While women have fared better in the pandemic than men have medically, they have suffered disproportionately economically. And yet, the virus has also provided women business owners with new opportunities as well as challenges. Witness AC Designs Ltd. in Bedford Hills, a go-to place for window treatments, upholstery — and all things fabric, says Ana Muralles, who owns the business with Claudia Gomez.
When they returned from the three and a half-month lockdown in June, they and their full-time staff of four were faced not only with back orders but new ones. After a season at home, Muralles says, many had decided it was time for a refresh. The team fulfills all the orders on-site, working with local individual designers and with Country Willow, a furniture and home décor store that’s also in Bedford Hills, and Westchester House & Home, a design center in Mount Kisco. The owners play complementary roles, with Gomez heading production and Muralles, client relations, including project measurements and installations.
They’ve been complements ever since the two met 17 years ago at Neighbors Link in Mount Kisco, which helps immigrants integrate into the community. There they learned English and were soon spearheading a sewing class, with Muralles organizing it and Gomez teaching it. The two had always been interested in different aspects of design — Muralles, from Guatemala, jewelry; Gomez, from Colombia, clothing. Then some Neighbors Link board members said, What about home décor?
The pair started their business — named for their first initials — 15 years ago in a friend’s apartment. Taking no chances, they kept their day jobs as nannies, working on their American dream at night.
Ten years ago, they were ready for the next step — their own storefront, which today teems with neatly piled boxes of fabrics, books of swatches, pillows and upholstered furnishings, examples of their handicraft. Many of the fabrics are prints.
“Our clients wanted a little more pop in their rooms, so more print fabrics,” Muralles says, adding that they do a lot of plain panels for rooms in which prints are used elsewhere. “Designers are working with wallpaper. That’s very in as well.”
AC Designs also does a lot of cornices and Roman shades, which stack rather than roll up.
What threads all the work is fabric from companies like Ralph Lauren and Sister Parish. And not just for furnishings and window treatments. Modestly, Muralles doesn’t mention that the business donated 150 masks to the Bedford Hills, Katonah and Mount Kisco volunteer fire departments and Bedford Police at the height of the pandemic this past spring.
For AC Designs, it’s also about the fabric of life.
For more, visit acdesignsltd.com.