Today in The Lounge, Nick kicks off this season with Sally Williams of Colorful Concepts Interior Design. Based in North Carolina, Williams built her business from scratch after falling in love with interior design. She talks about trying new things, the hardest part about running her business, and the importance of investing in your work.
Welcome back from the wild world of High Point Market to the season finale of the Chaise Lounge. Today’s guest is a successful designer who didn’t start her company but built on it instead, Kate O’Hara of Martha O’Hara Interiors. O’Hara originally joined her mother Martha to fill in while an employee was taking time off for surgery. By the time she decided she wanted to make design her full-time career, she had been there doing a little bit of everything for months and months. Earlier this year, O’Hara took over as CEO and creative director. Nick asks her about how she came into the family business, all the marketing tricks she brings to the table and how their business relationship affects their personal relationship.
Maryline Damour is a designer based in Kingston, New York. Damour worked in marketing for most of her adult life until she bought a house in Kingston and began to wonder about the viability of working on interiors. But she dismissed the idea until an earthquake in her native Haiti helped her understand the importance of interior design and pushed her into her new career, which has included the restoration of a damaged but structurally-sound Haitian church.
On this Christmas-week edition of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with Timothy Murenzi from Studio Tumo in Ontario, California. Murenzi is a lifelong entrepreneur who started his first business DJing for weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs on Long Island. He left when he was 18 to pursue an interior design degree in Tampa where he started finding work redoing bathrooms, starting with his aunt’s. SInce then, He started Studio Tumo and is constantly growing his business and tackling two to three large projects at a time with his team.
Today in The Lounge, Nick talks shop with Kevin Htain of Identity Home Staging, Real Estate Stager and HGTV contributor. Very well known in California, Kevin had an interesting pathway through the design world to end up as one of staging’s most high profile players. Find out more, in this episode of the Chaise Lounge.
Kevins start t in the interior design business was designing model homes and leasing offices with KB Homes as his first gig out of college. He began as a studio art major in school, but then realized he needed his creative education to have a solid business fundamental. That’s when he discovered interior design. He has since worked for powerhouses like Ikea and progressive businesses like Pacific Dimensions, a merchandising company that seeks to blend traditional staging techniques with cutting-edge design trends. It was the most unlikely of avenues that finally got him into the staging industry though…a call from Mom. She had heard about it from a friend and recommend Kevin look into it. The rest, as they say, is history. Kevin was enrolled in staging training just weeks later.
Staging and Interior Design…What’s the difference anyway?
Kevin believes that home staging is all about putting a home’s best foot forward; if it had legs of course. It is really real estate market driven, so one needs to understand that segment in addition to having a background in design and aesthetics. Interior design on the other hand, is all about customization and personalization. It is design for a particular person or persons in mind. Staging is much less personal but still geared towards that target client. California’s staging market is robust, so staging is seen as a valuable tool at a seller’s disposal. Staging works across the board; in all budgets. Its all about helping the property perform at it’s highest potential.
What it Takes
Kevin has a team of 7. They include his stylists and moving crew. It can be tough to maintain a team in this industry, due to the fast pace and the eventual burn out that team members can face. That is one of the biggest challenges to be overcome. Keeping inventory fresh is another critical factor in keeping installations fresh and having properties show at their best. Some brands are also beginning to position themselves to meet the unique needs of the staging community. Brands like Uttermost, Coaster, and Ashley offer pieces that are striking, yet lightweight and easy to maneuver. Always keep the price point of the property in mind and stage accordingly. The scale and colorway in a million dollar home is going to be different than your average home’s inventory. A really good stager understands this and can market properties effectively.
Getting into the TV Game
Kevin is proud to share that Identity Home Staging has worked on 46 projects with HGTV over the last 3-4 years. There were originally contacted by the casting agency for the show ‘Flip or Flop’. Its been a great fit over the years and now Kevin will be contributing to the upcoming HGTV show ‘House to Home’. The next steps for Identity Home is to start their own furniture line. Nick is excited to pass some connections along in that area and to questions why there isn’t a current HGTV show focused solely on staging (hint, hint, casting!).
IAHSP and Kevin’s Commitment to Training Staging Professionals
Kevin Co-chairs training for the International Association of Home Staging Professionals. He is passionate about attending as many of the events as possible and keeping stagers trained in the latest merchandising techniques. His biggest piece of advice to students looking to join the field of staging is to challenge themselves not only to focus on the design side but also to be really well versed in the real estate market. That combination of design knowledge and business savviness is a winning one. Just ask Kevin…he knows for sure!
Learn more about Identity Home Staging online at: www.identityhome.com
If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes, Spotify 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!
Sharyn McBride: Where Travel and Design Collide
Today in The Lounge, Nick chats with Sharyn McBride of Belson Design and Design Tours. Sharyn is located in beautiful Melbourne, Australia and is driven to expose her fellow Aussies to a design education that reaches far beyond her native shores. Find out more, in this episode of The Chaise Lounge.
Breaking the Ice
First and foremost…Nick wants to visit Australia and he isn’t shy about sharing it! After making that point clear, he learns some interesting fashion tidbits from Sharyn. She is a big fan of shoes as a go-to statement accessory. Her faves are colorful ankle boots. Though not necessarily a fan of the Ugg boot, she is happy to share that these are originally from her native land and that it was interesting to watch them evolve from house slippers to full-on streetwear. Her favorite room in her well-designed house is her master bedroom. It is truly her sanctuary. The only spot that is off limits is her garage full of finds from her travels abroad, which can get a bit messy! The best advice that she received from her parents growing up was to never give up and her mum’s especially sage advice: don’t leave the house without lipstick!
Getting into the business
Sharyn McBride started her career as a buyer in the fashion industry. She noticed a gap in the market after welcoming her own baby boy and created a line of embroidered bespoke baby blankets. Sharon fell gravely ill in the early 2000’s and faced a two-year climb back to health. It was at that point that she decided that she would exclusively pursue creative work. She knew that all of the efforts and hard work would give her that sense of joy and satisfaction; as long as she pursued her passion. Her interior design career began in her home and friends’ homes. It was also at this time that she realized that exposure and education equaled really great design. She traveled to around her native Australia and to the US; New York specifically. There she was able to learn more about show homes, such as Kips Bay and the design markets available to designers in the US. Belson Design was launched soon after in 2016.
The Development of Design Tours
After having the opportunity to travel to the US, Japan and other parts of the world, Sharyn realized just how little exposure the Australian design community was getting. There were so many more resources to discover beyond her borders. There was an opportunity to give Australian designers access to show houses and masters of design such as Frank Lloyd Wright. Sharyn developed tours to the US and Japan that she now runs three times a year! Nick gave a great suggestion to set up US tour groups to come down to Australia…let’s see if this takes off! Sharyn is all for being a part of orchestrating culture absorbing trips.
Making time for Design
Despite running three 7-9 day tours a year, Sharyn still finds time to serve her clients through Belson Design. Her upcoming projects include a mid-scale home renovation and her very first commercial gig at tile showroom in Melbourne. She is mainly a one-woman show but has the helping hands of a part-time tour assistant and design assistant. She also has built great relationships with contractors, so her clients have that additional option if they do not have contacts of their own.
Sharyn is adamant about being confident as a designer and not being afraid to value your services as they should be. She charges per service for her initial contact with clients. She has differing fees for consultations, mood boards, and full design plans. Never let a client rush you into decision making. As creatives, we need time to absorb and create our plans.
Sharyn really believes in great presentation. That starts with a great website and business cards. These are just the initial tools, however. The magic is in pounding the pavement…network, network, network. Get as much exposure as you can. Our industry can be grueling with long hours and a lot of effort to get the ball rolling. Find avenues to shake hands with people; go to showrooms, design events, etc. Get savvy with your online exposure too. It’s easy to backlink with fellow businesses in the industry so that your website can be more attractive to Google. This is a great way to improve your presence online without a lot of monetary investment.
Belson Design has received most of their clientele through word of mouth and website hits. This leads to another important topic; photographs. Photos are critical in the design industry to showcase your work. No matter how small a project is, always takes photos. Even if you don’t have access to professional photography, visually documenting your projects is a must. Social Media is another visual platform for showcasing your behind the scenes work. Sharyn stresses the importance of authenticity on social media. Be present to doing what you’re passionate about and persevering even when the going gets tough.
Chaise Lounge Updates
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Design Bloggers Conference – March 4 – 6
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High Point Market – April 14 – 18
HD Expo – May 2 – 4
ICFF – May 20 – 23
NeoCon – June 11 – 13
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, andTwitter 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!