144 – Industry: Phyllis Harbinger Talks About PR and Marketing

Phyllis Harbinger Talks about PR and Marketing

On this episode of The Lounge, Nick talks to Phyllis about PR and whether or not you should ‘pay to play.’ Later, he chats with Alyssa Rosenheck and Nicole Davis who will both be at Las Vegas Market on the Best of the West panel on Monday, July 31st from 1:30-3:00 pm. Learn more here.

Pay to Play? Here’s What Phyllis Thinks

Some magazines offer deals where you can pay to get into them, is this something designers should do? Phyllis believes that press and exposure are always at the forefront of a designer’s mind. Also, it is important to have a mix of different kinds of marketing and advertising strategies, some that you pay for! As long as you budget, there is NOTHING wrong with paying for an advertorial. They work regionally, don’t look salesy, AND give a lot of information about you and your company. Sometimes paying for exposure and publicity can make people uneasy, but Phyllis thinks it’s terrific. It improves your visibility and helps you get noticed.

Phyllis has even done it herself for an ASID campaign, where she and six others received a half of a page to themselves. Afterward, she received three phone calls from being in the magazine- a lot of value that otherwise wouldn’t have come to her. The exposure brought her to the top of people’s minds. The more you do in different channels to reach multiple audiences of potential clients, the better you are advertising. Phyllis stresses to make sure you have a strategic plan though- she plans her budget for each target strategy at the beginning of the year and does her best to stick to it.

True or False?

The only way to get published in today’s market is to be an advertiser in a magazine.

Phyllis says that this is not completely true… there are some publications that rely completely on advertising and designers taking ads. When you do submit a project to a magazine you’ve advertised in, they will know your name already so you have a better chance of getting looked at. Though, from talking to sales people Phyllis has learned that a lot of editors try really hard not to be judgemental about whether or not someone has submitted advertising money to them and in addition, to the scope of work that they have. She doesn’t think it’s untrue that designers are looking for advertising because they are. If you’re more well known, you might get asked to advertise but feel less pressure to do so, compared to someone brand new who is wanting to expose their work to the public.

How do you determine the amount to budget for marketing each year?

For Phyllis, budgeting depends on her needs and what she wants to accomplish. If her goals differ from a previous year than she’ll move money from one bucket to another. Strategizing is not something she can do on her own. She’ll ask her team about their thoughts on Facebook ads and analytics in order to make better decisions. She has a social media person, a social media strategist who does consulting and PR, and an SEO person. It’s all about checks and balances, not a one stop shop. 

Marketing isn’t free – it takes time and money. Phyllis advises thinking about what your unique brilliance is and to ask yourself if you are the best person to a job? Then ask, is there someone else out who will do it better, smarter, and quicker than you? In truth, it’s worth paying for someone who can. Allowing this person to fulfill their unique value proposition leaves you time to do what YOU need to do and likely do best. Today we have access to global freelancers and virtual assistants… so it’s easier to hire people across the world for less.

If you want to sign up for Phyllis’ monthly new letter that gives business advice or if you have a question for her, email info@harbingerdesignconsulting.com. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Message The Chaise Lounge using our ‘Question?’ tab if there is a topic you’d like Phyllis and Nick to talk about next time.

Alyssa Rosenheck: Interior Design and Architecture Photographer and Stylist


Joining us from Nashville, Tennessee, is Alyssa Rosenheck. Alyssa’s favorite fashion accessory is confidence. She’s not a fashionista but more of a back to the basics kinda gal. Her favorite weekend outfit is boyfriend jeans and an oxford shirt. Her camera of choice is a Canon.

Alyssa wasn’t always a photographer, she actually had a big career shift. Originally, she was consulting for a medical device company which laid out the foundation for the business skills she needed and was an incredible corporate career. Alyssa has always loved photography, and even before she ever had a camera in her hand, she felt like she had a visual acuity and sensitivity to her surroundings. She told her self “you’ve done the corporate gig… it’s time to pursue your passion.”

At Las Vegas Market, you can find Alyssa on the Best of the West panel talking about what West Coast style means to her. She works with designers from all over the country and has a very extensive business and branding background. Alyssa is able to offer clients a huge bonus with helping them market their business, so she’s gonna talk about social media tips, marketing designers’ businesses, what to look for when hiring a photographer, how to find your brand, tips on what makes a good picture for Instagram, and answer any questions designers might ask.

She was recently featured on the cover of Traditional Home with Chad James. Chad found Alyssa through a mutual friend two and a half years ago when he was looking to expand his portfolio. Alyssa works hard to come up with intentionally and artfully composed images that embody a home and the designer’s work. In the end, the styling is for the image and her client, not the homeowner. When she begins working with a designer she is very collaborative and asks them to send scouting pictures. Designers create very intentional designs to propel their visions, while still staying true to the family’s needs. Alyssa’s job is to come in and add a layer of creative fantasy.

Alyssa believes every designer has their own voice and personal brand so it’s her goal to style for the frame in order to touch on and promote that brand. She receives so much joy from creating and styling images in order to hone in on the designer.

Find Alyssa on Instagram and at www.allyssarosenheck.com

Meet Nicole Davis

Nicole Davis will also be on the Best of the West panel with Alyssa at Las Vegas Market AND is one of Alyssa’s clients!

For her first time on a podcast, Nicole joins us from her office in Southern California. Her favorite fashion accessory is jewelry but specifically rings.. she simplifies her style to the basics BUT with lots of rings. Her favorite movie she’s seen within the last 3 months is About Time and her favorite place to go out to dinner is… well, all things Mexican. Nicole enjoys a great mocktail and between coffee, juice or tea, it’s tea.

Nicole’s been interested in interior design since a young age. Her dad is a homebuilder so she grew up seeing homesites, visiting model homes and hearing about the industry. She always knew she wanted to something with homes, but her original dream was to own a home interior decorating and furniture store. She never thought of interior design as a career path until after she had her daughter. Nicole went to school in LA at FIDM, where she studied visual design/communications. Here she learned how to set up displays and have her own store, so not the traditional interior design schooling background.

Later, Nicole worked for an interior designer out of state, who had a very different aesthetic than she did, but she learned a lot. This is when she realized she could do design. Today she mainly does residential, typically renovations or new builds. Her goal is to maintain 1 or 2 projects at a time as to not overwork herself.

Nicole’s describes her design style as California-eclectic-modern. She loves clean lines and strong simplicity, not over designed or over decorated spaces. She prefers laid back, comfortable but serene and timeless environments, liveable decor that are still interesting and pretty.

Nicole has gone to Vegas Market for the past few years. She was introduced to Tiffany Harris through mutual friends a few years back, who offered her an extra ticket. Nicole decided to go and together, they go to forage the Market and conquer Las Vegas ever since.

The Las Vegas Market LIVE Chaise Lounge show is coming soon at a different showroom location each day of Market at 4 pm PT. Nick is meeting with  Barrie Livingstone,  Dann Foley,  Kelli Ellis, and Christopher Kennedy. Also, at Market, Nick will be interviewed by Lauren Paske and Linley Pasqualone to talk about the podcast and how it all started on July 30th. You can still sign up for Vegas Market at the very last minute so meet Nick there! He’d love to meet you and hear about your interior design journey and business.

Nick will also be a style spotter at Market so follow us Instagram to follow along.

If you are a student and need to do an internship for school, we have created an internship program just for you! Connect with us using the ‘Question?’ tab and we will tell you all about it.

  • Upcoming Events

Las Vegas Market – July 30 – Aug 2

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

ICFF Miami– Oct 3 – 4

  • 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 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!

143 – ICFF and Coming to America

ICFF and Coming to America

This is the third and final show coming from ICFF NYC. Nick chats with CEO Richard Munao of NAU Designs and designer Kenneth Cobonpue. As Nick walked through ICFF, these two booths stood out to him. Let’s find out why.

Meet Richard, Meet Nau

Nau (pronounced n-o-w) is a brand new collection, but Richard has been in the industry for around 30 years. He got his start as a cabinet maker. Richard has been to ICFF before, but only as an onlooker to observe to study how the show works. This year though was Nau’s international debut and their first foot into the U.S. Richard’s hopes to champion Australian design and bring his passion to the world. Nau makes tables, sofas, beds, and chairs out of walnut, oak, and ash, and are testing Australian timbers as well, to see how well they would work exported.

Right now the most difficult part of launching Nau is navigating the different distribution network in the United States compared to Australia, and working out who is who in this large country of 50 states. Richard is figuring out the best places to market and ICFF is definitely one of them. He worked with Australian designers and photographers to design their stand and photograph it to make it stand out.

Nau’s collection integrates an acoustic material to create a quieter environment and weaved screen-like walls which light can pass through.  Their aesthetic creates organic shapes opposed to rectilinear modernity; it’s created to be a visual piece within a room. Originally the products were planned to be for the workplace but wineries and jewelry stores have reached out to use them to create intimate spaces. They would also be great in a coffee shop or an airport.

Learn more at naudesign.com.au

Kenneth Cobonpue

Kenneth Cobonpue creates unique handmade furniture that is inspired by nature. He uses sustainable materials, organic fibers and recycled polyethylene for outdoor pieces. He creates indoor and outdoor furniture, lighting, installations, and art. He’s been doing this professionally for 15 years but really, it all started when he was just a kid.

Kenneth grew up in the Philippines where his mother was a furniture designer from the back of their home. He grew up surrounded by craftsmen who taught him how to use the materials so he could build his own toys and bridges. Later, Kenneth left for Pratt in NYC to study industrial design and then returned to the Philippines to design his own collections, with the same people who made his mother’s furniture. His first piece is the yin and yang, a simple cubic chair, which he designed with an open weave for air to flow through littleview obstruction. He has developed this open weave aesthetic and now uses it in all of his products. Kenneth’s inspiration comes from nature; if you look through a tree you can see the light passing through its branches and leaves, just like in his frames.

ICFF is where Kenneth and his team meet clients, retailers, new designers, and the press. Also, it is where they introduce their new products into the American market.

Learn more at kennethcobonpue.com

Porcelanosa has started a new trend in hospitality: taking carpet out of rooms and people are LOVING it. Carpet is the culprit that traps and keeps odors so it’s a good idea to get rid of it. The only problem though is that when you walk on hard surfaces though, it creates lots of noise for your neighbors. So, Porcelanosa has created a sound underlay system that deadens noise and sound! Virgin Hotels in Chicago have been named the number one hotel in America by because of Porcelanosa’s floor system is in every room.

If you want to learn more about it visit porcelanosa.usa

The Las Vegas Market LIVE Chaise Lounge show is coming soon at a different showroom location each day of Market at 4 pm PT. Nick is meeting with his first ever Chaise Lounge guest Barrie Livingstone, TV star Dann Foley, good friend and Vegas resident Kelli Ellis, and modernism king Christopher Kennedy. Also, at Market, Nick will be interviewed by Lauren Paske and Linley Pasqualone to talk about the podcast and how it has affected his life and his business on Sunday, July 30 from 1-2pm at the North End of Pavillion One. You can still sign up for Vegas Market at the very last minute so meet Nick there! He’d love to meet you and hear about your interior design journey and business.

  • Upcoming Events

Las Vegas Market – July 30 – Aug 2

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

ICFF Miami– Oct 3 – 4

  • 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 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!

142 – ICFF with Chad James

ICFF with Chad James

On this episode of The Lounge, Nick meets with Chad James at ICFF NYC to talk about long time client, friend and country singer-songwriter Luke Bryan; PR; and Chad’s progress since their last interview about a year ago. It’s Chad’s first time at ICFF and he is very excited about the unique vendors and getting small glimpses into each one’s best work. Later, Nick talks to Shell Broadnax of RESA who will be speaking at Las Vegas Market about whether or not you might want to become a home stager.

Special thanks to Benjamin Moore for making this week’s show possible. Walls By Design exclusively uses Benjamin Moore paints which can be bought online at Guiry’s. This week in the office we did a paint test between Benjamin Moore and Sherman Williams‘ four lowest end products, as they’re the most commonly bought paints. Hang tight for a link to the video on the Walls By Design Facebook. Also, Lindsay Paoli of Design Manager just featured us in her article, 11 Binge-Worthy Design Shows That Aren’t on HGTV, which talks about the top design movies, TV shows, books and podcasts to check out this summer. Design Manager is the best way for your business to stay organized, get rid of spreadsheets and Microsoft documents, and put all your projects, accounting, and inventory in one place.

Catching up with Chad

Currently, Chad is on a 12-week travel schedule so he hasn’t spent much time at his home in Nashville, Tennessee. When he does make it to his lakehouse though, he enjoys wake surfing from his boat.

Chad is always very private about who he works with but once a client’s project is published, he’s able to talk about it. Two years ago he designed Luke Bryan’s Florida beach home and recently, his work was picked up and put on the cover of Traditional Home, so Nick dug in to learn all about it. Check out the article here. His photographs (featured below) were done by architectural photographer Alyssa Rossenheck who will be on the show this month!

Chad gives us some insight into the pros and cons of PR in the interior design industry and how he is able (or unable) to get his work out there. He tells us, after spending so much time on a beautiful project, often times the only people who get to see and enjoy it are the homeowners. From the very beginning of a project, he and his client talk through his photographic rights and come to an agreement about what this means. He will always respect a client’s privacy even if he is disappointed he doesn’t get to show off his work. His firm never talks about a project due to the fact that with social media and digital press, information spreads quickly… no one wants what they’re doing and spending to be in the public eye. All of his employees sign a confidentiality agreement. Occasionally though, he get’s to take photos of a project and send it out to multiple avenues in order to see who will ‘bite,’ just like with Traditional Home and Luke Bryan.

Last time Nick and Chad chatted, at Highpoint, he told us that he hired a PR company to encourage his business and his work. Before that, Chad just kept his head down, took pictures, put them in his portfolio, and that was it. He never was a self-promotor so his PR took away the burden and discomfort of having to promote himself. Now, he’s has participated in speaking engagements and has traveled to Italy, to Paris, and all over the U.S. His PR handles all online and print media, gained him name recognition, and created a BRAND- the only way to make your business grow.

Lastly, Chad talks about his new house, which he closed on his birthday, but is only just now starting to design the space. He has decided to publish his home when ‘s finished because this house is very different than anything he’s ever done before – it’s contemporary! He describes it as a ‘modern box’ and so, he wants to let his pendulum swing in the other direction and show off this new side.

Chad predicts that after a 7-year span of bright, light and crisp designs, we are now returning back to warmer darker palettes with brass and rich luxurious fabrics, color and interiors.

Learn more at chadjames.com, follow @chadjamesgroup on Instagram or Chad James Group on Facebook.

Meet Shell Brodnax CEO and Founder of RESA

Shell is our first guest of many who will be speaking at and participating in Las Vegas Market‘s special events.

Shell joins us from Valley Springs California. Her favorite place to vacation is in the mountains but she admits she’s a workaholic and hasn’t taken enough time off to get to them. Her inner cowgirl informs us that spurs and her belt buckle are her favorite fashion accessories and a recent book she has read and recommends is It’s Not Who You Know, It’s Who Knows YOU! by David Avrin. Nick loves marketing books and also recommends, Marketing Outrageously.

Shell founded RESA in 2007 but is NOT a home stager. She loves all things staging but actually doing the staging is a whole other story. She says that it’s a specific kind of creative balance between the right the brain left brain that she just doesn’t have. What she did love doing were the sales and marketing but couldn’t find a partner to do the rest with her. So instead, she founded RESA: a trade association organization that brings together stagers. Her platform allows all different types of stagers and business models to come together as one support group.

Her talk in Las Vegas will be about why you should or shouldn’t ever start in the business of home staging; it’s for some people but definitely not for others. She wants to save the juicy details for the event, but she does give us some insight. The main point she’ll drive home is that staging and design work are very different business models. If a designer wants to get into the business, they do have the design aspect going for them but people often make the mistake of overdesigning. It’s not a not personalized home, but a marketing strategy. The main goal is to merchandise your asset.

Learn more about RESA at realestatestagingassociation.com

Find Shell on August 2nd from 10:30-11:30 at her event, “Staging to Sell, Is This The Career For Me?” in the Building C Seminar Room, C174. Learn more about the event here.

Let us know if you are heading to Vegas as it’s coming up quickly! Nick is going LIVE at 4 pm PT every day of Market with Barry Livingstone, his very first guest on the show, Kelli Ellis, Christopher Kennedy and Dann Foley. There will be wine and it WILL be a good time!

  • Upcoming Events

Las Vegas Market – July 30 – Aug 2

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

ICFF Miami– Oct 3 – 4

  • 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 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!

141 – ICFF Show 1

ICFF show 1: Ethnicraft Founder and ICFF

On this episode of The Lounge, Nick joins us from ICFF New York! He speaks with Heather Wood, the marketing manager for ICFF, and Ethnicraft CEO and founder Benoit Loos. Nick welcomes back Benjamin Moore as our sponsor. He has almost exclusively used their paints for his painting businesses since the 90s. Also joining the team as one of our sponsors is Benchmade Modern! Edgar Blazona joins us to tell about his efficient, online, custom furniture company…that’s affordable too!

Marketing ICFF with Heather Wood

This year ICFF NYC is over 155 square feet filled with international exhibitors (750+) from Spain, the Philippines, Scandinavia, to Austrailia and Belgium. It is their 29th year in New York and 2nd year in Miami. ICFF Miami runs from October 3rd to October 4th at the Miami Beach Convention Center, and is currently 200 exhibitors and growing.

There are many challenges that Heather faces running an international furniture and design show. International shipping and setting up exhibition spaces are among the most difficult, most problems and questions have to do with logistics. There is a LOT to take care of in making sure everything runs smoothly for each exhibitor, such as managing press and media, shipping policies, language barriers, and networking. A large role Heather also plays is managing the attendee database, ensuring that all the high profile designers, architectures, manufacturers, and buyers attend. Being in marketing can be a catch-all position but Heather’s primary focus is to deliver rich content to the attendees. ICFF is a huge investment so she needs to make sure everything runs smoothly for both the exhibitors and the attendees, and that they all get everything they need/want out of the event.

New York has approximately 40-55,000 interior designers residing in the city, making it the largest concentration of designers in the world, so the main attendee market for the show is New York designers. Heather’s main marketing focus is print, digital, advertising, and social media (which is #1). This day in age (in the millennial era), Instagram is a very popular marketing source -everyone uses it- so it’s a great way for ICFF to receive gratification and respect. They can do sneak peaks and Instagram takeovers like they’ve done with Dorothy Mack and Jefferey Johnson. Check out their mix of contemporary meets classic at their handle @icff_nyc.

Learn more at www.icff.com and www.icffmiami.com

Getting to know Edgar Blazona and Benchmade Modern

Edgar joins us from his Mission District showroom in San Fransisco. He got started in the furniture business right out of high school, growing his own company. Edgar didn’t have enough money to buy furniture so he decided he would make it himself. A woman at a local gallery like a piece he made and wanted to sell it for him so he dropped it off on Friday… and voilá! It was sold by Monday. Edgar realized that it would be a long road ahead of him making furniture at a small scale so he stopped to work for The Pottery Barn. Here he learned about manufacturing on a much larger scale which helped kickstart his brand and his career.

Edgar then started his company True Modern which grew to its current size today and is sold through brick and mortar and online retailers. Then 3 years ago, he decided he was tired of hearing stories about how it took 15 weeks for customers to get furniture and by the time it arrived, they didn’t even like it. Thus, Benchmade Modern was born! Made to order, custom furniture in every shape and size that arrives in 7-10 days with 75 styles, including limited run fabrics at a great value. They make everything from 35 inches to 10 feet and you can use a sliding scale on their website to pick your size and see the price. And it’s all made right in California. Their aesthetic is no more modern than a boutique like Design Within Reach but they also want a mass appeal similar Crate and Barrel. So they meet somewhere in the middle.

Benchmade modern makes buying furniture easy. Edgar calls them the Warby Parker of online furniture except that delivering a sofa is a much bigger challenge and process. So, his goal is to take away the hangups of ordering furniture online, by sending out swatches, photos, and samples. You can even receive a printed out life size, full-scale version of your sofa to layout on the floor and sit on, in order to ensure it fits the room and amount of people you want on it. This experience shows you that they offer a good quality product and reflects the experience the customer will have with they actually decide to buy.

Edgar also claims they have the #1 best sofa bed ever made EVER so check it out on their website here.

Benchmade Modern offers a 20% off code to the trade and a discount to customers who order in large quantities. They support the interior design community by creating a product that can be designed and modified with ease of buying online AND it’s 30-50% cheaper than having custom made furniture built for you. At the bottom of the page, there is a Trade Program button. Fill out your info and then you will get the discount code and swatches to use to take to your clients!

Learn more at their website www.benchmademodern.com

Benoit Loos and Ethnicraft at ICFF

Ethnicraft is a company out of Belgium and joins us from their 2nd time at ICFF NYC. Their goal at the event is to connect with and see the reactions of the designers and architects (to their products). Even though they are based in Belgium they manufacture three different wood species in Indonesia (Teak), Europe (Oak), and the U.S (Black Walnut). Ethnicraft might buy wood in the States, ship it to Vietnam or Serbia to be manufactured and then ship it back to the states to be sold. A huge operation!

Benoit started the company 20 years ago with his copartner Philippe Delaisse. They were an accountant and an IT tech who’d been traveling and collecting various ethnic decorations from Bali as well as old Japanese cupboards. At the same time in Italy, they saw the clean contemporary style happening and had the idea to combine it with the authentic materials and wood they had bought. Two years later they began designing and making products. Today, they do their own distribution and recently set up a warehouse in High Point (and showed at the Spring Market for the first time). It hasn’t been difficult to sell to the U.S as Americans who visit Paris fell in love with them there.

Ethnicraft is in the middle of doing 50 shows all over the world in places like Paris, Stockholm, Mulan, Singapore, the Netherlands, the UK, Spain, High Point, and NY. At these shows, they evaluate competitors and customer responses. Benoit says that they see sales go up immediately from these events but they also help down the road and in the long run too. Customers have told him that they found out about Ethnicraft from a show they did two years prior. Benoit tells us how important it is to reach the right customer and make a mark on them.

Their natural, contemporary, high-quality wood is priced at a great value with 2-meter pieces (roughly 6.5 feet) priced at $3,000. Ethnicraft targets hospitality and only does customization for large products. Their residential sales are directed to retailers and not sold online. You can locate a store on their website using the Store Locator page. In new york find them at ABC showroom.

  • Upcoming Events

Las Vegas Market – July 30 – Aug 2

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

ICFF Miami– Oct 3 – 4

  • 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 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!

140 – Therese Virserius: A Worldly Hospitality Designer

Therese Virserius: A Worldly Hospitality Designer

On this episode of The Lounge, Therese Virserius joins Nick at Porcelanosa in New York to talk about her design business. She may have started out in law but today she is a multinational interior design business owner, there’s nothing unlawful about that. From Paris, Montreal, Berlin, to Brussels, Tunisia and New York Therese designs for hospitality all over the world.

Getting to Know Therese

Therese’s favorite fashion accessory is bracelets. She doesn’t have a favorite restaurant though because it honestly just depends on her mood and the weather. Home is Sweden, even though her offices are in New York and Paris, and truly she just loves all things Italy. Her friends might agree that wine is her drink of choice, whether it’s a light red or a Sauvignon Blanc. Therese travels 50% out of the month so its safe to say she’s a busy woman, but one place she’s never designed in is the Maldives, and she would love the opportunity (hint, hint).

How Mandarin Started it All

Therese never thought she would be doing interior design or end up in New York because her background is in law. When she was young, Therese was very interested in Asia so she left Sweden for China to get a BA in Mandarin. In China, she strictly did management and logistics for IKEA but soon began oil painting and having her own exhibits in Shanghai. Therese wanted an outlet to express herself, even more, so she opened up a store for product design. Her drawings were brought to life and made into products. She created anything from silverware to glassware, candles, fabrics, and napkins.

After 3 years of chaos in Shanghai, Therese moved to New York and went back to school at New York School of Interior Design to get some formal training. She worked and interned for Jeffrey Beers where she was tossed directly into the hospitality fire. Her first project was to renovate The Westin Fort Lauderdale.

The Business Today

The clients who come to Virserius Studio are ready for a change. When sourcing she looks for slim, delicate lines, but must remember hospitality pieces have to be durable. She wants products that could stand alone in an empty room and still ‘wow’ you. Her style is eclectic, and she enjoys mixing colors and patterns.

Therese’s New York office houses 13 people, from architects to designers, and her Paris office is more quaint with only 4. Therese often finds herself wishing she could be in both offices at once as meetings can sometimes overlap. Time is her biggest challenge – since she’s always traveling back and forth. Therese doesn’t micromanage her team as she believes they should be able to run without her. They need the freedom to be creative and let their minds flow on their own, but she also doesn’t want them to feel alone, so she checks in multiple times a day. Her role is to make sure the ship doesn’t go off course, make life easier for her designers, and make sure her people are happy (both clientele and her team).

There’s no slow period in Therese’s life. On top of it all she also still designs products, does custom furniture for every project, and owns an art company in Paris. She does everything from art printed on floors and walls, to sculpture, mixed media, prints and even an outdoor furniture line. See more at www.walterswicker.com

Dealing with bookkeeping and accounting are her least favorite task but she knows it is a necessity to be involved. Therese doesn’t have a favorite space to create because the experience of staying in a hotel is a journey. It begins when you enter and ends when you leave, so you must tell a cohesive story.

Current Projects

Her firm has been working on a year-long competition and was awarded The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, a 3,000 room renovation. It’s got “just the right amount of bad” Therese says, and the target completion is in 2018

They’re also repositioning a hotel in Tunisia to change the way it operates and facilitates. For example, adding in a sky lounge and move the presidential suite to a different location. She tells us the creme de la creme stay in this hotel, so no pressure.

She also collaborates with students to do artistic expressions in hotels like in Hotel Bloom. At any given point, she is working on 10-15 at a time.

Learn more at www.virseriusstudio.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!

139 – Kim Vance: Creating Color in a Whole New Way

Kim Vance: Creating Color in a Whole New Way

On this episode of The Lounge, Kim Vance of Whyte and Company joins us from Dallas to talk about creating color in a whole new way: in sinks! Kim discovered a niche that didn’t previously exist and then filled it by manufacturing colorful sinks. Nick and Kim originally met at ICFF.

How it all started

Kim didn’t have any sort of background in plumbing but was actually a marketing person. One day she and her girlfriend started talking about how fun a colorful sink would be and googled ‘purple sink’, but nothing came up!  Unless it was glass or old, a purple sink was nowhere to be sold in the USA or in Europe. Kim pondered why we can order a spatula from Amazon and receive it on the same day, but we can’t buy a purple sink. The sink industry’s colors were so limited that they were essentially black, white, gray, beige, beige, and beige. So why was no one doing it?

Kim decided to take matters into her own hands. Now for the first time in 40 years, color is taking over plumbing in over 30 standard colors, but this time in an updated, clean, European inspired look. And people are ready for it. Not only do designers LOVE it but the clients are reaching out to designers because they HAVE to have it.

The Logistics

With no plumbing background, Kim had to learn all about sinks, sink manufacturers, and all of the who? what? where? when? how? questions of the sink industry. Today, she can’t believe how fun product design really is and loves inventing amazing colors with her “colorista” team (including Kerrie Kelly, and Michel Boyd).

Originally, Kim dove right in and began manufacturing in Mexico but after realizing how important quality control is, she moved her team to the U.S. All of the sinks are made to order with only a 4 week turn around, and while there are standard designs and colors, Kim says,”if you can dream it we can make it.” Custom is the word. If there are quirky spaces and niches to fill, she can do it and at the SAME price point. The solid surface material that they use is so malleable that it costs the same to manufacture, meaning there’s no upcharge on them or YOU. Their style suits contemporary to transitional.

The hardest thing early on was figuring out the properties of the materials. Making sure they are durable and won’t chip was very important to Kim, so she had to figure out what could and couldn’t be done with the materials from both a color and a design perspective.

Why Whyte?

Kim tells us that the color white is the encapsulation of all color- she wanted a name with meaning that felt relatable. Growing and getting your name out there is definitely a challenge. She was nervous about being able to sell color to the clients and not just to designers, but clients have been the ones most excited about it. A lot of people find them through Instagram.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s is Kim’s favorite color, it’s the first color she fabricated and a customer favorite. The most sought after color though is Sweet Plum by Lisa Escobar which is very popular for small urban spaces. Shay Blue is a cobalt blue and also very popular. Blush is the most requested sample, and not just for kids spaces.

What the business looks like today

Whyte and Company have only been selling since January so 6 months in, it’s still early. She’s thrilled that people are stopping in their tracks at the showrooms to look at the sink. People are very excited about using color and having another dimension to it. No one can compete with it! People are actually getting excited about plumbing, who knew that would ever happen? Kim’s advice? Don’t install these sinks in your bathroom if you don’t want everyone who goes through to take a sink selfie.

Whyte and Company sell to the trade, so not directly to clients, but they are carried by build.com and you can go to their website and apply to be a member of the trade.

E-mail info@whyteandcompany.com if you have any questions and learn more at www.whyteandcompany.com

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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!