The Chaise Lounge

Interior Designer Kristine Paige Offers Timely Advice on Color, Creativity and Cross-Country Collaboration | S25E8

In this episode, recorded early March 2020, The Chaise Lounge podcast producer—a professional painting contractor—Nick May checks in on the West Coast with Los Angeles-based interior designer Kristine Paige, principal at Jackson Paige Interiors.

Listen in as Nick and Kristine get down to basics on choosing careers, paint colors, subcontractors, and the logistics of cross-country creative collaboration.

Interior Design: Where Creative and Analytic Skills Meet

“My favorite thing about interior design is the flexibility it gives me to be a creative person and a very analytical person,” says Kristine, a former actor and film industry insider. “I live between the two, so for me, it’s very rewarding.”

Her least favorite part (we know our fellow entrepreneurs can relate): the general pressures of having your own business. Everything falls to you. 

It All Starts with Color

In Spring 2020, Kristine was named an official brand ambassador for Benjamin Moore—the maker of her favorite interior and exterior paint colors—and part of the paint manufacturer’s new Design P.O.V. series. “Our designs are built around color,” says the designer. Her current favorites come from Benjamin Moore’s Century line, “It’s like velvet.” 

4  Favorite Paint Colors:

      • Benjamin Moore Classic Gray 1548
         
      • Benjamin Moore Hale Navy HC-154

      • Benjamin Moore Chestnut 2082-10

      • Benjamin Moore Century Paint Color Viridian O6

Choosing the Right Painting Contractor

As important as the paint product itself is the application. 

So when choosing contractors, Kristine recommends having at least three experts on speed dial:

    1. A highly specialized painter experienced in lime work or lacquer finishes, who works in close collaboration with the general contractor to make sure that the walls surfaces are perfect
    2. An unfailingly reliable general paint contractor for walls, baseboards, trim, and ceiling 
    3. And an specialty exterior painter

For every job, the final choice all boils down to trust.

 “It’s the person I know I’m going to get the least number of headaches from—someone I can depend on to do the job and they are not going to change out my paint to color match it with another paint. That’s the worst,” says Kristine.

“I’ve gone around to job sites and said, ‘I want to see the cans. Show me the cans,’” she confesses. “And if it’s not the paint I specified, I say, ‘Change it. Start over.’” 

A great tip from Nick: Have the paint contractor list the paint brands and colors by name and number directly on their signed schedules and contracts. That way, you know the materials that are being paid for are the materials you will get.

Budgeting in Outdoor Spaces

After weeks, or months, of feeling sequestered in our homes, we’re going to be ready to move outdoors. 

“Here in California, rooms all open up to the outside,” Kristine explains. “So if you don’t do your outside spaces, the interior design feels very incomplete.” 

Make the indoor-outdoor connection plain right at the first budget meeting, Kristine says, or will end up feeling like they are getting hit up with an “add-on” at the tail end of a project, when they have already make a big investment and are running out of money and enthusiasm.

Kristine’s advice:

“You have to explain to your clients, right at the beginning, ‘This is what you’re seeing from the indoors spaces, and when you’re outside, and this is how they coordinate.’” 

Tips on Working Remotely

As a California-based designer with jobs as far East as Westchester County, New York, Kristine has a head start on the rest of us when it comes to the tricks of #wfh and the virtual commute.

“I have found it super easy in the design stage,” says Kristine, who routinely attends weekly client or project meetings via Skype or Facetime. “I fly out as needed and have a certain number of site visits built into the contract. I’ve never had any problems.” 

Jackson Paige sends all furnishings to a receiver in or near the city in which they will be installed. 

“We also get a lot of things in Los Angeles and we’ll send a truck, which ends up being about the same cost as shipping would be for all the items, anyway,” she explains. “So we meet the trucks and start installation.” 

Installation Day Drama: Not So Glamorous, But So Exciting

“The attitude here is ‘Whatever we have to do to help make it happen is what we’re gonna do. That’s how you have to go into it,” Kristine says.

That could be our new mantra to growing your interior design business: Whatever it takes! 


Learn more about Kristine Paige and Jackson Paige Interiors at JacksonPaige.com  and follow @jacksonpaigeinteriors on Instagram

The attitude here is ‘Whatever we have to do to help make it happen is what we’re gonna do. That’s how you have to go into it.

Los Angeles-based interior designer Kristine Paige, Jackson Paige Interiors Tweet

Chaise Lounge Updates

A new season of Coast to Coast Design is live, with Garrison Hullinger and new co-host Lisa Davenport! Give it a listen to learn about just how many ways there are to run a design business.

Resources

Upcoming Markets

HDExpo | Cancelled for 2020 season

ICFF | Cancelled for 2020 season

High Point Market | June 12-14

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app! We’d love it if you post a review, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. Also, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With that said, keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

New York City Interior Designer Kammi Reiss Knows the Story of What It Takes to Succeed in the Design Business | S25E7

How are our interior design business colleagues and friends in New York City faring through all this craziness? That’s the first question host Nick May asks our guest Kammi Reiss, founder and president of Manhattan-based Kammi Reiss Design, in this episode of The Chaise Lounge podcast

“So far, I think we are doing well. People are keeping their distance and staying in. So far, I think we’re really coming together. We’ve done that a number of times through the years—too many times here in the City—but we’re really good at it. We all need to get on board and keep each other safe.”

As avid travelers, all of us in the interior design community are eager to get back moving and coming together at shows and events around the world—but for now #NO_FOMO because we are ALL in this together. 

We are still, always, privileged to be connected to you here in The Chaise Lounge. We deeply appreciate your joining us here to listen and learn from each other. 

Until we meet again, we invite you to follow us on on Instagram (@thechaiselounge) and be part of the conversation…and solution. 

Kammi Reiss Q & A

Interior designer Kammi Reiss grew up in Potomac, Maryland, a picturesque “ride your bike to school” kind of suburb of Washington, D.C. She spent summer vacations on the Delaware beaches, and cherishes the memory of being given a dollar to go up on the boardwalk and get French fries and play pinball. Her weeks on the beach were filled with “good old-fashioned fun,” like charades at night and lots of soft ice cream. The kind of diversions—like playing flashlight tag and chasing fireflies—that Nick remembers as “good kid fun.” 

What’s Your Favorite Neighborhood Restaurant?

Kammi’s husband, who has MS, deals with the symptoms of fatigue: “So the idea of cooking and being at home all the time…we have got this down,” says Kammi, laughing. “We’re already experts at it. 

 “We mostly stay home and I cook,” she continues, “but when we do go out there’s a great neighborhood spot across the street from us. During the day it’s sort of a grab-and-go spot. But in the evenings, it turns into a nightspot with great burgers and wings. It’s called Night Shift and we love to spend time there. They also make some really good cocktails.”

What’s the last thing you bought for your house?

“Fresh flowers. I feel it’s really important to have things that are living and bring color. I have a muted palette and flowers are the perfect way to bring color and seasonal accents into the home. 

“The place that I think does the most beautiful job of that is in Paris, at the George V: They’ve got a big entry table that is overflowing with flowers. And they change it regularly. Every time, it is a feast for the eyes.”

Favorite Fashion Accessory: Jewelry that Tells a Story

“I have one necklace that I don’t ever take off. It’s called ‘Eleven Wishes.’ It’s made by my friend Melissa, whose company is called Devon Woodhill. It’s tiny little diamond drops on a necklace. I was married on November 11th—the eleventh day of the eleventh month—and it reminds me of that. Subsequently, I got one for each of my daughters, my sister, and my mom and we all wear them. So it tells a story and reminds me of what is important to me.” 

Beer, Wine, or Cocktail?

“Any cocktail with tequila in it. Preferably spicy. Maybe a Paloma, some grapefruit and a little bit of jalepeno muddled in there.” 

When Did the Interior Design Bug Bite?

“My tendencies date way, way back. To my parents’ dismay. 

“I was probably 11 years old. For the holidays, all I wanted were these Marimekko comforters. My mother couldn’t wrap her head around the idea that that would be something that she should get me as a gift. But I begged and pleaded. They are still in my mother’s house to this day. They look like Matisse cutouts and I was so drawn to them. 

“I wanted my room to be almost like a Matisse collage would be. I convinced my parents to let me get rid of all my furniture except my beds. My father helped me build shelves in my closets—this was the days before California Closets and the like. I had an all-white room with these beautiful, artful comforters.”

Listen up, English Majors: Design Tells a Story

“I went to the University of Michigan and studied English. But I was always interested in design and spent all my optional classes at the art school. I love to read, and I love a good story. I love the different ways stories can be told. I love listening to different peoples’ voices and hearing life experiences through different lenses. 

“That’s what design can do also: It can really tell a story.” 

First Break: Straight to Elle Décor

“It was 1989 and Elle Décor existed in France, but they didn’t have a US edition. I was hired to be on that staff, on the editorial side. We were eight people. And I was just ‘the’ assistant. It was really bare bones. And that was the beginning.

“I had the great good fortune of having an amazing boss who taught me how to do his job, which was both great for me—because I got to learn how to be a photo editor—and great for him. Because when things would come up and he would need to be in two places, he could. I could be in one place for him and he could be in another place. 

“That has always stayed with me: Surrounding yourself with people who are supportive and want to help you grow. And also, in the case of people who work for me, I need to fill their confidence so we can be a stronger, better team.” 

Marketing: Photography Is Key, Stories are Essential

“Coming from an editorial background informed my perspective on how valuable editorial can be.

“I also understand how important relationships in editorial are. So part of what I bring to this is an understanding that it’s not just about my work. It’s also how my work looks in pictures.

“Pictures are really important right now—now more than ever.  We have to show our work in small images, like on Instagram, and there’s nothing that does that better than good photography.”

“It’s also important to have a caption that tells a story of how the design came to be.

 “You read the story, and that’s really important.” 

The Drive to Succeed: It All Begins with a Story

“My grandma would drive us around in the evening, and she would say, ‘Pick a window.’ And we would pick a window and she would tell us a story of the people who lived in that window.”


Learn more about Kammi Reiss Design at KammiReissDesign.com  You can also DM Kammi on Instagram (@kammireissdesign) or email her at kammi@kammireissdesign.com (she said it’s OK!!)

Part of what I bring to this is that it’s not just about my work: It’s about how my work looks in pictures. Pictures are really important now—now more than ever.

NYC interior designer Kammi Reiss, former Elle Décor magazine photo editor and founder of Kammi Reiss Design Tweet

Chaise Lounge Updates

A new season of Coast to Coast Design is live, with Garrison Hullinger and new co-host Lisa Davenport! Give it a listen to learn about just how many ways there are to run a design business.

Resources

Upcoming Markets

HDExpo | Cancelled for 2020 season

ICFF | Cancelled for 2020 season

High Point Market | June 12-14

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app! We’d love it if you post a review, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. Also, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With that said, keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

Luxury Endures: Bruce Andrews MacDonald and Interior Designer Sarah Eilers Share a Vision for Rooms that Stand the Test of Time | S25E6

In this special guest-hosted episode of The Chaise Lounge podcast, we find ourselves in the excellent company of bespoke furniture designer Bruce Andrews Macdonald, founder of Bruce Andrews Design, and interior designer Sarah Eilers, of the award-winning Lucas/Eilers Design Associates, based in Sarah’s hometown of Houston, Texas.

We hope you’ll enjoy this frank conversation between Bruce and Sarah—two industry leaders who have built successful careers making their clients’ investments in their homes pay off in long-term beauty, pleasure, and comfort.

 “I want to thank Nick May of The Chaise Lounge podcast to have this opportunity to create a luxury podcast and discuss the situation in our world,” says Bruce. “I positively believe that we will all be looking at a new world going forward, but I think it’s going to be a world in which we all feel more connected in and more appreciative of, once we realize what we need to do—together.”

Redefining Luxury Interior Design and What It Means Today

Luxury interiors require “a curated look—it’s not one-stop shopping and you can’t do it overnight,” emphasizes Sarah. From concept to completion, her new-construction projects evolved over a period of about two years of planning, purchasing, and implementation.

Here’s how these pros keep their big projects on track:

Every Project Starts with Plan, a Budget, and a Story

As Coco Chanel said, Bruce points out, “Fashion changes, but style endures.”

At the end of the day, he says, luxury is sustainable because you’re not throwing anything away—you’re keeping something over time. “I’ve seen too many people thinking that luxury means that you can change things out and perpetuate newness. But luxury to me is that endurance of time—and really beautiful fabric.”

Sarah agrees: “I’ve never met a mohair or linen velvet that I didn’t love. Mohair wears like iron. And there’s nothing prettier than a linen velvet and it lasts a very long time.”

Collecting vs. Hoarding : Shop with a List

Keeping a warehouse or storage unit full of furniture, antiques, art, and accessories can pose a strong temptation for interior designers who love to shop. (And let’s be honest, what interior designer doesn’t love to shop?)

But Sarah advises shopping for your project with a list.

“I don’t like to keep an inventory or warehouse of things,” says Sarah. “It’s expensive!” She’d rather buy especially for a targeted project than stockpile merchandise in a storage room, where you can lose sight of what you have.  

Think twice before you buy for an imaginary client, or you risk creating cookie-cutter interiors or harboring hundreds of square feet of design materials that simply won’t work for multiple clients who have diverse tastes and personalities.

When Shopping Online, Look for Dealers You Know

Sarah loves to travel and finds treasures at places ranging from the Houston Design Center to the Roundtop Antiques Show to Paris’s famed Marches aux Puces.

“Online sources like 1stdibs  and Chairish are great resources for designers,” says Sarah. “But I’m always comforted when I see a dealer online that I know, so I can already trust what the quality is going to be.”

Bottom line: The more homework you do before you buy, the less worried you will be that the product you purchase online won’t measure up to your clients’ expectations.

If It’s Not Easy to Live With, It’s Not a “Luxury”

 “My mom used to tell me, ‘You don’t have to put out everything you own,’” says Sarah, whose meticulously tailored interiors are known for their individuality and comfort as well as their elegant restraint.

“I grew up with parents who were collectors of English and American furniture, art, accessories, and I was raised living with these things, and not creating a museum interior,” she says.

It Pays to Be Practical

Remember: As a designer of luxury interiors, you’re not focusing exclusively on bells and whistles.

There are practical questions that need to get asked, too. Will there be children or pets? Are their ADA compliance issues to consider? Does the client plan to “age in place”?

In some instances, wide doorways, grab bars, an elevator, first-floor guest suite, crayon resistant walls, or cat-claw resistant upholstery, or muddy-paw resistant rugs are the kinds of little luxuries that pay over big over the long term.

Being happy, comfortable, and secure in a beautiful, easy to maintain home that tells your own story is the greatest luxury of all.


Learn more about Bruce and his bespoke furniture designs at bruceandrewsdesign.com

Connect with Sarah Eilers at lucaseilers.com and on Instagram @lucaseilersdesign . And look for her new book, Expressive Interiors: Designing an Inviting Home, scheduled to be published by Rizzoli in Fall 2020.

leader

The key is understanding what ‘luxury’ means to your client. Luxury means something different to everybody.

Sarah Eiler, founding partner of Lucas/Eiler Design Associates Tweet

Chaise Lounge Updates

A new season of Coast to Coast Design is live, with Garrison Hullinger and new co-host Lisa Davenport! Give it a listen to learn about just how many ways there are to run a design business.

 

Resources

Upcoming Markets

High Point Market | TBD 2020

HDExpo | May 5-7, 2020

ICFF | May 17-20, 2020

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app! We’d love it if you post a review, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. Also, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With that said, keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

Interior Designer Wendy Yates and the Art of the Pivot | S25E5

Interior design is all about change—usually for the better.

But what happens when obstacles present themselves, as they sometimes will, that require a design business to slowly or abruptly pivot? That’s what host Nick May and interior designer Wendy Yates—founder of Frisco, Colorado-based Abigail-Elise Design Studio—talk about in this honest, open-hearted episode of The Chaise Lounge podcast. 

Please join us! And let us know how you go about maintaining relationships, growing new business, and, yes, pivoting when fate throws you a curveball. 

We’d love to hear from you. 

The Launch: False Starts and Big Hearts

Wendy Yates, a native of Honolulu, Hawaii, has demonstrated her gutsy approach to the design business (and life in general) since her high school graduation in 1995, when she bucked the four-year college tradition, got a job, and started studies at her local community college.

 “What I knew about design as a high school student was what I knew from watching shows on HGTV,” says Wendy. “It didn’t seem super-accessible.” So, instead of studying design, she majored in art history, then theater, and then thought about being a physical therapist. “After two years, I dropped out and started a design business.” 

She’d moved to a small town in Colorado as a high-school junior, “met a boy,” and worked hard to make a life in a small town where there was really no money to be made as a designer. “But, thankfully, I had connections in Hawaii and some people who were willing to help me. And the ability to fly over there and stay there for a couple of months at a time.”

The First Big Break

“I was fortunate enough to have a developer in Hawaii take a chance on me and let me do a model home for him,” says Wendy. “So I would make my money there, and then come back and live in my small town in Colorado.” 

She convinced a local newspaper to do a story on her business and put a sign in her front yard advertising her fledgling design enterprise, but the only job leads that came of it were $10 an hour wallpaper hanging jobs or solicitations to decorate rooms for kids. 

“I had no credibility because I hadn’t gone to school,” Wendy admits. But she had natural talent and a work ethic that brought new opportunities. It was time to pivot.

A Career Develops: First Job, First Success

Commuting back and forth to the Big Island, Wendy worked closely with the residential and commercial developer who’d taken a chance on her. “He would have me do the model-home work,” Wendy recalls. “I’d go with him and his wife to the San Francisco Design Center, where we would pretty much do all the furnishing selections for the model homes. But all the fixed finishes—tile, lighting, flooring, cabinetry, everything from the ground up—we would do in Honolulu.

Looking back, Wendy feels both gratitude and amazement at the latitude her mentors gave her to make selections for their properties. 

“I remember being surprised myself at how great my first model home turned out. I was like, I love it! I was 22 and super green,” she continues. “I had no knowledge of even fixed finishes. For me, design was décor—that’s how I understood it, not being trained. But I had organic natural ability and visualization.” 

Silencing Your Inner Critic

“I could always visualize a space from a floor plan. I would see it in a 3D way. So I think that creative side of my brain is what gave me the leg up in being able to pull off something like that without any training,” says Wendy. 

After her first big project was complete and successfully sold throughout the development, she gained confidence in her design ability. But the “imposter syndrome” reared its head on occasion. After every job, she asked herself: 

  • Can I keep doing this thing? 
  • Is the next project going to be as great as this one? 
  • How am I going to get clients beyond this one person?

If you’re a self-taught designer, chances are you’ve dealt with the same insecurities from time to time. But remember: On-the-job training is real training. Hands-on practice is as legitimate over time as all the things you learn in design school.

“The developer in Kona set me on the path to making my own mistakes. Learning about construction. Learning about development. Learning about real estate,” says Wendy. “So I got a computer. I had the Internet. I didn’t really know how to use any programs, but I could do sketching and drafting because I was really into art. And that’s how it started. Very nontraditionally.” 

Another Pivot: A Divorce, a Break from Design, and a New Job in Retail

“In my late 20s, I had a reboot of my life. I took a break from my design business, and moved to Breckinridge with my daughter, and took a job at a furniture store,” Wendy recalls. The early relationship with that boy back in her small town didn’t succeed. With a young child, the Colorado–Hawaii commute to continue designing with her developer client became unfeasible. But she still needed a creative outlet, and source of financial security.  

“It was a downtown—2007/2008 is when everything sort of stopped up here and I was like, Well, I’m gonna start a new brand in my design.” She decided to change the name from Wendy Yates, her married name, to something that created a broader identity “that wasn’t just all about me, so if I built an incredible team or wanted to travel more nationally, I would still be the creative direction behind it, but it would take on more of a presence that wasn’t so individualized.”

Another Pivot: Fast Growth and then Contraction for a Better Fit

Today, the company Wendy founded during those transition years, AE Design Group (A for Abigail, Wendy’s own middle name, and E for Elise, her daughter’s middle name) continues to provide design services to residential and commercial clients around the country. 

“For a while, we had a showroom in Denver. It was great to have a place to show product to existing clients,” says Wendy, “but, quite frankly, retail was not for me. As a designer, we provide furnishings and décor for our clients in a different way than having people come in and shop for them.”

So she took another pivot at that time, about five years ago.

Stepping Back: Reassessing and Re-strategizing

“We were becoming very successful and growing very fast,” says Wendy. “And maybe it was too fast. It was a huge struggle for me. I did not have the foresight to see how running my design studio, running a retail showroom in a different location, and having to manage all the people would be so difficult for me. I started to feel like I failed.”

The answer, for Wendy, was to shut the showroom down. 

She transformed her business back into a boutique studio based out of Frisco, taking up even less square footage than before, and decided she would rebuild her team and client base around people that presented a good emotional fit and whose personal work ethic and life philosophy coordinated with AE Design Group’s company culture and values. Decisions didn’t have to be based on where people lived, geographically. 

Today, Wendy heads an international design firm that includes eight team players, some based in Frisco and others around the country. The key, says Wendy, is asking, “Who are your people?” They don’t need to be sitting next to you at your desk all day.” 

The “virtual office” opens up new opportunities for business outside one’s city or small town. Currently, AE Design has residential and commercial development and wellness projects going on in Colorado, Bonita Springs (Florida, outside of Naples), Virginia, and back home in Wendy’s beloved Hawaii. 

New Goals and Opportunities to Pivot

Wendy’s most recent pivot involves a startup passion project she calls Well Fit Human Retreats. Launched just last year, the brand designs travel experiences and retreats for people who wish to stay in private residences, do volunteer work, pursue physical fitness, and experience other cultures from a personal perspective. 

“Life is short. I wanted to travel. I wanted more human connection. And I wanted to incorporate as many things as I can to evolve,” says Wendy. “I want to be in love with life.”

You can learn more about Wendy Yates and her design business at aeinteriorsinc.com and on Instagram @abigailelisedesignstudio

Growth comes with a lot of great things—but also a lot of struggle.

Wendy Yates, founder and creative director Abigail-Elise Design Studio Tweet

Chaise Lounge Updates

A new season of Coast to Coast Design is live, with Garrison Hullinger and new co-host Lisa Davenport! Give it a listen to learn about just how many ways there are to run a design business.

 

Resources

Upcoming Markets

High Point Market | TBD 2020

HDExpo | May 5-7, 2020

ICFF | May 17-20, 2020

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app! We’d love it if you post a review, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. Also, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With that said, keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

Get Ready, Get Set, Get Press with Interior Design Brand Advisor Amy Flurry | S25E4

Today on The Chaise Lounge podcast, host Nick May catches up with his good friend and fellow cheerleader for the interior design trade, Amy Flurry. For listeners who have not yet met this multitalented Athens, Georgia-based communications specialist, allow us to introduce you:

Amy is an editor/brand consultant/author/speaker/artist/founder and publisher of her own to-the-design-trade magazine, as well as a partner in Aloka, a new, sustainably produced home-textile design company with its home base in the Cisco showroom, in High Point, North Carolina.

Today in the Lounge, Nick focuses on Amy’s role as a trusted media design brand advisor and communications pro, who helps designers understand what “getting press” looks like now. 

Creativity, Communications, Collaboration and Commerce: Navigating the New Media Frontier

Amy was one of the first design industry insiders to encourage design entrepreneurs to take their creative business’s success into their own hands via DIY PRIn fact, she wrote the book about it: After more than a decade of sitting on the editorial side of the fashion/design/art and culture desk, Amy released her first book, Recipe for Press, in 2011, and followed up with a book especially for designers, Recipe for Press: Designer Editionin 2018. 

A lot has changed since then. 

“We’ve expanded and we have all these new tools,” says Amy, pointing to print publications, online pinboards, multiple social media platforms, digital magazines, newsletters, video, and on and on and on. “But now, people are going to see it contract. And they’re going to use these tools in a very focused way. We’re going to get choosy about what we listen to.”

How to Get Your Interior Design Business Noticed Now

The way we connect creativity and commerce continues to evolve, says Amy, and it pays to keep pace with all the new ways to communicate your story.

The fundamentals have not changed:

  • Relationships
  • Good photography
  • A focused idea
  • Being quick to respond to media requests
  • And having the discipline to follow up and stay on message 

“There are different models now. Everybody’s an expert and everything, but how much of that will last?” asks Amy. “The things that will last will be the things that people really put the that time, heart, and creativity in to be truly engaging. Otherwise we keep deleting.” 

Who, What, Where, When, and WHY?

Whose Influence Really Matters?

Let’s face it: We’re all getting a little tired of looking at screens all day.

We’re all being bombarded with emails, Instagram posts, and irrelevant-to-us Stories. And lots of them never get a second look or listen, no less a personal response. 

That’s one reason why a personal note, postcard, or a DM targeted to the right person can be more powerful. 

Amy Flurry’s staff at Recipe for Press spends months preparing, checking, and double-checking the author’s annual media list (updated twice a year), to make sure the contact information she provides is current and relevant in the rapidly changing interior design landscape.

New to the list, the increasingly influential podcasts, including our own podcast host and producer Nick May, whose iMay Media brand was one of the first to celebrate the work lives of successful interior designers, painting contractors, manufacturers, editors, and industry allies whose stories inspire designers to take control of their media identity.

“Where else can you share and tell your story and have people’s undivided attention?” Amy asks. “With the interview, you have an opportunity to deepen that relationship and start collaborating. That’s the nature of communications right now. If you really are conscious about this, you’ve probably met enough people to find a lot of common work together. And you realize, ‘Maybe I can do more with the relationships I already have.’”

We’re all in business, Amy reminds us: “Connecting your story to commerce has to be done very intentionally.”

What Hasn’t Changed

Here’s one thing that never changes in the interior design business: the absolutely essential need for quality photography to share with editors, to post on your website, and to get attention on social media channels like Instagram. 

But maybe still photography is not enough anymore in a world where the competition for recognition is fierce. That’s why Amy recommends posting short videos and live-action images that capture the eye with a bit of action.

In a crowded landscape, we need the element of surprise to slow us down. To stand out now, “you need to work a little harder to make it really good,” says Amy. 

Where to Be Seen 

There’s a place for every design business in the media landscape where editors and producers are hungry for high-quality content.

But the best place for Interior Design Business A may not be the same as for Interior Design Business B, C, D, or E. 

While you may dream of appearing in the pages of Elle Décor or Architectural Digest or House Beautiful, stop to consider

        • Is your work right for these publications? 
        • Are those publications right for YOU and your goals for growing your design business? 

Instead of targeting a high-end client halfway across the country or opposite coast in a national consumer magazine, consider a targeted a beloved regional magazine that people know and care about in your area,” advises Amy. 

Don’t discount quality online or trade publications, or one of the newer custom print or digital publications being produced by brands like Schumacher, Urban Electric, and influential voices like Amy Flurry herself!  

When to Pitch

You’ve invested a lot of time and effort in building your interior design brand. 

Don’t blow it now by being impatient: Collect the right materials to share that put your best face forward with your target audience/client. And that includes a proper collection of current headshots of yourself: Media pros and potential clients want to know the face and voice behind the brand.

Know Your “Why”

Above all, Amy and Nick agree, “Know your why.” 

Before you pitch a single magazine, book publisher, HGTV producer, or podcast professional, have a clear, concise concept of what you want to get out of press.

If what you want, for example, is more local business, don’t overlook regional publications: Go where your clients live, read what they read, and place your brand’s story in places they trust. 

On the other hand, if you want to expand your brand’s visibility beyond a local market that’s grown too small or overcrowded for your business, think of where you want to head next and explore that region’s most influential podcasts and publications. 

Target your marketing to the places you want to go—not the places you have been. 


You can learn more about Amy Flurry and the communications tools you need to grow your design business at amyflurry.com and @amyflurry on Instagram.

And if you are heading to High Point Market this Spring, join Nick and Amy at the Universal to the Trade Designer’s Lounge, Showroom, where Nick is hosting some great panels. They’re looking forward to collaborating with you!

Where else but a podcast can you share and tell your story and have people’s undivided attention?

brand advisor Amy Flurry, author of Recipe for Press: Designer Edition Tweet

Chaise Lounge Updates

A new season of Coast to Coast Design is live, with Garrison Hullinger and new co-host Lisa Davenport! Give it a listen to learn about just how many ways there are to run a design business.

 

Resources

Upcoming Markets

High Point Market | Apr. 25-29, 2020

HDExpo | May 5-7, 2020

ICFF | May 17-20, 2020

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app! We’d love it if you post a review, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. Also, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With that said, keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

Residential vs. Commercial Design: For JAB Design Group, It’s All About Relationships | S25E3

In 25 seasons of interviewing successful interior designers around the world, The Chaise Lounge host Nick May has heard from dozens of design professionals who steer clear of residential work in favor of commercial projects—and an equal number whose scales tip strongly in the opposite direction.  One designer’s “dream client” can be another’s “nightmare.”

In today’s podcast, Nick discusses the advantages and disadvantages on each side of the equation with suburban Philadelphia interior designer Joseph A. Berkowitz, founder of JAB Design Group, based in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania.

Nick caught up with Joe at the designer’s office in Penn Valley, Pennsylvania, where he heads a lean but active shop that typically runs about 30 design projects at a time—some residential, some commercial. 

Joe accepted his first design job while he was still in high school, launched his own business straight out of college, and has never looked back—until now. 

The Power of Personality—and Personal Recommendations

“I started my interior design business when I was a teenager, with a small job from my aunt,” says Joe. “That’s typical of how many designers get their start in this business. If you’re good enough, the client recommends you to friends, and someone else calls you.” 

For Joe, the phone has not stopped ringing since 1985, back when he used to present clients estimates written out by hand on yellow lined note paper. “I’ve been very lucky,” he says. “I really haven’t had any major downtime.” 

Running a successful interior design business over the long term, says Joe, takes three things: 1.) natural ability, 2.) personality, and 3.) business skills.

 “You can get a card and say ‘I’m a designer.’ It doesn’t mean you can run a business, though.”

What’s Different/Same About the Business Today?

“For one thing,” Joe says, laughing, “I no longer write my estimates on lined notepaper. But my office is still in my house. My wife is the office manager. And I’m getting better about being more selective about jobs.” 

Saying “yes” to the wrong jobs, he observes, eats up the time for the kind of work that helps your business grow. 

Through a conscientious marketing plan—including speaking engagements, magazine articles, and a winning appearance on HGTV design reality series Showhouse Showdown back in 2012—Joe has spread the word about JAB Design Group to a wider audience. 

The Dream Client: Commercial vs. Residential

While some interior designers focus exclusively on either residential clients or commercial clients, Joe is a firm believer in variety. 

For him, it’s all about people. 

“I do a ton of residential work. Residential people tend to talk more to their friends than business people do, so you get passed around a lot.” One testimonial leads to another job and another and another…and, often, repeat business with the same client when they buy a new home or decide to redo. 

“But I do a lot of commercial work as well,” says Joe, who notes that those jobs typically move along at a faster pace with more decisive owners, making it possible to get paid faster. “In commercial work, it’s all about the schedule.”

One advantage of doing both commercial and residential projects, rather than specializing: “If the residential market is starting to falter, there’s always somebody building a building or doing a spa, a dental office, or health care.”

That gives JAB Design Group a bunch of different areas to pull jobs from, “which is one of the reasons I’ve never really had any downtime,” Joe explains.

Goal Setting for Year-to-Year Growth

Even after 35 years in the interior design business, Joe continues to sit down and set business goals for the coming year. And 2019 was his most successful year so to date. 

3 Big Items on Joe’s 2020 Agenda 

Hire one or two new project managers

 “It’s a full-time job just handling the details, and a lot of that trickles down to the primary person. Sometimes that keeps us from our design work,” Joe explains. He’s committed to signing on talent to deal with day-to-day client issues ranging from deliveries to damages.

Invest in brick and mortar

 “I come from an entrepreneurial father,” remembers Joe, “who always told my brothers and me, ‘Have your own business.’ One of the things he said was that ‘the best money you can make is in the real estate that the business buys.’” (For the record, all four Berkowitz brothers–including Joe’s twin and two older brothers—went on two start and manage their own businesses.) 

Joe is currently shopping the market for a building that could serve as a warehouse, a small retail space, and enough office space to really spread out with a studio or workroom.

Take more time off

Finally, at Nick’s strong encouragement, Joe vows to start taking a little more vacation time than the two weeks he allows himself most years. 

“You work many more hours as an entrepreneur than if you work for someone else,” admits Joe. “I’m always amazed when anybody says it’s five o’clock and they leave, go home, and don’t have to think about their work until the next morning. That’s not my life—ever.”

Beer, Wine, or Cocktail? 

“Usually a cocktail,” says Joe. “It’s one of the great small pleasures in life—next to buying drinks for my friends.”

Cheers to that! 

You can learn more about Joseph A. Berkowitz and JAB Design Group at jabinteriors.com and on Instagram at @jabdesigngroup

“You can get a card and say ‘I’m a designer.’ It doesn’t mean you can run a business, though.”

Joseph A. Berkowitz, founder JAB Design Group Tweet

Chaise Lounge Updates

Our new podcast Coast to Coast Design is live! Give it a listen to learn about just how many ways there are to run a design business.

 

Resources

Upcoming Markets

High Point Market | Apr. 25-29, 2020

HDExpo | May 5-7, 2020

ICFF | May 17-20, 2020

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app! We’d love it if you post a review, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. Also, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With that said, keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

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