74 – Bobby Berk: Millennial Interior Design and product King
Today on the Chaise Lounge, your host Nick May has the pleasure of continuing his conversation with Bobby Berk, who you may have first heard during our episodes from the 2016 High Point Spring Market.
Bobby Berk: Bobby Berk Home
Nick interviews Bobby from his new office space located in Los Angeles, California. Nick and Bobby look back at the Spring 2016 High Point Market and Bobby discusses what he gained from the market and the kind of marketing and events he participated in, including his involvement with the High Point Authority.
Bobby was raised in the country, surrounded by Amish communities. “When I was 15, I ran away from home, to get out of the little farm town I was in, to move to the ‘big city’ of Springfield, MO.” It wasn’t long before Bobby found that the small town lifestyle wasn’t for him, which eventually led him to move to New York City in 2003. As a nearly native New Yorker, Bobby shares some advice with Nick as to what to see and do in the City.
“I was that kid where when my parents came home from work and I had rearranged their bedroom, the living room, everything. I’ve always had an interest in it, I remember being 4 or 5 years old and I wanted my room to have a theme!” Bobby talks about how interior design wasn’t even a concept where he grew up, so it wasn’t until he moved out of the small town he grew up in and landed a job in retail at Restoration Hardware that he really understood the possibilities that lay before him in the design world. Bobby talks about his first position with a furniture retailer that actually went bankrupt, but thankfully pushed Bobby to start his own business, by launching www.bobbyberkhome.com, which did really well. That said; he was able to open a showroom in his first store in SOHO New York, and several other big cities over time. “Due to the success of the stores, that also allowed us to start licensing the brand out, and getting it well known and that turned into some gigs on HGTV and NBC and stuff like that. I look back and am shocked that it’s been 10 years and 4 months now that I’ve started the company.”
Bobby and Nick go back and discuss further his first home retail position with Restoration Hardware and how that experience helped him grow his business. “I personally think that we’re in an age where people don’t necessarily like a store that has everything for everybody.” He talks about the change in popularity from large retailers to small curated showrooms. Tune in to hear Bobby’s long history in retail, from clothing, to body products, to furniture. Bobby says of his career growth “I knew I wanted more, I knew I wanted to learn more, I was a career climber, I wanted to make sure that I learned everything I could, because I knew at some point I wanted to work for myself.”
“I gave myself a ten year goal to build the brand, and those last ten years, I worked 7 days a week, 10-12 hours a day, I was gone from my spouse 80-90% of the time, and so I gave myself expiration on that.” Bobby talks about how the past year has included a restructuring in his business, including giving himself a break from the non-stop work to have a better life/work balance. Bobby discusses with Nick about his recent work in research and design for the millennial generation and the press he received for that, “This responsive home project allowed us to really catapult our design business, and because of that we started working with a lot of home builders, we’ve continued doing models out in Las Vegas.” Bobby talks about his work in teaching builders about what millennials want in their homes and communities.
To end the show, Bobby reflects back on the choices he’s made and how his career has truly transformed over the years, including the closing of all 4 of his retail stores to move in a different direction in his career. “I’m honest, I try to be as good of a person as I possibly can and that really is the key to business, at the end of the day I’m fine with getting screwed over a little bit, as long as I’m not the one screwing people over. It’s worked for me, and I’ve really tried to live by that philosophy.”
To learn more about Bobby’s design business, check out www.bobbyberk.design or www.bobbyberkhome.com to shop!
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