Podcast

Season 25 Premiere! | How Angela Harris, CEO of TRIO, Doubled the Size of Her Denver-based Design Firm Overnight

Welcome to Season 25 of the Chaise Lounge podcast, with your host, Nick May! It’s time to talk about growing your design business, and we can’t think of a better guest to help us lead off this exciting season than Angela Harris, CEO of the creative, collaborative, and courageous Denver-based design and visual merchandising firm TRIO

If you feel like your interior design business may be caught in a rut and you’re thinking about making some changes, you will definitely want to join Nick and Angela for this conversation on the risks and rewards of rapid growth vs. business as usual. 

From One-Woman Show to CEO

TRIO got its start in 1999, when Angela founded her own high-end interior design firm. “When we started, it was just me,” says the designer/entrepreneur. Twenty years later, her company’s client roster includes some of the country’s most familiar names in residential and commercial building and development—like Toll Brothers, Alliance, Shea Homes, Mission Viejo, and Grand Hyatt. 

Together, the partners envision and produce commercial hospitality projects, master plan communities, high-end housing developments and clubhouses for active 55+ adults, model homes, and sales centers—all based on meticulous market research.

Doubling in Size Overnight

Clearly, when it comes to business, Angela thinks big. 

Within the past 18 months, TRIO finalized a bold acquisition that doubled the firm in size overnight. TRIO also opened up a new West Coast design studio in San Diego, and launched new product licensing partnerships with Phillips Collection and Tile Bar. “We’re in the business of bringing beautiful, creative things to market, whether it’s spaces or products, and seeing how people react to it,” says Angela. “It’s exciting!”

What’s Next? 

“Change is hard and it can be scary for some people,” Angela acknowledges. “But not taking risks is not a good strategy.” Together with her executive team at TRIO—which includes her husband/COO Drake Harris and business development director Carrie Firmine (who makes a cameo appearance at the end of this episode)—Angela never stops asking: Where are you going next? 

“You can’t get stuck in how you’ve done things in the past,” Angela says, summing up a philosophy that has landed TRIO an ever-expanding client list (the day Nick spoke with Angela, her company had 176 jobs going on—at once). TRIO was recently named to Interior Design magazine’s Top 100 Giants and has earned a place in Inc. magazine’s annual list of fastest-growing companies. 

 “Keep watching,” says Angela. “We’re not done yet!”

You can learn more about TRIO at triodesign.com and on Instagram @DesignbyTRIO

Change is hard and it can be scary for some people, but not taking risks is not a good strategy.

Angela Harris, CEO and Principal, TRIO Tweet

Chaise Lounge Updates

Our new podcast Coast to Coast Design is live! Give it a listen to learn about just how many ways there are to run a design business.

Resources

Upcoming Markets

High Point Market | Apr. 25-29, 2020

Design Influencers Conference | Mar. 1-3, 2020

HDExpo | May 5-7, 2020

ICFF | May 17-20, 2020

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app! We’d love it if you post a review, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. Also, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With that said, keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

S24E17 – Home Staging for Investors: Amy Powers on Why Interior Design Matters Extra When It’s Time to Sell or Rent

Getting a home ready for market isn’t magic—it’s merchandising, and looks matter. 

Take it from Amy Powers C.S.P. (that stands for Certified Staging Professional), who has successfully prepared almost 100 million dollars in property listings for market since she took to “the stage” in 2007.

Intriugued by this growing interior design niche, iMay Media founder Nick May traveled to the International Association of Home Staging Professionals Conference and Expo in Nashville, Tennessee, last fall, where he met up with staging pros like Amy and talked about the art/science/and math of preparing homes for sale or rent.

In this episode, Nick welcomes Amy into The Chaise Lounge, to continue the conversation.

How she got her start: Amy turned to staging when the last recession hit her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, hard, flooding the market with foreclosed properties and precious few buyers. In a buyer’s market, says Amy, putting a property’s best face forward is essential to a faster sale or, in the case of short-term rentals (like Airbnb, Vrbo, or HomeAway), a higher rate of occupancy than the local competition.

Using staging to tell a story: Statistics say that 95% of today’s home buyers and short-term renters see properties for the first time in photographs on line. Sure, they pay close attention to price. But they also expect to be wooed with picture-perfect spaces filled with beauty, luxury, comfort, Roku, and a top-notch coffeemaker. That’s why, says Amy, owners need to hire designers who specialize in creating environments that appeal visually and emotionally to the property’s target demographic.

A fast-paced niche: Amy’s business, askforstaging.com, differs from traditional interior design in two significant ways. The first is the lightning-quick pace.  And the second is the target audience: As a home stager, you are decorating with the potential buyer or renter in mind—not the particular long-term preferences of the seller (your client). “I decorate for the buyer, the house sells, and I’m done,” says Amy.

Of course, as a professional painting contractor, host Nick May already knows a thing or two about the power of fresh paint to boost perceived property value—and he has some smart tips of his own to share in a conversation that covers:

  • the emotional and financial aspects of home staging for resale vs. short-term hospitality (there’s a big difference)
  • Amy’s handy “heads and beds” formulas for maximum short-term rental revenue
  • and Amy’s proven strategies for coming out on the profit side of the classic supply and demand equation 

This final episode of Season 24 on the Lounge is focused firmly on the financials. So grab your calculator, your color charts, join us for a cocktail—you can never go wrong with a good margarita or anything with rum, says Amy—and let’s get down to the business of design. 

Cheers to you! We’ll see you again soon, as we launch Season 25 on the Chaise Lounge podcast.

I decorate for the buyer or the potential renter—not the owner or investor.

- Atlanta, Georgia-based home stager Amy Powers Tweet

Chaise Lounge Updates

Our new podcast Coast to Coast Design is live! Give it a listen to learn about just how many ways there are to run a design business.

That’s it for our 24th season, we hope you’ve enjoyed it. Stay tuned for season 25, where we’re excited to roll out interviews with new guests, more interviews with guest hosts, and other exciting changes and additions!

 

Resources

Upcoming Markets

 

Design Influencers Conference | Mar. 1-3, 2020

HDExpo | May 5-7, 2020

ICFF | May 17-20, 2020

High Point Market | Apr. 25-29, 2020

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app! We’d love it if you post a review, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. Also, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With that said, keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

S24 E16 – Everything Interior Designers Need to Know NOW About Blogging, Pinning, Tagging, and Finding Your People: Kyla Herbes Tells All

Here’s the bottom line: It’s 2020 and if you’re not marketing your interior design business on multiple digital platforms, you’re missing out on the kind of name recognition and working relationships that come with getting your images and keywords in front of the people who can help your business grow. 

The good news, says Chicago-area-based social media and blogging expert Kyla Herbes (HER-bess), is that it’s not too late to start: “I’ve heard people saying the blog is dead—but the blog is still there…and still very important part of the machine.” In this episode of the Lounge, Kyla shares with host Nick May her secrets to effective digital influencing, pinning, algorithms, analytics, keyword enrichment, and the perils of overthinking it all.

So pour yourself a glass of Prosecco (to match Kyla’s bubbly personality), grab a pen and notebook and start writing the next chapter of your interior design business today. Remember to be patient: One Kyla’s most effective social media traffic-drivers remains a post she wrote in 2014 (a step-by-step guide to marbleizing coffee mugs with nailpolish), when her House of Hipsters blog was just a hobby she indulged in when she wasn’t managing her full-time advertising career, her mid-century modern home, and two kids under 5 years old (now 10 and 7). 

You’ll find it all in this inspiring episode of The Chaise Lounge. You can also catch up with Kyla at Esteem Media’s Design Influencers Conference, in San Francisco (March 1-3), where she will be spilling all her proven social media secrets—Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and TikTok.   

Learn more about blogging and social media expert Kyla Herbes at House of Hipsters and on Instagram at @houseofhipstersblog.

Technology took hold as soon as the smart phone came out and our whole world flipped on end to a digital, fast-paced, immediate world.

Chaise Lounge Updates

Our new podcast Coast to Coast Design is live! Give it a listen to learn about just how many ways there are to run a design business.

Resources

Upcoming Markets

Design Influencers Conference | Mar. 1-3, 2020

HDExpo | May 5-7, 2020

ICFF | May 17-20, 2020

High Point Market | Apr. 25-29, 2020

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app! We’d love it if you post a review, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. Also, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With that said, keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

S24 E15 – Meet Noelle Hernandez, Founder of the Award-Winning Mother-Daughter-Sister Design Firm MATTER

There are many kinds of modern families—and just as many kinds of family businesses. In this episode, host Nick May talks with fellow Coloradan Noelle Hernandez, founder and owner of MATTER, a highly collaborative family-run residential and commercial planning and design firm based in Aspen. A native of Denver, Noelle launched her design career as a kitchen planner. Over time, her innate sense of organization, refined eye for clean, quality-focused beauty, and expertise at identifying a place for everything and situating everything in its proper place evolved into an award-winning design career focused on full-service space planning, interior architectural design, and project management. 

At MATTER, Noelle works in close partnership with her sister, Soraya Gallego, an expert in commercial and marine design, and her daughter, Nicole Stewart, an accomplished project manager, to design everything from high-end residential interiors to investment offices, restaurants, bank and hotel lobbies, hair salons, retail shops, and cruise ship interiors.

Noelle tells Nick how the three women keep everything running smoothly—and shares her recipe for the perfect cocktail with Casamigos (shaken, not stirred)—in this inspiring episode of The Chaise Lounge.

Learn more about Noelle Hernandez, her family of designers, and her work at matterinteriors.com and on Instagram at @matterinteriors.

SHOP LOCAL: "We do a lot of sourcing in Denver. Lots of people think you have to go to NY or LA, but the Denver Design Center does an excellent job."

Chaise Lounge Updates

Our new podcast Coast to Coast Design is live! Give it a listen to learn about just how many ways there are to run a design business.

 

Resources

Upcoming Markets

Design Influencers Conference | Mar. 1-3, 2020

HDExpo | May 5-7, 2020

ICFF | May 17-20, 2020

High Point Market | Apr. 25-29, 2020

Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes, Spotify or your favorite podcasting app! We’d love it if you post a review, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. Also, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With that said, keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

S24 E14 – Pizza, Process, and DIY Packages with Interior Designer Lori Miller + Bonus Catch-Up w/ Adam Japko

This week in The Lounge, host Nick explores pizza, process, and customization vs. practical DIY packages with metro New York designer Lori Miller, founder of LGC, Inc. (fka Lori-Girl Creations), a full-service interior design firm based in suburban Long Island.

S24 E13 – “Find Your Own Voice”—Interior Designer Kati Curtis Explores the Client-Entrepreneur Connection

Welcome! Today in The Lounge, Nick sits down with NYC interior designer Kati Curtis. Kati founded Kati Curtis Design in 2005 after 12 years of working with international architecture and engineering firms. She is a Certified Interior Designer (CID), and a Leadership in Energy and Efficient Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP).

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