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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.
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Now displaying: October, 2018
Oct 30, 2018

Welcome to today's episode! We know that you're really going to love it! We have Laura Michaels with us today and she is an experienced and insightful designer who knows how to tell it like it is. On the show, we have a very straightforward conversation with her about talking budget with clients. Laura is very confident in her process and in the service she offers, and she really knows how to hold her ground in these conversations. Listen in today, become inspired, and learn from Laura's expertise, and her really confident way of dealing with clients.

Laura Michaels Design is a full-service design firm specializing in residential and commercial interiors out of Greenwich CT. Having started her career as a fashion designer, Laura Michaels is no stranger to developing complete collections filled with layers of textures, patterns, and colors. Laura thrives on the challenge of finding the perfect combination of textiles and other materials, then integrating them in unique and unexpected ways. Laura spends much of her time sourcing fabric, carpet, lighting and more...from all over the world and prides herself on her thorough knowledge of the market. Laura is also proud of her ability to source the "right" item at the ''right'' price. If cost, size or availability become an issue, her design skills allow her to create the perfect piece in one of her many custom factories.  Her extensive knowledge of the market makes the design process quick and easy, but never routine. Her artistic vision transforms the space into warm and inviting interiors and it is Laura’s goal to provide a warm, inviting environment that is enjoyed by her homeowners and will last the test of time. Listen in to find out more.

Show highlights:

  • Developing the skill set to really understand your ideal client.
  • Some red flags to look out for with a client.
  • The kind of client that Laura works with.
  • Looking at a potential client's expectations before their budget.
  • There are millions of different supplier websites for all budgets.
  • Laura's way of dealing with clients who are not clear about their budget.
  • Managing your client's expectations.
  • Laura loves the challenge of fulfilling a client's expectations on a limited budget.
  • Things that people don't understand about hiring an interior designer.
  • Hiring a designer can really be price effective.
  • Establishing the ground rules around the budget upfront.
  • Laura's way of obtaining art for her clients.
  • Having the budget conversation with clients.
  • Referrals are really important.
  • You need to be confident and know your value to avoid being taken advantage of.

Links:

Website: Laura Michaels Design

Instagram: The Laura Michaels Design

Pinterest: Pinterest

e-mail: Laura@Lauramichaelsdesign.com

Find Luann on Instagram

Oct 26, 2018

Welcome to another Power Talk Friday! Everything is happening online these days, so we are really very happy to introduce you to Jason Berkowitz, of Break The Web Inc., a company that specializes in digital marketing and PR for businesses. Jason's business is an inbound marketing agency and their goal is to generate traffic which could ultimately turn into leads, sales, and customers. On the show today, Jason talks about the services that his company provides, that may be of interest to interior designers. He also explains what you, as interior designers, need to have in place, in order to come to the table. Listen in to hear what Jason has to say about digital marketing and public relations.

Jason started out as a business owner at the age of nineteen. He quickly came to recognize the importance of marketing and brand security. And he also realized that he had to take matters into his own hands because the available information was all so contradictory.

Jason's digital journey started in 2010 and his mission that year was to learn the ins-and-outs of digital marketing and more specifically, of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Through extensive networking, he had the opportunity to surround himself with some of the greatest and brightest minds in the industry. So he began utilizing and designing frameworks that led to a successful search-engine presence, spending hours analyzing algorithms and reading patent documents in an attempt to understand metrics for online visibility.

Jason launched his first SEO agency out of New York City in mid-2010. They launched SEO campaigns for more than 300 businesses, secured over 50 000 Page 1 rankings and worked with some of the largest brands in the world. Then, in 2016, they launched their parent company, Break The Web, Inc., with a focus on Digital Marketing services and business acquisitions. Since then, they have acquired 2 successful digital marketing agencies out of San Diego, California, and New York City. Listen in to find out more.

Show Highlights:

  • Jason explains what his company does.
  • The value in targeting your local area for marketing your business.
  • Where and how digital marketing and PR is taking place.
  • Jason's approach to digital marketing.
  • Paid advertising campaigns can be a little budget heavy.
  • Spending money on a digital marketing campaign pays off.
  • Teaching in-house teams to make the whole marketing process seamless.
  • How Jason structures his pricing.
  • A typical management fee that Jason charges for an ads campaign.
  • The SEO myths that Jason thinks really ought to be busted.
  • Using click-bait with the best intent.
  • Working with SEO really effectively.
  • Creating search tags for Youtube videos.
  • Google algorithms have become very smart- they can understand what's semantically relevant and what's not.
  • Keeping things natural within an SEO campaign.

Previous episodes mentioned in this show:

Andrew Joseph #39

Links:

Websites -

Break The Web 

SEO Services New York 

Jason Berkowitz

LinkedIn: Jason Berkowitz SEO

Facebook: Jason Berkowitz NYC 

Twitter: J Berkowitz SEO

YouTube: Jason Berkowitz SEO

Oct 23, 2018

Welcome! Today's show was recorded live from the High Point Market on Friday, October 12th, 2018, as part of the Designer Viewpoint Series. We are very happy to introduce you to Kesha Franklin today, the principal of Halden Interiors, based in Greenbrook, New Jersey. Kesha has a background in the fashion world. And as a designer, she started out on a path that initially appeared to be destined for failure, which really rocked her world, but then things took an interesting turn for her. Listen in today as Kesha candidly shares her story, offers valuable insights, discusses the growth of her firm and explains her really intentional way of framing her conversations with potential clients.

Kesha's intuitive sense of style, creativity, and harmony goes back to her formative years, where luxurious interiors and fine men's wear captivated her creativity, through her father's vast collection of Architectural Digest and the renowned GQ Magazine. Kesha continued expressing the artist within her through various creative means, but only after an encounter with a New York City architect, who recognized her eye for interior design and complimented her on it, did she take the leap and start The Beautiful Experience, a boutique design firm specializing in residential and special events design and planning, in 2006.

Kesha spent years immersed in the exclusive world of couture fashion as a backstage production manager and wardrobe stylist for the iconic Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. Surrounded by the work of well-known designers such as Vera Wang, Jason Wu, Michael Kors, Donna Karen, and Lanvin…Kesha sharpened her attention to detail, distinct eye for exquisite styling and sensibility to craftsmanship.

The spaces Kesha reinvents today are impeccable. However, her striking aesthetic as an interior designer is not only shaped by her ability to curate color palettes, balanced textures, and distinct furnishings but is also influenced by her ability to understand and connect with people. Every single design project begins with a heart-to-heart. Listen in today to hear what Kesha has to share about how she supplies her clients with a full experience, from the ground up, that goes way beyond just beautiful things.

Show highlights:

  • Kesha shares the great story of how she started out with design in 2003.
  • She began with very small projects.
  • Moving from doing jobs for free to starting a business and attracting clients from the luxury market.
  • Kesha learned a lot- the hard way.
  • She had to learn to understand her true worth.
  • Reading books really helped Kesha to understand the processes and the business side of the world of interior design.
  • When things started to pick up in 2011, Kesha realized she really needed to figure out what her niche was.
  • Kesha's process of rebranding to become Holden Interiors took three years.
  • In 2013 Kesha was really fortunate to be a part of the Goldman Sachs 10 000 Small Businesses Program. And that really set her rebranding in motion!
  • It really is okay to charge a higher price that truly reflects the level of service that you're giving.
  • Not all consumers really understand interior design.
  • Kesha gets excited about the kind of job that makes her nervous.
  • Kesha explains the rates she charges her clients.
  • Some things that need to be highlighted in the service agreement with a client.
  • Kesha's approach to clients about her contract.
  • Kesha explains her weekly project update.
  • Teaching her clients to trust the process.
  • Be careful of becoming a 'client pleaser'.
  • Time management is still a challenge.
  • Presentation is everything, so it's very important to invest in really good, high-quality pictures.
  • Kesha's work will continue to change as time goes on.

Previous episodes mentioned on this show:

Adam Urbanski #192 and #280

Links:

Kesha's website: Halden Interiors

Oct 19, 2018

Welcome to Power Talk Friday! Today we are really very happy to introduce you to photographer Stephen Karlish, from Dallas, Texas. Stephen began his career pre-internet, so he has seen the rise of social media and online sharing either make or break the careers of numerous designers. He has learned that the key to any creative environment is collaboration. We live in an image-based society today and designers really need to create a strong online presence. So they need to collaborate with experienced photographers to get the kind images that will be sure to drive traffic their way. Listen in today to find out what Stephen has to say about how a great photographer can really help you, as a designer, to build your brand identity and your online presence.

Stephen started out in the world of photography assisting commercial photographers in the late 90's. In the early 2000's he started photographing interiors for both local and national publications like Southern Accents, Veranda, Elle Decor, and AD, mainly focusing on documenting local Texas designers' work for their portfolios and ads. Based on his experience, Stephen really wants to help designers to take the photography aspect of their projects seriously. Listen in today to get some really helpful advice and tips from Stephen.

Show highlights:

  • The really awesome business partnership that Stephen has with his wife.
  • Pulp Design Studios really inspires Stephen!
  • It really takes a lot of practice to get your personality to really come through on a video.
  • What it takes to create a really great a photo shoot on location.
  • Working seamlessly as a team for incredible outcomes.
  • Really great shots can be used for years.
  • As a young designer, it's really worth investing in your brand imagery right now.
  • Doing it right!
  • Some tips for getting the best shots on a regular budget.
  • Working with stylists and floral designers.
  • The importance of doing pre-shoot scout shots.
  • The benefits of working with a stylist for your photos.
  • How to find the right stylist to work with.
  • Designing projects to completion.
  • Creating portfolio shots on a studio wall.
  • Some tricks that a photographer can do to create incredible shots.
  • The best business advice that Stephen has ever been given.

Links:

Stephen's Website - Stephen Karlisch

Studio Website: Karlisch Studio

Instagram: @stephen_karlisch_photo

Facebook: Karlisch Studio

Twitter: Stephen Karlisch

Previous shows mentioned in this episode:

Pulp Design Studios #176 and #310

Charlotte Safavi #138

Oct 16, 2018

Welcome to the show! Today we are excited to introduce you to Jessica Duce, the principal of J Duce Design in Colorado. With a lot of hard work, and a little good luck, Jessica discovered her ideal client and so today she specializes in VRBO and Air BnB Design. On the show today, Jessica tells the story of how she saw an opportunity to follow a completely new path in her business and jumped right in. Listen in today to learn about the joys and the challenges of designing for VRBO properties.

J Duce Design has won multiple best of Houzz awards and has been featured in Parker Lifestyle Magazine, Highlands Ranch Lifestyle Magazine, and Omaha Family Magazine.  Jessica was honored as Volunteer of the Year for her work for Habitat for Humanity. In 2018, J Duce Design is launching the Denver chapter of Savvy Giving by Design launched by Susan Wintersteen of Savvy Design. The goal of the non-profit chapter is to help families in crisis improve their current living environment for health and wellbeing at no charge to them. Listen in to find out more.

Show highlights:

  • The story of what has happened to Jessica's company in the last three years.
  • How Jessica launched into the world of designing for VRBO properties.
  • The scheduling challenges that come with VRBO designing.
  • Jessica's awesome team.
  • The one home that Jessica worked on has led to her working on five other homes in the last three years.
  • Jessica discusses her connection in property management.
  • Times are changing with vacation homes and Air BnB.
  • Being creative when spending money to create the 'wow' factor.
  • Jessica's goals when meeting with the housekeeping staff.
  • Dealing with the 'flips'.
  • Some important things that Jessica has learned about designing for VRBO homes.
  • Some things that need to be considered when designing for the VRBO market.
  • The story of the really successful Captain Arnold's house.
  • Designing to appeal to the holiday market.
  • Experimenting with the best ways to invest money in VRBO properties.
  • Creating a photo spot in every house.
  • Learning lots of new ideas from the BDNY.
  • The biggest lesson that Jessica has learned in the last three years.

Links:

JDuce Design

Instagram: JDuce Design

Facebook: JDuce Design

Oct 12, 2018

Welcome! It's Power Talk Friday and we have a special show today, sponsored by Article.com! We are very happy to have Jillian Cross,  their trade program manager, joining us on the show. The passionate team at Article.com has a very strong understanding of the world of interior design and their trade program is run entirely by committed people from the design industry. Today Jill explains what it is about Article.com that really makes interior designers want to work with them. Listen in to find out more.

Jillian has had an amazing ride in the industry! She was born and raised in a construction and development family, so it's in her blood. She has a degree in project management as well as a background in interior design. Jill has been with Article for about one-and-a-half-years and she came to them with nine years of industry experience behind her. Prior to joining Article, she worked at several different firms in the industry, and also with some big-box retailers- helping them to build out their trade and their pro programs. She spent a number of years doing millwork design and also working in her family's business, where she got to experience residential and multi-unit design. Listen in to find out what Jillian has to share with you on the show today.

Show highlights:

  • The people on the team at Article have a strong understanding of the world of interior design.
  • The importance of really understanding who you're talking to.
  • Article really understands the pain points of interior designers.
  • The team at Article takes a strong stand when something goes wrong and they get onto resolving it as quickly and effectively as possible.
  • The benefits of having a small team.
  • Following up with genuine care and concern.
  • Relationship building.
  • Striving to create a personal service for online trade partners.
  • The positives and negatives to working in the online space.
  • The discount structure at Article.com.
  • The great value that Article.com is offering their customers.
  • com is very competitive in its market.
  • Understanding transparency.
  • Article will send you swatches of fabric and samples with no shipping costs.
  • Jill walks you through Article's fantastic return/exchange policy.
  • Article will deliver anywhere in America.

Links:

Apply for the Article Trade Program: Article Trade

Article: Article

Linkedin Article

Houzz: Article Modern

Instagram: Article

Facebook: Article

Oct 9, 2018

Welcome to today's episode! We have a really smart lady joining us on the show today! She is Nicole White, the president, and principal designer at the award-winning design firm, Nichole White Designs Interiors, based in Sunrise, Florida. On the show today we talk to Nicole about how she came to learn her particular skill set in the renovation process, and what her intentions are with that going forward. We talk to her about her experience as a journalist, in her previous career, and how she leverages that to earn press for her projects. And we also discuss confidence, how it develops mostly through the mistakes we make over time in our businesses, and how very important that is, when being an entrepreneur. Listen in to find out more.

Nicole, known for her renovation prowess, has had her design work featured in various magazines including, Better Homes and Gardens, Ocean Drive, Modern Luxury Interiors; Huffington Post, HGTV and Domino online magazines. She’s twice been noted as an emerging designer to watch by the Black Interior Designers Network and is a brand ambassador/influencer for The Home Depot, Purple Drywall, and City Furniture. An award-winning writer, Nicole writes about the behind the scenes process of her projects on her popular blog LiveLaughDecorate. Nicole, lover of red wine and travel, is also mom to a busy 6-year-old, Xavier - a budding artist and self-proclaimed VP of NWD Interiors. Listen in to hear what Nicole has to share on today's show.

Show highlights:

  • Nicole talks her decision to direct her business towards working with the renovation process.
  • Nicole has learned to get her hands dirty- working hands-on with the renovation process.
  • Nicole really enjoys the whole process of renovation.
  • What makes Nicole so successful with what she does.
  • Nicole is getting ready to do her GC license in the next year or so.
  • What obtaining a GC license involves.
  • Nicole talks about her game-changing questionnaire, what it deals with, and how it came about.
  • The questionnaire has literally transformed Nicole's business.
  • Working realistically with a budget with clients.
  • Nicole has the confidence to know that clients will be better off working with her.
  • Fifteen years in, Nicole still clearly remembers not knowing how she was going to pay her bills.
  • Standing in your experience and fully understanding what your needs are.
  • Nicole has made some deliberate changes in her life since having her son.
  • Nicole makes the amount of time that she has available very clear to her clients.
  • It can take some time to develop the confidence, as a new designer, to charge a consultation fee.
  • As a former journalist, Nicole really understands publications and how they work- so she knows how to build and grow press.
  • Start building press by pitching the smaller publications first.
  • Nicole has learned to build relationships- they really matter!
  • It's really important to stay in touch- you cannot treat your clients and relationships as a one-night-stand.
  • You have to enter the contests to win the awards.
  • Go after companies and brands that fit your strengths.
  • The goals that Nicole is stretching herself towards right now.

Links:

Nicole's website: NWD Interiors

Nicole's blog: Live Laugh Decorate

To sign up for your trade account with Article.Com: Well Designed Article

Oct 5, 2018

Send me the Source Like a Pro Video!

Welcome to another Power Talk Friday! We have Monique Holmes (Duarte) with us again today and she's bound to inspire you to re-think the way that you approach sourcing for your interior design firm. Monique started Duarte Decor, a global interior design firm, in 2012, after successfully working in the marketing and advertising world for more than ten years. Using her marketing experience, she managed to generate $50 000 in profit in her first year, working part-time while still holding down a full-time job. Monique saw that there was a huge gap in our industry and that design schools don't teach the business side of the industry. So, she came up with her 8 Steps To Profitability Program and launched her own, private coaching firm,  Duarte Consulting, in 2016. Today's show is packed with tons of information and Monique generously shares some of her awesome resources! Listen in to today to learn about Monique's key strategies for sourcing like a pro.

Monique Holmes is a Certified Interior Decorator, Business Coach, and an active member of the National Association of Professional Women (NAPW), International Interior Design Association (IIDA),  Central NJ & Brooklyn, NY Chapter President of the distinguished Interior Design Society (IDS) as well as a Certified member of CID (Certified Interior Decorator Association).   She also holds several degrees, including a career degree in Interior Decorating & AutoCAD Design, a Bachelor’s in International Business with a specialization in Economics & Marketing, and a Master’s Degree in Interactive & Direct Marketing.   Monique Holmes was awarded "Woman of the Year for Interior Decorating for NJ" in 2013 by NAPW, in addition, her design work has been featured online & in print publications including "Your Decorating Resource" and Moxie Woman Magazine. Listen in to find out more!

Show highlights:

  • The first thing to think about, as interior designers, in order to source and sell products like a pro.
  • Monique likes to focus on helping designers to figure out strategies to do things effectively and efficiently.
  • Monique explains her 4 easy steps to sourcing like a pro.
  • The benefits of sourcing through trade-only vendors.
  • The key to shopping with online retailers.
  • The great thing about the Article.com trade program.
  • It's really important to be transparent with your clients.
  • E-design or full-service?
  • Monique has trade programs with all the retail stores that she shops with.
  • The percentage of her discount that Monique shares with her clients.
  • The way that Monique charges clients for her design services.
  • Some things to consider, about sourcing.
  • Doing your research about sourcing ahead of time really helps to prevent any unnecessary stress.
  • Being aware and knowing your product is very important.
  • Always have a price-point scale of the vendors that you deal with.
  • It's important to bear the location of vendors and their rep support in mind when making a purchase.
  • Knowing your product and your customer is a vital ingredient.
  • The importance of building sourcing and selling into the foundation of your business ahead of time.
  • A lot of Monique's coaching is strategy-based.
  • Building your sourcing repertoire list of vendors- it takes time but it's really worth it in the end.

Links:

Website: www.8STP.com

8STP FB Group

Master Class (Launching September 30th, 2018)

Instagram: Monique Nicole Holmes

Previous shows mentioned in this episode:

Monique's 1st appearance on the show: #178   (note she has since married- she was Monique Duarte- she is now Monique Holmes)

Deb Barrett #53

Gary Inman #154

Article.com #301

Dina Holland Honey & Fitz #354

Heather McManus #357

Oct 2, 2018

Welcome to the show! We have Janelle Blakely Photopoulos, the owner and principal of Blakely Interior Design, with us today for another episode in our series of The Things I Learned From A Well-Designed Business. Janelle recently sent us an awesome letter explaining all the lessons, improvements and systems that she's applied to her business since listening to the podcast. She is really a great example of a thoughtful business owner in that she listens, she learns, and she takes action. Join us today to find out what Janelle has to tell you about the way that she leads her team and runs her business.

Janelle earned a bachelor's degree in business and marketing from Syracuse University. Then, after honing her management skills with the corporate giant, AT&T, she realized her true calling and attended the Rhode Island School of Design to learn the technical aspects of interior design. Janelle started her residential interior design business in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, in 2010. Since then she has grown the business and established a reputation for creating really beautiful, livable interiors. Janelle has built a support team that reflects her vision and commitment to their clients. Her success is deeply rooted in her ability to collaborate and communicate adeptly with her clients and industry partners. In addition to the exponential growth of her design business, Janelle was recently nominated for Rhode Island’s 2018 Small Business Woman of the Year. Listen in to find out more!

Show highlights:

  • Janelle talks about her passion for leading her team.
  • The first time Janelle hired someone.
  • The importance of tracking time.
  • Shifting people into roles that are suited to their particular strengths.
  • Taking the time to see your employees for what they're really good at.
  • The team-wide assessment that Janelle had done to discover the specific strengths of each member of her team.
  • You're only as good as the team that supports you.
  • About the Client Concierge Experience.
  • The small things that you do for the client really make all the difference.
  • Some of the things she's learned along the way.
  • The biggest takeaways that Janelle gained from the podcast.
  • Janelle is a big believer in self improvement.
  • The impact that Stacy Brown Randall has had on Janelle.
  • Setting your client's expectations realistically in case something goes wrong.

Links:

Janelle's website: Blakely Interior Design

Other episodes mentioned on the show:

Susan Wintersteen- #164

Chad James - #68

Caitlyn Wait - #284

Eileen Hahn - #363

Candy Scott- #279

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