Barclay Butera: Interior Design Icon
On this episode of The Lounge, Nick chats with Barclay Butera. He shares his experience of growing up in the family business, what it was like to branch out on his own, and how important it is to surround yourself with good people.
Getting to know Barclay Butera
Barclay joins Nick in the lounge from California. Barclay attributes much of his success to surrounding himself with good people. He likes to vacation in Paris and swap out pillows in his home for each season of the year. He also loves a good issue of Elle Decor or House Beautiful and a Ketel One martini with three olives.
How did Barclay get into design?
Barclay grew up in a family design business in California. From a young age, he worked in the resource library and was trained by his mom and her staff. From there, Barclay studied political science and economics in college and even went on to complete a year of law school. Ultimately, he ended up back at his mom’s company.
Though there were mixed emotions when Barclay decided to start his own business, his education prepared him for the business side and his mom prepared him for many aspects of design. Barclay needed to develop his own way of thinking about design.
What does Barclay’s business look like today?
Barclay currently employs 50 individuals, 22 of which are interior designers. The team is working on around 100 projects at a time, and many are ground-up construction. He is able to stay organized and keep his life balanced by surrounding himself with a great team who understand the business and have common goals to work towards.
When hiring, Barclay looks for a fresh perspective to help him stay current in design and licensing as well as self-starters who love the business. On a daily basis, Barclay could be running errands, be in client meetings, be spending time in the showroom, or be dropping his pup off at doggie daycare.
The showroom aspect of his business is closely related to the design business. He is able to bring in more foot traffic through the showroom and convert many of those patrons into design clients. He uses the showroom as a tool to show people what they do. Barclay says that the hardest part is being open six days a week and staffing those hours, but in the end, the benefits outweigh the costs.
The showroom has helped Barclay with licensing deals too. The successes in the showroom have helped him prove himself when approaching manufacturers. About fifteen years ago, Kravet approached Barclay with a licensing deal on fabrics, and today, even more products are in the mix, like carpet.
Barclay acknowledges that the awards that he has received are wonderful, but even more valuable are the invitations to speak to students, trade audiences, or business owners and entrepreneurs. He wants to give back and appreciates that he is recognized as a successful entrepreneur.
How does Barclay spend his time?
Barclay has invested money in advertising but also invests his time into getting involved in the community. He is able to spend about a third of his time on business and marketing, a third on licensing, and a third designing, which he loves. Barclay looks at each project from the aspect of the person who will experience it.
In regards to licensing, Barclay mentions that these deals can be hard to come by. He recommends being patient and developing your brand and audience in the meantime so that you are prepared and have something to offer when the time does come.
With the availability of information and products on the Internet, Barclay has seen his margins affected. And while it is difficult to combat how websites, social networks, etc. have impacted the industry in terms of margin, Barclay has decided to stress his superior level of service. The need for good service is imperative.
To learn more about Barclay Butera, visit his website.
- Wrap Up
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