We've talked to event profs before about what it's like to strike out on your own—and it's always insightful to hear from those who have been through the process, plus what brought them to take that leap of faith. That's why we recently sat down with Meagan Hundt, the CEO and founder of ART2TABLE, a new company based in St. Barts that offers a curated selection of rentable table settings and décor.
Hundt, a North Carolina native, launched the company in late October 2022. Before the pandemic, she worked in events in New York for more than a decade at the private event venue 583 Park Avenue. "I probably have done over 1,000 events there, and they all revolved around the table," she says.
Her southern roots and her mother's penchant for entertaining exposed her to the art of hosting at an early age, and today she sees the tablescape trend as one to keep an eye on. It's been on the rise "in the last few years," she says, "especially during the pandemic when people couldn't leave their homes. I think even restaurants and hotels are investing more into the presentation... Guests want to have that Instagrammable moment."
With ART2TABLE, Hundt wants to bring her expertise and creative mindset to those looking to host in St. Barts without the hassle. She provides “table art in a box,” which includes table settings, décor, and extra touches curated with products from around the world. Clients can select from one of her 10 ready-made tablescapes or work with her for a custom-made look.
"I've been working the last year to source a lot of products from the south where I'm from originally, but also from all over the world, really being able to offer different products to clients and locals here," Hundt says.
But working events on the island of St. Barts is vastly different than the breakneck pace of New York. "I'm used to in New York where you can get rentals in like five minutes," she says with a laugh. "Here, there's shipping and storage—there's a whole batch of other logistical things that I've had to learn."
Below we chat more with Hundt about leaving New York for island life, her creative process, her goals for her first year in business, and advice for other event profs looking to launch their own company.
What brought you to St. Barts?
When the pandemic hit, as you know, it crushed the event industry. I took that as an opportunity to try something different—I felt it was time for a change. I came to St. Barts for the first time in August 2020, and as soon as I got here, it was a completely different lifestyle. When I left New York, I wanted to have a little bit more balance in my life. I love being in nature and learning from the different cultures here and working with the people, hotels, and restaurants that are here. In August 2020, I didn't know that this was going to be the place that I would move to, but after about a year of traveling and coming back and forth I said, "This is the time." I also felt there was a void in terms of there being no tablescape company here. My background is really more in catering, but I was a trained dancer, so I have that artistic, creative side to me.
What's surprised you the most about living there?
It's not New York [laughs]. It's really provided balance in my life and allowed me to slow down. It's also a whole different culture, language, and way of doing business. It's exciting. It's challenging at times, but I have a curious mind, and I love to learn. There's also a deep sense of community here. New York City has a population of about 8 million; this is about 10,000 on a small island. Because it's a French island, it can be challenging for Americans, but it's been a learning and great experience.
What was your inspiration for ART2TABLE? And what made you take the leap to launch it?
I come from a very big family in the south; I'm actually the oldest of five kids. And my mom was always that hostess with the mostest. Every birthday, wedding, or celebration, whatever it was, it was always a "go big or go home" kind of thing. So from an early age, I learned the art of entertaining and the art of being a host from my mom. Like I mentioned before, [with ART2TABLE], I wanted to kind of fill the void but also offer products that didn't exist here, to bring a little bit of my southern charm, and to inspire more people to gather around the table. That's what my values and my morals were growing up, being with loved ones, your family, and your friends.
When I worked at 583 Park Avenue, I did sometimes two events a day. A lot of times it was for a charity, but sometimes it was for an investor day or a social gathering. Those milestones and celebrations are a time to bring people together, and I wanted to continue doing that, but then also do it in a more creative and artistic way. Your life is a celebration—what better place to celebrate than around a table? And in a way that's convenient for the host? Because of course a lot of people here are on vacation, or if I'm working with a local, they don't have the time to source or rent products, so I do the work for them. So that they can enjoy, relax, and create memories with their friends and family.
What's your creative process like?
There's so much inspiration here [in St. Barts]. I'm really drawn to that raw, natural beauty—simple and elegant and not over the top. Right now, none of my tablescapes have tablecloths, so you get a more rustic vibe. But I also love colors, so I love creating something that's neutral, but has a pop of color that's inspired by the natural landscape or the sea.
When I do the designs, I love to not only work with the colors and the inspiration of the island, but also the texture. It's not fun to work with something that's just a straight line or a white tablecloth. [I like to add] things that have levels, dimensions, and special touches that will make the guest feel welcome, because impressions are, of course, very important when you throw an event.
We all know starting your own event business can be challenging. What was that first week like after launching versus the first month?
That first week, honestly, once the company was launched, I felt accomplished, and I was ready to conquer the next [set of tasks]. When that finished product was done—just like when you host an event and it's done and it's successful—I had that good feeling. And then the first month it was really hitting the ground running, because once I started to speak to my contacts, that's really when the [busy] season began [in St. Barts].
I've just continued to feel that drive and that energy, and I love to help people as much as I can. If I can take a burden off your shoulders or relieve any stress in any way for an event, then I'm your gal. I've worn many hats from my previous job of juggling everything from creative aspects, to sales, to catering, to audiovisual.
What do you hope to accomplish in your first year with ART2TABLE?
I like to say one of my mottos is "crafting one table and saving one host at a time." So I would say my goal in that first year would be to save at least 100 hosts. But I think it's also, as I've mentioned before, to inspire people to really gather in a way that feels special. Because when you go to an event, and they have those extra special touches, or they remember those details, or they serve that signature cocktail, or they give you that party favor, those are the things that matter.
[I also want to help] people tap into their own creativity. Everyone has their own style, and everyone has their own tastes, so helping them be curious and find what they like. Maybe they want to have the look that I do in in St. Barts at their home in Massachusetts or Italy or wherever they are in the world.
What advice do you have for other event profs looking to strike out on their own?
There's a phrase that's like "do the thing that scares you the most." And another one that says "when was the last time you did something for the first time?" I live and breathe by that. Sometimes there's a learning curve or a learning process, but just follow your heart. Do what brings you joy, peace, and happiness, and do it in a way that inspires others. How do you want to leave a difference in the world? Be bold, take a risk, because it's better to try than to not do it at all.
This interview has been edited and condensed.