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111 – Industry: Life Hacks and Personal Branding

Industry: Productivity Hacks & Personal Branding

On this episode of The Lounge, Nick chats with industry experts Phyllis Harbinger and Farah Merhi. Phyllis shares her tested and approved productivity hacks and Farah jumps in on building your personal brand.

Productivity hacks with Phyllis Harbinger

Phyllis’s year is off to a great start and some this can be attributed to changes she has made personally to help her be more productive. Here are Phyllis’s productivity hacks:

  1. Work out in the morning: Working out in the morning gives you a jump start on the day to be more productive and have more willpower. Often, it is hard to motivate yourself to exercise after a day of work. It may hard to get this practice put in place, but you may find more success by making small adjustments and changes over time, which can include going to bed earlier. Phyllis and Nick also stay in hotels with gyms, so there is no excuse to miss a workout, even when traveling.
  2. First thing, scan your email, but don’t get sucked in: It’s easy to spend hours or even days putting out fires in your inbox and not get any “real work” done. Phyllis recommends scanning your inbox in the morning as well as using rules and filters to help prioritize your actions for the rest of the day. It can also be helpful to turn off email notifications on your desktop or phone and make time to intentionally check. me can help reduce your influx of mail. It can also help to schedule emails to go out at specific times.
  3. Don’t skip breakfast: Phyllis recommends fueling yourself for success, which can mean not skipping breakfast and eating smaller, more frequent meals. In time, you can feel so much better by eating the right things that eating something that just tastes good doesn’t seem worth it.
  4. Prioritize your To-Do’s: It is easy to procrastinate and put things off, but Phyllis says to do the hardest item on your list first. For example, if you dread estimates and put them off for days, you may be losing business. By turning those estimates around within a day, you can capitalize on your customers’ readiness to purchase your services.
  5. Standing meetings: Standing during your meetings with your colleagues or clients can save time and increase productivity. It can also allow for quicker decisions.

Phyllis has incorporated these practices into her day to day. She also spoke about creating a morning ritual and meditation.

To learn more about Phyllis, email her or visit Facebook.

Personal Branding with Farah Merhi

Farah Merhi is a designer, stylist, social media influencer, and founder of Inspire Me Home Decor. More recently, Farah has started curating questions from Instagram to answer on her Youtube channel. What has started as an outlet for her passion for interior design has turned into a brand.

Personal branding is the way you represent yourself to the world. Farah recommends staying true to yourself, your design aesthetic, and your fans. Also, make sure that brand collaborations make sense. Your credibility is crucial and can affect how people perceive you and relationships with other brands.

It matters how you present yourself online for networking purposes and getting new clients. You have to start somewhere and every post is important. Farah recommends having a goal where anyone who sees your posts or photos to know that it is from you and to be recognizable.

To learn more: about Farah, visit Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, and Inspire Me Home Decor.

  • 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!






91 – From Unemployment to HGTV…Corey Damen Jenkins Interior Design Star

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Corey Damen Jenkins: HGTV- Interior Design Star

Today in The Lounge, Nick chats with Corey Damen Jenkins, head of Corey Damen Jenkins & Associates. Corey chats with Nick about the various chapters in his career: unemployment, his instant fame on HGTV and running his successful design business.

Getting to know Corey

Born and raised in Michigan, Corey enjoys vacating at the Hamptons, envisioning memories of his hometown with its rural architecture, beautiful weather and a cocktail in hand by the water. Born with a design DNA, he was raised in a household with design trends and renovation. Corey still remembers his childhood memory of undoing screws and bolts of chairs at the dinner table, which piqued his design interest. At 19, he pursued an education in Interior Design and moved to New York City, while interning at a construction company in Brooklyn that refurbished historic buildings.

A rocky road

Upon graduation, Corey accepted a purchasing position in the automotive industry in Michigan for job security, per his father’s advice. Even though his interest was in design, he had a steady job and a great lifestyle for over 10 years. Unfortunately, during the recession of 2006-2007, he faced his first layoff.

Corey took advantage of the opportunity and chose the path back to design. Even though he was overqualified for the jobs, Corey humbly worked on menial tasks at Robert Allen and Becon Hill at the Michigan design center, where he was laid off a second time. Alas, he was back where he started at the unemployment line.

After the emotional rollercoaster rides, he took charge of his destiny by opening his design business in 2009 in an unstable economy — a time where other design businesses were shutting down their doors. In a very stressful time period, Corey continued to collect unemployment checks while building his own clientele. He landed his big break and first client through a referral from the design center. Shortly after the completion of his first project, launching his professional website and photographing his project, he was cast on HGTV. He competed and won in the design star competition Showhouse Showdown.

Corey gets his big break

After winning HGTV, Corey was lucky enough to be selective with his design projects and business. He was able to utilize his true talent, by mirroring his and the client’s vision together to create versatile, one of a kind projects. He credits his success to HGTV, publications on House Beautiful, Wall Street Journal, Traditional homes and referrals for his fast growing clientele.

Today he has a small team of 8 employees: a visualization specialist, accountant, social media director, several design specialists, and a media/publication team. This year at High Point Market Corey launched a spring furniture collection in collaboration with Leathercraft.  In the near future, he is working towards expanding his business by opening a satellite office in New York City.

His advice to other designers: be humble, be nice, don’t micromanage and keep your head close to the ground so that you won’t have too far to fall. Here’s hoping to see more on Corey’s success on Veranda, Elle Décor or the next HGTV show.

Learn more about Corey Damen Jenkins at

Find Corey on Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest; coreydamenjenkins and Twitter @coreyDjenkins

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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!

07 – Renata Pfuner: Miami Designer

Today in the lounge Nick sits down with Miami designer Renata Pfuner. Renata is a luxury residential interior designer who works on both local and international projects. Today Nick and Renata chat about how she got her start, the importance of lighting and how she gained her clients.

Getting Started

Born and raised in Europe, Renata brings a sophisticated, cosmopolitan aesthetic to her work. She relocated to the U.S. in 2001, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Miami International University in 2006. She had always known that she wanted to be in a design profession, coming from a family of prominent designers, both fashion and otherwise she felt a strong connection to the field.  After graduating, rather than going to work for an established firm, Renata opened Pfuner Design. In 2013, she received a Design Excellence award from the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and is LEED-certified to serve clients committed to sustainability.

The Importance of Lighting

Renata believes that lighting is one of THE most important parts of a project. She compares lighting to being the jewelry of the house something that can add that special touch to a home. According to Renata, lighting can either upgrade or downgrade an interior, and in order to create the best design for her clients she looks for the best lighting. She finds lighting for her clients from all over the world, each one selected specifically to bring out the best in each space. Choosing the wrong lighting could turn a fun and welcoming atmosphere into something boring and uninviting one.

Gaining and Keeping Clients

Renata has gained most of her clients through either recommendations or from publications. She states that the split between the two is about 50/50.  While the majority of her work comes from those two sources, she also gains clients through internet marketing and sponsorship.Renata does not spend much money on advertisement outside of maintaining her website and instead prefers to let her work speak for itself and through that gain clients.  She believes that the “best [marketing] investment, is to do a great job.”

About Pfuner Design

Pfuner is a small luxury interior design firm comprised of two employees. Renata prefers a small team that for the firm and use independent contractors or freelancers from project to project. Rather than working with an architect or project manager from the beginning of each project Renata, creates her design, including architectural features, then after it is complete she has it looked over for viability. This unique approach to design allows her to work with a large amount of creative freedom.

Learn more about Renata Pfuner at pfunerdesign.com.

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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!