Today in The Lounge, Nick talks to Beth Donner of Beth Donner Design based in Long Island, New York. Donner is busy balancing projects all over the country from residential to commercial to restaurants, not to mention, her ongoing ten year partnership with Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses. Donner tells Nick about how she got her start in interior design, and how she created her own successful business.
Donner first studied fashion design and merchandising at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. After graduating with her B.F.A., she worked as a buyer in the fashion industry. Donner was introduced to interior design by a neighbor who would soon become her husband. They lived in the same apartment building overlooking the Hudson river. While designing her apartment, he was impressed by her knowledge of space, color, and texture, and suggested that they team up to develop their own design business. To help her transition into design, Donner went back to school at the Fashion Institute of Technology and took courses on interiors and drafting. Their business became L Squared Design, named after Donner’s parents, Lou and Lila. Donner and her husband gained a loyal client who introduced them to the restaurant world, and the rest is hospitality history.
Business and Pleasure
Born and raised in New York, Donner says she can’t imagine living anywhere else. Nevertheless, this job takes her on trips all over the continent. In the early days of L Squared, Donner and her husband designed for the Venetian in Las Vegas, mixing his traditional style with her modern twist. Today, she mixes her style with the local flair. “I don’t look at my work trips as strictly work trips,” she says. “To me, it’s a research project.” Donner’s design values local flavor and local artisans wherever the project is. “I like to add so much local flavor, so that when the restaurant opens, the clientele feels like it’s part of their hood.”
Today, the business is called Beth Donner Design and it is all her own. Her loyal clients and growing demand keep her very busy. Ruth’s Chris Steak Houses are one of Donner’s biggest clients. She has been designing four to five steakhouses each year for ten years, giving each one a unique design. Though each steakhouse pays tribute to the founder’s New Orlean roots, it is Donner’s job to make sure that each one looks completely different. “You need to be able to be a chameleon in the business,” says Donner. It is her job to morph into what the client needs. Beth Donner Design is also working on local restaurants, residentials, and is getting involved in other franchises.
No one starts at the top. Donner worked for years to build her business to where it is today. Design Manager can improve your interior design business by helping you get organized. Visit their website to learn more and to start your 30-day free trial. Beth Donner Design values loyalty in both their clients and in the brands they work with. Porcelanosa is brand that countless designers trust. Visit their website or one of their showrooms to learn about their huge variety of products.
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!