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Las Vegas Market Live: Kelli Ellis

Today in The Lounge, Kelli Ellis joins Nick LIVE in Las Vegas at the Norwalk Lounge. Kelli discusses how she was constantly being called a rockstar SO she took it ran and now being a rock star is her brand! Kelli tells us about the projects she’s currently working on and gives advice on how to brand yourself. Kelli and Nick also talk about their time together in Spain earlier this year and how Nick got started with The Chaise Lounge Podcast.

Getting to Know Kelli

Kelli is from Las Vegas, Nevada. Kelli’s hair used to be brown, but in high school, it started changing to silver and white so, she decided to embrace the look. Now she is known for her iconic white hair, as well as having a pair of glasses and wearing bold red lipstick. Her favorite fashion accessory is the wrist cuff, like Wonder Woman, (as it’s her favorite movie).  When asked beer, wine, or cocktail, she chooses a cocktail… any cocktail with vodka. Kelli lives in Vegas, but does work in Orange County where she grew up, and where her dad was mayor. She loves Iris Apfel. Kelli’s guilty pleasure is that she’d rather pick up a fashion magazine before an interior design one. 

What’s New?

Kelli debuted a small art collection for Leftbank Art last year. Drawing has been a passion of hers since she was a little girl: she would draw all over the walls and anything she could get her hands on (including her dad’s law school notebooks). Kelli originally went to law school like her father, though the transition to design came about because she often decorated her friend’s and family’s homes in college. Thus, she decided to switch paths and go to the Interior Design Institute in Newport Beach, California. Her very first client now lives two blocks from her and Kelli apologizes constantly for the okay job she did fresh out of design school.

Kelli tries not to plan what is coming next but she does set goals for herself. She likes to live her career day by day and hopes to have a tv show where she can talk about design and travel the world while doing it. To get to where she is, Kelli has listened to her gut a lot!

Kelli has been working on some tv projects for HGTV on House Hunters Renovation. She is also currently working on two hotels, one located in Colorado Springs and another in Bend, Oregon. She has a fabric line as well as a lighting line that is coming soon! So be on the lookout. She’s scheduled to speak at Maison & Objet, in Paris AND to add to it all, Kelli is also working on some commissioned art pieces for Leftbank.

The Business Today

Kelli only has a staff of one, which is her assistant. She is able to manage her business this way because she is very good at time management and is diligent about her calendar. Kelli and her team only check their email twice a day; she believes that taking a breather from work and not overdoing it is one best things you can do for yourself and your business. She even set up an autoresponder informing anyone who emails her that she is not available and will get back to them as soon as she can.

Kelli is a designer who is not afraid to say no to new clients, because she knows that she will not have the necessary amount of time to give them right away, so, she puts new clients off for about six months. She finds this to be a good strategy for her and her prospective clients, as it gives them a chance to wait for her services, really think about what they want, and research her better. Kelli books herself full. Right now, she has three new construction projects, two hotels, tv work, licensing, and traveling time she’s planning. Kelli doesn’t waste any time, even before the podcast she was picking out Kravet fabrics for a client!

Kelli is EVERYWHERE and she does it all without a PR agency. She handles everything herself. If you see a picture of Kelli out there it is because that picture speaks to her brand and who she is. She gets her name out there by calling up every head of marketing that she knows and telling them she will be in town. Kelli’s first market was only five and half years ago, and now it feels like she is everywhere. A piece of advice from Kelli is, “The connections that you make every second are ALL very important.” She also says that you need to make yourself memorable. Kelli’s brand is her look and it makes her stand out from the rest.  “Make yourself unique, so you will get picked for that job because you stand out.”

When you’re trying to figure out what your brand is, don’t rely on yourself to make it. Ask someone what it is that makes you stand out (but don’t ask your family members). Ask what your look and business card says about you and capitalize on that. Kelli saw that people were calling her a “rockstar” so she embraced it and it became her identity. Kelli loves being a rockstar and following her acronym for R.O.C.K. which is: Relations Opportunity Courage and Kick Ass. She forges the relationships, sees the opportunity, has the courage to move forward and then kicks ASS.

How It All Started

Before Kelli started doing television she wanted to be a teacher. At Design Camp is where she began delivering inspiring speeches. Kelli offers a class that can teach you how to become a speaker at Market. She will pick apart your website and watch reels of you speaking to see that you can deliver in front of a crowd. You can start out by just having your friends and family as the audience. Speaking engagements are how Nick got his start at doing podcasts worldwide! It all began with the idea to do live events in Denver, CO to market his painting business, and educate designers on how to grow their business. He did this for about a year, and it got a great response from designers all over! Nick also happened to have a small background in podcasts from school. It was then that his idea for the podcast grew. Now he gets to travel and go to markets around the world and interview HUGE names in the industry. It just goes to show that if you want to do something, just go out and do it; no matter how small you may start out!

Kelli’s first licensing deal was with Tile Bar, and she says it’s still one of the best things she’s ever done. Tile Bar actually pursued HER. When people look at you and want you to do something, they tend to look at your social media numbers. They want to see how and what you do on social media, who influences you and if you hustle to promote yourself. Dezign Wall is a platform that is free and will help you promote yourself and what you are doing for free! As soon as you can get a license out you get more under your belt. If you’re looking to start a line of fabrics, InstaLinen is looking for designers with distinct aesthetics to do fabric lines with. Kelli will also be designing for them; tell them that Kelli Ellis sent you! You never know if you might get picked to do a line with them. Kelli always shares her information with others who are looking to work with somebody she may be able to connect them with.

Did Someone Say Spain?

Kelli and Nick got to spend some time in Barcelona together on a trip sponsored by Porcelanosa. Three interviews about the trip are coming out soon for you to hear ALL about it so keep an eye out!! Kelli entered Porcelanosa’s contest to go and they called her to let her know that she was automatically going and that someone else should have a chance to win the trip. This was an opportunity for Kelli to go to one of her favorite places on Earth. She had so much fun at this event with Nick because she actually showed up! Showing up for an event is one of the best things you can do for yourself because it shows that you are committed; you don’t just show up and then go home. Events are where you meet market heads and get yourself out there. Kelli will be doing a spin-off of design camp called Design Mastermind at every Vegas Market. Go on Kelli’s website and opt-in to do the mastermind and get on the mailing list.

Dezign Wall is a great way to talk about your story. When you share your story, it’s up to you to make it different and stand out. Talk about yourself and get your story out there! That is how Kelli is her own brand. Talk about why is it that you do what you do. Talk about what makes you unique. If you don’t know what makes you unique, sometimes you have to ask people, not a relative, and be ready for some honest opinions.


Design Manager If you’re not familiar with Design Manager, check them out, they have tutorials and videos to help get YOU started.

Porcelanosa Get to know Porcelanosa by visiting them at their showroom or going to their website!

Benjamin Moore They have SUCH great resources people, so specify and use them!!!

  • Upcoming Events

IDS – Oct 13 – 16

High Point Market – Oct 14 – 18

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

Dallas Market– Jan 17 – 23

Wrap Up

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 InstagramFacebook, 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!

About the Author
Host of The Chaise Lounge and The Business Brush Podcast, owner of Walls by Design, and Creative Director for iMayMedia LLC.

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