Info

A Well-Designed Business®

In today's world being a talented interior designer isn't enough to ensure that you have a profitable and successful interior design business. Design school doesn't always teach you the critical business skills to be sure your interior design business be everything you imagined it would be! A Well Designed Business is here to fill in the gaps and give you real live business skills from some of the top interior designers. Your host, LuAnn Nigara shares her 35 years of success in the interior design industry, and she finds the most successful guests to share their interior design business best practices.
RSS Feed
A Well-Designed Business®
2018
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2017
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February
January


2016
December
November
October
September
August
July
June
May
April
March
February


All Episodes
Archives
Now displaying: February, 2018
Feb 27, 2018

Welcome to today's episode of A Well-Designed Business! We have Laura Buchner and Kirsten McCoy with us on the show and today we are going to be talking to them about how their interior design firm was founded in 1982 by Penny Steele, and how they purchased it from her in 2005 when she retired. Listen in as we pick apart their motivation for buying an existing business from someone else rather than starting their own business from scratch.

Laura and Kirsten are the principals of Meadowbank Designs, which is located in the Philadelphia Pennsylvania area. Meadowbank Designs has completed a wide range of projects throughout the country, for generations of clients, from historic preservation to vacation homes and also additions and renovations. They are best known for residential design which combines traditional motifs with a modern sensibility, and also for providing the highest quality of design excellence and personal service. Listen in today to find out about Laura and Kirsten's decision to buy their business, and how they went about acquiring it.

Show highlights:

  • Kirsten and Laura discuss their decision to buy the business.
  • The confidence that they felt about their relationships with the existing clients.
  • The really awesome way that Penny, the previous owner of the business, worked to create a great relationship between Laura, Kirsten and the existing clients.
  • What made them decide to buy an existing business, rather than starting up one of their own.
  • The organic process of how they came to decide to buy the business from the previous owner.
  • How the previous owner arrived at the value of the business.
  • The time that it took for the business to be fully paid off and for Kirsten and Laura to begin making a profit.
  • How they worked their finances, in order to get the business paid off as quickly as possible.
  • Using professional systems, in order to run a business the right way.
  • How they overcame the difficulties that they experienced during the recession in 2008.
  • The importance of their constant and clear communication.
  • The number of clients that they typically handle during any given quarter.
  • The roles that Laura and Kirsten each play for their projects.
  • The really mature way that they handle conflict when it comes up.
  • The different, yet complimentary things that Laura and Kirsten each bring to the business.
  • Some things worth considering, when thinking about buying an existing business.

Previous episodes mentioned on the show:

Fred Berns: Episodes #22, #48, #96, #174, #226 and #289

Links:

Meadowbank designs can be found at:

Meadowbank Designs

Facebook: Meadowbank-Designs

Instagram: Meadowbank Designs

Twitter: Meadowbank Designs

Pinterest: Meadowbank Designs

Fred Bern's website: https://interiordesignbusiness.net

Feb 23, 2018

Welcome to today's episode of Power Talk Friday! We are delighted to introduce you to Duncan Blair, the director of marketing for Article, a furniture company out of Vancouver Canada, and the sponsor for today's show. Article recently approached LuAnn about getting onto the podcast to tell you about their products. LuAnn agreed to this because she thinks that it's an interesting company with great potential as a resource for you and your interior design projects. Duncan is here today to tell us all about Article, so listen in carefully as we pick it apart to see if it really is a viable option for us, as designers.                     

Article has been in business since 2013. It is an online company and an original, modern furniture brand that engineers remarkably better furniture shopping experiences. It is a dedicated, deadline orientated, people pleasing type of company, with a trade facing program, and they are currently in the midst of an initiative to spread their wings and further develop their trade program, to make it both more efficient and more effective. Listen in now, to find out more.

Show highlights:

  • Duncan explains why he thinks that Article would make a really good alliance company for interior designers.
  • What Article does, to help make the designers who have a hard time ordering furniture from an online location, more comfortable.
  • Article's really generous return policy- if you don't like it, you can send it back- seamlessly, with no problem.
  • About Article's dedicated trade team, to guide you and help you to pre-purchase.
  • Jill and her team at Article are interior designers who really understand.
  • Article has a complete fabric swatch kit, which is available to designers at no cost.
  • Their really reasonable flat rate freight shipping fee, for anywhere in Canada or the USA.
  • Article's three-tiered shipping model.
  • Article's really awesome customer service.
  • Duncan explains about their free exchange service.
  • What really sets Article apart from other vendors, in terms of their delivery times.
  • Article really prides itself on its ability to always meet your deadlines.
  • The members of the team at Article are always ready to help you out with questions that are specific to the design industry.
  • All about the furniture at Article and where it is made.
  • About Article's fair trade policy and their pledge to only having a positive impact on the world.
  • What would be required in order for you to become a trade partner with Article? (Go to welldesigned.article.com)
  • The discounts that are available through their trade program.
  • About the quality and styling of the products which are supplied by Article.
  • Article's projected income for the next financial year.

Links:

Article on Instagram: @article

Apply for the Article Trade Program: Article
Article: Article
Linkedin: Article 
Houzz: Article 
Instagram: Article 
Facebook: Article
Feb 21, 2018

A very warm welcome to the three hundredth episode of A Well-Designed Business today- and happy birthday to us! February the 15th was the second birthday of the podcast and we are having our birthday party tonight (21st February) at Lefroy Brooks in New York City. Today is a really big day for the podcast and there's lots of awesome news too, so listen in now to find out more.

It really takes a lot of effort from many people to get this podcast aired each week and I'm truly grateful to everyone involved! I'm especially grateful to you, my designer friends, who show up and listen in to the show every single week! Listen in today as I share some news and express my heartfelt thanks to everyone who has played their part in making this show so successful!

Show highlights:

  • A special mention of thanks to everyone that works so hard to get this show ready and aired!
  • Special thanks to our featured sponsors- Kravet Inc and MyDoma Studio.
  • How we know that Kravet is truly in the business of helping you to run a better business.
  • Why I really love MyDoma Studio so much!
  • A shout out to all our other sponsors.
  • Thanks to all the wonderful guests who have been on the show!
  • A really HUGE thank you to you, my designer friend, who listens to this show every week- It's because of you that I show up each week!.
  • How my world has expanded tenfold because of my designer friends, who follow me, interact with me on Instagram and Facebook, and give me really valuable feedback.
  • The changes that are happening with the show.
  • Why we will be airing our shows just twice a week, as of next week.
  • We will be adding more video content to the podcast as we go forward.
  • How the Well-Designed Business Fan Club got started.
  • The details about the first meeting of the fan club. You're welcome to join!
  • How you can really benefit from joining the fan club.
  • About my book- The Making Of A Well-Designed Business. It's finally out!
  • The biggest lesson that's in my whole book!

If are just hearing about this and you'd like to join us at our birthday party, there's still time for you to get in, so go on over to Party.

To get our amazing newsletter every Wednesday, simply text 444 999 and enter the word designbiz.

The first meeting of the Well-Designed Business Fan Club will be on Friday 23rd February at noon (eastern time). To join, email Deborah at hello@vegandesign.org and put LuAnn Fan Club in the subject line.

My book, The Making Of A Well-Designed Business, is available in e-book form and in paperback. The paperback is $14.95 and the e-book is $7.99, but from 21st February until 28th February 2018 the e-book will only be $3.00- in honor of our 300th episode! Go to The Making Of A Well-Designed Business.

Feb 19, 2018
The interior design industry was recently rocked with the news that Houzz.com acquired IvyMark for a reported $30 to $40 million dollars. There have been panel discussions on Facebook Live and other podcasters have addressed it on their shows as well. These discussions have covered, among other things, the motivations of both the Ivy team and of Houzz.com, the ramifications of the purchase to the interior designers who are using the IVY platform and the ripples this news is making through our industry.
 
I agree wholeheartedly that all of these discussions are important and valid and they have been well addressed. But today I want to address the lessons we can learn from this situation and talk about how and why it is so important for us as business owners to understand how Ivy and Houzz might have avoided some of this significant backlash from the design community. It begins and ends with you as a business owner, your conduct, your philosophy and your leadership.
Feb 16, 2018

Welcome to A Well Designed Business! Today we have Rich Rogers as our guest and he is the sales manager for the exterior side of Window Works. Rich is someone who has really been making LuAnn's life a whole lot easier in many ways and for many years and he is a real asset to the team at Window Works, with his experience in the trade and his knowledge about product lines. On the show today he will be talking about awnings and discussing some awesome solutions to almost impossible situations. Listen in to find out more.

Before coming to work at Window Works Rich was the senior regional manager for K E Dorosoil Awnings Inc., an Italian based company and the primary awning supplier that Window Works have used since 1985. They really provide an enormous range of outdoor shading solutions, with a slightly European, outdoor restaurant feeling. Listen in now to find out about a shady way of offering savvy solutions and making more money in your design business!

Show highlights:

  • Rich's thoughts on where designers tend to miss the boat with outdoor shading solutions for their clients.
  • Understanding both the products and the solution.
  • Creating amazing awnings for awkward spaces.
  • The lasting quality of the products that Rich works with.
  • The awnings are so awesome that people even take them with when they move house!
  • Creating awareness about quality, unique awnings, and their features.
  • Offering solutions using exterior products.
  • Operating automated products with your smartphone.
  • Automated products are not only functional, they're really beautiful too.
  • Some high-end options for you to offer your clients.
  • The featured 'Genius Project' and how this product line differs from others.
  • The unbelievable size of the awning that was put onto Nomad Pizza in Princeton.
  • Creating shady solutions at the Life Hotel.
  • The benefits of starting out with the Genius range of products.
  • Why you really need not be intimidated by this kind of product.

Link:

The Dorosol website: KE Outdoor Design

The Window Works website: Window Works NJ

Feb 14, 2018

Welcome to another episode of A Well Designed Business! We have Mikel Welch, of Mikel Welch Designs, as our guest on the show and today we pull back the curtain to find out what the lifestyle of a celebrity interior designer is really all about. And guess what? It turns out it's not at all the way we think it is. It involves a lot of risk-taking situations, unforeseen bumps in the road, sleeping on sofas at other people's houses and even asking friends for some help. Mikel, who is a really hard worker with a very clear vision for himself, grew up in Southfield Michigan. Today, he works as an on-air personality and design expert for Pickler and Ben TV show and he is also the brand ambassador to Inspire Closets. All this, in addition to running his own interior design projects. On the show today Mikel shares his really remarkable and encouraging success story. Listen in to hear about a turning point with Steve Harvey and other ways that doors keep on opening for Mikel.

Mikel worked as a set designer for the Steve Harvey Show in 2012, where he created lavish green rooms for prominent people, including First Lady Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Joan Rivers, Halle Berry and Tyler Perry, just to name a few. In 2012, before joining the Steve Harvey Show, he was on the HGTV Design Star's season seven, where he finished as a top-four contender. Before that, in 2011, he was behind the camera, as a set designer for Style Network's hit reality show, Jerseylicious. He has appeared as a design expert on WGN TV, CBS-TV's The Talk and he has made special guest appearances on behalf of West Elm, CB2 and Pottery Barn. His designs have been featured in The Huffington Post, HGTV Magazine, Essence Magazine, Chicago's NBC-TV, HGTV's Shop This Room and The Fabulist on E! Network and Splash Magazine. Mikel was also recently profiled in CS Magazine, Modern Luxury Interiors and Crain's Chicago Business. It all sounds so exciting and Mikel really sounds like a lucky guy, doesn't he? Listen in today, as we pick his incredible career apart and find out the truth behind how it all really happened!

Show highlights:

  • What Mikel had in mind, and how things fell into place for him when he made the move to New York from Atlanta.
  • What has happened as a result of Mikel donating his time and services.
  • How Mikel used Craig's List to start his career as an interior designer.
  • The unglamorous start to his New York life.
  • Creating unbelievable opportunities by working strategically for free.
  • Getting set design experience while building a portfolio.
  • Mikel's first real experience of a reality show.
  • What he had to go through working on Jerseylicious.
  • Pushing through the fear and just doing it!
  • The benefits of boot-camp with a celebrity coach.
  • The challenges of working on television.
  • The really lucky break with Steve Harvey.
  • Why Steve Harvey liked and helped Mikel.
  • Mikel's way of working smarter, not harder!
  • An awesome new opportunity at Inspired Closets.
  • Taking the right kind of risks.

Resources: 

A soon as the new Kravet website goes live, you can use the promo code AWDB10, for a 10% discount on any Kravet fabric, trim and wall covering order.

Feb 12, 2018

Welcome to today's show! We have Ruthie Staalsen with us today and she's someone who is really loved by many! Ruthie operates out of the Dallas Fort Worth area in Texas, she has had more than fourteen years of experience as a designer and she's also on the board of the Design Blogger's Conference. Ruthie focuses on making homes look collected rather than decorated and there is a European flair to her personal design style- with an eclectic twist. She views her privilege of having had the opportunity to experience many different lifestyles as the greatest gift of her childhood. Listen in today to hear our awesome conversation with Ruthie about the value of mentorship, the value of attending conferences and Ruthie's way of running her business.

Ruthie was born and raised overseas  and many of her influences come from Europe, Africa and Central and South America. She is an internationally published interior designer and she has built her business from the ground up. She was awarded the 2016 Designer Of The Year from the National Interior Design Society for a kitchen renovation project and she was nominated as one of the top fifteen decorators in Dallas. Her work has been published in Elite Monde- a lifestyle and fashion magazine in Dubai and also in Traditional Home Magazine Great Kitchens. Listen in to find out more.

Show highlights:

  • The incredible kind of connections that can be made with others at the Design Blogger's Conference.
  • Ruthie's daunting first experience of a Design Blogger's Conference, about seven years ago.
  • The way that your business will benefit from your attending conferences.
  • Things that will keep you going and really spur you on with your business.
  • Ruthie's awesome relationship with her mentee, Cheryl Luckett. (Episode #291)
  • How you can really benefit from being a mentor.
  • Some of the things that newbie designers tend to struggle with.
  • Ruthie's take on charging the right fee, as a new designer.
  • What happened when Ruthie started to hire people to help her.
  • The huge responsibility- and benefits of hiring new people.
  • Some interesting things about the way that Ruthie has set her business up.
  • Ruthie's Away For The Day design service.
  • Mistakes will happen- just get up and carry on!
  • Living a really purposeful life as a designer.
  • Ruthie's personal approach to decorating people's homes.
  • How Ruthie finds the very best vendors to work with.
  • How Ruthie really manages to express her authentic self through her blog.

 Links:

Her website and social:
https://www.ruthiestaalsen.com
Facebook Ruthie Designer
Instagram : Ruthie Designer
Linkedin : Interiors
Twitter : Ruthie Designer
Youtube : Ruthie Staalsen

To join us at our birthday party go to the RSVP at Luann Nigara Party.

Feb 9, 2018

Welcome to another episode of Power Talk Friday! There have been perhaps a dozen times in the last two years that someone has suggested to LuAnn that she does a show about vendors and what it's like working with them. Then, something quite incredible happened in a Facebook group recently, where a vendor spoke out very directly to a particular designer about his experience with other designers. This brought about mixed reactions from designers in the Facebook group. Some were incensed at his misdirected wrath, saying that it was ridiculous, while others felt it was better to just walk away. LuAnn's opinion, however, was that this was really a vendor to hang on to for dear life, because although he had been both blunt and less than politically correct, he was honest without being mean, cutting or personalizing his opinion- really epitomizing what it is that vendors have to go through. Listen in today, to find out what LuAnn has to tell you about how designers are directly affected by whatever their vendors are going through at that time.

For the last two years on this podcast, LuAnn has championed you, as designers, standing in your space and helping you to teach your clients how to do business with you. So when the vendor stands in their own space and wants to teach you how to do business with them, you really cannot take offense to that, now can you? Listen in today and learn as LuAnn explains how to work with your vendor and also, how you can express your needs to your client about how you want them to work with you.

Show highlights:

  • LuAnn reads the Facebook post from the very straightforward vendor.
  • Ways that you can learn to think from the point of view of the vendor.
  • The difference between your relationship with your client and the relationship that your vendor has with you.
  • The kinds of difficulties that vendors tend to have and how they usually deal with them when they are not yet standing firmly in their own space.
  • Why it's actually easier for a vendor to have “the hard conversation” upfront- even at the risk of losing the whole project.
  • What Lee Cockerell, the senior vice president of Disney World, had to say in episode #222 about doing hard things.
  • Becoming empowered, setting boundaries and teaching your clients how to do business with you.
  • Learning from your mistakes- without throwing your vendor under the bus.
  • What inevitably ends up happening to you when you try to blame your vendor.
  • It's really all about very good communication.
  • Some great tips for working really well with your vendors.
  • Protecting your vendors from information overload.
  • The benefits of using a project management software like MyDoma Studio.
  • Really valuing the kind of vendor that makes it clear to you how to work successfully with them.
  • Giving your vendor the benefit of the doubt. 

Links:

To be on our email list: Text the number 444999 and enter the word designbiz.

To come to our birthday party, generously hosted by Lefroy Brooks, on Wednesday, February 21st go to Luann Nigara Party 

On Monday, February 19th Blanch Garcia will be doing a Lunch And Learn at out New Jersey showroom on running your design business.

Feb 7, 2018

If you are facing new challenges in your interior design business or are just starting out with the podcast, then you might be a bit overwhelmed by all the information the Well Designed Business Podcast has accumulated over the past two years. If you are in need of a jumping off point, then look no further than this episode! It’s a solo show today as I organize and highlight the episodes that have made a real impact on me and the audience. The show is nearing 300 episodes, and that means if you are just now joining the party that you have quite a bit of info to sift through. Luckily, I am giving you a jumping off point so that the party can begin right away.

I have gathered together the best of the best into 5 different categories. You’ll hear my recommendations for practical business advice, building up a pipeline, understanding your YOU and your ideal client, creative inspiration, and the quick starter designers that have inspired me. If you are listening to the podcast, you are the kind of person who will work hard and be successful in your design business. I am celebrating the success of the show by helping you on that road to success. Consider this episode the fast track!

If you are just now joining us, welcome! If you are a longtime listener, I sincerely hope you enjoy re-listening to these episodes. You are on the path to success just by showing up for your business today.

More in this episode:

  • Hear my vision for the Well Designed Business Archives.
  • For practical business advice, listen to episodes 2, 36, 45, 68, 180, 233*.
  • Need help building your pipeline? Check out episodes 40, 245, 266
  • To understand your YOU, your ideal client, head over to episodes 15, 256, 22, 26, 125.
  • Several of you have listened to episode 192 multiple times! It’s so full of good info.
  • Time to dig into episodes for creative inspiration! Try episodes 21, 18, 165, 169, 184.
  • These designers really blew me out of the water. Here are your best places for Quick Starts episodes—167, 179, 211, 203.
  • I want you at the podcast birthday party!

Resources:

info@luannnigara

luannnigara.com/party

Iwce-vision.com

Your Business in Words

Feb 5, 2018

Today we have Jana Platina Phipps, affectionately known as the “Trim Queen” by her clients, as our guest on the show. Jana and LuAnn met each other in person last year at the IWCE in Charlotte, where they were both speaking, and this year Jana will be speaking again at the IWCE in Tampa Florida. Jana is an embellishment expert, a designer and she's also an agent for Classical Elements. She develops custom trimmings for NYC-based fashion companies and she also designs made-to-order home and fashion accessories, using trimmings and vintage jewelry. Jana teaches other people her technique of Trim Alchemy, which involves turning something ordinary into something really extraordinary, using trimmings to express their personal creativity. Listen in to find out more about what Jana will be doing at the IWCE this year.             

Jana started a blog in 2013 and she uses her social media channels to keep an account of how the design community uses trimmings creatively. She lectures at The New York School of Interior Design, Continuing Education Seminars and on Webinars to the interior design community, drawing on her knowledge of the history of passementerie and also on her hands-on experience with fabrication. She is a regular contributor to WF Vision and Designers Today Magazines, and Universal Furniture’s Smartstuff Social Station blog. She also conducts DIY workshops and stages a Trim Alchemy Show at the Country Living Fairs across the country. Jana is planning a Trim Queen Maker Tour of Venice Italy for Spring 2018. Listen in now to find out what she has to share with you on today's show.

Show highlights:

  • Jana talks about what she has going on at the IWCE this year.
  • How Jana's college education has come into play for her in her career.
  • The details of what's happening with Jana's workshops in the Construction Zone at the IWCE this year.
  • Why Jana really loves going to the IWCE!
  • What you, as an interior designer, can gain from the community on the Construction Zone floor at the IWCE.
  • About Jana's work with Classical Elements.
  • How the blog post- Trim Queen came about, and the mission behind it.
  • The new avenue of creativity and business that Jana has created with Trim Queen.
  • The power of getting great feedback.
  • The fine line between giving people advice and being taken advantage of.
  • About Jana's really helpful peer mentoring group.
  • How Jana moved Trim Queen into becoming a really viable business.
  • Jana's really intentional way of starting out with doing video.
  • The magic of developing your business through the creative process.
  • Something that has really helped Jana with her creative process this year.
  • All about Jana's Trim Queen Maker Tour in Venice Italy next year.
  • What Jana's awesome concept of maker tourism is all about.
  • What's coming up with Jana and the WCAA, out of Connecticut. All the info will be on the events page of Jana's website. (trimqueen.com)

Resources:

Trim Queen

Instagram

Facebook

Twitter

Youtube

Pinterest

Linkedin

Feb 2, 2018

Welcome to Power Talk Friday! I’m excited to introduce you to Summer Tannhauser, and I’m eager to hear what she can teach us about using Pinterest to grow an interior design business. She’s a Pinterest expert, a business coach, Mastermind leader, and a business/marketing mentor to female entrepreneurs who want to create an impact online through their personal brand and business. She has some really cool things going on now, like her Live More, Work Less business model, and blog series.

We have touched on the world of Pinterest in earlier episodes: Ep. 209 with Leslie Carothers and Sam Henderson of Savour Partnership, and Ep. 223 with Allison Fannin. Today’s episode focuses on the ins and outs of this important platform and pulls back the curtain on Pinterest to show how web designers can use it to build our brand.

Show highlights:

  • Why Pinterest is a vehicle for growing your business locally
  • Summer’s advice about using keywords about your location to draw people in and showcase your brand
  • Setting up your Pinterest account and profile---Do’s and Don’t’s
  • How to set up “rich pins” and validate them
  • How rich pins bring people back to your website
  • Start off with your business name in your profile, use keywords, location, your website, and a description of your business
  • Have a minimum of 15 boards to show that your profile is complete
  • Creating board titles using important keywords
  • Going from a personal to business account: how to clean up or delete existing boards that don’t fit or promote your business
  • How to fill your boards with a combination of other people’s boards and your own content
  • Why some pins should be on multiple boards
  • See what people are looking for to get great ideas for blog topics
  • Change your perspective and think of Pinterest as a search engine and NOT a social media platform
  • Summer’s advice for pinning people’s pins and following accounts to increase your engagement, if you have less than 100 followers
  • “The first step is to make sure your website is updated and presents your brand well. There is no sense spending hours on Pinterest driving people to a website that’s a hot mess.”
  • Focus more on your state name than city name, but include local town names on your profile and on boards
  • Your Pinterest content will have people engaging long-term over time, so don’t focus on short-term events and happenings
  • Getting consistent and active on Pinterest: Consider investing in a scheduling program so it can pin for you on a consistent basis
  • Which platform is best for interior designers if you have limited time?
  • Summer’s Live More, Work Less blog series, highlighting entrepreneurs who are making it work

Resources:

Her website:

Summer Tannhauser

Her free course:

Free Pin Course

Summer’s social media:

Twitter - @summerktann

Facebook

Pinterest

Instagram

Tail Wind App (To use for Pinterest and social media scheduling)

1