Industry: Phyllis Harbinger and Daryl Calfee
This Friday in the Lounge Nick is joined by Daryl Calfee, Vice President of Marketing for leather manufacturer and Chaise Lounge sponsor Moore & Giles, for a fascinating conversation on the history and art of luxury leather production. Plus, Moore & Giles will be giving away a FREE luxury bag for listeners who follow The Chaise Lounge podcast on social media. Details coming soon! Next, Nick chats with monthly speaker Phyllis Harbinger about hiring smart to make sure that your firm never suffers from employee issues.
Daryl Calfee: Leather is a Luxury
Nick sits down with Daryl Calfee, VP of Marketing for leather producer — and newest Chaise Lounge sponsor — Moore and Giles.
The Moore and Giles Story
Daryl says that you’ve probably sat on Moore and Giles leather — and may even have it in your home — without knowing it. The company has been based out of Lynchburg, Virginia since the 1930s, when its founder, Donald Gray Moore, was laid off from his gig working at a local shoe factory and instead became the factory’s leather supplier. Later, the company expanded into furniture sales. In the 1990s, however, the firm switched its attention to building a new luxury, worn-in leather product and partnered with Spain-based tannery Tanerias Omega. The first order was a whopping 50,000 square feet, and despite initial challenges, they learned how to develop institutional knowledge for natural leathers. Now, Moore and Giles are a fixture in restaurants like Starbucks, hotels in Vegas, and Boeing aircraft for their vintage, worn-in and waxy leather.
Passion for the Product
Daryl discusses the history of leather, which has evolved with humanity for thousands of years and has become a luxury good only relatively recently. Moore and Giles, he says, invests heavily in sustainable, high-quality rawhides from different climates for different needs — whether that means sourcing from South America, where hides are very large but thin, or a northern climate like Germany for a naturally thicker hide and is generally more free of scarring. Aside from color saturation or some light waxing, Moore and Giles avoid painting on color — which Daryl says is a cheap move to cover up a low-quality rawhide (Nick likens to a faux finish). Instead, they embrace the imperfections and celebrate that each one is going to be different. Faux leather doesn’t exist, Daryl says — it’s something else entirely. And when passion for creation and expression trumps cheap manufacturing, the money follows.
Phyllis Harbinger: Hire Smart
Phyllis, a regular guest in the Lounge, shares the lessons she has learned while intelligently growing her firm, Design Concepts Interiors, from a “lean and mean machine” of one into a team of creative and self-sufficient individuals. She says that she hired her first — and second — full-time employee through establishing an intern program about fifteen years ago, and invested handsomely in both.
The Value of Nurturing Interns
“It’s not inexpensive, but you get what you pay for,” Phyllis explains. “When you find that talent, and nurture that talent, it goes places.” Initially, Phyllis focuses on teaching and mentoring interns before raising their pay from minimum wage when they become more competent and experienced. She even Ubers her current intern to and from work in order to nurture what she considers to be an indispensable relationship. Her third employee was a former student who showed promise and drive. In time, all three grew into positions that naturally fit their personality and freed Phyllis to avoid spending time on accounting or CAD and creatively run her business.
Respect Gets Respect — and Returns
Above all, Phyllis says employers should be guided by respect and recommends thinking freely about hiring: whether that’s considering several part-timers over one full-timer if that is mutually beneficial; establishing a three month trial period for new hires; looking into virtual employment starts for outsourcing; and even hiring an attorney to have your back if a hire goes south, or you improperly (and immorally!) classify an employee as a contractor.
To reach out to Phyllis for strategy calls, email her at email@example.com
Chaise Lounge Updates
Don’t forget about the #makemychaise design competition click this link for more info.
Datacolor–If you’ve ever worked with a Benjamin Moore dealer and asked for a color match, then you’ve probably worked with Datacolor without even knowing it. Now, Datacolor has announced the ColorReader, a tool that identifies paint colors from any surface and provides you the closest existing paint match right on the spot! Stop cutting out your drywall or scanning fan decks and start saving time by confirming color with the help of the ColorReader. Revolutionize your color tools and visit www.datacolor.com/may for more information.
If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!