If you’ve ever read Better Homes & Gardens or paged through a Pottery Barn catalog, there’s a good chance that you’ve come across the work of lifestyle guru Matthew Mead ‘91. For 25 years Mead has been sharing entertaining, decorating, cooking and crafting tips in books, magazines, workshops and catalogs; all from his studio in Boscawen, New Hampshire.
In the current economic climate Mead has found that it isn’t enough to just have one job anymore, a fact that he addresses quite candidly on his blog. Mead is the food photographer for the Associated Press, a freelance photographer, a writer, a stylist and a teacher. He also travels to flea markets and participates in pop-up shops, selling pieces from his warehouse full of vintage treasures he’s collected over the years. His wife, Jennifer, is also an integral part of the business.
A New Hampshire native, Mead attended Notre Dame College in Manchester for a year before enrolling at the University of New Hampshire’s Manchester campus as a commuter student majoring in English. “I loved it,” Mead says, “I loved all of my professors and I was with a lot of other nontraditional students who were looking for something to enhance their careers. I found that the classes were really excellent and it fit my life and all of the other things I had to do, all of the other hats I had to wear. It was a really great education.” Shortly after graduation, Mead’s career took off and soon he had more work than he could handle, including writing books such as Gifts from Nature, directing and styling catalog shoots and ultimately landing the coveted role as style director at Country Home magazine.
But during the massive decline of magazine publishing in 2008, Country Home folded and Mead found that the industry that he had dedicated the last 17 years of his life to had radically changed. He had already taught himself the art of photography in order to compensate for declining budgets, and now he needed to make another radical change himself. “I was kind of dumbfounded when publishing went south and I thought...how do I reinvent myself again?” Mead continues, “So what I have found is that I need to have lots of oars in the water, and hope that one of the things pays off.”
Mead has been paddling those oars like mad ever since and there’s nothing he won’t try. He says, “For example, this week I have a new decorating client that I’ve taken on. I’m working on a new magazine with a new publisher out of California. Tomorrow we’re doing a pop-up shop at a store in Andover, Mass. It’s hard not to have one thing to focus on, but it’s good that I have all of these different things happening.”
With a new corporate client and a recently inked deal for a 2015 series of Matthew Mead publications, there isn’t much spare time in his future. And even though Mead shares that there are some days when he’s not sure how he’ll financially finish out the month, there is a silver lining to his artfully styled cloud. “I have to say, and I’ve always felt this way, that I was able to figure out what it was that I’m good at and what I loved to do and I turned it into a job. While it isn’t producing the income that it used to, I still do what I love...so how can I really complain about that? I try to remind myself of that.”
Originally published in UNH Magazine—Winter 2015 Issue