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Design Bloggers Conference

118 – Industry: Going Paperless in the Cloud

Industry: Going paperless in the Cloud

On this episode of The Lounge, Nick chats with fellow industry professional, Phyllis Harbinger, on going paperless in the cloud. Phyllis talks about her favorite tools and apps and the pluses and minuses of going paperless. In addition, Nick shares his Design Bloggers Conference talk on podcasting including lessons learned and his favorite episodes.

Checking in with Phyllis Harbinger

While Phyllis has made progress in the last year, she is not completely paperless yet. She mentioned that the more you embrace it, the better it gets. Not only can less paper make things easier, it can also help secure your business processes and information. Search functions are great for digital files and copies. You no longer have to worry about paper files lost in fires or floods and redundancies and relays combat issues with a computer crashing.

Even more specifically, paperless billing doesn’t require a ton of physical storage space. Having to store customer files and documents for seven to ten years can take up valuable real estate in your office or home, but keeping everything digitally can alleviate this physical clutter.

Phyllis recommends doing your homework when it comes to choosing digital and cloud based solutions. She is fond of Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive – each for differing reasons. These three tools are great for collaboration and file sharing. Phyllis is a fan of digital notetaking too. Digital notes make it easier for everyone to be on the same page, for instance, if someone is sick or out of the office. There is also no need to carry physical copies of client files around.

Receipts and invoices are another opportunity to go paperless. Phyllis likes ScannerPro no only for scanning in signed documents, but also for scanning and categorizing her own business receipts too. She also mentioned that some credit card companies use a receipt match, so you don’t have to worry about it on your end.

Next, let’s talk about how you are backing up your computer. You may need more than an external hard drive. Providers like Carbonite and Mozy Pro backup your data every night.

A couple of Phyllis’s other favorite apps include Art Set and Audionote. Art Set lets you draw on your device and turn it into a PDF. In Audionote, you can take pictures, videos, recordings, and notes all in one app.

Phyllis recommends to take baby steps if this causes anxiety for you. Categorize by client, project, year or whatever makes sense for your business.

If you would like to get in touch with Phyllis for paperless advice, public speaking, or just to say hi, shoot her an email at info@harbingerdesignconsulting.com.

Nick’s talk at the Design Bloggers Conference

 Years ago, Nick and a friend started a small business podcast. They would read stories in business magazines and then were able to get those people on the podcast. Throughout this process, he learned about podcasting and business.

In his painting company, Nick works a lot with designers and found that they often struggled with the business aspect. He saw the opportunity to marry his experience in podcasting and small business with his current design network to create The Chaise Lounge podcast.

The Chaise Lounge is about the business of interior design. The ideal listener is a younger designer that wants to learn. Notable guests on the show include: Thom Filicia, Taylor Spellman, Andrew Joseph, Jason Harris, and Tyler Lynch.

More specifically, Nick reflected on some lessons he learned from a few more guests:

Nick has also learned that it’s all about relationships, which is why the Design Bloggers Conference is so important. Nick said if he can do it, anyone can!

Nick would love to speak for your group! Please reach out via email or social media.

  • 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 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!

102 – Industry: From Blogging to VOCs

Industry: From Blogging to VOCs

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, one of the top interior design podcasts, Nick chats with Adam Japko from Esteem Media and Phyllis Harbinger jumps in with some business tips on turning leads into paying customers.

Wine and Design with Adam Japko

Adam Japko, a founding member of Esteem Media, always surrounds himself with good wine and good people. With Esteem Media, Adam creates connections amongst design professionals and educates this community on marketing themselves. He’s heavily involved with putting on the Design Bloggers Conference and an additional resulting event, Design and Wine Italy 2016.

Adam received great feedback from the first Wine and Design Tour was able to learn a ton from his involvement in planning the trip. In addition, Adam was able to marry his two passions: the personalities of design professionals and discovering new wines. Overall, around thirty design individuals from across the US set off for a week from Venice to Verona. Adam is excited to announce another Wine and Design trip coming up in May of 2017.

Adam’s High Point Blog Tour and Design Bloggers Conference

Serendipitously, Adam had reached out to his High Point relationships and is now leading a blog tour where he recruits ten bloggers to spend two days visiting around fifteen sponsors and vendors. The bloggers are paid and create quality content about the tour and vendors.

2017 is the seventh year for the Design Bloggers Conference. This time, it is located in Los Angeles, California in March. Adam mentioned that you don’t have to be a designer to go. Topics covered include content marketing, mobile phone photography, search, and even podcasting (to be presented by The Chaise Lounge’s Nick May!). Design Bloggers Conference is an opportunity to learn about these topics in addition to the priceless networking that happens at events like this.

How Fran DuCharme from Benjamin Moore works with Designers and Architects

Since she was a young child, Fran has had a passion for color. She graduated from a two year design program and has worked in the industry for almost 30 years since. As a rep for Benjamin Moore, Fran is a resource for designers and architects. She provides them access to material and the largest and most complete color palette.

Fran also supports the specification of products and provides education which can include events, webinars, introducing new  products and CEUs. She mentioned that the most popular CEUs currently are 1. How color perception changes as you age, and 2. Creating healthy environments with new technologies.

A Deep Dive into Paint with Fran

In today’s marketplace, you can get any color anywhere. Any brand will match any competitor’s color. However, each brand has their own formulas and colorants, so matches may never be exact. Color is not the only factor in choosing paint.

DIfferent kinds of paints, beyond sheen, display different qualities and levels of serviceability. There are different formulations for different characteristics. For example, all paint is scrubbable, but not all is stain resistant (like, Ben vs Aura). Fran prefers Aura paint in a matte due to the luxurious finish, and that it covers in two coats.

What are VOCs

VOCs are volatile organic compounds that are carbon based and evaporate into the air. In the past, the concern was around these compounds affecting the ozone layer, but today concern is that VOCs in interior environments are higher, which can affect your lungs, breathing, asthma, and allergies. Paint companies, including Benjamin Moore are creating products with zero VOCs to address this concern.

Utilize your Rep to Problem Solve for your Clients

There is a great variety of products available within the industry. Benjamin Moore has grown from one product in nine colors to multiple products in thousands of colors. Specific products to meet specific needs. In the past, many thought that you needed to use semi-gloss only in bathrooms to reduce mold, but now there are specific bathroom products to resist mold and mildew, like hydrophobic paint in a matte finish.

The best way to get in touch is through the Benjamin Moore website’s architect and designer locator where you can put in a request for your rep to contact you.

Fran recommends connecting with your rep before you need them to start to build a strong working relationship.

Phyllis on Turning Prospects into Clients

Phyllis was able to join Nick in person at the Porcelanosa building in the Flatiron District in New York. She began with a recommendation around multiple touch points between a designer and prospect. Rather than a simple, impersonal email or phone call, she suggested meeting in person (when possible) or a Skype call to understand the prospect’s needs and even deliver a scope of work or review a proposal. This allows a designer to read body language and clearly explain away any confusion.

Phyllis also suggested to not hold back during consultations and be specific in proposals so that clients know what they are paying for, including and handling or shipping fees. This prevents any surprises later. Phyllis charges a design fee the moves forward with a percentage on product purchased. It is important to be upfront with clients on how you charge too.

Phyllis the referred to the paint schedule available in her book that can help ease the process. Everyone will be on the same page with what is happening in each room, colors, sheen, type of paint, etc. While anecdotal stories are helpful for clients to understand what may happen or pop up, it is also important to ask about their budget before accepting a project.

Its also a good idea to have all parties sign the agreement and initial each page. Take business classes if this is not your strong suit, and even hire a bookkeeper if you need to. Put Phyllis’s recommendations into action to set yourself up for success!

If you would like to connect with Phyllis:

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 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!


49 – Design Bloggers Conference – Day 1

The Chaise Lounge is LIVE! Nick May is at the Design Bloggers Conference in Atlanta, GA.DBC

Adam Japko, the founder and creator, greeted us with talking about what the Design Bloggers Conference is all about. After 6 years, the conference keeps growing in size and culture. The blending of interior design, fashion, food, photography, etc work together to create an inspiring atmosphere. 80% of attendance is each year is new because of the constant growing and expanding of brands and blogging. The Design Bloggers Conference makes a difference with building an online brand for years to come!


Colleen Duffley is an amazing photographer that has shot everything from food to fashion to cars to interiors. She has shot all over the world with her company, Colleen Duffley Productions. She hosted a panel at the DBC on iPhone Photography which is tips and tricks of shooting professional photography on your iPhone. She will also be hosting webcasts on her website of more tips and tricks.


Jill McKenzie, of Steve McKenzie’s, has been in the furnishing business for 4 years. They are a retail and “to the trade” showroom in Atlanta, GA. Along with having beautiful collections of home furnishing and fabric at their brick and mortar, they also provided all the furniture that The Chaise Lounge used at the DBC.

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Laurel Bern is a blogger/designer with Laurel Bern Interiors. She is also very excited to announce her new line of paint which will feature 150 colors with Benjamin Moore. This was her forth year at the DBC and she keeps coming back for the amazing guests and the networking. She feels with blogging and website it’s very important to remember that your site is mobile friendly and responsive.

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Refined Haystack is a curated interior design network at a local level that is used for the general public. Sabrina Vodnik sat down with us and explained the design and propose of the engaging site. All the resources that are recommended to the audience are from designers. Resources can be from trade items and sites to unique little shops and everything in between.