Marc Thee: Best Interior Designer in the world?
Today on the lounge, we welcome two guests: Rachel Moriarty gives a quick glimpse into her business and experience on the Chaise Lounge Advisory Committee, then we hear from Marc Thee about his 30+ years in the business.
Up first, Rachel Moriarty!
Rachel is a solopreneur out in San Diego where she specializes in making spaces look new with vintage or already owned items. Rachel originally got her start in Visual Merchandising and Photo Styling so it was a completely organic shift into She joined the Chaise Lounge Advisory Committee to lend a voice for other solopreneurs like her who might be working alone at home on the sofa, but are still running a stellar design business.
She and Nick dive deep on keeping up with Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm, which most recently favors live stream video. Rachel, an introvert herself, says you just have to get over the initial jitters of broadcasting live and then it gets easier and easier. And even if nobody tunes into watch you live, you still get interaction after the fact.
To get herself on a consistent schedule, Rachel has been doing a 30-Day Facebook Live Stream challenge. She’s on Day 21, with videos ranging from 5-7 minutes, and she’s already landed 3 projects from her efforts.
Let’s model Rachel’s success! I invite you to join me in your own 30-day Facebook Live Stream Challenge. Starting September 1, tag your posts with #TCL30days and @thechaiselounge to join a group of Interior Designers who are looking for the next step in their Marketing game.
And now onto Marc Thee!
In the beginning
Marc originally came into the industry after an opportune internship with Betsy Godfrey that led to a full-time position once he graduated. She really took him under her wing and showed him the ropes. Just three years later, Marc borrowed $25,000 to open his own showroom. It was slow for about the first year and a half, but the rest was, as they say, history. He’s now been in business for 30 years with a staff of 65-70 employees. Being in Florida means he’s had the chance to focus mainly on vacation homes ranging from $3-$80 Million in value. They tackle both new-build and remodel projects.
Building a Team
He hasn’t done it alone, though. He attributes much of his success to the great relationship he has with his business partner, Michael Abbott. Michael takes care of the numbers, allowing Marc to focus on the creative aspects of the business.Losing control in the end design is often one of the fears people have about hiring employees. Here’s what Marc has to say about that: “Are there 10% of the decisions made by my staff different than the ones I would have made? Hell yeah, but 50% of those decisions were probably better than the decisions I would have made.” Marc also notes that they “try to pair an incredibly creative person with an incredibly organized person.” He’s found that normally people tend to lean to one side of the spectrum, but can learn a lot of valuable skills from someone on the opposite side.
Designers who work for him also have a clear budget to follow on each project so they can get started purchasing right away. “Our designers know that they can spend 42% on furniture, 12% on fabric, and 10% on artwork.”
Marc notes that, perhaps above all else, Interior Design is an exercise in logistics. “90% of what we do is production. It’s fighting for every single thing we order. The days of picking up the phone and ordering a piece of furniture and thinking it’s actually going to show up, that doesn’t exist.”
“And for it to all collide…the thousands of things that all have to happen when those five trucks pull up that day that you’re finally installing after two years of construction, wow. The fact that we can bring it all in for a landing within 3-5 days… it’s a feeling like no other. And it’s also exhausting!”
Building a Team
With so many moving parts, it’s inevitable that something will go wrong. Being in business for 30 years means learning to roll with the punches. Marc has learned how to turn “mistakes” into amazing outcomes and to also take things with a grain of salt. As long as you keep in constant communication with the client, it’s not the end of the world if a furniture piece is backordered. At the end of the day, Marc says, they are selling an environment. It’s about the “emotional tug.” So it’s ok if one item is not a masterpiece.
What has made Marc and his team so successful? Marc says, “We do not have big egos, we listen, and people enjoy working with us. We take an interest in making their lives better.”
If you are interested in posting a job you have in your design firm (you need an intern, a JR designer, a SR designer, etc) please visit our new Job Board for interior designers. If you are looking for an internship in interior design, an interior design job, or anything related, see our open jobs.
If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website atTheChaiseLoungePodcast.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!