large as 12 feet tall and 10 feet wide. She moved to Boise and owns Chandi Lighting at 110 W. Jefferson St., which keeps five employees busy making and shipping high-end chandeliers around the countryand the world.
Q: Why name the business Chandi?
A: Its just short for chandelier, and we used to call them chandies back when we bought them. But Ive found out Chandi is also the benevolent form of the Hindu goddess, Devi. She has 18 arms, each with a weapon. I liked the image of all those arms taking on the world.
Q: What is the price range for your chandeliers?
A: Retail prices range from $400-$80,000. Chandi specializes in the unique pieces people want for their homes or commercial spaces.
Q: Chandeliers arent a typical retail item. Who are your customers?
A: Whether its construction or remodel, 90 percent of my business is working with designers who order directly for their clients. The other 10 percent are from catalogs and other stores that carry the product. Thats changed a lot from 2007, which was a heyday for retail.
Q: Why did you move to Idaho?
A: I was ready to leave Los Angeles for good with my boys [then ages 10 and 13]. My sister and her husband had already been here for several years. Its been an amazing move for all of us. I feel fortunate to have a business that doesnt rely solely on local business, that to survive it can be based anywhere.
Q: Does its Idaho location help or hurt your business?
A: People are surprised when they learn where Chandi is based. My existing clients applauded me for getting out of Los Angeles. New clients are often curious as to what the back story is. While I think that the freedom I have gained being in Idaho is a benefit that outweighs anything, the move was a big undertaking.
Q: What are your most common materials, and whats the most unusual material youve used?
A: Chandi has a reputation for crystal. The company has been built on our creative interpretation of the traditional chandelier. To keep it interesting, I look for and welcome everything. One of the projects I love most is the Velo collection, created as a fundraising effort for the Boise Bicycle Project [which used bike chains].
Q: Many businesses catering to the upper class struggled during the recession. How did Chandi fare?
A: Luxury items reach a point of the population where people have a certain income that isnt as affected by those downturns in the economy as your upper-middle class. There is still a market for those people.
Q: What attracted you to chandeliers?
A: Looking back, when I was dancing so much and being in large theaters, there was a certain attraction to the opulence of everything around. More than anything, there was an attraction to light thats always been there, the ways light can affect mood and affect space. With crystal, its the way it can reflect that light. People walk in here and I can see their faces light up. For me, thats the most gratifying.
Zach Kyle: 377-6464