This Design Trust, LTD., panel will feature the procedure queens - Mickey Bufalini of Collaborative Design Group, Houston, Texas and Susan Brunstrum, Sweet Peas Design, Chicago, IL discussing how they manage the day to day aspects of their interior design firms. In addition to the procedure queens, the panel will feature Paula Grace of Paula Grace Designs, Washington DC, who will address the psychology factors in business relationships. The panel will be moderated by Skip Sroka, Sroka Design Inc, Washington, DC.
Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles
WORK/LIFE BALANCE OF A HIGH-PROFILE INTERIOR DESIGNER
Gary Searle, Vice President, Sales, Kravet Canada moderated a panel focusing on the challenge of balancing the pressures of leading a high-profile with one’s personal life. Designers Beth Webb of Beth Webb Interiors and Bill Peace of Peace Design participated, and spoke candidly about their experiences and techniques that have led to their success, as well as how they make time for themselves.
LUXURY DESIGN WEB: SIMPLE SUMMARY FOR DIGITAL MARKETING SUCCESS
Adam Japko, CEO of Esteem Media and founder of the Design Blogger’s Conference, presented “Luxury Design Web: Simple Summary for Digital Marketing Success”. Adam’s presentation focused on the increasing role that digital and social media in the interior design industry. Adam stressed the importance of creating a clearly focused brand as well as linking digital media venues together, and presented new strategies and emerging techniques to increase exposure and brand recognition.
Design Trust Ltd. member, Skip Sroka moderated a panel that included Design Trust Ltd. Members Scott Ageloff and Mickey Bufalini. Skip posed questions to the panel on recruiting staff, and a wide range of issues related to staff development and retention, and possible ways of compensating a staff member who brings a project to the firm. The overall consensus was that finding good candidates is difficult and that retention is important but not an easy goal to achieve.
PROJECT PROFILE - SOUP TO NUTS
Design Trust Ltd. member, Kristin Peake presented one of her recently completed projects to the group. Kristin’s presentation included details from initial inquiry, concept development, construction, procurement, installation and final results. Kristin detailed her work flow and process along with insight into the challenges and solutions to problems encountered on this job.
DESIGN THERAPY: SHARE A CHALLENGE
Design Trust Ltd. President, Sarah Eilers led the group in a lively discussion related to member scenarios that have arisen in their firms.
SHARE 3 RESOURCES
Design Trust Ltd. members presented images and information about three favorite resources that they consider "go-to" sources.
McKinnon & Harris
Sandow Media/Luxe Interiors & Design
Brunschwig & Fils
SELF-PROMOTION WITHOUT LOSING YOUR DIGNITY
Brandon Kleinman, Marketing Expert & Tech Entrepreneur, and Marisa Marcantonio, of Stylebeat, presented “Self-promoting Without Losing Your Dignity.” Marissa, a well-known blogger and former design magazine consultant, spoke to the group about how to get their works published and how to use social media to gain respect within the interior design community. Brandon, the founder and former CEO of Laurel & Wolf, spoke to the group about creating a brand through social media. As an accomplished entrepreneur, he guided the group on how to create brand awareness through use of social media platforms, especially Instagram.
ART & INTERIORS: WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR CLIENT ASKS FOR HELP?
“Art & Interiors: What Happens When Your Client Asks for Help?” was presented by Lisa Hahn of Art Horizons International. She touched on an area that often proves difficult for interior designers – that some clients consider art an investment as well as a decorative accessory. The personal nature of choosing art for clients was also covered. Lisa shared a wealth of information about purchasing art and recommended different shows that might be helpful to designers.
THE EVOLVING LUXURY MARKETPLACE
Allan Blaustein, President & Group Publisher, Luxe Interiors & Design, presented to the group on how important marketing and branding is in our current society. “The Evolving Luxury Marketplace” addressed the influence of advertising and how the rise of technology and social media have changed the notion of luxury. He explained how two almost identical products can be perceived completely differently based on advertising or social media campaigns.
OPTIMAL BRANDING & SOCIAL MEDIA FOR YOUR INTERIOR DESIGN BUSINESS
Design Trust Members Lorna Gross and Ben Johnston presented “Optimal Branding & Social Media for your Interior Design Business.” Lorna and Ben talked about company logos, advertising and social media before leading the group in a breakout session. During the session, members gave feedback on other member’s company logos, advertising and marketing materials.
HOW PRINCIPALS SPEND THEIR TIME
Design Trust, Ltd. members Scott Ageloff, Doug Greiwe and Robert Kaner presented to the group on “How Principals Spend Their Time.” Each member analyzed how much of his schedule is spent on managing a business versus client and design time. A discussion followed about how to structure a business to maximize design time.
TWO WORKFLOW MODELS
Design Trust members Susan Brunstrum and Laura Britt presented “Two Workflow Models.” Each presented a step-by-step model of a design project from initial client meeting to final installation.
HANDLING DIFFICULT SITUATIONS
Design Trust’s psychologist turned designer, member Paula Grace, offered advice to members on difficult situations that they had faced in their design business with both employees and clients.
MAKING THE PITCH AND CLOSING THE DEAL
Design Trust Members Sherry Hayslip and Skip Sroka presented “Making the Pitch and Closing the Deal”.
RIDING THE BUSINESS WAVE
Skip focused on his company’s success and failing throughout its 30-year history and how important each project is to the company’s long term growth.
HOW TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS IN AN EVER-CHANGING WORKPLACE
Barbara Mistick presented on “Stretch: How to Future-Proof Yourself for Tomorrow’s Workplace,” the recently published book that she co-authored. She outlined the key principles of interest to interior designers: identifying people who can help advance your career, defining professional goals, and finding ways to keep employees invested and involved.
CREATING POSITIVE CULTURE IN YOUR CREATIVE WORKPLACE
Design Trust, Ltd. member Paula Grace, who had a previous life as a therapist, used her expertise from both careers to offer insights into building strong client relationships. She analyzed the delicate interaction between designer and client, discussing critical issues like setting boundaries, establishing trust, and the importance of detailed contractual agreements.
OPERATIONS PAR EXCELLENCE
Design Trust, Ltd. members Sarah Eilers and Mickey Bufalini gave a detailed joint presentation outlining the operations of their respective firms, breaking down every element from software to marketing to fees and billing structures.
HOW TO MARKET YOUR BUSINESS IN THE DIGITAL AGE
Jennifer Matthews, Cottages & Gardens group publisher, introduced several publications that she oversees. She offered advice on regional media and focused marketing opportunities, including not only local media and show houses, but little-known programs involving social media.
FLOWERS STYLED FOR THE WHITE HOUSE
Former White House floral designer, Laura Dowling, told of her intriguing politics-to-flowers career and showed examples of her designs for White House events. Her thought-provoking and beautiful floral arrangements and table settings sparked creative ideas from the audience.
FINANCIAL PRODUCTIVITY: INCREASING PROFITABILITY WITHOUT CHARGING MORE
Design Trust, Ltd. members Phil Norman and Corinne Brown offered a nuts-and-bolts presentation on financial productivity, that covered fiscal tools, calculating profitability, product markups, and the value of raises vs. bonuses. Subsequent discussion dealt with how to engage and motivate staff and the question of why and how to charge design fees as part of a contract proposal to a client.
CREATIVITY: KEEPING IT FRESH
Design Trust, Ltd. member Scott Ageloff led a discussion on creativity by challenging the designers to recall their original motivation for choosing their careers and for becoming entrepreneurs. He asked them to thinkfrom a new perspective to create a culture of collaboration within their firms. Designers broke into small groups to exchange ideas about fostering creativity, with each team reporting back on their discussions.
New York Design Center
Kravet president Cary Kravet offered his commentary on the current state and future potential of the home furnishings industry. He gave his insights and recommendations for interior designers.
MARKETING AND THE CHANGING NATURE OF CLIENTS
Kate Kelly Smith, SVP of Hearst Publications, and Sophie Donelson, Editor of House Beautiful, spoke about the magazine’s future direction. They discussed the publication’s goal to “show the impact of design on living” and to help consumers understand how design can enhance their lives.
Chad Stark, Executive VP of Stark Carpet, explained how technology has changed consumer access to home furnishings products. What vendors are doing to “inspire, inform and engage” with designer-supportive showrooms, value-focused sales approaches and strategic “content marketing” on websites.
Century Furniture President Alex Shuford spoke about how the furniture market has been transformed by the explosion of ‘vertically-integrated retailers’ and the growth of e-commerce. He emphasized the importance of interior designers to high-end furniture manufacturers and noted the potential for increased business through the trade as millennials mature.
COLLABORATION IN ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIOR DESIGN
Architect Blaze Makoid and interior designer David Scott discussed their experience with collaborative projects, citing the benefits to both the clients and themselves in providing complementary abilities, joint oversight and a unified advisory voice.
LEADING CHANGE IN OUR ORGANIZATIONS
Design Trust members Susan Brunstrum and Skip Sroka introduced a provocative set of questionnaires to determine attendees’ individual leadership styles. They led the group in a frank exchange of information and insights into the challenges of running a design business and dealing with both clients and employees.
PRODUCTIVITY AND OPERATIONS
Design Trust member Sharon McCormick demonstrated how analyzing a firm’s client base can lead to a redirection of goals and a more precise and targeted marketing approach.
Design historian Judith Gura gave an illustrated talk on landmark interiors, highlighting the challenge of changing uses for interiors, and the importance of balancing preservation with the need for development.
LICENSING, SUCCESSION PLANNING, LEGAL ISSUES OF THE DAY
Attorney Steven Sonet of Levy, Sonet & Siegel offered the attendees advice on three key issues -- succession planning, partnership possibilities and licensing – all of which are emerging priorities for interior designers in single-owner businesses.