The Woman Who Makes Window Displays for STAXX and Others

Tommi Clark created window displays in her parents’ furniture store growing up and now has made successful displays for STAXX, A Cricket in the House, First Friday Artwalk and more. She practiced making displays quickly while managing Good Girl Art Gallery, but as a freelancer she now takes hours or days to create installs. Clark shares tips on showcasing your merchandise to make it work for you.

Tip 1: Know Your Boundaries
Clark always starts her meetings by asking clients questions about the space she has to work with, their budget and the products she needs to showcase. “Sometimes it’s better to know what they don’t like than what they do,” she says. She measures the space, sketches a diagram and runs it past the client before creating the display. 

Tip 2: Let Your Brain Do the Work
Although sometimes clients give Clark pictures for inspiration, she prefers to not load her brain up with visuals. “I think of what they want and I let it roll around in my head,” she says. “I don’t work on it for a day or two, and then when I’m doing something else it will hit me what to do.” Clark starts with one piece of merchandise or one color and lets the display develop from there. 

Tip 3: Make it Last (or Don’t) 
It’s important to create your display for its purpose: Are you collecting likes on Instagram or is it greeting customers in your store window? Clark says creating trendy displays for a photo is fun to do, but a store display has to be physically constructed and have longevity. But both need correct lighting.

Tip 4: Define Success for Yourself 
Since each display has different goals, success means something different for every arrangement. Clark says she feels successful when her client calls in the morning after she’s been working all night and praises her work. But she also measures it personally. “If it matches what I saw in my head, I’m super happy,” she says. “Sometimes I can’t pull that off because it’s impossible without certain resources.” 

Tip 5: Always Keep Learning
Over the years, Clark has learned to listen more than she talks, she says. And sometimes, you need to show clients ideas to spark their own creativity, she says. But she doesn’t always fold to what the client says. “Don’t undersell yourself,” she says. She knows she has the skills and the creativity, so she puts value on her time. “You will always underestimate how long it takes you to build [a display], and I learned the hard way to charge by the hour.”

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