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Bobby Berk

74 – Bobby Berk: Millennial Interior Design and product King

Bobby Berk Home

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!

Updates from The Chaise Lounge:

The lounge Advisory Team is fully underway, so if you are interested in providing feedback to Nick about The Chaise Lounge as part of this voluntary group, head over to The Chaise Lounge website to find out more.

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!


62– High Point Market: Day 5

It’s our last day in the Lounge at the 2016 High Point Spring Market. We are again recording out of our favorite show spot, the Norwalk furniture showroom. If you haven’t connected with your host Nick May on Instagram, you have to check it out, for some great coverage of this year’s Market.

Mitchell Hill : Michael and Tyler

Mitchell Hill LogoTo start us off today, Nick interviews a duo team of designers, Michael Mitchell and Tyler Hill based out of Charleston, South Carolina. Nick gets to know the married pair of designers with a few personal questions and the three of them discuss the best things they’ve found at market this year. Both Michael and Tyler have had a passion for interior design since they were children. Michael’s grandmother had a slipcover production business in the 70’s, so Michael grew up playing with fabrics and even had his own sewing machine at age 5, he states, “I’ve always been artistic, and loved to draw so that is where the love came from.” Tyler showed a very early interest in architecture, asking his realtor father to bring home graph paper for him to draw on and building all sorts of things out of Legos and blocks.

Tyler majored in graphic design at the art institute and both Michael and Tyler have business backgrounds. Michael has worked for retailers and interior design firms and learned as he went; the pair is shocked to say that they’ve been in the business for 19 years now!

Tyler’s first gig was working for an architect, shortly after college they started working together in Charleston in ID. Michael’s first paying gig, was his PA at his doctor’s office and wanted his help to rearrange and redecorate her place at $25.00 an hour- that’s when he knew that was his passion. Nick talks to the designers about how they’ve grown there business in a destination city.

Fannie Gutton: A Newcomer to Interior Design and High Point Market

In the second segment of today’s show, Nick is honored to interview a real life fan of our podcast, The Chaise Lounge. Fannie reached out to Nick to just say a quick hello and we decided to learn just a little bit more about this new designer. Fannie’s been in the business in Austin, TX for just over 4 months now, leaving behind a career in video game producing. Making the shift to interior design for Fannie was due to the urge to really make an impact on people’s lives and was also about following a passion she’s had for a while. Fannie is completely self-taught in interior design; she’s had experience with renovations of her own homes as well as work for her friends and family. Fannie is proud to talk to Nick about her very first paying client, and a living room that will have its final piece of furniture delivered this week.

Nick and Fannie talk about what’s been the hardest part of her transition to the interior design world. Fannie thanks Nick for the podcast as she has been an avid listener for 5-6 months now, Fannie says of the show “The best part is hearing the experience of other designer’s and knowing that they have had the same struggles when they were first starting out as she is facing now.”

Bobby Berk and Lack of Sleep

Bobby Berk Logo

Our last interview from High Point Market is with Bobby Berk, a very well-known and talented designer and TV personality. Although Nick’s interview with Bobby is brief, The Chaise Lounge hopes to have him back on the showBobby berk high point soon for a more in-depth interview. Bobby talks with Nick about his start in the design field, with an entry level position with Restoration Hardware in the early 2000’s, where he eventually moved up to become a creative director with the well know home collection company. Nick and Bobby talk about the many veins his business has grown into, when asked by Nick “How do you sleep?!” Bobby replies, “I try not to!”

Bobby talks about the trends he is seeing in home building and a shift from a cookie cutter type product to an increase in more custom designed homes, which he is excited about. He also talks about how his role in his design business is constantly changing, and how he is really playing the role of consultant more than anything these days.

Nick and Bobby talk about getting a licensing deal, “there a lot of ways to do it, I personally did it on my own, but you can hire licensing agents, etc.” says Bobby. His advice includes using networking to grow relationships, as he built the relationships with manufacturers himself that eventually grew into licensing deals. Another great piece of advice from Bobby is about how he always retains creative control of anything that has his name on it, but that doesn’t mean it can’t change, it’s a collaborative process. Nick and Bobby further discuss social media and how to use that to promote your brand and create leverage to get licensing opportunities with manufacturers. Tune in to hear more about Bobby’s TV appearances and how he gets those spots. The best way to learn more about Bobby is to find him on Instagram.

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!