Las Vegas Market Live: Dann Foley

Today in The Lounge, Nick talks with Dann Foley LIVE from the Phillips Collection Showroom at Las Vegas Market. Dann talks about how interior design entered his life as a kid, about how he runs his business with a staff of three, and he gives YOU advice for a successful life and career.

Getting to Know Dann

Dann’s favorite fashion accessory is a blazer, he wears them all the time, even while living in the desert. His favorite vacation spot is Paris, which he calls his other home. To quote Audrey Hepburn, “Paris is always a good idea.” Dann has more than one room that he wouldn’t put on Instagram because he prefers his privacy… he doesn’t put any interior pictures of his home up on social media. When asked beer, wine, or cocktail, Dann chooses “none” because he doesn’t drink and he never has. Dann only drinks water: living in Palm Springs, where this summer the temperature reached 122 degrees, you simply can not leave the house without a bottle of water. Drinking water all the time is also really good for the skin.

Dann is gone for at least part of every month, traveling about 45% of the year. His favorite place to travel for business is Vegas Market because there is always something to do. When traveling, he can’t be without his shoes. Even though Dann has accomplished a lot in interior design, he believes that there are still more plateaus to climb and always more to do and learn.

How Dann Started in Interior Design

Dann has always had an interest in interior design. His mom loves to tell the story that when he was a kid, his parents were afraid to go out to dinner because he would always rearrange the furniture when they left the house. As a result, his parents made sure he went to design school and got his degree. Dann went to Drexel University in Philadelphia. The idea of design school there is:’ if you don’t have good taste, we can’t teach it to you.’ They show you everything you need to know in order to work as a professional in the industry. At Drexel, he went to school year-around and worked in the industry for a paid position. Dann was given an interview for this job through their placement office. He worked at the design firm while in school and when he graduated he was offered a job there, but turned it down to pursue his own business.

Dann has always looked really young. When he graduated from his university he met up with some clients, the builder and the general contractor, walked into the meeting and everyone’s jaws dropped. He looked too young to be the designer. His very first client was a friend of his parents whom he worked with while he was still in school to get extra credit for his degree. Dann’s first client outside of school was a developer, who built resorts. 

The Business Today

Dann’s firm is called Dann Inc., they are primarily an interior design firm, though today he would call Dann Inc. a lifestyle design business. Over the years, when you get involved in doing someone’s home, clients love having the full experience. Dann Inc. delivers a very personal touch, they weren’t just giving people rooms, they were giving them a whole new life. Dann has never just done a single room for a client because afterward, the client will want their entire home done, right down to their closet and the wardrobe. Dann Inc. will even plan the parties to show off the client’s new home, from designing the invitations to doing the catering menus and wardrobes. 

Dann launched his own product line, Dann Foley Lifestyle, about four years ago. It coincided with the NBC’s premiere of American Dream Builders, hosted by Nate Berkus. Dann’s first product launch was with Phillips Collection. He has a brand new collection being launched at High Point this October. His products are about people being able to take his pieces and layer them with your own pieces of art. These are collections you are supposed to play with and make your own.

Dann only has three full-time staff members and everyone else is on an ‘as needed basis.’ Dann does everything with his business partner Beau Stinnette. Beau works directly with the design clients and he allows Dann, to be Dann. About half of Dann’s job is public appearances. His line includes everything from accessories, to wall art, to mirrors, lighting, furniture, upholstery, rugs, outdoor furniture, and more! This year, Dann has made his first appearance on The Evine Channel. His third staff member is an assistant that they both share. Working with such an intimate staff things can get chaotic but, no matter what the situation is his team always stops working at 5:00, because there is no problem so big that can’t wait until the next day. He says this is very important because he’s worked seven days a week before, worrying about every last detail and things he had no control over, like delivery times. He figured out that there’s nothing more important in life than perspective.

As previously mentioned, Dann isn’t home most of the time, so he pays someone to clean his toilet but, when it comes down to it, and it has, he will clean his own client’s toilet to make a perfect reveal, making it his least favorite hat to wear at work. Dann’s favorite hats to wear at work are the presenting hat and the reveal hat. He still gets clients from knocking on doors, schmoozing, and kissing their butts. He says that no amount of advertising will ever make up for the one on one potentiality of getting a job. He can tell clients to go their website first, and then see if they still really want to work with him. Dann’s website shows a wide array of work from contemporary to modern to traditional or classic interiors.

He says that one of the best things you can do is align yourself with a really good realtor because they will always have a new client. If you want to do more and license yourself, the best thing you can do is attend markets. If you spend money in a showroom regularly, make sure they know who you are. Relationships and communication are key to succeeding in the business, Dann states. The easiest way to defuse any situation is to simply say, “I’m really sorry, I dropped the ball,” and give a sincere apology and move forward.

Dann considers himself a problem solver and he loves doing it in his job every day. Dann doesn’t believe in telling everyone how successful his business is because you never know when it could all just be taken away. He considers himself lucky to have all the business that he has and he really loves what he does. Dann trusts social media more than any ad out there when it comes to PR for his business. He is at the point where most of the PR comes to his business on its own, but his company doesn’t forget to mention themselves every now and then. He says the one thing you should know about social media is that there are more and more people using Instagram every day than there are on all other platforms combined. If you think you only have time for one social media, use Instagram. On Dann’s Instagram, they post about design inspiration and living well. Some of his tips to living are as simple as sweeping your doorstep and making your bed.

Dann’s Advice

Dann has been designing for 30 years. Some advice for his younger self would be to trust your instinct! There’s formula to design, you plan it and then you execute it. At first, Dann found it hard to say no to the client, but then he thought to himself… the day the client is okay with Dann coming into their office and doing their job, the client can do Dann’s job. Dann says, no one will ever fire you for doing your job the wrong way.

Advice for young designers is to always carry your tablet with your portfolio on it, no matter where you go. Whether or not it’s just a school project, post it on Instagram because that way you will always be ready to go and have published material in your pocket. A good way to watch trends in interior design is to keep an eye on fashion because it is constantly changing. Fashion will then influence the home. Also, it’s a great way to keep an eye on colors and patterns that will find their way to home design in 12-18 months. Everybody loves color but sometimes it takes a designer to get the client comfortable with it. If the client doesn’t like a paint color, it much easier to change out than a $12,000 sofa, so just change it. As designers, we make the choices to get the complete picture to come together, and if you don’t get that piece of furniture a client wants, just move on, so just keep moving forward.

Resources

Benjamin Moore If you need to specify a paint color or two, be sure to use Benjamin Moore and be sure that your contractor is using the correct color materials that you have specified.

Design Manager They will help you get all of your paperwork and invoicing together. It’s super simple, efficient, and low cost.

Porcelanosa They have showrooms all over the world! They are known for their ceramic tile products but they also have stone and LVT product,s as well as kitchen and bath products, faucets, shower enclosures and more.

Benchmade Modern You can order a couch by the inch and it will come to you within two weeks!!!

  • Upcoming Events

ICFF Miami – Oct 3 – 4

IDS – Oct 13 – 16

High Point Market – Oct 14 – 18 For a list of events Nick will be participating click HERE.

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!

About the Author
Host of The Chaise Lounge and The Business Brush Podcast, owner of Walls by Design, and Creative Director for iMayMedia LLC.

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