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94 – Nina Magon: Houston’s Darling Interior Design Star

Nina Magon: Houston’s Darling Interior Design Star

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with Nina Magon, Houston’s Darling Interior Design Star. Nina talks about fashion, TV, building the business, and having a laser focus on her goals.

Get to know Nina Magon from hot Houston, Texas (4:49)

Along with the perfect pair of big earrings, Nina loves marble slab ice cream with strawberries and pretty much anything from Neiman Marcus. The master bedroom is her favorite room in the house because everything is the way she wants it, without compromise!

How did Nina get into interior design? (11:00)

Nina has always been interested in fashion. Upon graduating from Southern Methodist University with a business degree in Economics and Finance, she knew she needed to work in a field that allowed for some creativity.
After launching a high-end lingerie store, she realized that she was more interested in the design of the store than the clothes inside. With this in mind, Nina started working in commercial real estate for her dad. Ultimately, Nina was able to marry her interest of fashion and real estate into a career in interior design.
Nina attended the Art Institute of Houston for two years to take the classes she needed before starting her own firm. She then started hiring teachers from the Institute to work for her for things she didn’t know how to do!

What does Nina’s business look like today? (16:23)

Nina’s design team consists of eight:Nina is the Creative Director and Principal. She leads the initial client meeting and concepts every project. Her supporting staff includes a Senior Project Advisor, Lead Designers, Associate Designers, an Office manager, and interns.
Through nine years of experience and trial and error, Nina and her team have implemented quite a few processes and systems. For instance, on average, each designer is responsible for about three projects every three months. Nina’s business major gives her great perspective from both a functional and financial point of view.
● Being on TV (26:00)
Shortly after her daughter was born in 2011, Nina decided to audition for HGTV’s Design Star. she didn’t make the cut, but ended up on American Dream Builders within the next two years. Nina described the show as “The Apprentice meets Extreme Home Makeover.” Though she was completely intimidated by the talent and experience of her competition, Nina made it to the semi-finals and was able to participate in the finale.
While on the show, her team back home continued to run her business with the help of her husband. Nina recalled all of the design points of view on the show. She learned more in five months around her competition than in the past seven years!

The New Saks Fifth Avenue (36:33)

It only takes one person to believe in you and give you a chance. For Nina, this was Saks Fifth Avenue. Through friends of friends and a series of events, she was able to pitch her design ideas for a 9,000 sq ft restaurant as well as a bar/cafe in the new Saks Fifth Avenue in Houston.
This project took Nina’s career to a new level and allowed her to prove herself in the hospitality sector. At this point in her career, Nina is able to be more selective about projects, which allows her to focus on high-end residential opportunities.

Getting the word out (42:30)

To this point (other than an upcoming Super Bowl ad), Nina hasn’t paid for advertising at all. She uses an in-house PR employee for social media, which pulls in around twelve calls a month, of which three turn into clients.

What’s coming up (45:15)

Nina’s five year plan includes becoming the largest contemporary, eclectic design firm in Texas. Her more short term plan includes securing one hospitality project before the end of the year.
If you would like to connect with Nina, please visit:
● Website: Nina Magon and Contour Interior Design
● Twitter: @NinaMagon
● Instagram: @contourinterior
● Facebook: @CONTOURInterior

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!

76 – Two ends of the Interior Design business: Super high end commercial design to down-home residential design

Felderman and Johnson

On today’s show, you are getting a two for one show, with two separate interviews with two great design firms. Before you press play, make sure to check out www.thechaiseloungepodcast.com for new videos that Nick posts for his listeners, these videos include information on who’s coming up on the podcast, listener mail, and much more!

Stanley Felderman & Nancy Keatinge: FKA Studio

Based out of Culver City, California, this married design duo does many things beyond architecture and interior design, including product design, strategic planning, and much more! “We really collaborate on every level,” says Stanley as he discusses how the breakdown of tasks within their office works. Nancy explored many avenues after school, including documentary filmmaking. After meeting Stanley in the early 1980’s, Nancy pivoted to the design world. Nancy talks about being inspired by the home she lived in growing up, which was designed by Arthur Elrod, the famed mid-century designer. Of his background, Stanley says, “I always wanted to be an architect, I was born in the Bronx, to a very poor family and we lived in a tenement. I always fantasized about building a world that was prettier and much more fun to be in, so as long as I can remember I always dreamed that architecture was something that would liberate me.” After attending an art school, Stanley was offered a prestigious spot at the Pratt Institute studying architecture. After graduating from Pratt, Stanley worked for a large architectural firm, at the same time, Stanley helped out on a large project for a friend, which ended up launching his career. “The reason I had the success was that I was willing to take a risk, I had a full-time job at a great firm and had potential, but this call to do something creative, which was only meant to last a few weeks. I made the decision to quit the safety net, and take the risk and do something creative and that became the foundation to everything I am doing now.”
The pair talks with Nick about how they first met, and when they started working together, including the cross-country move from New York to California. Stanley talks about the growth within the company in the early years, and his deliberate approach of keeping the office small, in order to preserve the day to day design component in his work. Tune in to hear more about some of the big name clients the pair have and the work they do as a team.  To find out more about this dynamic duo, please check out their website at fkastudio.com.

Patti Johnson: Patti Johnson Interiors

Based out of Lebanon, Ohio, Patti talks with Nick about her background, which includes much relocation around the country due to corporate moves from her husband’s company. “When I was a child, it’s something that I can remember from a young age of maybe 7, when my parents went out, I would rearrange the furniture, I’d draw houses and do space planning,” Patti says of her first motivations to design. Patti studied interior design at Henry Ford College in Dearborn, MI, however, she never finished, and although she took many courses over the years, she doesn’t actually hold a formal degree in interior design. Patti talks about the shift she’s seen in designers who are more willing to share sources and trade secrets when that hasn’t always been the case in the interior design network.
Like Nick, Patti also attended the 2016 Spring High Point Market, she states, “I really find it very, very valuable to see what the current trends are, to see what’s new and fresh in the market because I think it takes quite a while to make its way back. A being here in Ohio, we have very small design centers, so it’s really important as a designer to be able to offer my clients the latest and greatest.”
Patti talks about the difficulties she faced when moving from location to location. She talks about the length of time it takes for a business to get established in a certain location, and how moving frequently can make it very difficult to do so. Nick asks how long her most recent business has taken, “I would say I’ve been here almost 5 years, and for the first two years I had probably almost zero work here. It probably took 3 or 4 years before it finally took off.” Patti talks about the effect the status of the economy has on her line of work, especially in an area like Ohio. Patti describes the scope of her work, which is primarily ‘whole home’ renovations, and even some exterior work. Patti says, “I feel that you do the client a better service by transforming the whole home, not just the kitchen, so that’s how I prefer to do it.”
Nick asks Patti how she wins clients, especially with moving around so much, to which Patti answers, “Everybody is internet shopping, everyone’s on the internet, so having a web presence is important, having a website, people find you. I’ve just been blessed to have the work come to me.” She also talks about the work she’s gotten after volunteering to design show houses and the press that comes from that.
Patti is involved in something called a ‘mastermind group’, a group of designers of all different phases in their careers, who get together quarterly to learn and talk about a new topic in design. Tune in to learn more about the mastermind group Patti’s involved in, and how creating your own mastermind group could benefit you as a designer. Nick asks Patti how the group impacted her business, “Confidence and charging what you’re worth. You learn, really, how to be a better solo-preneur, I really needed to have that connection with other people who wanted to elevate their business.” Nick asks Patti what she thinks holds people back in attending things like a mastermind course, or other events that can help them grow their businesses. It comes down to time and cost, which can be a real investment.
Follow Patti on all the social media platforms, including Instagram or check out her website at pattijohnsoninteriors.com.
We’d love to hear your feedback or even better if you’ve listened to The Chaise Lounge and felt you’ve learned something new, please share our show with your friends and colleagues via social media, just be sure to tag us @thechaiselounge, we’d really appreciate it!
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!

65 – High Point Market Wrap Up

Hello Chaise Lounge Listeners! Today we have a final wrap-up episode of the 2016 Spring High Point Market. If you listened to the episodes from the High Point series you probably noticed that some of audio was not of the greatest quality, so we reached out to a couple of the designers we interviewed at High Point for a second interview. On today’s show you’ll hear completely new content from Amy Flurry, updated audio from Cheryl Kees Clendenon and Farah Merhi and a special interview with the CEO of the High Point Market Authority, Tom Conley.

Amy Flurry : Recipe For Press 

Amy Flurry spoke at this year’s High Point Market, with a session called “The Press Release is Dead.” Her background is in publishing and recipe for PressAmy shares her expertise in the subject with people who are trying to get their work published. Amy talks specifically about the relation of publication of work to interior designers and how important that can be to success. Amy’s experience in the publishing world came from editorial work spanning almost 20 years for nationwide publications. She would essentially be pitching stories to the publications, and was very successful at doing so. Her success was not unnoticed, and Amy began receiving requests to “grab a coffee” with people who wanted to know what exactly it took to get their work published.

That said, Amy published a book entitled “Recipe for Press” that provided as she puts it “everything all editor’s want you to know” in order to get your work published. In the book and on today’s show, Amy dispenses advice to those working to get published, including where and where not to invest your money and the three key things an editor is looking for in your initial pitch. Amy and Nick also discuss the biggest mistake people make when reaching out to editors and publishers and the importance of doing your homework on the publication up front.

Farah Merhi: @Inspire_Me_Home_Decor

The next interview on today’s show is with Farah Merhi, a prominent persona in the Instagram world with her page @Inspire_Me_Home_Decor. You may have heard Farah in the Chaise Lounge previously as Nick interviewed her live at the High Point Market. We were so impressed with Farah we wanted to have her back again, to make sure our listeners were able to glean as muchInspire Me Logo advice from her as possible. Farah says of her time at High Point, “Everyone in this industry needs to experience this at least once!” Farah and Nick speak further about their time at High Point.

Farah’s road to her massive success in social media as it relates design really started with a remodeling project of her own home. After searching for inspiration photos on the web, and finding the content to be lacking, Farah decided to start her own Instagram account to collect imagery that inspired her. She would find images from professional designers to design enthusiasts or simply snap photos of things or places that inspired her. Her Instagram page has grown to a platform now where professionals and non-professional alike can find inspiration. Farah’s Instagram following is topping out at over 3.2 million followers!

Nick and Farah talk about the process of tagging your posts to get the most exposure and impact and how to best reach your audience. They also discuss the time frame it took for Farah to get to her level and the exponential growth her page has encountered through the use of re-posts. Tune in to hear more about Farah’s aesthetic, her goals for the future and the obstacles she’s faced in getting to where she is today.

Cheryl Kees Clendenon

Next up, Nick re-joins designer and retail store operator Cheryl Kees Clendenon from Pensacola, Florida with a follow-up interview to the one recorded at High Point Market.

Cheryl holds a background in sales and marketing, and eventually transitioned to a successful career in interior design. Cheryl talks about the start of her design business and how it really started just through friends and family asking for her help with their spaces, and as she puts it, “it just snowballed from there.” With no formal education in interior design, Cheryl talks about how her portfolio has been the platform for which she has presented her work. In her business, Cheryl describes her favorite “hat to wear” as the creative side, she is really driven and inspired by materials and loves to sit in her space and just go through materials that inspire her.

1514 Home Logo

Nick and Cheryl talk about the business side of her firm, she states “You are fooling yourself if you think there isn’t a sale component to what you do,” as a designer. It’s just as important to have that expertise as it is to have the creative expertise. Beyond her successful design firm at In Details Interiors, Cheryl has recently launched into the retail side of the business, with a storefront open in Pensacola, called 1514 Home. Nick and Cheryl talk about how she selects lines to carry in her store, and how she varies the price points of the pieces she carries.

Tom Conley: CEO of High Point Market Authority

Last up on today’s show we are honored to talk with Tom Conley, the man behind the scenes of the highly successful High Point Market. As the CEO of the High Point Market Authority, Tom’s job is to set the dates of the show, promote the speakers and showrooms that will be present at each show and organize the registration and overall transportation system throughout the town to make sure attendees can easily get to where they want to be. Nick talks firsthand about his experience with the outstanding customer service that the Market provided during his time there. Tom organizes over 400 employees at each Market event and also talks to Nick about the fantastic App they the Authority created to provide fast and convenient customer service for those attending Market. To close, Tom talks about the prep for the next High Point Market, which will be held the last week of October 2016 and Nick shares his advice for attending market.

High Point Oct 2016


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!

39 – IVÁN MEADE: an International Interior Designer

Meade Design Group

Ivan Meade: an International Interior Designer

Big show today in The Lounge!  I announce my new sponsor for 2016, I share a listener review from iTunes, and I have a chat with an amazing designer who lives on an island in Canada, and started his design firm by working for free!   Yes, we take the #1 interior design podcast and go international today!  Ivan Meade started his Meade Design Group in 1998 in Victoria BC, Canada. He received an International Business degree in Mexico where he was born and raised. Practicing with a multiple discipline design idea, he was combined his love for graphic design and interior design in one place and business. He has also expanded his brand by adding a high-end fabric collection which can be found at ivanmeade.com

This week’s discussion hit on several points of how to sell yourself, your design and learning a very important word…NO! Ivan feels that the emotion in the design needs to convey the clients need and heart as well as his design.We also talk a lot on the marketing and social media aspect of business and life. Though he combines the two and has made social media sites available, he doesn’t often repeat information from one site to another.  You can visit him at a few different sites: MeadDesignGroup.com, IvanMeade.com, and LifeMstyle.com where he has interviewed a ton of fantastic Canadian designers.

The best small business resource for learning about systems is a book by Michael Gerber called E-Myth.  If you are now into your interior design business, I highly recommend you pick up a copy.  It will be the best investment of time you can make.  BUT, if you want a free copy, all you need to do is give me a review on iTunes!  That’s right, I believe so strongly that this book will help you, that I am giving away 20 copies of The E-Myth to the next 20 people who write me a review in iTunes.  Just take a screen shot of your review, and email it to me at me@nickmay.co with your mailing address.  I will send you one book with free shipping.

Our sponsor Design Manager is your best answer for all your back-office needs.  It will help you with your accounting, paperwork, and logistics.  There are a lot of things to track in your business, don’t leave it up to Word docs and spreadsheets.   If you give DM a try, please let them know you heard about them in The Lounge.

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com


23 – Eileen Gould: Hands on Designer and Contractor in Cali

eileen Gould

Today in The Lounge, I welcome Eileen from Eileen Gould Design and Construction in Malibu, CA.  Eileen has a breadth and depth to her that few designers have.  She is not only an accomplished designer, but she has her contractor’s license as well.  Learning a trade was mandatory to get your license in the state of California, and she is no stranger to a construction site.  Don’t let that pretty face fool you.  She knows her stuff.

Eileen shared plenty of great stuff with me in the interview, but one thing we talked about, and is so critical for designers trying to build their interior design firm is marketing.  Eileen recomends you do three things:

  1. Charity work.  Eileen volunteer on board, and committees, and gets involved.  This leads to lots of great relationships.
  2. Teach classes. Eileen teaches two different DIY classes: How to design a Kitchen, and How to design a Bathroom. She explained that yes, many people come to learn how to do it themselves, but she gains one or two new clients every time she has a class.
  3. Public Speaking.  Be known as an industry leader.  Share your wealth of knowledge and offer to talk.  Eileen has had lots of opportunities to get up in front of groups, get on television, and gain other media attention because of her willingness to talk.

Bio: Eileen Gould is the owner and founder of Lifestyles Interior Design and Construction, Inc. and Eileen Gould Design and Construction, Inc., and has been practicing both eye-on-design-coverCommercial and Residential Design for the past 30 years. She combines her creative talents with her knowledge of general contracting to reflect your personal style, your character, and way of living. Eileen’s ability to guide each and every client allows you to walk comfortably through the design process, satisfied and meeting your financial needs.

Eileen received her certification in Interior Design and then became one of the few women to obtain her General Contracting license in 2001.  She has been featured in Westlake Magazine, Ventura Star, Valley Connection, and Jane Applegate’s column in Los Angeles Magazine, in addition to an extensive write up in the Business Section of the Los Angeles Times. She sat on the Learning Tree University Design Board in 1985 and the ASID LA Executive Board in 2006. She has also appeared on Channel 7 Eyewitness Morning News.  She has worked with many celebrity clients. Eileen has won the National Association of Business Owners Award for Working Women’s Magazine 2000 and she has been named the “First Runner-up of the 2003 Designer Appreciation Award” awarded by the L.A. Mart and the L.A. Mart Furniture Association.  Eileen has twice appeared on HGTV “Designer’s Challenge” once winning the challenge of redesigning a Master Bathroom. She has also spoken at The Rotary, The New West Symphony and the AARP Convention in early 2000.

Eileen is now retrofitting homes for seniors and the handicapped.

For more information on Eileen, please go to her website at LifestyleDesign.com


Chaise Lounge Updates

We’re gearing up for High Point Market fall 2018. Stay in the loop on our Instagram and Facebook pages.

The Student Lounge is up and running! Visit us to hear podcast episodes produced for students, by students.

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!

19 – Laura Birns: Interior Design and Furniture Designer

 Laura Birns: Interior Design and Furniture Designer

birns design

A colorful artist, tuns to interior design.  Laura Birns started into interior design, by the back door, as a fine artist turned librarian…turned interior designer.  Yep. She first received a BFA in fine art spending her time brushes in hand, but after graduating, found herself working in a large commercial design firm in California.  When she was asked to help with one of the big clients:  Marriott, she went work .  She help them design a rug, and it just progressed from there.Laura Birns Design

Due to her art background, Laura has found some success designing and building custom furniture as well.  As a sculptor, she was very familiar with form and function.

Tzumba BenchIf you are not the typical designer, or have the “typical” background, Laura’s story of success will be encouraging for you.  She is a successful interior designer with a colorful flair.

To get in touch with Laura Birns, contact her through her website at LauraBirnsDesign.com

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at thechaiseloungepodcast.com.