Marketing

182 – Kevin Htain: Home Staging Extraordinaire

Kevin Htain: Home Staging Extraordinaire

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.

The Business

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/ 

Via Twitter @identityhome, Instagram  @identityhome, and Facebook  @identityhome

Chaise Lounge Updates

Join Nick and Porcelanosa on their upcoming trip to Spain. Post a story about why you want to go with the hashtag #letsgotospain. Deadline extended until January 31st 11:59 pm.Look forward to your stories!

Download our E-Book HERE!

  • Upcoming Events

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

Atlanta Market – Jan 9 – 16

Dallas Market – Jan 17 – 23

Las Vegas Market – Jan 28 – Feb 1

Modernism Week – Feb 15 – 25

Design Bloggers Conference – March 4 – 6

BD West – April 4 – 5

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 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!

178 – Sharyn McBride: Where Travel and Design Collide

Sharyn McBride: Where Travel and Design Collide

Today in The Lounge, Nick chats with Sharyn McBride of Belson Design and Design ToursSharyn 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.

The Keys to Successful Marketing and Presentation

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.

Sharyn invites you to follow her Instagram @belsondesign. Learn more about Sharyn, Design Tours and Belson Design at: www.belsondesign.com.au

Chaise Lounge Updates

Find out about our Holiday Giveaway HERE!

Win a trip to Spain HERE!

Download our E-Book HERE!

  • Upcoming Events

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

Atlanta Market – Jan 9 – 16

Dallas Market – Jan 17 – 23

Las Vegas Market – Jan 28 – Feb 1

Modernism Week – Feb 15 – 25

Design Bloggers Conference – March 4 – 6

BD West – April 4 – 5

High Point Market – April 14 – 18

HD Expo – May 2 – 4

ICFF – May 20 – 23

NeoCon – June 11 – 13

Wrap Up

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!

174 – Matthew Ferrarini: The Next Wave of Kitchen Design

Matthew FerrariniThe Next Wave of Kitchen Design

Today in The Lounge, Nick talks shop with Matthew Ferrarini of Ferrarini & Co, Kitchen and Bath Designer. Matthew works out of Philadelphia, but today Nick is catching up with him on location for a client in Miami. Turns out Matthew has interior design in his blood as the son of an interior designer mom and a contractor for a dad. Find out more, in this episode of the Chaise Lounge.

Breaking the Ice

Nick opens up about a favorite topic for a lot of guys…automobiles. Matthew is a fan of Tesla as an everyday vehicle and Ferrari for a higher end wow-factor. When asked about recent movies, Matthew shared that he recently got the chance to watch the movie Ma Ma with Penelope Cruz. Perfect segue to Nicks recent trip to Spain with Porcelanosa. Turns out Matthew been to Barcelona a few times and is also a big fan of Spain’s rich heritage, culture, friendliness and just overall coolness.

Getting Into the Business

Matthew attended Temple University (go Owls!) for a pre-law degree. Temple is well known for their law school, but somehow Matt just couldn’t shake the calling of design. While at school, he also pursued a certificate in interior design and construction management. He joined forces with his Mom and worked in the family business while still attending school. Upon graduation, he started his own company focusing on kitchen and bath with mom, Donna, as a partner.

From Humble Beginnings to Starting an Empire

Starting out was rough; very humble beginnings. Having lost substantial assets upon the split of his parents, Matthew made a grassroots effort to grow his business. Local marketing with flyers and an open mind is how Ferrarini & Co got off the ground. In the beginning, no project was too small and the business took pride in the work they did and the ensuing referrals. Good work and excellent customer service got them from a home-based business to a design office and showroom staffed with 5 people that accept clients nationwide.  

What it Takes

Matthew credits his success with clients to the broader view that he takes when designing his kitchen and baths. He doesn’t just focus solely on the space that he is tasked to redesign, but incorporates all adjacent areas to ensure a seamless flow. His knack for design really comes to light in space planning and problem-solving. Here is where his passions shine. He has made it a point to stay within his strengths and delegate the things he isn’t so passionate about to team members that are.

Accolades and the Way of the Millennial

Matthew Ferrarini’s point of view has earned him the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s (NKBA) ’30 under 30’ award. He believes in being progressive in his business and for a Millennial, that spells ‘tech’ heavy. Ivy is his software of choice to keep his business running smoothly. He transitioned from using a program that was more builder/construction directed and hasn’t looked back. He also uses Dropbox for file storage and Houzz as an avenue to work with clients using their lookbook feature. What seals the deal for a lot of his clients, is the use of photo-realistic renderings of what the space will look like prior to even lifting a hammer. As a value-added feature today, Nick is predicting that this will become standard in the coming years and you won’t be able to call yourself a designer without it.

Matthew believes in spending the time to find out as much about a client and their lifestyle as possible and creating one show-stopping design to present to them. Now that the business has grown, the marketing approach has certainly changed from the local flyer days. Ferrarini credits his storefront, referrals, and digital marketing through the website and online presence as the avenues that have gotten his name out there. His website is user-friendly, visually captivating and has something for every client. Even those that may not be ready to pull the trigger on a remodel just yet, have access to a free downloadable design guide. This gives the company a chance to get potential client’s contact info and stay on their radar for when they are ready to hit the ground running. Matthew invites you to check him out on Instagram @matthew_ferrarini.

Learn more about Ferrari & Co at: www.ferrariniremodeling.com.

  • Upcoming Events

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

Atlanta Market – Jan 9 – 16

Dallas Market – Jan 17 – 23

Las Vegas Market – Jan 28 – Feb 1

Modernism Week – Feb 15 – 25

Design Bloggers Conference – March 4 – 6

BD West – April 4 – 5

High Point Market – April 14 – 18

HD Expo – May 2 – 4

ICFF – May 20 – 23

NeoCon – June 11 – 13

Wrap up

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!

How to Market Your Interior Design Business Using Google Ads

How to Market Your Interior Design Business Using Google Ads

Whatsup! I’m Tyler and I work for Nick at Walls by Design. One of the various things I do for him is manage our Google Advertising. Nick has asked me to explain how you can use Google Ads for your interior design business. I use Google Ads to market interior and cabinet painting but you can follow the same template for interior design!

First and foremost, you have to be the better business to be successful in Google Advertising. Ultimately, Google Ads spotlight your competitive advantages. Let me explain, pretend we’re a consumer in the early stages of their decision-making process. We have already decided that we need help in designing our new home and now we are doing our initial search on the web for a designer. Generally, the first search is for something simple like “interior designer (location)”. I just did a search for interior designers in Boston and Denver. What you notice, regardless of location or service, is how every business’ Google listing looks on the web page. They all read as follows, “(Company Name) – (Service Offered)” with a brief and simple description.

When looking at the Google search, there’s no real insight to help you choose one over the other. Nothing special separates these businesses aside from their name and their wording choices. The reason for this is because they are limited in what they can put in their title/description. The main goal is to receive a first-page spot for the searched keyword because as consumers we usually don’t look past the first page, never mind the first link. That’s why Google Ads are so special. They are first page Google listings where you can put whatever you’d like, in this instance your business! That is why Google Ads is a spotlight on competitive advantages because it allows your listing to stand out from all the rest.

I’m not going to give you a tutorial or step-by-step instructions for setting up a Google Ads Campaign. Google already does a great job at explaining that. You can find out how here. What I will talk about, is some strategies and performance metrics to keep in mind when you set up your campaign.

The most common strategy is targeting relevant keywords. A painting business would target things like interior painting, painting contractor, painter in (location), etc. Good words for an interior design business would be interior designer, interior decoration, interior decor etc. Google’s keyword planner is a great tool to help make sure you’re getting as many keywords as possible. Something to always keep in mind is utilizing negative keywords as well. Negative keywords are used to block keywords you might not want your business showing up for if that word is searched. For example, since Walls by Design only does interior painting, I have added negative keywords related to exterior painting so people don’t accidentally call us to paint the exterior of their house.

The second strategy that you can use Google Ads for is targeting your competitor’s web traffic. Instead of targeting keywords related to your service you can target keywords related to a specific business. This is where being the better business really comes in handy. For example, one of our competitors has a comparison chart for the best painting company (them) vs the oldest company (unknown) on their website. The whole idea for this comparison is to make them look like they’re the better painting business. Well, when they compared themselves to one unnamed business it definitely looks that way. That is until we started targeting their audience. Our most successful competitor’s ad has the title “There’s a reason why (our competitor) doesn’t compare us to them” and the description “We were voted best painting contractor of 2016, come find out why.” The link then sends them to ‘Our Painting Difference’ web page.

So essentially anytime a customer Googles the name of our competitors business, the first thing they see is the ad created by us. This was a golden opportunity for a competitor ad, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. As long as you have a competitive advantage over them though, it makes sense to target a competitor.

What I can’t stress enough is using the location feature for your campaigns. By targeting only the locations you service, you’re not wasting your Google Ads on useless leads. The only problem I noticed is that it doesn’t reach people who don’t have the location feature enabled. A moderate fix for this is to target city related keywords without the location feature on. For example “interior painting” will only be available in the cities I selected it to show but I will have “interior painting Denver” available worldwide.

Google does an excellent job at helping you create and manage your Google Ads. It seems like a lot at first, but like I said, Google is there to help. Google will constantly send notifications and reports to help you improve your campaigns. Listen to every suggestion it has. It’s the one that decides if your ads are quality or not.

If you do everything it asks, then it’s as simple as making sure you’re seeing a good response from using it. Keep in mind the average for all industries is a 2% click-through-ratio. It might not seem like a lot but anything over 1% is generally decent. Personally, I use the click-through-ratio only to measure how well the actual ads are doing. What matters most is tracking how people interact with your site after they click the ad. I use designated landing pages for this. A designated landing page for Google Ads allows you to gather keep performance metrics on the users who clicked your ad. The designated landing page for our ad is exactly the same as another landing page on our website, “Our Painting Difference”. The only difference is the URL and how the public can find it – only through the ad. This allows you to track how many people found the page through the ad only, as well as things like bounce rate, how long they stayed, and additional pages they viewed after. Another thing a designated landing page is good for is doing AB testing. You can have two identical ads lead to two different designated landing pages. This will help you improve upon the performance metrics on your website.

If you keep these things in mind, then you and your business will be golden. Don’t be intimated about diving into a head-first commitment with this form of marketing. It’s not a $1,000+ commitment like TV or radio but instead, you can do something as little as $2 a day. If you see a good return on investment then you can bump it up to your liking. The number of benefits that Google Ads has, far exceeds the risks. It really makes sense to at least give it a try. It’s worked for us so it can work for you too!

149 – Sandra Funk: New Jersey Girl of Interior Design

Click on the photo for more!

Sandra Funk: New Jersey Girl of Interior Design

Today in The Lounge, Nick talks shop with Sandra Funk of House of Funk, interior design’s Jersey girl. Though originally from Michigan, Sandra now calls New Jersey home. House of Funk has offices in both New Jersey and the beloved New York City. Sandra took an unusual path to her interior design career; from planning to be a third-generation tire heiress, to a website/business finance consultant and then finally to an award-winning interior design principal. Find out how she did it all, in this episode of The Chaise Lounge.

Breaking the Ice

Sandra is a lover of neckwear. From scarves to necklaces, this is her accessory of choice. She supports Chavez for Charity, a maker of jewelry that gives a percentage of proceeds back to charitable causes, a business model that Sandra has also woven into House of Funk. Her perfect night out is a beautiful night stroll through New York City, stopping in for red wine and apps, and seeing where the evening takes her. She is a wife and mother of two beautiful daughters and takes great advantage of the Au Pair program! Growing up in Michigan, Sandra was always surrounded by a strong DIY spirit in her family and community. This is where the initial interior design seeds were planted.

Getting Into the Business

After assuming that she and her sister would take over the family business of tire retreading, it came as a shock when her father sold the business. Sandra had even started college as a finance major in order to do just that. Upon graduation, forced to discover a new path, Sandra took on her first job as a business consultant, which allowed her to travel while she figured out her next steps. At that time, website usability consulting started to take off. As Sandra headed in that direction, she began taking interior design courses at Parsons School of Design to facilitate her website design work. She fell in love with interiors through her studies. Suddenly, the dot-com crash happened and Sandra was laid off. She, however, could not have been more pleased! It was full steam ahead of her interior design career.

Sandra’s first design gig was at Ethan Allen as a sales consultant and decorator. She received terrific training and was chosen to design TV host, Joy Behar’s, home office which would subsequently be featured on the television talk show The View. Upon leaving Ethan Allen, Sandra joined the team at Christopher Norman, where she really got to know the “Who’s Who” of the New York Interior Design community and learn about the intricacies of high-end design.

The Nuts and Bolts of House of Funk

House of Funk is a 6-woman team. Sandra is the creative overseer and editor with two lead designers. She has a head of PR, Head of Finance and a Coordinator that wears many hats. While Sandra tools around in CAD to facilitate the design idea process, she leaves final specs to her rockstar lead designers. She also enjoys using Wecora to pin ideas for design charrettes and also loves sourcing personally once the design direction has been established. Sandra likes to walk the city to source and contact her go-to vendors for the perfect item for clients. When it comes to vendors, style and quality are imperative, but customer service is THE most important factor. Vendors must stand behind their products after they’ve been delivered and really believe in their business. Sandra makes sure to build relationships with vendors that have high integrity as this will always translate to their projects.

Sandra advises that when adding to your team, always allow people’s strengths to shine. It is more beneficial to do what you are good at. Try not to seek out that one person that you think needs to do everything. Internships are another great way to get to know someone and find out if they are a fit for your team; much like an extended interview.

Systems and delegation are also key to success and reduced stress; take it from a former business process consultant! Sandra likes to use Asana to keep track of her projects and recommends Kimberly Seldon for great Interior Design business processes.

Work, Work, Work, Work, Work

Sandra was fortunate to have two longer term projects during the economic downturn, though Nick thinks Sandra’s way beyond luck. She is always working and dives into the nitty and gritty of the residential side of the business.

When it comes to marketing and PR, Sandra had her first foray into that side of the business when she had tried to launch a line of sustainable wares. She hired a public relations team to help promote this line. Though the line was unable to launch, she learned that launching a specific brand was crucial. She went back to the drawing board and spent time really developing the brand for the business. When it came time to launch, she hired a PR firm to really get it off the ground and let the world know about House of Funk. She likes the idea of using a PR firm for really specific short-term goals and using her own avenues, such as blog posts, to keep her projects accessible and current. Sandra’s work has been featured in various publications from Apartment Therapy to Elle Décor and Luxe Interiors+Design.

Learn more about House of Funk at www.houseoffunk.com.

Chaise Lounge Updates

Nick got the chance to attend a networking event for RESA (Real Estate Staging Association) at the Denver Design Center. It was a blast from the past, as Nick started recording his show at the Decorative Materials showroom, way back when! He got to catch up with Sarah Lewis, affectionately known as Slew; his former co-host on a few early episodes of the podcast.

He also interviewed Shell Brodnack, founder of RESA, recently in Las Vegas. Click here to learn more.

Resources

Porcelanosa Check out the Air Slate Collection, lightweight sheets of slate for cladding and overlay applications. A thin veneer that is actually flexible!  Can be used in wet areas as well. Easy installation.

Benjamin Moore Two great new paint products to check out. Natura is a natural product with no VOCs; it is even asthma and allergy approved! Waterborne Ceiling Paint has an ultra-flat finish designed to hide common ceiling imperfections. It will give a beautiful and near flawless finish.

Design Manager is a great organizational tool for designers encompassing project management, activity management, accounting, inventory management and collaboration. It takes the place of your CRM as well. This software does everything!

  • Upcoming Events

Casual Market Sept 12 – 15

ICFF Miami– Oct 3 – 4

IDS – Oct 13 – 16

High Point Market Oct 14 – 18

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 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

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