Success Story

131 – High Point Spring Market 2017 Show #4

High Point Spring Market 2017 Show #4

127 – Angela Harris and Trio Environments

Angela Harris and Trio Environments

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with Angela Harris of Trio Environments. Angela shares her journey from business to design, the story of starting her own company, and how she manages that company.

Getting to know Angela Harris

Trio Environments is located in Denver, where Angela grew up. She loves handbags, long skirts, enjoys Chardonnay and vacations in the Bahamas. Angela is married and has a 4-year-old son. She and her family live in a suburb of Denver on the edge of the mountains, where they enjoy a great view.

How Angela got into design

Without realizing it, Angela started in the industry as a child when she designed and decorated a tree house her dad built. Even in college, she didn’t put two and two together, instead, following the path “she was supposed to.” She ended up with a business degree in marketing and management. She later obtained a master’s degree in sustainable design and is grateful for this path, which allowed for a good left and right brain balance in her work.

After school, Angela worked in marketing at an engineering firm. One day she woke up and decided it wasn’t for her. She left her position and took a job at a furniture store.  Angela worked for the summer and then started in the store’s design program, where she fell in love with furniture and textiles. Angela then went back to school for a two-year design program and opened her own business with $500 in her pocket.

What the business looks like today

Trio Environments employs seventeen individuals, which includes a director of sales and marketing, design directors, a procurement team, three design teams with design associates, and interns. Angela grew up in a family business and inherited her business instincts from her grandfather.

Trio Environments

Her first hire was a former associate from the furniture store, to help in an administrative capacity. Angela loves the people aspect of the business and mentioned that relationships are most important. When seeking new employees, Angela makes sure individuals fit into the company culture and align with their core values of communication, consistency, and creativity.

Trio Environments takes on projects that include builder / developer work, high-end residential, multi-family, and hospitality, and Angela loves it all, as long as they are creative and have fun.

Marketing

Carrie, Director of Sales and Marketing, joined the conversation to share about the company’s involvement in the community as well as the re-branding of the company. The team is also involved with industry associations and has developed relationships within the real estate market. Other methods of business development and marketing include creating and putting out video content, doing photo shoots, participating in conferences, leading speaking engagements, and being activities on social media.

After seventeen years of business, Angela and Trio Environments hit the tipping point and became an“overnight successes.” The company survived the economic downturn and is now taking on work outside of Colorado. Angela and her team continue to position themselves as a boutique design firm and don’t rely on mainstream design. Projects are treated as one-off, unique, and custom. They handle 75-100 projects at a time.

Angela recommends to be fearless and take care of the people around you. She advises against putting all of your eggs in one basket, as she learned from having 80% of her business with one client. She said she would never do that again, but she learned and grew from it.

Learn more about Angela Harris and Trio Environments at their website or feel free to call directly – 303-663-1285.

  • Upcoming Events

ICFF – May 21 – 24

NeoCon – June 12 – 14

PCBC – June 26 – 28

Las Vegas Market – July 30 – Aug 1

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

  • 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!

125 – Industry and Previously Owned by a Gay Man

Phyllis on Branding and Michele Hofherr on Previously Owned by a Gay Man

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with industry partner Phyllis Harbinger about branding and email messaging and Michele Hofherr about her business around curating unique items and the story behind the name: Previously Owned by a Gay Man.

Checking in with Phyllis on Branding

Phyllis recommends consistent messaging across all platforms, even down to your email signature. An email signature is the block at the bottom of your emails that often includes contact information, social icon links, and your company logo. Phyllis also mentioned that including your photo can help people feel like they already know you.

Phyllis also cited that 72% of consumers want to hear from you via email rather than any other method of communication. So, how much is too much in your signature? If you are telling an entire story, including product information, or have irrelevant quotes, you may want to consider simplifying the content.

Beyond your email signature, there are other branding components to consider, like your actual email address and logo design. As far as the email address goes, using “@gmail.com,” “@yahoo.com,” etc is a mistake, rather, use your company name. This not only supports your brand but makes you look more professional. A well-designed logo can make all of the difference as well. Phyllis and Nick recommend services like Hatchwise and 99Designs.

These are both cost effective ways to have a third party skilled designer create a logo for you.

Phyllis recommends finding creative and useful ways to use your logo too. She added her logo to a tote bag to give clients to keep their samples in. The pair also discusses handmade and personalized gifts for clients, and always keeping colors, logos, and fonts consistent. In closing, take a look at the brands you know, love, and trust. What can you learn from them?

Send Phyllis an email to get in touch and learn more!

Getting to know Michele Hofherr and Previously Owned by a Gay Man

Michele Hofherr is a straight woman married to a straight man. She loves black handbags, Montecito, CA, and red wine. She isn’t a private person, so nothing is off limits; she even admits to loving guilty pleasure, binge-worthy TV.

  • What’s with the name?

Previously Owned by a Gay Man is a peer to peer marketplace that curates furniture through individuals. Michele and her team curate unique items and individually list them on their website. These items don’t have to be owned by a gay man. It’s about the essence of a gay man, not the literal interpretation.

The name came from the true origin of the idea as it articulates what inspired them. Michele’s gay friends would move constantly and would always have extra items. These items were given away for free far too often to people who didn’t fully appreciate them. While Ebay and Craigslist fill a niche, those avenues can be overwhelming.

  • What the business looks like today

The business has been up and running for three years. Michele runs the front end. She’s the creative idea person. Her business partner, Lindsay runs the back end, with a focus on technology. Lindsay has never been into design personally.

There are now at least 1000 items listed on the site. The goal is to remain very curated and not too large. Michele wants to prevent the overwhelming feeling that other marketplace sites possess. She wants to have a revolving door of great stuff.

As mentioned prior, Previously Owned by a Gay Man is a peer to peer marketplace. Individuals list their own items and warehouse them, while Previously Owned by a Gay Man facilitates shipping, which is paid for by the buyer. Geoffrey De Sousa, Chief Curator, is a design aficionado with an objective point of view. Everything submitted goes through him.

Learn more at Previously Owned by a Gay Man’s website.

Industry: The Chaise Lounge Podcast

Upcoming Events

 High Point Spring Market – April 22 – 26

HD Expo – May 3 – 5

ICFF – May 21 – 24

NeoCon – June 12 – 14

Las Vegas Market – July 30 – Aug 1

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

 

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!

122 – BIG Podcast: Marketing, Business, and Hospitality for Interior Design.

122 – BIG Podcast: Marketing, business, and hospitality for interior design.

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with Krista Coupar of Coupar Consulting. Krista chats about how her business supports the design industry through business, marketing, and fulfillment. Nick also checks in with Mary Alice Palmer from HKS Hospitality on her experience of heading up a new division in a large firm.

Getting to know Krista Coupar

Krista Coupar is calling into The Lounge from San Francisco, CA. She loves shoes, even if they are painful, they are worth it. Krista finds inspiration in Paris and London but prefers Hawaii as a getaway. She also loves anything bubbly, including prosecco and champagne.

How did Krista get into design?

Krista is trained in interior design, but her current business is not design. She actually started in the family business of silk trading and fabric importing, then started her own business. Krista loves the design industry but always gravitated towards business side. She is fascinated by how the business works, how people work together, and getting projects from beginning to end.

Kendall Wilkinson hired Krista to run the business side of her company with a team of consultants to help. Krista compared this experience to a real life design MBA. She found that there was not enough time in the day to serve clients and run the business and that she needed to delegate tasks.

What the business looks like today

Coupar Consulting is a larger umbrella that consists of Coupar Communications and Studio Coupar. Coupar Communications offers branding, PR, marketing, content management, web design, and social media. Krista mentioned that most designers have a website, but many are outdated, i.e. not updated in the last two years. This side of the business consists of nine employees.

Studio Coupar takes care of technical design and fulfillment. Designers have the vision and sell the dream. Studio Coupar executes the fulfillment, installation, styling, and photography of the project. Studio Coupar employs nine individuals. Krista mentioned that while some clients utilize both sides of the business, there are also plenty that just needs assistance on one side.

Krista opened her business in 2014. She still finds that designers don’t value their time enough and underestimate the time to complete a project. Krista still learns on a daily basis and loves working with her team and clients. She still doesn’t like paperwork.

Learn more at Coupar Consulting, Facebook, and Instagram.

Getting to know Mary Alice Palmer

Mary Alice Palmer from HKS Hospitality is calling in from Fort Worth, Texas. She prefers phone calls to texts since there is less room for misinterpretation. Mary Alice also enjoys contemporary art, ice cream, boots, and tequila.

How did Mary Alice get into design?

As a child, Mary Alice built houses, furniture, and clothing for her Barbies. She even drew out floor plans. Mary Alice started in advertising in college but was picky about what to advertise for. She became interested in architecture and ended up at Parsons.

Mary Alice started working with John Saladino in residential design. While she enjoyed her time there, Mary Alice wanted to explore other avenues of design and started working in the art department of a feature film. She ended up moving to Los Angeles and worked in independent film production. Mary Alice likes set design because it’s about creating an atmosphere and representing a mood and experience, similar to hospitality by an experience or vision for a guest.

What the business looks like today

Six years ago, Mary Alice was asked to head up a new division for hospitality interiors within HKS. With 78 years of hospitality and architecture experience, the company wanted to diversify their offering with interiors.

Mary Alice is able to identify and bring in talent. She looks for work they have done, a unique vision, and a nimbleness and willingness to work on different parts of projects in addition to an openness to growth. She is open to looking at experienced individuals as well as those fresh out of school.

The team is working on twelve projects currently that range from a 60 room boutique hotel to all inclusive resorts with 1000+ rooms. They are brought into the project as soon as possible to create a unified, holistic design.

Mary Alice prefers hospitality design because it’s more business-like and corporate than residential. It’s a more interesting challenge. In addition, she enjoys the collaboration in terms of design, budget, and feasibility. Mary Alice likes managing the client experience steering them to an efficient and reasonable solution.

Learn more at  HKS and Facebook.

  • Upcoming Events

 High Point Spring Market – April 22 – 26

HD Expo – May 3 – 5

Las Vegas Market – July 30 – Aug 1

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

  • 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!

121 – Cheryl Broadhead: Bob’s Your Uncle Design (BYU)

Cheryl Broadhead: Bob’s Your Uncle Design (BYU)

On this episode of The Lounge, Nick chats with Cheryl Broadhead of Bob’s Your Uncle Design. Cheryl shares her journey into design, her successful working relationship with her business partner, and selecting an unconventional name for the business.

Getting to know Cheryl Broadhead

Cheryl is calling into The Lounge from Vancouver on a cold, rainy day. She is a partner at Bob’s Your Uncle Design, a multi-family design firm. She prefers dogs, PCs, and wine. Cheryl learned from her parents not to be afraid to fail and imagines herself working in law if she wasn’t a designer.

How did Cheryl get into design?

Cheryl went to school for fine arts and was a nanny in Italy after school. As an au pair, she met an architecture student from Australia. Cheryl’s new friend encouraged her to get into design. Cheryl went back to school and the rest is history.

While Cheryl was still in school, she started working at a local multi-unit design firm. She was able to get her friend, Adda, hired there too. They worked on condo and townhouse developments by compiling sample boards and getting to know AutoCAD. They eventually moved on from this position and went their separate ways.

Years later, tired of winter in Toronto and wanting a change, Cheryl reached out to Adda about moving and starting their own business. Adda was interested and they started working together.

Adda and Cheryl didn’t want a namesake because then it’s often all about the principle, not the firm as a whole. They liked the team environment and wanted a name to reflect that. They started Googling names, but everything was taken. Adda’s husband originally suggested Bob’s Your Uncle (BYU Design) and it stuck. The name shows that they work hard but have fun too.

What does the business look like today?

Bob’s Your Uncle consists of 18 employees which include two principles (Cheryl and Adda), a studio design lead, a CAD team lead, 3 dedicated CAD operators, designers at all levels, a controller, an admin, and two dogs – Molly Brown and Polly. The team works on multi-unit residential (mostly) large condo projects.

BYU gets involved early in the process when permits are submitted. They work with architects and engineers as well as developers and marketing teams. Projects can last up to four years and BYU is involved from beginning to end. Cheryl likes working in the multi-unit industry because she enjoys planning homes for people. These individuals cannot afford large spaces, so Cheryl and team make these smaller spaces the best they can be. She wants people to be proud of their home.

BYU Design is a pretty young team and Cheryl likes leading young teams to bridge together generations. She is a self-proclaimed “Chatty Cathy” and doesn’t see age as a challenge.

Since 2010, BYU Design has added about four employees per year, steady and manageable growth. The mentality and structure of the firm have changed recently as lead positions were created.

Both Cheryl and Adda are great delegators, but also still do a lot of leg work as principles. They are working their way out of this. BYU Design has been successful as a partnership due to Cheryl and Adda’s commitment to working together. They both communicate clearly, compromise and balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses.

To learn more about Bob’s Your Uncle Design, please visit byudesign.com.

  •  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!

 

120 – Sarah Blank: The World of Kitchen Design

Sarah Blank Interiors

Sarah Blank: The world of Kitchen Design

On this episode of The Lounge, Nick chats with Sarah Blank. Sarah shares her passion for being a kitchen and bath designer, how she started her own business, and what she loves about the industry.

Getting to know Sarah

Sarah is calling in from Stamford, CT, where she is working from home. Sarah enjoys Dwell for modern architecture and Period Home Magazine from a Classicist perspective – each at opposite ends of the spectrum. Sarah also enjoys a good handbag, red wine, and spending time at her Vermont vacation home.

How did Sarah get into design?

Sarah was working for her high school history teacher’s brother, Richard, for a summer. Richard was in charge of Bloomingdale’s windows. He told Sarah she needed to enroll at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. She transferred and the rest is history!

After graduating, Sarah obtained a position working in kitchen design and has never left the industry. In 1994, she met Richard Sammons, a classical architect. Through him, she became involved with the Institute of Classical Architecture and Art. Sarah said that Classicism isn’t a style, but rather a language that you design by, rules and principles that are all about proportion.

Sarah loves what she does and believes in collaboration. Within her first year, Bunny Williams asked to do a job with her. Sarah loved working with her. Bunny is so good at what she does and is so down to earth. Bunny included Sarah in meetings with clients to see how she worked.

Sarah works mostly on kitchens, butler’s pantries, and master baths. Some homes have numerous kitchens with different sets of criteria. Kitchens need to be accessible not only for homeowners but also chefs and caterers. Kitchen designers have to blend all needs to be universal and usable.

What does the business look like today?

Today, Sarah’s company is small, which she likes. Kristin and Andrew are her designers, and Chip is her right-hand assistant. Her husband’s company does local construction and contracting and she works with a small group of architects and vendors she loves – mill shops, steel fabricators, etc. She mentions that you need to have vendors and people to make your designs happen.

Sarah’s husband also handles the business side and Andrea helps with social media.

How did Sarah start her own firm?

Sarah says she just knew she was ready to go on her own. She was with her previous company for 17 years and even gave them a years notice. Her first job on her own came from a referral. Sarah recalled how in the beginning, the team could focus on one project at a time, but now they are constantly juggling jobs to keep things in motion.

Sarah started her business in the basement, but then built an addition on her home. Soon, she built a studio, which was a learning experience with the classical language. The space was so beautiful and well designed that a plastic surgeon made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. She ended up selling the studio and now works out of a studio in Greenwich, CT.

Sarah says that execution is exciting for her and takes the most time. She can almost see into the future with her experience and being able to plan. Sarah recommends that you make sure you have contracts in order, understand the law, and do your job well. She has learned this from experience as well, from being involved in a lawsuit. Sarah loves what she does because of what she has been through.

Why kitchen and bath design?

Sarah loves classical architectural and says that you don’t need to be an architect to practice Classicism. If she could do it all over, Sarah wouldn’t change a thing. She uses her talent and ability to put together a home as a whole. What she does cannot be purchased online. Sarah tells us that homeowners want kitchen and bath designers that are detail oriented.

Sarah designs from the ceiling down. She doesn’t just put boxes on a wall, but rather integrates the kitchen into the architecture. It all has to flow. She focuses on the fundamentals of the room and brings a design point of view through her own experience. On the other hand, Sarah finds it tough when clients want things that won’t work or they don’t do what you recommend. She has had to walk away from customers knowing that it is the best decision for both parties in the long term.

Learn more on Sarah’s website feel free to reach out to her directly. She would love to help you in the industry and educate you on how to find success with kitchen and bath design

  • 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!

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