A Well-Designed Business® | Interior Design Business Podcast

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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Jul 12, 2019

Welcome to Power Talk Friday! Today, Jesse Lazarus, the Chief Process and Innovation Officer for Kravet Inc. joins us on the show. Jesse is a deep thinker, with a BA in philosophy, and in his role, at Kravet he plays an integral part in the discussion around the technology and innovations that the company chooses to partner with and embrace. Jesse spearheads Kravet's strategic plans and he implements their new digital initiatives, which include e-commerce projects, in-store experience concepts, and groundbreaking virtual design tools. Listen in today, to find out what Jesse has to share about the ongoing evolution of Kravet.

Kravet is a smart company and they are guided by their mission to support you, the interior designer, in your efforts to run a really profitable business. Kravet has been a show sponsor since the beginning and, in today's episode, Jesse talks to LuAnn about how this happened. He discusses the way that technology has advanced during his time working in the interior design industry, and how the industry is changing, as a result. He also talks to us about Kravet's new showroom which opening up at the New York Design Center, the way that Kravet is evolving,  and where they are heading, in terms of innovation and technology. Tune in now for more!

Show Highlights:

  • How LuAnn's collaboration with Kravet began.
  • For Jesse, Kravet is a really great and innovative place to work.
  • The criteria that Jesse uses to decide whether or not to partner with tech companies.
  • One of Kravet's core mission values is to always be in support of interior designers.
  • Although many of the new tech companies are not yet geared for the interior design industry, designers are now involved in helping those companies evolve to meet the needs of the industry.
  • Kravet has been partnering with MyDoma Studio since the spring of 2019. Jesse discusses the reason for this partnership.
  • Jesse discusses his perception of the two flavors of the marketplace.
  • Being transparent and as accessible as possible is another one of Kravet's core mission values.
  • There's so much research and product discovery happening online, currently. This has started feeding through into the design industry.
  • The way that Jesse sees the evolution of interior design showrooms, going forward.
  • The way that Jesse has built the digital experience into the concept for Kravet's new pilot showroom, as a subtle, supportive tool for designers.
  • Kravet's pilot showroom is meant to be a relaxed workspace for collaboration, where designers can feel comfortable enough to come in and use their sample library as if it was their own.
  • Kravet's pilot showroom is a way to honor their relationships with interior designers.
  • Some new technological innovations that are destined to become a part of the design industry.
  • Recently, designers have been collaborating to form buying groups. Jesse sees this as a natural evolutionary step.
  • The evolution of technology has made it possible for designers to now work in any way that fits their individual business.


Jesse Lazarus is Chief Process and Innovation Officer for Kravet Inc., a high-end home furnishings supplier to the interior design trade. In this role, Jesse plays an integral part in spearheading strategic plans and implementing new digital initiatives, including e-commerce projects, in-store experience concepts, and innovative virtual design tools. He received his BA in Philosophy from the State University of Stony Brook and resides in West Sayville, NY with his wife and two daughters.


Website: Kravet

Instagram: Kravet

Facebook: Kravet

Pinterest: Kravet

Twitter: Kravet


Code for 10% of Kravet fabric, wallpaper or trim: AWDB10

Jul 9, 2019

Welcome to the show! We have Tori Alexander with us today. Tori is a Nashville native and she's a Harpeth Hall alumna with a B.S. in Furnishings and Interiors from the University of Georgia. After graduating, Tori set herself apart as a designer with her uniquely broad understanding of architecture, while honing her skills at a boutique architecture firm in Nashville.

In 2012, Tori launched her own company, Alexander Interiors, in Sacramento California, when her husband's career took their family there. Then they returned to Nashville in 2016 and Tori started her business all over again. In today's episode, she talks to us about the systems she uses to keep her projects extremely well organized. And she mentions how moving and starting over twice, and experiencing a different culture and aesthetic, really broadened her design skills and helped her become a better businesswoman. Listen in today, to find out more!

Spaces you can live in. That’s Tori Alexander’s design philosophy – a vision that is top of mind as she dreams up new creations for her clients. “I design every space with the assumption that adults will spill red wine and children will spill their juice,” Tori explains. “That being said, it can still be beautiful! It is about knowing when and where to use each material.” When it comes to understanding those critical details, Tori’s credentials are truly impressive. Alexander Interiors has been featured by Southern Living, Today, Style Blueprint and more. Tune in today, to hear what Tori has to share about how to run a design-build project.

Show Highlights:

  • Tori explains where to start with a design-build project.
  • Implementing the production list was a turning point in Tori's business. It has led to more opportunities, such as management and construction management of larger projects.
  • Running a business in California was a constant uphill battle for Tori and this really helped her to develop an edge.
  • Tori talks about the production list and what it entails.
  • The management tool that has really improved the profitability of Tori's business.
  • Tori has four categories of projects: Renovation, full design, e-design, and consulting.
  • Projects have to make sense for Tori, first financially and then creatively. If they don't fit any of these categories, she turns them down.
  • Tori explains the kind of project that is not a good fit for her.
  • The way that Tori packages her consultation times.
  • Laying the seeds in the right places.
  • A production list documents every single task that needs to be done, no matter how large or small.
  • How trackable goals tie into the production list.
  • Implementing separate cross-checks for completion and accuracy.
  • Coming up with systems to prevent unforeseen installation problems from arising.
  • Tori shares some of the checklists that she uses. Using checklists helps to bring calmness to a potentially chaotic industry.
  • Rewarding the team at the end of a project for a job well done.


Tori Alexander- Bio

Spaces you can live in. That’s Tori Alexander’s design philosophy – a vision that is top of mind as she dreams up new creations for her clients. “I design every space with the assumption that adults will spill red wine and children will spill their juice,” Alexander explains. “That being said, it can still be beautiful! It is about knowing when and where to use each material.” When it comes to understanding those critical details, Alexander’s credentials are impressive. The Nashville native and Harpeth Hall alumna earned her B.S. in Furnishings and Interiors from The University of Georgia’s esteemed program in 2008. Upon graduating, she continued to hone her skills at a boutique architecture firm in Nashville, setting herself apart as a designer with a uniquely extensive understanding of architecture. In 2012, her husband’s career took Alexander to Sacramento, Ca., where she launched her own design company, Alexander Interiors. “I think being in a new and unfamiliar city encouraged me to finally take the leap and begin working for myself,” Alexander shares. Since the launch, clients have eagerly sought out Alexander’s impeccable expertise for their own homes. Describing her style as fresh and classic all at once, Alexander creates timeless interiors with layers of color, texture, and pattern. “I love a good pattern,” Alexander says. “That’s what I feel truly sets me apart — my ability to pair pattern on pattern within the same space.” In 2016, Alexander brought her thriving business back home to Nashville – a trending city with an ever-growing design scene. But with years of experience in California and clients across the country, Alexander offers a unique perspective for clients. “I’ve been able to draw inspiration from the quirks and trends in various regions and cities,” Alexander explains. Or sometimes, the inspiration is close to home – like an antique bracelet from her grandmother serving as the muse for a hand-painted ceiling in a charming nursery. Alexander’s creativity and heart help give clients unforgettable, one-of-a-kind spaces they can live in. Alexander Interiors has been featured by Southern Living, Today, Style Blueprint and more. To learn more, visit Alexander Interiors


Alexander Interiors

Instagram: Alexander Interiors Nashville

Will you be joining LuAnn in Las Vegas for her one-day Power Talk Friday Tour? LuAnn is repeating her Power Talk Friday Tour this year in Las Vegas. It is a one-day coaching event and it will be held on Saturday, July 27th, and it will run from 8.00am to 11.00pm. It will include breakfast, lunch, and dinner, discussions with LuAnn's PTF experts, and four hours of round table discussions, in groups of three or less, with each expert individually. Go to Power Talk Friday to reserve your seat.

if you are not sure if it’s right or you—email LuAnn at, put powertalkfriday LV in the subject line, and give LuAnn your phone number. She will call you and together you'll see if this one-day event will benefit you and your business. 

This event is sponsored by Revel Woods and MyDoma Studio.

To get onto LuAnn's email list to get the info, text the word DESIGNBIZ to the number 444999.

Jul 5, 2019

Welcome to Power Talk Friday! We have Sarah Winchester with us today! Sarah is a Boston based photographer specializing in interiors and fine art photography. Social media has really raised the bar for photographers over the last few years, and as a result, the world of interiors photography has been getting a lot of recognition. So investing in an excellent professional photographer has become a valuable way for new interior designers to become known. In today's episode, Sarah talks to us about styling, copyright, what it takes to be a great interiors photographer, and she also explains what you, as an interior designer, need to look for when hiring a photographer. Listen in today, to get Sarah's practical tips and advice for showing yourself in the way that you want to be seen.

Raised in Atlanta, GA Sarah brings her southern sensibility and style to her work.  After years in the corporate world as a creative director, brand manager, and in-house photographer, Sarah opened her own studio in 2009. Sarah’s strengths lie in blending the needs of the client with her own unique and artistic approach, to create beautiful and effective images. Sarah graduated from Villanova University with a Bachelor’s in Art and Art History and received her Masters in Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She was also able to spend time studying art in Florence, Italy. Tune in now for more!

Show Highlights:

  • Sarah believes that you have to have a script, or a shot list to know where you're going, where to start and to keep things organized.
  • Amazing photographs are essential for interior designers.
  • Social media has raised the bar for photographers.
  • Finding the right photographer.
  • Photographic shoots are creative and fun, and also exhausting!
  • What to look out for when choosing a photographer who will be the right fit.
  • Getting as much out of a photo shoot as you possibly can.
  • Copyright versus usage right... it can all be very confusing.
  • Paying for usage rights for the images you've shared.
  • Having the conversation about who owns the rights to the images on social media.
  • There's safety in integrity so it's important to be clear right from the beginning.
  • Partnering with local brands in order to style a project.
  • Developing relationships with local businesses and highlighting their products in your photo shoots.
  • Using images to sell a feeling.


Sarah is a Boston based photographer specializing in interiors and fine art photography.  Raised in Atlanta, GA she brings her southern sensibility and style to her work.  After years in the corporate world as a creative director, brand manager, and in-house photographer, Sarah opened her own studio in 2009. Sarah’s strengths lie in blending the needs of the client with her own unique and artistic approach, to create beautiful and effective images. Sarah graduated from Villanova University with a Bachelor’s in Art and Art History and received her Masters in Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She was also able to spend time studying art in Florence, Italy–one of her favorite cities in the world. Sarah has worked with clients, which span the creative and professional world, from magazines and fashion houses to advertising campaigns and construction companies. Sarah feels photography is about creating, not just capturing and brings that emotion to her work.


Website: Sarah Winchester Studios

Instagram: Sarah_W_Studios

Austin Mill PR

Previous episodes mentioned in the show:

Stephen Karlisch # 369

David Livingstone # 51

Raquel Langworthy # 343

Sarah Winchester Studios - Pitch for LuAnne Nigara Podcast

About Sarah Winchester

Sarah is a Boston based photographer who shoots all over the country, specializing in interiors and fine art photography. Raised in Atlanta, GA she brings her southern sensibility and style to her work. After years in the corporate world as a creative director, brand manager, and in-house photographer, Sarah opened her own studio in 2009. Sarah’s strengths lie in blending the needs of the client with her own unique and artistic approach, to create beautiful and effective images. Sarah graduated from Villanova University with a Bachelor’s in Art and Art History and received her Masters in Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She was also able to spend time studying art in Florence, Italy–one of her favorite cities in the world.

Sarah has worked with clients, which span the creative and professional world, from magazines and fashion houses to advertising campaigns and construction companies. She also creates a series of fine art photography stemming from a passion for art and travel; creating beautiful images to live with and love.

Sarah feels photography is about creating, not just capturing and brings that emotion to her work.


  1. PHOTOGRAPHERS - How to choose one? What sets me apart?
  2. In an increasingly growing field, how should a designer choose?
  3. In turn, how can a photographer set him or herself apart? (I know lots of interiors

photographers who listen to the podcast)

  1. SOCIAL MEDIA - Still photography, moving images, videos
  2. Social Media v. Website/Portfolio
  3. Instagram shooting tips. IPhone v. Professional
  4. Engagement, Stories, connecting with followers.
  5. CONTENT - Still photography, moving images, videos
  6. Should you be doing “more?” What does that “more” look like?
  7. Online and social media are perfect for playing with this. Places where

traditional print media can’t go

  1. COPYRIGHT - Who “owns” the images
  2. Copy Right v. Usage Rights
  3. 2 - 3 party usage - reduced rate
  4. “Other Parties” wishing to use the photos. Publications, vendors, etc.
  5. STYLING - The discussion continued…
  6. Such an important aspect of interiors photography. Could parent more discussion.
  7. Photographer as stylist…is this the new norm? Perhaps, but only if it fits the project and photographer.
  8. Partnering with a local business. Helps the shoot, the homeowner often buys the pieces and helps the designer finish out the project.
  9. I often buy or borrow, books, accessories, home goods, etc. for a shoot and let the homeowner buy the products from a shoot…unless they are from my personal collection. - The homeowner gets free shopping and styling
  11. Not all spaces and projects have amazing art budgets, but art is a crucial part of a finished project and creating beautiful, finished photographs.
  12. Relationship with art consultants. Finding new a artist who will lend work.
  13. A personal passion: I love finding new artists and helping them.
  15. Writers - In addition to getting to know editors (which can be very challenging because they are such busy people) Develop a relationship with writers.
  16. They get paid by the story to so we all want to find amazing projects.
  17. Local/Regional press and print is still amazing.
  18. Online features - .com arm of publications, blogs. Great in that things can go viral. Also, the reason why it is important to credit everyone when you post things.



  1. Photographers

- How to choose one?

- I come from a fine art/art history background that is where I start, but I also have some commercial experience so that always creeps in, but first and foremost I LOVE creating a great editorial type shot. One that will draw the viewer into the space. I love the challenge of creating beautiful images but also the effectiveness of conveying the “information” the designer needs/wants to parlay.

- Photographers - Just like designers, there is the right fit for you.

  • What is their photographic style, their personality, do they assist in styling, and do they fit your budget and meet or talk to them in person.
  • Crowded field of photographers - photography is becoming more and more accessible which makes the field larger. I say great. A rising tide lifts all boats.

- Look closely at the photographer's portfolio. The feel, the lighting, the angles.

  • How do you want your work to look? Just like when people choose a designer that best suits their needs and style.

- Photo shoots are long hard days…sometimes overnight trips. You better like who you are working with and shouldn’t it be fun?

  • They should be creatively fulfilling days that give you the final images that perfectly show your work and you.

- Trust the photographer but also speak up.

  • If the leather straps on a chair really speak to your work and your design choices, make sure the photographer gets those leather straps! Or tile or built-in design.

- This is the time to get the project the way you want it because when you walk out the door and close it behind you that is it. What do you have left of the


project? A photo shoot is a chance to get the project the way you want it and preserve it for your portfolio.


- Consulting - Social Media v. Website/Portfolio

- How to use Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. Which platform is the best for you?

  • To expand upon what David Livingston talked about in Episode 51 when

talking bout Houzz. Where should designers be?

- How to use it for your brand/company - for most in our business Instagram is THE tool to use. I have a little PDF I like to share with my clients as an “added value.”

- Instagram shooting tips. I like giving my clients a little cheat sheet on how to use their iPhone and Instagram to their best of their ability. The iPhone is a very powerful camera. It kills me when people don’t use it to the best of their ability.

  • I also love consulting new designers in this. They may only have the budget to hire me for that one great room they “designed to completion” so I love teaching photography 101 so they can use their iPhone to create content and images for social media.
  • For website and portfolio purported I still advice to use a true professional.

- Instagram Engagement

  • Community Building, give credit.
  • Reply to comments, DM’s, etc
  • Pose questions. Ask for advice.

- Posts v. Stories

- Authenticity - “Behind the curtain”. About you as a creative/business owner.

  • Photos of travels
  • Videos - real life, behind the scenes.
  • Show your personality


- Give Credit - It takes a lot of people to make a beautiful space and then the image that represents that space. It makes you look better to give credit where credit is due and helps with engagement. The more the merrier!

  • Designer, architect, Builder, Stylist, Photographer. Try to credit all the people involved. It only makes you look better and it spreads the love/influence.

- Giffs and video type images.

  • I have been having fun creating gifts and stop motion images.
  • Online and social media are perfect for playing with this. Places where

traditional print media can’t go

  • If your photographer focuses on only still, the iPhone can so much.
  • Time-lapse, stop motion, videos, etc.

- Who “owns” the images. Such a huge topic these days with photo sharing and the monetizing of Instagram, shopping, etc. It seems to be a touchy subject but an important one.

- What is the difference between usage rights and copyrights?

  • It is my job a the photographer to educate the designer on the differences. I don’t expect the designer to know this.

- When I was on salary for a large corporation they “owned” all the images I took. Some of my photographs were used in national ad campaigned printed in the likes of Sports Illustrated and This Old House, but I did not receive and usage payment form my company. That was our agreement. Totally fine as I was a salaried employee and that was a part of my job description.

- Now running my own studio I “own” all my images. I maintain the copyright.


  • The question may be raised from a designer ”but that is my work, my project.”

Absolutely. I have been hired for my talents, my brain juice, on how to create a photograph to best showcase that work. That creation…that photograph is my work, therefore the creator maintains the copyright.

- Usage Rights - When I shoot for a designer they have unlimited “usage rights” to the images. My wording goes:

  • Unlimited digital and print usage is granted to the client. Any editorial rights (digital and print) rights should be settled between Sarah Winchester Studios LLC and the publisher. Images and their rights usage are not transferable. Rights usage by other parties may be obtained for a fee per image. Sarah Winchester Studios LLC is the sole copyright owner (only usage rights is being granted) All photography to be credited: Sarah M. Winchester

- “Other parties” includes, builders, architects, lighting companies, wallpaper, furniture company, etc who see the images and then wants to use it for an ad campaign or marketing tool they need to contact me for a usage fee.

  • Basically, if they are going to use my image to sell their product. They are usually more than happy to and understand this industry standard. Plus it is far more economical than producing their own photo shoots.
  • I had a wonderful recent experience where a project for my beloved client Cecilia Walker was featured on (a connection through written Jaci Conry). Cecilia had used a lot of Hudson Valley lighting fixtures. They then bought some usage rights from me and ended up using the images in their national advertising campaign all over their website and in print publications like House Beautiful.
  • Conversely, I had a company see a project in a publication, asked to buy some usage but the designer had such a terrible time dealing with them she asked that I not. I of course obliged. My relationship with the designer is worth much more than the money I would have gotten from this other party. I always ask…and get the permission of the homeowner.
  • So many moving parts involved, but I find being open and transparent is the best way and I pride myself in being clear and honest.

- 2 - 3 Companies Usage


  • Often times the designer, builder and architect all want photos of a project.

For this, I offer a slightly reduced “combined rate” for the shoot.

  • So the overall cost of the shoot might be more because there are more people “using” the images, but when split 3 ways is less expensive for each party than if they each hired me separately.

- If copyrights are wanting to be purchased it usually is a much higher cost because I am basically giving away all my rights to that image I created. That case usually only comes up when a photographer is hired by Architectural Digest or some major print publication but even then that is not always the case.

  • I heard Photographer Lynsey Adario who shoots for the NY Times, National Geographic, etc. speak and she said she shoots as a freelancer for that reason. So she owns the copyrights to her photographs.

- Styling Assistance - I have rolled it into my services because I love it and I am good at it.

  • This was covered greatly in the Raquel Langworthy podcast and I thought she did an amazing job conveying the differences between stying assistance and hiring a professional stylist. It's a new way people are looking at their photographers.
  • Majority of my clients do not have the budget to hire amazing stylists like Stacy Kunstel or Charlotte Safavi. That is usually a publication level shoot.

- I have relationships with various studios and shops and after scouting with gather information on colors, flowers, accessories, books needed. I borrow a ton of stuff on my own. Inevitably the homeowner buys half the stuff we bring.

Win-win for all.

- If the homeowner isn’t on set (which is usually the case and the preferred option) we send photos and pricing while on a shoot for approval.

- A great way for the designer to finish out the project.


- I know what it “photogenic” I know what has been shot to death. (Ahem…Tom Ford book)I also like that “control” over the shoot. It makes us all look better.

- STORY: I recently shot a gorgeous old brownstone in historic Beacon Hill, the designer hired me to style and shoot the project. I hired my own styling assistant. We spent an entire day styling and then we shot for two days. I helped source art

  1. ART

- Art sourcing - Art is SUPER important.

  • This is also a personal passion of mine with my Art History major, I love finding new artist, I have a few art consultants I work with who lend me work. One of whom I am giving a Design Week talk with about Art + Design.
  • To Stephen Karlisch point we can hold art up. No need to bang holes in that Phillip Jeffery wallpaper. And sometimes the homeowner ends up buying a piece. Win-win!

- Writers!!! - In addition to getting to know editors (which can be very challenging because they are such busy people), I have loved developing relationship with writers.

  • They get paid by the story to so we all want to find amazing projects.

- Local/Regional press and print is still amazing

- We all want national press of course but regional print has amazon coverage

- New England Home, Newspaper magazine, Modern Luxury, Atlanta Homes and Lifestyle



Jul 2, 2019

Welcome to the show! Today, we have the charming Jared Hughes, an interior designer from Atlanta, joining us. Jared's Instagram and his website are well worth paying attention to because they are unusual, warm, and beautiful, and the authentic way that he has remained true to himself and his own, personal style really shines through both. In today's episode, Jared talks to us about his solid interior design business and he explains how he has built a reputation and gained recognition as a talented designer within the interior design industry, even though his firm is still under three years old. Tune in now, to find out more!

Jared opened his firm after ten years of experience working for others in residential design and event and floral design. The experience that he gained from doing this has allowed him to hit the ground running and as a result, he's been producing projects that are timeless, classic, and with an unexpected twist. Listen in to find out what Jared has to share today. You're really going to enjoy this episode!

Show Highlights:

  • Jared talks about his confidence in presenting his work in his own, unique way in his Instagram and on his website.
  • There are some key elements that are evident in all of Jared's designs.
  • Jared explains why hints of his personal life appear regularly in his Instagram feed.
  • Jared's biggest client is from Switzerland.
  • What people are looking for in Atlanta, in terms of interior design.
  • Jared talks about his incredible number of accomplishments over the last two years.
  • Networking has really been key to Jared's success.
  • As a new designer, it's really important to present yourself in a humble and respectful manner when getting to know more experienced designers.
  • Jared advises you, as baby designers, to take the advice of more seasoned designers and let them help you.
  • We never stop learning, so Jared likes to test out processes that have worked for other people.
  • Jared is extroverted and better around other people, however, he has no problem with being alone.
  • Jared gives some unique and useful advice to help introverted designers with networking.
  • Jared explains where he gained the grounding for his specific design aesthetic.


Jared Hughes is a globally inspired Atlanta designer with deep roots in the South. His penchant for antiques and architecture are at the heart of his work, and his fascination with fabrics is the starting point for nearly all of his design projects. He gleans inspiration from his obsession with color to rethink the past and create livable,  layered spaces. With 10 years of experience in residential, event and floral design, Hughes’ breadth of experience allows him to produce projects that feel timeless and classic with an unexpected twist.

Links and Resources:

Website: Jared Hughes Design

Instagram: Jared Hughes Design

Will you be joining LuAnn in Las Vegas for her one-day Power Talk Friday Tour? LuAnn is repeating her Power Talk Friday Tour this year in Las Vegas. It is a one-day coaching event and it will be held on Saturday, July 27th, and it will run from 8.00am to 11.00pm. It will include breakfast, lunch, and dinner, discussions with LuAnn's PTF experts, and four hours of round table discussions, in groups of three or less, with each expert individually. Go to Power Talk Friday to reserve your seat.

This event is sponsored by Revel Woods and MyDoma Studio.

To get onto LuAnn's email list to get the info, text the word DESIGNBIZ to the number 444999.

Jun 28, 2019

Welcome to Power Talk Friday! We are very happy to have Kimberly Merlitti, one of our favorite Power Talk Experts, back on the show today. Many people are really in the dark about how much money is actually going in and out of their businesses. Kimberly, who first appeared in episode #361, loves teaching people to understand accounting in a way that makes them an active partner in their finances. Talking in really simple language, she helps people figure out the really important financial side of their businesses. In today's episode, you will learn about the billable hours, rates between the principal designer and junior designers, how to know your cash on hand, how to know your 'cost to be open' number, how to budget to hire a junior designer, and how to prepare for a recession. Listen in, to find out how to get to know your numbers.

Kimberly Merlitti owns KMM Consulting based out of Washington, D.C. She has 20 years of experience working in accounting for companies such as Swinerton Builders, WRNS Studio, and Martin Group. She has her Masters in Accounting from Golden Gate University. Located in Washington D.C. Kimberly's clientele includes a diverse group of service-based companies, with the main focus on small interior design, construction, and architectural firms. The goal of her firm is to make the businesses she works for as profitable as they can be by educating them on accounting, cash flow management, tax deductions, project reporting, and business management. Tune in now, for more!

Show Highlights:

  • Kimberly shares a really simple calculation for you to get to know how much of the money in your business account is actually yours.
  • Using the best software to calculate your vendor liability.
  • Keeping an eye on your cash flow.
  • How to know your cash on hand.
  • It only takes five minutes a month to know your cash on hand.
  • Budgeting to hire a junior designer.
  • Working out your time-billing rates and budgets.
  • Being upfront and straightforward with your clients.
  • Telling your clients what to expect with every stage of the design process.
  • Things to consider when working out your 'cost to be open' number.
  • How to prepare for a recession.
  • Building cash reserves for difficult times.

Other episodes mentioned in today's show:

Alinda Morris: #429

Michele Williams #180 and #395

Peter Lang #349


A Well Designed Business

Kimberly's website: KMM Consulting

Kimberly's email:

Need to schedule time with KMM? KMM Consulting

Jun 25, 2019

Welcome to today's show! We're excited to be interviewing Laura and Cliff Muller today. Laura and Cliff are the husband and wife team behind Four Point Design Build, an award-winning full-service multi-disciplinary residential and commercial high-level interior and architectural design, project management, and construction firm, based in Los Angeles. The landscape of interior design is changing, so design-build has become an incredible opportunity for interior designers to have control over their projects and to enjoy the fruits of a multi-dimensional process. In today's episode, Cliff and Laura share some of their winning design-build processes, and Laura gives some great advice about mentorship and collaborating with build professionals. Tune in now, to find out more.

Four Point Design Build is owned and led by interior designer and general contractor, Laura and Cliff Muller, and with over sixty years of combined experience, FOUR POINT’s boutique hands-on style of design and project management from concept to turnkey, specializes in highly customized client-centered projects with an experienced and immaculate focus on whole home remodels, kitchens, baths, and office spaces. Cliff and Laura’s work has been seen Architectural Digest, Elle Décor, Better Homes & Gardens, House Beautiful, Metropolis, Hospitality Design, and CA Home & Design to name a few. Listen in today, to find out about what it takes to run a successful design-build business.

Show Highlights:

  • There's a fine line between professionalism and personal expression in the world of business today.
  • Why Laura and Cliff make such an excellent husband and wife team.
  • Celebrating all the different people involved in a project at the end.
  • How they developed the name of their business.
  • Cliff and Laura's four-step business-process.
  • Understanding what goes into a design-build project.
  • The best way for a new designer to start out in the design-build world.
  • Laura suggests that new designers find a design-build mentor to oversee their first small design-build project.
  • The best way for a young designer to approach someone they would like to become their mentor.
  • Laura explains how to make the right kind of connections.
  • What has to happen at the beginning of a successful design-build project.
  • The investigation and analysis that is necessary before the start of a design-build project.
  • Knowing your self-worth and value, and the essence of the truth of your business is really empowering.
  • Some websites that provide good information for designers and consumers to understand what to expect from a design-build project.
  • Laura discusses the really well-received presentation that they did at the Las Vegas market, around the changing landscape of interior design.

Short Company Bio:




June 20, 2019

For Immediate Release

FOUR POINT DESIGN BUILD INC is an award-winning full service multi-disciplinary residential and commercial high-level interior and architectural design, project management, and construction firm based in Los Angeles, serving clients nationwide. Owned and led by Interior Designer and General Contractor, Laura and Cliff Muller, and with over sixty years of combined experience, FOUR POINT’s boutique hands-on style of design and project management from concept to turnkey specializes in highly customized client-centered projects with an experienced and immaculate focus on whole home remodels, kitchens, baths, and office spaces. From high-rise and mixed-use design-build to executive offices and luxury custom homes, Cliff and Laura guide and oversee every detail and project process with systems and teams in place that allow their Clients to relax and enjoy the blessings of designing and building a custom luxury #CleanFreshModernTM space. [137]

Cliff and Laura’s work has been seen Architectural Digest, Elle Décor, Better Homes & Gardens, House Beautiful, Metropolis, Hospitality Design, and CA Home & Design to name a few. Laura is the former President of the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID/2016) and has the distinct honor of being selected to the prestigious 2018 DXV Design Panel and the elite 2019 Designer Council for Monogram Appliances. Cliff has collaborated on award-winning and highly celebrated projects with such renown architects as Patrick Tighe and Morphosis. [90]



> Full Service Interior Design

> Architecture and Detailing

> Custom Furniture Design and Fabrication

> Construction Documents and Permit Acquisition

> Full Service Project and Construction Management and Administration


> Residential

> Commercial

> Tenant Improvement

> Retail

> Restaurant

> Multi-Family and Mixed Use

TO LEARN MORE about us, our team, and our work, visit Four Point Design Build and SUBSCRIBE to our newsletter #The4ptReport

for tips and trends, means and methods, things we love, inspiration, resources and tools, and more. FOLLOW US @4ptDesignBuild on

Instagram Facebook Pinterest and Twitter.


Project Inquiries -

Media and Speaking Inquiries - Andrew@andrewjosephpr


22048 Sherman Way, Suite 205 Canoga Park, CA 91303 | T 818.914.8826

LIC. B #982460



Website: 4 Point Design Build Inc

Instagram: 4 Point Design Build Inc

Twitter: 4 Point Design Build Inc

Facebook: 4 Point Design Build Inc

Pinterest: 4 Point Design Build Inc

The Design-Build Institute of America: DBIA

LuAnn is repeating her Power Talk Friday Tour this year in Las Vegas. It is a one-day coaching event and it will be held on Saturday, July 27th, and it will run from 8.00am to 11.00pm. It will include breakfast, lunch, and dinner, discussions with LuAnn's PTF experts, and four hours of round table discussions, in groups of three or less, with each expert individually.

To get onto LuAnn's email list to get the info, text the word DESIGNBIZ to the number 444999.

Jun 21, 2019

Welcome to Power Talk Friday! Today's show is sponsored by our guest, Tobi Fairley, who previously appeared in episode #419. Tobi has been one of our industry leaders for many years, mentoring interior designers and helping them become better business persons. She is an accomplished luxury interior designer with her business based in Arkansas. She's a fabric designer, a business coach, a life coach, and she has her own podcast called Design You. Tobi has also created a unique and really effective coaching course called Tobi Fairley's DesignYou Coaching Program and in today's episode, she explains how her coaching program differs from all the rest. Tobi loves nothing more than helping people really thrive and love their business so listen in today, to learn from Tobi how to cast a wider net and start making money while you sleep.

Tobi Fairley is known for her bold use of color in interior design, but she’s also one of the nation’s most progressive-thinking entrepreneurs. She is passionate about her full-service interior design company and her consulting firm which are focused on helping clients design their homes, their businesses, and their lives, with a special interest in promoting wellness and balance for entrepreneurs, CEOs, and creatives. Tune in now, to find out more!

Show Highlights:

  • Tobi explains what's different about her coaching.
  • Getting out of your own head and out of your own way.
  • Unlocking your old mindsets.
  • Why the course is a yearly program.
  • Tobi explains what the coaching course covers.
  • Finances can be scary for creatives.
  • The kind of real-time support that you will get from Tobi.
  • The benefits of abundant thinking.
  • The three different courses that Tobi will be re-doing, live, that are also included in her yearly course.
  • Tobi is very straightforward with her coaching clients.
  • Tobi explains why it's in her best interest to pour all her support into you.
  • Why you need to be doing business differently now to how you did it in the past.
  • Digital marketing for interior designers.
  • Understanding the value ladder in a digital marketing system.
  • Opening your mind to working differently.
  • Creating a system from your design process.
  • Becoming niche-specific.
  • Meeting your clients right where they are.
  • How coaching, content, and community can help you reach your goals.


Traditional Home predicts “Tobi will be like Cher or Oprah, one of those women for whom one name says it all.”

Tobi Fairley is known for her bold use of color in interior design, but she’s also one of the nation’s most progressive-thinking entrepreneurs. Tobi is passionate about her full-service interior design company and her consulting firm which are focused on helping clients design their homes, their businesses, and their lives, with a special interest in promoting wellness and balance for entrepreneurs, CEOs, and creatives.

Tobi established her firm more than 19 years ago and her projects have spanned the nation and beyond. Her award-winning interior design, product design and ideas have been featured on television and in publications worldwide including House Beautiful, Veranda, Traditional Home, Huffington Post, HGTV, The Wall Street Journal, Southern Living, Better Homes & Gardens, Real Simple, Coastal Living, Southern Cottages, Creative Live, the Chicago Tribune, and MSNBC. In 2017, Tobi was a columnist for Traditional Home magazine with a feature in each issue chronicling her own home renovation and reveal.

Tobi’s design goal is to create interiors that will assist her clients in reaching their big, personal, and entrepreneurial dreams, while supporting their health and wellness. She designs functional homes and beautiful environments that will foster personal growth, balance, and connection for all who use them.

Tobi was at the forefront of the design blog movement when she launched her blog over 10 years ago, and it’s currently read in more than 125 countries worldwide. She has been a trusted coach for over 10 years for interior designers and creatives through her live events, design and business courses, and online programs.

Among Tobi’s latest ventures is Design You, a monthly coaching program, where interior designers and creatives can get all of Tobi’s best course content, along with live coaching from Tobi in the areas of business, health and wellness, and mindset for a monthly or yearly subscription. In April 2018 Tobi launched her new podcast, The Design You Podcast, where she helps Interior Designers and Creatives say no to busy and say yes to more health, wealth and joy. In her podcast episodes, Tobi shares best business practices, her personal journey as a working mom and her beliefs about personal development for creating your best life, business, and home.

For the last 3 years, Tobi has had great success in product design with her licensed collections from Soicher Marin (art), Duralee (fabrics), CR Laine (upholstered furniture), Woodbridge Furniture (case goods and outdoor furniture), New River Artisans (rugs), and recently signed a license with C2 Paint which will debut late 2018.

Previous episodes mentioned in the show:

Tobi's first appearance on the show was in episode #419

Links and resources:

Tobi's details:

Tobi Fairley, ASID

17200 Chenal Parkway Suite 300 #330

Little Rock, AR 72223


Tobi's website: Tobi Fairley

Tobi's podcast, Design You

Mighty Networks


Tobi’s Freebie for LuAnn’s Audience:

The Digital Marketing Primer e-Course--this 12-part email course teaches you the basics of what a digital marketing strategy is and why you MUST have one in your business.  Get it at Digital Primer

Tobi Fairley’s DesignYou Coaching Program:

DesignYou is a monthly coaching program for Interior Designers and Creative Entrepreneurs that costs $279 per month or $2799 per year.


  • 2 live monthly coaching calls with Tobi (2 hours each)
  • Tobi’s Book Club bi-monthly book selections and group calls for discussion
  • Access to Tobi’s 3 signature courses included in your membership. These courses (listed below) have transformed thousands of creatives and the way they run their businesses.
  • Designer MBA Course
  • Digital Marketing For Creatives Course
  • Financials for Creatives Course (Tobi is teaching this live July 16-17)
  • You also get a very active peer community in DesignYou built on the Mighty Networks platform. Thanks to the features of Mighty Networks, DesignYou is organized by topics and is easily searchable.
  • There are groups on specific topics in DesignYou including:
  • Interior Design Group
  • Tobi’s Book Club
  • 3 Accountability Groups for the Digital Marketing for Creatives Course depending on your level of implementation.
  • Digital Marketing Assets Group where you can post your digital marketing deliverables for review by Tobi and Team Tobi.

If you buy at the Insiders Level of DesignYou (pay for a full year when joining), you also get:

  • A live call with one of Tobi’s top team members or experts with a Q and A--these are on topics like marketing, podcasting, writing email campaigns, creating a course or program, website design and more.
  • A monthly flash mastermind where you and your peers do a live collaborative mastermind session on a specific topic lead by Team Tobi.
  • A behind the scenes look at what Tobi is working on in her business and what programs courses she is currently creating.


In DesignYou we teach Designers and Creatives how to:

  • Transform your mindset to bring about real change in your business and personal life and understand what’s holding you back/keeping you stuck so you can find a solution.
  • Transform your business model to be profitable, scalable and future ready.
  • Implement consulting-only offerings like Strategy Sessions into your service offerings to start making more money for your time and intellectual property TODAY!
  • Transform your schedule from flying by the seat of your pants to organized structure. This means finally accomplishing goals but on the timeline you create.
  • End the feast or famine nature of business by teaching members how to create a digital marketing strategy.
  • Have more health, wealth, and joy while running your creative business.
  • Identify burnout and all of the action steps to overcome it or prevent it.
  • Build systems and processes to get your business running smoothly and consistently with less stress - and then we dive into how to automate these systems to create more time in your day.  
  • Target your Ideal Client and Niche so that you are working with the group of people that light you up every day and who are most willing to pay you your worth. We also teach you how to develop a following or tribe of these like-minded clients.
  • Learn to delegate and run a team of in-person, contract, and virtual employees so that you spend 80% of your time in your Zone of Genius.
Jun 18, 2019

Welcome! Today, Beth Smith, the owner and principal designer of Beth Diana Smith Interior Design, based in New Jersey, joins me on the show. For Beth, the interior design came years after pursuing her degrees in business and accounting to fulfill her love of processes and business strategy. In today's episode, Beth talks to us about budgets, managing situations, and expectations, and also about sexual harassment and she explains to us why she now has a clause in her contract to cover it. They also discuss the power and benefits, to both your business and your self-development, of attending industry events. Tune in now, for more!

After completing her M.B.A., Beth spent more than ten years in corporate finance, with companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Viacom, honing her skills in understanding clients, analytics, and budgeting, and sharpening her attention to detail. Beth's work and her design advice have been featured on television and also in various print and online publications including NBC, HGTV, Vogue, EBONY, Design*Sponge, and the New York Times. Listen in today, to hear Beth's story.

Show Highlights:

  • Leaning into your skills and expressing them to your potential clients.
  • The skills that Beth moved over from her corporate life to her design business.
  • Working strategically around budget issues with clients.
  • Keeping the client's expectations realistic.
  • What 'don't save your client's money' really means.
  • Dealing with clients who have unreasonably low budgets.
  • Listening to your gut and having your client trust that you know what is best for them.
  • Coping with situations where a client does not go along with your advice.
  • Beth takes her contracts very seriously. After signing, she sends the client a letter highlighting the important points.
  • What Beth outlines in her welcome letter.
  • Being responsive while still sticking to business hours.
  • Beth explains why she does not feel the need to present her contract to her clients in person.
  • How Beth protects herself and the team she works with.
  • Dealing with sexual harassment.
  • Beth talks about the great press that she has had in her design career.
  • Beth shares some suggestions for running a design firm in a way to prepare yourself to get lucky and be noticed by Open House NYC.
  • Most of Beth's press has come from relationships and networking.
  • Networking from a place of giving.
  • About Kavet's past Blogfests and how they have really helped Beth to grow her business.

Bio: Beth Diana Smith is the Owner and Principal Designer of Beth Diana Smith Interior Design, a New Jersey-based interior design company. Beth, her work, and her design advice have been featured on television and in various print and online publications including NBC, HGTV,, EBONY, Design*Sponge, and The New York Times. But know that interior design came years after pursuing degrees in business and accounting to satiate her love of processes and business strategy. After completing her M.B.A., she spent more than a decade in corporate finance in companies such as Johnson & Johnson and Viacom honing her skills in understanding clients, analytics, budgeting, and keen attention to detail. 

Links and resources:

Beth's Website: Beth Diana Smith

Beth's Instagram: Beth Diana Smith

Beth's Facebook: Beth Diana Smith

Beth's Pinterest: Beth Diana Smith

Beth's LinkedIn: Beth Diana Smith

Luann Nigara

Luann Nigara Book2

Well Designed Article

Window Fashion Vision

Previous episodes mentioned in the show:

Nate Berkus #433

Erika Ward #6 and #278

LuAnn is repeating her Power Talk Friday Tour this year in Las Vegas. It is a one-day coaching event and it will be held on Saturday, July 27th, and it will run from 8.00am to 11.00pm. It will include breakfast, lunch, and dinner, discussions with LuAnn's PTF experts, and four hours of round table discussions, in groups of three or less, with each expert individually.

To get onto LuAnn's email list to get the info, text the word DESIGNBIZ to the number 444999.

Jun 14, 2019

Welcome to Power Talk Friday! Today, Sarah Santacroce, an internationally recognized LinkedIn Specialist & Online Presence Mentor, joins us on the show. Sarah helps convert your presence online into paying customers, and she is also the creative brain behind the LinkedIn Challenge, an event that has already helped more than 1900 people to improve their knowledge about using LinkedIn for business. Tune in now, to find out more.

Sarah, who lives in Switzerland, is known for her simple, no-nonsense Swiss efficiency mixed with a dose of Californian 'yes we can' attitude. She uses her ability to focus to help you to come up with a strategy to achieve your goals. And with her experience, her skill, her empathy, and her passion, she encourages you and helps you grow your business. She has assisted hundreds of clients from all over the world by generating leads for them via LinkedIn and social serving strategies. In today's episode, Sarah will open your eyes to the untapped potential of Linkedin. Listen in, to learn from Sarah how to breathe life into your LinkedIn profile.

Show highlights:

  • Why LinkedIn is actually a great platform for introverts.
  • How LinkedIn has changed since the millennials started showing up and changing things about two years ago.
  • Sarah suggests some strategies for successfully using LinkedIn as a platform.
  • How a great LinkedIn profile can really benefit introverts.
  • Where the power of LinkedIn really lies.
  • On LinkedIn, everything is organized by job titles so you need to figure out who you're going to be working with.
  • Adding more experiences to your LinkedIn profile.
  • Creating a special landing page and linking it to your LinkedIn profile.
  • The biggest mistake Sarah's seen people make.
  • Sarah explains where to start.
  • Your past experience counts for a lot.
  • Building relationships and networking effectively through social serving.
  • LinkedIn is about creating a human connection.
  • Posting visual content to demonstrate that you're an expert in your field.
  • LinkedIn's mission is to be the number one platform for professional content.
  • The amount of time it takes to create a meaningful presence on LinkedIn.
  • Sarah talks about her podcast, Introvert Biz Growth Podcast.

Extract from Sarah's website:

My clients like to work with me because I’m structured, focused, result oriented, ‘the real thing’. 

I’m known for my simple, no-nonsense Swiss efficiency, mixed with a good dose of Californian ‘yes we can’ attitude! (we lived in California from 2006 - 2010)

And she goes on to say:

There are a few things I’m good at:

  • My ability to focus on the essentials & come up with the strategy for you to achieve your goals
  • My experience(based on many failures) of getting clients online & what it takes to grow your business
  • My skill to quickly put myself into your client’s shoes & create an offer that he/she can’t resist
  • My empathy, passion& encouragement to use your uniqueness to grow your business

Oh, and I'm an Introvert.

Links and resources:

Sarah's website: Sarah Santacroce

Sarah's podcast

Sarah's LinkedIn: Sarah Santacroce

Sarah's facebook: Sarah Santacroce

Sarah's lead magnet: Sarah's Templates

LuAnn's Webinar:

Join me on Tuesday, June 25th at 1:00 pm est for an exclusive Mydoma Studio webinar on Sales Strategies for Interior Designers!

The roles will be reversed and I will be in the hot seat talking about the strategies I have learned.

Come prepared with your questions!  You can ask me questions about your business, about tricky conversations with clients, about how to sell more to the same people, about anything you want really.

You know me, I just love hanging out with you!

Webinar: My Doma Studio

Jun 11, 2019

Welcome to today's episode! It's time to start thinking about the High Point Market again. If you're wondering why you need to be thinking about it now, you may be surprised to find out that the hotels are already filling up. Also, now is the right time to start mapping out your trip and go to the website at High Point Market to see who the brands are, make your appointments, and get onto the email list so you can be notified of the new product launches, the panels, and the keynote series in the theater, because you really won't want to miss a thing! Listen in today, to find out more.

On the show today, we have Ashley Grigg, the Director of Marketing and Communications for the High Point Market Authority, Lisa Mende, the founder and principal of Lisa Mende Design, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Jeanne Chung, a luxury interior designer and retailer based in Southern California. These three ladies will explain why you need to attend the High Point Market and they will give some great tips for making the most of the experience. They will also discuss the logistics of going to High Point, explain how to make your trip really productive, and share some really useful information about the various tours that are available. You really have to know what to do before you get to High Point, so tune in now, to get all the details.

Show Highlights:

  • Why it's really important for interior designers to invest the time and money in going to High Point Market.
  • How half the business is conducted after the market is over.
  • The brand cocktail parties are awesome opportunities to meet and connect with important people.
  • The way that High Point has really impacted on Jeanne's business.
  • Making great connections at High Point Market.
  • How High Point Market stands out from all the rest.
  • Having the opportunity to talk to the showroom owners.
  • Ways for new designers to establish themselves with the various showrooms.
  • Some things to think about when pre-planning your trip to High Point Market.
  • Why it's a good idea to do a tour for your first trip to High Point.
  • High Point Market covers 11 500 000 square feet!
  • Jeanne talks about her Insider's Tour, which is geared towards designers seeking to offer customization and one-of-a-kind.
  • Ashley talks about all the other tours that are also available for buyers at High Point. The relevant information about all the tours is available on the High Point Market authority website. High Point Market
  • Some tips for making sure that you are able to connect with the right people at High Point.
  • There is an incredible Market Advisor Team available for you to call to answer any questions you may have prior to arriving at HP. They will also be available during the market.
  • Lisa's great tips and suggestions for getting ready for market.


Ashley Grigg is the Director of Marketing and Communications for the High Point Market Authority. High Point Market is the largest home furnishings trade show in the world and Ashley manages many of their projects, including media relations, educational programming, social media, and digital promotions. Ashley has over 13 years of experience in marketing and event management

Lisa Mende is the founder and principal of Lisa Mende Design based in Charlotte, NC which opened in 1998. She has built a reputation as one of the South’s Leading Luxury Designers and her work has been featured in many well-known national shelter and lifestyle magazines. As a designer and tastemaker, Lisa works with Brands and has served as a #Authlux Design Guild Member for House of Rohl for 2018, The Thermador Design Council and the Design Council for DSV Luxury in 2016. Lisa is an Allied Member of ASID and NKBA. She also pens the popular blog “The Design Connector” where she is currently kicking off a new series which will chronicle the renovation of her own home sharing all her favorite kitchen and bath products and as well as the renovation process with her readers.

Jeanne Chung is a luxury interior designer and retailer based in Southern California. In addition to heading up her own interior design firm, Jeanne owns a retail and to the trade showroom in Pasadena, CA which has become a favorite go-to destination for both designers and design enthusiasts who seek a unique and artfully edited selection of new and vintage home furnishings and accessories.  Through her design blog Cozy Stylish Chic, Jeanne has become recognized as an influencer in the industry and frequently collaborates with brands and manufacturers. She is a regular speaker on trade show designer panels and has served as a High Point Market Style Spotter. Jeanne participated in the Pasadena Showcase House of Design in 2017 and in 2018, served on the Board of the ASID Pasadena Chapter.

About the High Point Market:

In October and April each year, the High Point Market attracts more than 75 000 retailers, interior designers, and service providers from more than 100 countries. There are nearly 2000 exhibitor showrooms across 180 buildings, covering twelve million square feet of space.

High Point Market was founded in 1909, in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. It is the world's longest running home furnishings event and it is the driving force in the home furnishings industry. It is unrivaled in both its size and scope.

High Point Market features more Made in the USA furnishings than any other trade show, as well as a wide variety of imported goods, spanning every style, category, and price point.

Links and resources: 

High Point Market Digital Press Kit

Website: High Point Market

Ashley's email:

To download the app CamCard: CamCard

Registration opens mid-July, 2019 for the fall market

Fall Market: October 19th-23rd, 2019

When you do go to High Point, please be sure to stop by Kravet’s showroom, located at Market Square, #217 on the 2nd floor.

This show was previously aired as #406.

Jun 7, 2019

Welcome to today's show! We're turning things around a bit and sharing a replay of LuAnn being interviewed by Amber De La Garza, aka the Productivity Specialist, a while back, when LuAnn was a guest on Amber's show, Productivity Straight Talk. Listen in today, to hear their conversation.

In today's episode, LuAnn talks to Amber about the way that she's blended structure, systems, and processes into her business, Window Works, to help it grow to become a two-million dollar company. She talks about her success and her challenges, she shares ways to create structure in your business, and she also gives some questions to ask yourself before making any big decisions.

Tune in now to find out what LuAnn has to say about her business
which has been thriving in the interior design space since 1982.

Show highlights:

  • LuAnn describes what her business and her support structure look like.
  • Luann discusses the roles that she, her husband, and their partner each
  • play in their business, and the synergistic way they work together.
  • How the Window Works team came together.
  • LuAnn describes her life before structure.
  • How structure equals freedom and success.
  • How LuAnn woke up to the value of structure.
  • Why you must embrace systems in order to scale.
  • LuAnn and Amber discuss the perils of disorganization.
  • How organization ties into productivity.
  • How time-blocking has really worked for LuAnn.
  • The administrative system that has had the biggest impact on LuAnn's business.


A Well-Designed Business Podcast
Window Works
Original Episode
Amber’s Website: Amber Delagarza
Amber's Facebook
Amber's Instagram

Book mentioned:
The E-Myth by Michael Gerber

Jun 4, 2019

Welcome! Today, we have Juan Carlos Rodriguez-Artigas on the show with us. Juan Carlos is an accomplished architect and interior designer with extensive experience in high-end hospitality, restaurant, commercial, and residential design. He is currently the design director of the London Studio of the global interior architecture firm, Wilson Associates. Juan Carlos's position is multi-faceted, and in today's episode, he discusses his role and responsibilities, as the firm's design director, where he oversees the day-to-day operations and projects of the London studio. In addition to creating beautiful projects, he has been in charge of the hiring and building of a cohesive and talented team, which he has then had to lead and guide. Also, a large part of his job involves finding, meeting, and creating opportunities for new business for the firm, and he explains that this all starts with relationships and with connecting to people. Tune in now to find out more. 

Wilson Associates is a collection of 10 design firms around the world whose work encompasses interior architectural design, architecture, art consultancy, concept development, branding, and food and beverage design. Their portfolio includes some of the most prestigious hospitality projects in the world. Listen in today, to hear what Juan Carlos has to share.

Show Highlights:

  • Juan Carlos shares some of his experiences from the past year while building the London studio.
  • The pros and cons of first working for a small firm, and then jumping to a big firm.
  • Juan Carlos shares what he was looking for when hiring his team members.
  • Starting out with a small team and growing organically.
  • When building his team, he was looking for flexibility and team players. That's his secret to creating a small, winning team.
  • Running a small office has involved wearing a number of different hats.
  • Juan describes the difference between his last position and his current one, with Wilson Associates.
  • Creating a strong foundation with the team he built.
  • The kind of skill set that Juan Carlos required his team members to have.
  • Why Juan Carlos prefers working in hospitality, rather than in residential.
  • Having to take into account what the operations team is telling you when designing for hospitality.
  • Juan Carlos describes his superpower and the superpower of Wilson Associates.
  • The way that all the offices of Wilson Associates collaborate and support each other.
  • Even though Wilson Associates is a global team, each studio has its own identity.
  • How Juan Carlos, personally, cultivates a pipeline of hospitality projects.
  • The event that Juan Carlos would recommend for everyone to go to.
  • The biggest challenge that Juan Carlos has faced, that has also been a great lesson for him.
  • Some advice for keeping a pressured team happy and moving.


Role & Responsibility:

Juan is an architect and interior designer with an extensive and

holistic international experience in high-end hospitality, restaurant,

commercial and residential design.

Combining strengths in architecture and interior design, Juan worked

eight years as an independent designer and creative consultant on

different high end commercial and residential projects in Spain and


He was Designer Director at Rockwell Group Europe, managing a

variety of projects in Asia and the Middle East for some of the most

prestigious hospitality brands.

He currently leads the recently open Wilson associates London office.

In charge of this edition sleep & eat theater.

Juan Carlos says:

“People ignore design that

ignores people”


College Degree in

Architecture at Universidad

Anahuac Mexico City, Mexico

Interior design degree/

Instituto Europeo di Design

Madrid, Spain

Master degree in project

management & design

Universidad San Pablo Ceu

Madrid, Spain

Links and resources:

Wilson Associates website:  Wilson Associates

Designer Questionnaire


  • Title: Design Director London Office
  • Languages spoken: English / Spanish and a bit of Italian
  • Education: College Degree in Architecture/ Universidad Anahuac Mexico City
  • Professional accreditations and/or memberships:- Interior design degree/ Istituto Europeo di Design Madrid, Spain –Master degree in project management & design Universidad San Pablo Ceu Madrid, Spain.
  • Tenure at Wilson: March 2018
  • Quote you live by or your design mantra: “People ignore design that ignores people”

Beyond the Basics:

  • What attracted you to Wilson Associates? What do you enjoy most about working here?

I’ve always loved a challenge; opening an office for such as important and reputable firm like Wilson Associates in a city like London has been one of the most exciting and rewarding challenges in my career to date.

  • When did you know you wanted to be a designer?

I don’t think we ever really know what we want to be, but we do begin doing things we love, and by finding our passion you realize it is something you want to do and be forever.

  • Where do you find your design inspiration?
    Everything is inspiring if you look and pay attention.

  • Do you have any advice for young designers? Is there any piece of advice you were given early in your career that sticks with you?

Don’t be afraid to fail; defend your ideas, but never fall in love with them and always listen to different points-of-views.

  • What are some of your career accomplishments? What projects are you most proud of?

Some of my career accomplishments within design come from participating in projects like the recently opened W Suzhou and Hotel Ingles in Madrid, which opened Spring 2018. I have a special affection for high-end residential design, especially a recent penthouse project in Madrid before I entered the hospitality field.

  • What is the most rewarding part of the job? The most challenging?

Any project that ends with a shake of hands and smile from a client is an accomplishment. In hospitality, I find the most challenging part of the job is not only working as a designer but as a mediator between a hotel operator and ownership when they have very opposite visions for a project. It is our job to find that common ground and present an end result that pleases all parties.

  • What are your hobbies outside of your work? Any guilty pleasures?

I think the best thing you can spend your money on is travel; experiences stay with you forever. I like yoga, meditation and to hit the gym as much as I can. My guilty pleasures include tacos with tons of salsa verde. You can also put poison into strawberries with chocolate and I would never notice!

  • What is your favorite restaurant, hotel and overall destination to visit?

My favorite restaurant is a classic Spanish restaurant in Madrid called El Paraguas.

From a designer perspective, The Jane in Antwerp, Belgium is always worth visiting and I most recently visited a small boutique hotel in Paris called Maison Breguet that was just lovely.  My favorite hotel and destination are a hidden place off the coast of Oaxaca, Mexico called Zipolite, but please don’t spread the word! Mallorca in Spain is also always a good idea.

  • Which designers and/or artists inspire you?

Luis Barragan, Piet Boon, Carlo Scarpa, Lázaro Rosa Violán

  • If you weren’t an interior designer, what would you be?

Definitely an interior designer.

  • Topics or aspects of design you’re comfortable discussing with the media or on a panel?

F&B, Changing trends in the hospitality area, hotel room experiences.

  • What are some panels, events/conferences, colleges/professional groups and events, blogs/media you would like to participate in?
    Anything related to interior and hospitality design.

List three lessons, systems or business techniques you learned at previous positions in and out of the industry.

  • You need to get the right players on your team. Great ideas come from various minds, so it’s important to recruit the best team members and invest in the growth and empowerment of your team.
  • Don’t fall in love with your ideas and always be ready to alter them, especially in hospitality design where revenue plays an important role.
  • Remain optimistic while maintaining realistic expectations as to what you are capable of delivering by a specific deadline with the resources you have. Sometimes it’s better to have quality results than quantity. Finally, I would also make sure that what you are able to deliver what is written in the contract.

Name 2-3 challenges in running a design firm?

  • One of the main challenges of running a design firm today with all the constant stream of communication and information from the media is creating a space that not only makes a difference but offers some sort of engagement for the user in order to create brand loyalty. How do we as designers create an emotional link between the user and the space? We have to think about what would draw them in and how do we design an area that will become a part of their lives and experiences. There’s a lot of competition out there and you need to question if what are you offering is unique. Design? Customer service? Or both?
  • The second biggest challenge one might encounter when running a design firm is ensuring your team is happy and engaged with what they do. You want to pull out their very best work without forgetting the human component; there is nothing worse than a burned-out team and it will ultimately affect deadlines and the bottom line.
  • Build an individual identity for your brand. There is always a lot of competition within the field but creating a brand and positive reputation will go a long way.

Do you have a superpower…what makes your firm different?

With 10 global offices in various parts of the world, our designers speak over 30 languages and offer backgrounds and cultures that complement one another. We live and think outside the box, enabling us to design for every kind of client and market. Although each office has its own identity to some degree, we all live under the Wilson Associates umbrella and work as a team. 

Do you have a client onboarding process?

Having been in the business for nearly 50 years, we have a legacy for upholding the highest standard in client customer service. We analyze their needs and offer a wide range of services that make for a tailor-made and unique experience. As we’ve grown, we’ve continued to evolve and reinvent ourselves within the hospitality and F&B industries, while still maintaining that same level of top-notch service.

List the steps critical for successfully running a client project.

  • Connect with the client from the very beginning by listening to their needs, making them feel comfortable and heard, and building trust.
  • Be honest and upfront about budget
  • Set realistic timelines and don’t overpromise if you know you can’t deliver

Have you ever received a piece of advice regarding running a business that was truly valuable?

The best contribution you can make to your client is to be as authentic as possible. Stay grounded and true to who you are. Also remain open to new ideas and sources, gathering as much data collection as possible, not just digital sources like Pinterest. I find looking outside interior design exhibitions and at the real world is the most inspiring. Inspiration does not necessarily come from beauty.

May 31, 2019

Welcome to another solo Power Talk Friday! We hope you're ready for a really out-of-the-box episode today! This morning, as on most weekday mornings, LuAnn was reading the Dear Abby column. She's often thought about it and wondered why she reads it because it's such a crazy, mindless column. People write in with very real and heartbreaking problems and yet they are willing to wait for months to get an answer. That really boggles LuAnn's mind! So, this morning, she was talking out loud and ranting about it, in the very same way she did at the LuAnn Nigara Live event last month when she got really upset about designers not charging their worth. Then she had an idea! Tune in now, to find out what she came up with.

Sometimes, in our businesses, when we know that things aren't quite right, we pretend that it's just not that big of a deal. So we avoid having the hard conversation or doing the hard thing. Today, LuAnn has come up with some of the top things she has found that we, as business owners, tend to convince ourselves are okay when they really are not. She has listed all the shows that go with these difficulties, so listen in today, to find out which action to take to correct each these problems.

Show Highlights:

Previous episodes mentioned in this show:

Alinda Morris #429

Andrea Schumacher #86

Peter Lang #349

Cheryl Luckett of Dwell by Cheryl # 291 and #397

Kimberley Kay #234

Cat French #376

Alyce Lopez #382

Shauna Lynn Simon #84

Taylor #106

Arianne Bellizaire #20

Claire Jefford #237

Michele Williams # 180 and # 395. Her Podcast, Profit is a Choice Listen Notes: Profit Is A Choice Michele Williams

Kimberley Merlitti #361

Kae Whitaker #259 and 274

Kristen Thomas #314

Sandra Funk #145

Lori Weitzner #308

Caitlyn Waite #284

Joni Vanderslice #101

Janelle Photopoulos #364

Eileen Hahn #363

Madeleine MacRae #315

Last Friday's Solo Show #432


LuAnn's sales course: Sales For Creatives  

LuAnn's new book: LuAnn Nigara: Book2 

May 28, 2019

Welcome to a very special episode of A Well-Designed Business! Today Nate Berkus joins us on the show! We really have lots to talk to him about, and at the top of the list is his first collection with Kravet Inc. This collection, called Well-Traveled, launching in June 2019 is a luxurious mix of chenille’s, statement cotton and linen prints as well as intricate embroideries, and velvet. In today's show, Nate describes how his love of organic, rich, earth-tones is incorporated in the color palette he designed for this collection. Nate's travels have been the inspiration for this collection. Each of his exclusive fabrics possesses a global point of view and the fabric collection, as a whole, represents his distinctly individual perspective, which blends history, architecture, and artwork from all around the world. Listen in to find out about Nate's approach to his business, his perspective on color and design, and how he came to work with Oprah.

Show Highlights:

  • Nate talks about his new venture, in collaboration with Kravet Inc, which launches in June 2019.
  • Nate has really enjoyed working with the passionate, creative team at Kravet Inc!
  • LuAnn is looking forward to featuring some of Nate's collection in her newly-renovated showroom at Window Works.
  • Nate explains what inspired him to start his own interior design firm at the age of twenty-four.
  • Nate talks about what he set out to do when he first started out on his own.
  • The impact that social media has had on the interior design industry.
  • Running his business like a Fortune 500 company with systems, procedures and cross checks.
  • Nate explains why creating an exceptional client experience has always been as important to him as the creativity their team produces.
  • Why you can't separate who you are professionally from who you are personally.
  • The importance of being honest and transparent- and owning your mistakes.
  • Always remember that you can't change your reputation. It follows you wherever you go.
  • Nate talks about his creative director, Lauren Buxbaum Gordon, the team she leads, the way that they support one another and their process for managing interior design projects. Nate explains why he decided not to close his design firm in 2006.
  • The magical way that Nate got to meet and work with Oprah.
  • Even when faced with a one of a kind opportunity, Nate made decisions based on sound business principles, exemplifying true professional leadership as an interior design firm owner.
  • The moment when Oprah told America to remember Nate's name.
  • Nate personal work ethic is to work as hard or harder than anyone he collaborates with. He feels it shows respect and creates an environment for more collaboration.
  • His dear friend, former Co-President of Oprah Winfrey Network and President of Harp Productions, Sheri Salata, married Nick and Jeremiah Brent.
  • Nancy Hala, Sheri’s business partner, and co-host on their podcast, Sheri and Nancy, is a previous guest on A Well-Designed Business, episode #377
  • Sheri Salata, Nancy Hala, Nate and Jeremiah partner in a media company called Story.
  • Nate discusses how he and Jeremiah work together on interior design projects and how important it is when you are in business with your spouse to respect each other's opinions.
  • Nate gives his best advice for growing a profitable design firm.


Since designer Nate Berkus established his award-winning interior design firm at the age of 24, his approachable and elevated philosophy has transformed countless homes around the world through his design work, home collections, books, television shows, and media appearances. Ever since Berkus’ first appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2002, he has become one of the world’s most recognizable interior designers. His work has been featured in publications including Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, VOGUE, InStyle, O Magazine and People. He is included on the ELLE DÉCOR “A-List” of the world’s top designers and was named to the AD100 list in 2018. 


Website: Nate Berkus

Instagram: Nate Berkus

Facebook: Nate Berkus

Pinterest: Nate Berkus

Nate And Jeremiah By Design is on TLC on Saturday nights.

Nate’s fabric collection with Kravet Inc. is called Well-Traveled.

In spring 2019 Nate and Jeremiah launched a new line of furniture, with over 300 pieces, for Living Spaces, a retailer on the west coast of the US.

Recommended book:

The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker

May 24, 2019

Welcome to Power Talk Friday! Today, we're talking about what to do when you know the client is wrong. For the health and success of your business, it's really critical that you know how to handle conflicts successfully. In episode #430, we talked about what to do when you are wrong. In today's episode, you will learn what to do when you do everything right but the client doesn't like it. Listen in, to get LuAnn's expert advice.

Do you want to be right or do you want to get what you want? Over the years, this little phrase has really helped LuAnn navigate conflicts with clients, vendors, employees, and even with the people closest to her. And Window Works is also very clear about their core values and their commitment to 110% customer service. The team doesn't always know how each of them will handle a given situation, but they all know that they will do whatever it takes to make the client happy. Tune in now, to find out what to do when the client just isn't happy with what you've done.

Show highlights:

  • LuAnn gives an example of something that happened at Window Works this past winter.
  • In a conflict situation with a client, be calm, non-confrontational, and let them know that you will do whatever it takes to make them happy.
  • It's important to know what you're striving for and what your goals are.
  • LuAnn explains why she, as the owner of the company, decided not to make the first phone call in the situation that happened with Window Works.
  • There are subtle nuances to successfully handling difficult situations.
  • Why Luann called the client only on the second day.
  • LuAnn explains how she read the situation.
  • It's very important to remain real, and not play any games.
  • It's another thing if the client decides not to play by the rules.
  • Setting up reminders and putting all the previous agreements in front of the client in a conversational way.
  • Sometimes, it's best to honestly agree with the client.
  • LuAnn shares the solution she proposed to the client.
  • Carefully placing the message of excellent customer service in between the lines.
  • Applying pressure in a very nice and subtle way.
  • LuAnn explains her clear reason for creating an opportunity for a phone call the next day.
  • Why it was so important for LuAnn to have the first order paid for right away.
  • Selling is about listening, being on your feet, and being willing to get to the bottom of whatever is upsetting the client.
  • Using your rationale to get the client to buy into the solution that you want to happen.
  • Why you need to be very clear about how the payments for each section of the project must happen after agreeing to a solution.
  • Remember that you are the leader of the transaction, so be the leader!
  • The ultimate goal is not to win. It is to leave the client 100% satisfied.
  • You need to know what the net cost of the project is.
  • Paying close attention to what your client is saying is really very important.


To find out about LuAnn's group sales coaching course, Sales For Creatives, head over to

Sales For Creatives

To get onto LuAnn's email list, text the word designbiz to 444999.

May 21, 2019

Welcome to today's show! We have Debbe Daley, an interior designer in the New England area, on the show with us. Debbe is also an installed designer in the Boston Design Center’s Designer On Call program, now called Design Services program. In today's episode, Debbe talks to us about the way she handles her initial consult, about the items that she puts in a folder for her clients, and how she provides suggestions for her clients. She also talks about the book she is writing, Monetizing Your Passion- Turning Your Hobby into A Business, which is due to be launched in the fall of 2019 and she discusses the two-day seminar that she will be running in Portsmouth, in June, for interior designers. Listen in, to find out what Debbe has to share on the show today.

After obtaining a business degree, Debbe took a slight detour and taught herself how to sew custom window treatments. She also spent some time doing hands-on work in the paint, wallpaper, and furniture industry. In doing this, she gained valuable knowledge and she also expanded her industry network of friends and colleagues. Now, some thirty years later, Debbe is well-respected in the industry and she is often invited to speak at industry conferences. She also writes a weekly lifestyle column for the Lowell Sun, where she covers topics about design, travel, DIY, and cooking, for the Merrimack Valley audience. Tune in now for more.

Show Highlights:

  • The five-day course in decoration and interior design that Debbe teaches to the non-design professional who is hoping to become a design professional.
  • Debbe gives an overview of the two-day course she teaches, called Design For Today, that is geared towards professionals in the design industry. The next course will be in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on June the 27th and 28th.
  • Debbe's two-day workshop was developed at the request of some of Debbe's seasoned colleagues from the Association of Design Education.
  • Debbe's clients are looking for software platforms that they can use to enhance their businesses, to make their lives a bit easier.
  • Debbe uses Design Files, a platform that is designed to do e-design.
  • The thing that really got Debbe going in the right direction and gave her the motivation for the book she's writing.
  • Why sharing her knowledge is so important to Debbe right now.
  • Some of the lessons that Debbe learned from Fred Berns.
  • Debbe's take on whether or not to put your packages on your website.
  • How Debbe handles her initial client consultation.
  • The mechanism that Debbe uses to stay on time.
  • What the folder that Debbe gives her clients initially contains.
  • Why Debbe always has her clients sign a photo release form.
  • Debbe talks about her initial consultation rate and her hourly rate.
  • About Debbe's Pick Your Brain segment.
  • How Fred Berns helped Debbe to increase her rates.
  • Debbe has set things up so that there's a package for everyone.
  • Attracting the client that is right for you.
  • The importance of putting yourself out there, introducing yourself to your local reps, and setting up your vendor accounts.
  • Debbe talks about her new book, Monetizing Your Passion- Turning Your Hobby into A Business, and she explains who it is geared towards.
  • It takes a lot of hard work to be an interior designer.
  • As a new designer, any kind of store experience is valuable.
  • People notice it if you're driven and you really know what you're doing, as a designer.


Debbe Daley, an award-winning interior designer with more than 30 years’ experience, is known for the extraordinary service she provides prominent homeowners in New England and around the country.

She supplies a complete range of design services for new and existing homes nationwide, but she focuses on working with clients in the Boston Back Bay, the North Shore of Massachusetts, Cape Cod, coastal Maine, and the New Hampshire seacoast as well as the Merrimack Valley. In addition, she is a gifted professional speaker who delivers programs to both interior design and general audiences nationwide. She presents keynotes, seminars, and workshops on topics ranging from design business success practices to the Power of Positive Energy.

Debbe is the winner of numerous Houzz customer service awards and gets 80% of her business from referrals. She designs multiple homes for the same clients and works with different generations of the same family. Clients use words like “fantastic,” fabulous,” “exceptional,” “impeccable,” “outstanding,” and “a pleasure to work with” to describe her. Debbe has designed new homes and remodeled existing residences for more than 700 clients, including Fortune 500 executives, CEOs, high tech leaders, medical specialists, business owners, and other successful professionals. Her commercial design projects include funeral homes and professional offices.

Debbe Daley Designs is based in an elegant design studio in the historic Abraham Shaw House in Portsmouth, NH. The firm is backed by a team of some of the region’s premier contractors, carpenters, painters, flooring specialists, cabinet experts, electricians, and other professionals, as well as a nationwide network of vendors and suppliers.

Debbe, who earned interior design degrees at three leading institutions, shares her extensive design expertise in her weekly lifestyle column in the Lowell Sun, the Huffington Post and her own blog. She keeps current on the design industry through her involvement with the American Society of Interior Designers and the International Furnishings and Design Assn. and the National Speakers Association. Her clients today benefit from the customer service, problem-solving and administrative skills, and the product knowledge she gained during her highly successful earlier career working in the industry through retail establishments, an interior design firm and four leading New England companies.

Debbe has an office in the Boston Design Center, where she is involved in the Design Services, Designer on Call program as well as the new office location in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, serving regions of the Merrimack Valley, Boston, and the Portsmouth seacoast.

Previous episodes mentioned in this show:

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

Darla Powell #330, #203

Wendy Glaister #386

Kristan McLaughlin #319

Barbara Sallick owner of Waterworks #131

Wendy Woloshchuk #316

Links and resources:

Debbe Daley Designs LLC

379 State Street - #1

Portsmouth NH 03801

Daley Designs

Instagram: Debbe Daley

Facebook: Debbe Daley Designs

May 17, 2019

Welcome to Power Talk Friday! Today, we're talking about when things go wrong and how to fix them. If you'd like your business to be really successful, with loyal, long-term clients who keep coming back year after year, you have to differentiate yourself from the rest. There are two kinds of situations where you can make this happen if you're willing to conduct yourself in the way that LuAnn advises and if you're willing to spend the time perfecting the necessary skills to do so. Listen in today, to learn what LuAnn has to teach you about what to do when you've made a mistake.

Sometimes, your client isn't happy with an outcome. You see their point and you agree, however, you can also see that the solution is going to be expensive for you, either in terms of time or money. So you might feel that you can't afford to fix it. The truth is, however, that you cannot afford not to fix it. Because good news travels fast and bad news travels even faster- and further. Tune in now to find out what LuAnn has to share about what to do when something goes wrong.

 Show Highlights:

  • LuAnn describes a typical scenario of something going wrong.
  • Often, we worry that if we tell a client that we've made a mistake we will be at a disadvantage with them because it could cost us money or our expertise could be questioned.
  • Why you're not fooling anybody by pretending.
  • When you price your projects properly you will have the money to clean things up if you need to.
  • If it really is your mistake, just say so. It's important to acknowledge what your client is feeling.
  • Mistakes are going to happen. So at the start of a project, explain to your client how you take care of mistakes.
  • The first thing is to acknowledge your mistake, and the second thing is to own it. Then you tell your client what the solution is.
  • When it's okay, and when it's not, to charge your client for the mistake.
  • Listen to your inner voice.
  • Listen carefully and be real with your client.
  • Don't ignore a problem.
  • Don't be afraid to ask your client what will make them happy.
  • You will know when your client isn't happy, so ask them about it. It will be okay.
  • Next week, we will talk about what to do when there's a problem, but there isn't really a problem. But you still have a problem because you have to fix it.
  • LuAnn talks about the group sales coaching course that she has decided to run.
  • LuAnn gives some details about the group sales coaching course and she talks about the topics that she will be covering.


To find out about LuAnn's group sales coaching course, head over to

Sales for Creatives - (If the link is not working Friday when this airs, it will be working by Tuesday, 5/21.)

To get onto LuAnn's email list, text the word designbiz to 444999.

May 14, 2019

Welcome! Today we have Alinda Morris, of Alinda Morris Interior Design, located in Gig Harbor, Washington, with us. Although her firm is small, with Alinda and just one other employee, she's running it like a bigger firm. She has her systems down, she has her practices binder, and she's tracking her hours. In today's episode, Alinda explains how she has become very clear and focused, in the last couple of years. This has really made a big difference for her in terms of peace of mind, profitability, project management, and the experience her clients have when working with her firm. Listen in today, to find out what Alinda has to share about the way that she's set herself up for success with builders and other trades, and how she ensures the success of anyone that works for her.

Alinda Morris is a nationally published, award-winning interior design professional, habitual remodeler, adventurous creative, specializing in full service, luxury residential interior design. These include custom furnishings, unique kitchens & artfully designed bathrooms, attention to details, and clean, updated spaces are her specialties.

She is committed to her clients having a wonderful experience. She is widely admired for her ability to create, invent, explore, and innovate.

In addition to Alinda's impressive versatility, ranging from minimalist restraint to traditional chic, client’s find Alinda's passion for design infectious so that collaborating with her is a thrilling process as she works her creative magic in both visual appeal and functionality. Tune in now, for more.

Show highlights:

  • Alinda has her systems down pat, and her portfolio is really amazing!
  • Some of the habits that Alinda has instituted in her firm.
  • The challenges that Alinda faces.
  • Great communication has always been very important for Alinda.
  • The trail and error process that Alinda went through, for a few years, to find the best systems for her business.
  • How Alinda helps her clients get a grasp on their design budget.
  • Starting the design process with Alinda, through her questionnaire.
  • Alinda's firm is very client-based.
  • The way that Alinda communicates with the builders she works with.
  • Alinda talks about her detailed special best practices binder, for her interns, with examples of how she likes things to be done.
  • Choosing the right font for your brand.
  • About the check-lists Alinda uses.
  • The things she brings in for photo shoots.
  • Alinda shares her thoughts on the way she tracks her billable hours.
  • Alinda knows exactly how many hours she needs to bill in order to cover her costs each month.
  • Alinda describes her magnificent small boutique studio on the waterfront at Gig Harbour, Washington.
  • Reinvesting profits back into her business.
  • How Alinda creates the very best experiences for her employees.

Previous shows mentioned in this episode:

Charlotte Safavi #138

Raquel Langworthy #343

Stephen Karlisch #369


Alinda Morris Interior Design





May 10, 2019

Welcome to another episode of Power Talk Friday.  Today, we're having a solo show because LuAnn has some things to share about her event, LuAnn Nigara Live, which was held in New Jersey a month ago. She would also like to talk about some of the things you can do to take action in your business, in order to do better and become more profitable. Luann's event was a really special experience and an outstanding success! Almost 200 designers, speakers, panelists, sponsors, as well as LuAnn's team, attended the event and for two-and-a-half days, the room was filled with an electric atmosphere and they all really rocked it! Listen in today, to find out more.

LuAnn had a vision for the event, and she really knew what she had to do. And she did it! The conversations after the panel discussions were so interactive that it felt as if there were only twenty people in the room, even though there were almost 200 people there! It was really intense in the very best way possible so we're working on doing it again, probably in eight months to a year's time. In the meantime, there's a lot of stuff coming up, like the smaller one-day events and the Power Talk Friday tours. Tune in now, to find out how to turn your inspiration into action.

Show highlights:

  • LuAnn thanks everyone and gives a quick recap of her event, LuAnn Nigara Live, It's About The Conversation.
  • You can go to the blog post on LuAnn's website LuAnn Nigara to see the pictures and get an overview of everything that happened at the event.
  • LuAnn talks about her new book, A Well-Designed Business- The Power Talk Friday Experts. It can really help you to up your game in business.
  • LuAnn shares some of the keys to upping your business game.
  • Watch your mindset, and be careful not to be closed to new ideas for success.
  • Look at the stories you tell yourself about money.
  • Examine your own mindset about numbers. Michele Williams, in LuAnn's new book, says not to play the song in your head: I’m creative so I’m not good at numbers.
  • Examine your mindset about your fees and don't pretend your rates are about the area you live in. Your rates are related only to your confidence as a designer and business person.
  • What it means to not save your client's money.
  • It is your job to make your clients aware of the best solution for their challenge or problem. They don’t have to do as you suggest but, as the expert, you must make them aware of it.
  • Not saving your client's money also means that when they can’t afford something, they don’t get it. You don’t lower the price to meet their budget.
  • Customer service is critical in creating a successful business.
  • Satisfied clients return. Dissatisfied don’t always tell you, they just don’t return.
  • Own your mistakes. Clients know when you are lying and lying is worse than making a mistake.
  • Take action!
  • With so much information from the live event and the podcast, overwhelm becomes a real possibility, so you have to break things down and work on your business, to get better and to become more profitable.

Previous shows mentioned in this episode:

Fred Berns #289

Vincere #356

Chris Ramey #345

Sandra Espinet #287

Links and resources:

Kravet is having a sale at their outlet. And on any regular Kravet fabric, wallpaper or trim order get 10% off with the code AWDB10 at checkout.

Mydoma Studio for project management, time tracking, invoices, communication and saving time: A Well Designed Business

A Well-Designed Business, The Power Talk Friday Experts

May 7, 2019

Welcome to the show! We have Christina Samatas and Renee DiSanto, the founders of Park and Oak Interior Design Studio, located in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, with us today. These ladies work on new construction, renovation, and furnishing projects across the US, and you may even know them from their Instagram, with 130 000 followers. The way that they handle themselves and speak about their firm really conveys the confidence that they have in what they're doing. And the success they've had in their first three years in business is not at all typical. In today's episode, Renee and Christina pull back the curtain and boldly share with us their experiences and the lessons they have learned over the last three years. Listen in today, to find out what they have to share.

Christina Samatas and Renee DiSanto founded the Park & Oak interior design studio in 2015. They are known for creating homes that are visually stunning, yet functional and comfortable. Their work, rooted in the art of timeless style, is driven by the belief that design can be used to create feelings of comfort and happiness. It combines the best of their individual aesthetics for a unique look. Christina and Renee have a creative energy that is engaging to work with. Using beautiful and unexpected sources of inspiration, they work collaboratively with clients to create spaces that thoughtfully honor the spirit and traditions of their owner. Tune in now for more!

Show Highlights:

  • Renee and Christina talk about what each of them brought to the table when they started out, and about what attracted them to each other, as business partners.
  • Some of the one-year and five-year goals that they established when first starting out.
  • Renee and Christina's approach to the individual roles that they have in the business.
  • Renee describes the really special way that she and Christina work together.
  • From a park bench to a studio.
  • The first person that they hired was a bookkeeper.
  • What kept them powering through in the beginning, when they were sacrificing a lot and there were many challenges to face.
  • Struggling with balancing family life and business.
  • It took some time to bring their really awesome team together.
  • In year two, they experienced a turning point in the business.
  • They use a finite system to prevent problems and execute their projects efficiently.
  • Learning from their mistakes and gaining the courage to stand up for themselves.
  • Creating the right systems, in order to protect themselves.
  • There's really a lot going on behind the scenes too.
  • How they find the time to keep their systems in order and their projects running smoothly.
  • Renee is behind their really impressive Instagram following.


Park And Oak

Facebook: Park And Oak Design

Twitter: Park And Oak

Instagram: Park And Oak Design

Pinterest: Park And Oak

May 3, 2019

Welcome! Stacey Brown Randall joins us on the show today. Stacey, a three-times repeat guest on the podcast, is one of the co-authors of LuAnn's new book, A Well-Designed Business, the Power Talk Friday Experts. Stacey really has a lot to share, to teach, and to give that is of genuine value, and she does some wonderful work with entrepreneurs. In her first and second episodes, she talked to us about Employee Management (#69), and the Client Experience (#93). In today's episode, she will explain How To Get Referrals Without Asking. Tune in now, to find out more.

Stacey, who has a Master’s in Organizational Communication, provides a roadmap for small business owners and solopreneurs to generate referrals without asking through her Growth By Referrals program. She is the author of the book, Generating Business Referral- Without Asking, and she also hosts her own podcast, Roadmap to Grow your Business. Stacey lives in Charlotte NC with her husband and three kids. Listen in today, to find out what Stacey has to share about building relationships and planting the seeds of referral.

Show highlights:

  • Janelle Photopoulos changed certain things in her business, to up the client experience, based on her working with Stacey.
  • Stacey talks about her work with Janelle.
  • Stacey explains how she got to understand interior designers so well.
  • Why Stacey hated asking for referrals.
  • Stacey is debunking the advice that we've all been given, that we have to ask everyone for referrals at the end of a project.
  • Asking for referrals generally makes people feel really uncomfortable.
  • Changing the way we think about referrals.
  • Looking for ways to fill a funnel after failing in her business.
  • Stacey started unpacking the psychology and the human dynamic behind why referrals happen.
  • Referrals actually happen because they are triggered.
  • Why manufactured triggers are not successful.
  • Making yourself look like a hero by offering a solution to a problem is the best way to get referrals.
  • Stacey shares the trigger for making a referral happen.
  • How to trigger always being top of mind in a referral source.
  • What constitutes a great referral.
  • Taking great care of the relationships with your referral sub-set.
  • Identifying your referral sources. These are gold!
  • How baby designers can start building relationships with referral sources.
  • Using the right language.
  • Taking care of your referral sources year after year.
  • It all comes down to authentic relationships.

Stacey's bio:

Stacey Brown Randall is a member of the business failure club, a contrarian on how to generate referrals and a supporter of the entrepreneurial dream. Through her programs, she provides a roadmap to take control of your business.

Stacey’s quest to crack the code on how to generate referrals without asking began after her first business failed. When she started her second business – a business and productivity coaching practice – she knew keeping her pipeline full of new clients would be one of the biggest differentiators from her business failure. She honed-in on referrals as the main source of prospects for her second business but wasn’t satisfied with the conventional advice which is to receive referrals you must ask.

Stacey has taught her “no asking” referral generation strategy to hundreds of companies including Bank of America, Carroll Financial, International Minute Press, Dogtopia, O’Connor Insurance Associates, ACC Associates (Mortgage Advisor), Slater Interiors, Real Living Real Estate, Milazzo Webb Law Firm, Wells Fargo Advisors, Success Institute, HM Properties, Ameriprise, Farris Cooke CPA, Keller Williams, LearningRX and more small businesses and solopreneurs.

She is a three-time entrepreneur, author of Generating Business Referrals...Without Asking, and host of the Roadmap to Grow your Business podcast.

Stacey received her Master’s in Organizational Communication and is married with three kids, a 10-year- old son, 8-year-old daughter and she and her husband are raising their 11-year-old nephew. 


Stacey Brown Randall






Previous episodes Stacey has been on:

#69 Employee Management

#93 The Client Experience

Other episode mentioned in today's show:

Janelle Photopoulos, Blakely Interior Design #364

Stacey is a co-author in LuAnn's new book:

LuAnn Nigara

Apr 30, 2019

Welcome to today's episode! We have Misty Maxey, the Bachelor Pad Designer, on the show with us today. Misty has decided to fully niche her business into designing strictly for bachelors. After spending some time doing hobby designing, she finally made the decision to get serious and look for the help she needed to learn the difference between a hobby and a business. On the show today, she explains how she knew that she had to reach out to coaches and other accomplished designers, in order to be successful. Misty really understands that by pushing through fear and doing things that scare you, you level up and make things happen. She really has her eyes wide open, and her website, (Misty Maxey) with its clear and authentic copy, describes very distinctly what she does, how she does it, and who she does it for. Listen in today, to hear what Misty has to share about the really intentional way she set up her business.

Misty Maxey has always loved interior design. With two artistic parents, her creative path was written in the stars. Always seeking to grow in her knowledge and understanding of the interior design field, she regularly sought out the experience from successful designers.

With knowledge and life experiences forming her understanding of the importance of interior design, she opened her business with the goal of inspiring bachelors to live their best life ever by co-creating their home that reflects who they are and to become.

As a survivor of domestic violence, Misty regularly gives back by providing complimentary design services to survivors and their families. This restores dignity and gives back to her community. Tune in now, for more!

Show highlights:

  • Misty's website is really clear and specific about what she does.
  • Tapping into the metrosexual market in Portland.
  • Misty explains why she likes to work with bachelors.
  • The underlying message in Misty's approach to interior design.
  • Guys like to have their outdoor hobbies reflected in their home.
  • Misty honors the way the guys she designs for like to live.
  • Letting her clients know in a really fun way that they will be making an investment.
  • How Misty learned that guys are comfortable talking about money and business.
  • Transparency and communication are the two main things for Misty.
  • What transparency means for Misty.
  • Where Misty sources her products.
  • The retail markup that Misty adds to her products.
  • Misty explains where her money is coming from.
  • The different packages that Misty offers.
  • Misty's way of dealing with damaged deliveries.
  • Misty hired the services of a market research company in Portland.
  • Misty talks about the business coaches she has worked with.
  • The book, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, really helped Misty push past her fear.


Website: Misty Maxey

Instagram: Misty Maxey Designs

Pinterest: Misty Maxey

Twitter: Misty Maxey

Books mentioned:

Do the Work: Overcome Resistance and Get Out of Your Own Way by Steven Pressfield

The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

Apr 26, 2019

Today on the show I have yet another fabulous business coach who specializes in our industry! Michele Williams is with me! Michele is the founder of Scarlet Thread and Consulting in Atlanta, Georgia. Today we will learn about Michele’s background which includes the financial software industry as well as a business in soft window treatment fabricator. She also has a BS in business administration, a diploma in Christian life coaching and she is one of the few certified profit first coaches in the United States. Michele was also the communication director and editor in chief of the Drapery and Designs Professional Magazine from 2009 to 2012. She is a member of The Design Collective in Atlanta, the Designers Work Club Council and the Window Covering Association of America. After talking to Michele I realized that there are so many things I could talk with her about but after we talk about her background a little bit we are going to pull apart work scheduling and chunking our day to have more productivity.

Show Notes:

  • What is her background in the financial software industry?
  • When did she decide to start her window treatment business?
  • Did she start with a business plan?
  • How did she start to make her business bigger?
  • What is the Design Collective in Atlanta?
  • What is a round table discussion and how is it helpful?
  • How is the Window Coverings Association helpful to Michele and her business?
  • What are some of things that you can expect Michele to talk about the expo IWCE in Charlotte?
  • Why is it important to listen to different people say the same things?
  • Why is important to be able to chunk your time for productivity?
  • Is it better to be proactive or reactive?
  • How should you plan your calendar?


Website: Scarlet Thread Consulting

Facebook: Scarlet Thread Consulting

Instagram: Scarlet Thread

LinkedIn: Michele Williams

Twitter: Michele Williams 

Financial Health Checklist PDF: Scarlet Thread Consulting

Previous shows mentioned:
#104 Kate the Socialite
#94 Debi Pinelli (A& J Interiors)
#69, #93 Stacey Brown Randall
#128 Grace McNamara
#125, #317 Nicole Heymer
#141 Jim Riviello



IWCE Vision

Window Fashion Vision

Luann Nigara Book 2

Apr 23, 2019

Welcome to today's show! We're talking to Tiffannie White today, the creator of The Nappy Bohemian, located in Oakland, California. Tiffannie is a blogger, an interior stylist, and an e-designer and she also has a full-time position as a design consultant at  Fireclay Tile. After spending many years as a career sales professional, The Nappy Bohemian was born in 2017 because Tiffannie wanted to merge her architecture education, her love for tile and ceramics, and her desire to showcase the real black experience in the world of interior design. Tune in today, to hear about Tiffannie's business, what she's doing, and the lessons she's learned from running her business.

Tiffannie's job with Fireclay Tile has allowed her an inside look on the world of artisan makers, and it has also connected her with terrific designers in her East Coast territory. In today's episode, she describes how much she loves her job, she talks openly about the lessons and challenges she experienced in her first year in business, and she shares her goals for the year to come. Listen in now, to find out more.

Show highlights:

  • Tiffannie talks about her traumatic experience of taking her daughter to the hospital and how her daughter really loved the decor there. This showed Tiffannie just how important interior design really is in people's lives.
  • Creating a holistic space is really important for Tiffannie.
  • About Tiffannie's personal and unique 'only'.
  • Tiffannie is proud of the lessons she's learned.
  • Tiffannie talks about her first eighteen months in business.
  • Being focused and clear in her vision.
  • All about Tiffannie's e-design packages.
  • Tiffannie's e-design is driven mainly through her Instagram and word-of-mouth.
  • Settling on a name.
  • Going with the flow and trusting.
  • Some of the challenges she's faced.
  • You have to value what you do to have a thriving business.
  • Being careful not to compromise in too many areas when starting out in a business.
  • Work for free only if it's worth your while.
  • Some tips about blogging.
  • Tiffannie's business goals for the next year.


Instagram: The Nappy Bohemian

The Nappy Bohemian

The Nappy Bohemian


Previous shows mentioned:

Albie Buabeng #348

Chaney Widmer #260, #327

Cheryl Janice #41

Sue Firestone #404

Apr 19, 2019

Welcome to Power Talk Friday! We are really thrilled to have Jean Brownhill, founder, and CEO of Sweeten, on the show with us today. Jean, who has almost 500 000 followers on Instagram, is onto something that you, as designers, really need to know about. She has a designer trade VIP program where she connects interior designers with the really well-screened, well-vetted general contractors that her company has worked with over the years. Right now, Sweeten has thousands of these contractors on their books. This means that whatever kind of project an interior designer brings to them, they can match it. Listen in today, to find out all about Jean's really awesome designer trade VIP program and how it can really benefit you, as a designer.

After earning an Architecture degree at The Cooper Union, Jean spent a decade in design and construction, including in Global Architecture at Coach, where she won the Chairman’s Award for designing web platforms to streamline retail construction worldwide. After a challenging renovation of her own home, she saw the need for a free service to match people to vetted general contractors, providing support throughout the process. So Sweeten was launched in 2011. The concept earned Jean a prestigious Loeb Fellowship from Harvard University's Graduate School of Design. Tune in to find out what Jean has to share about the really unique platform that she's created.

Show highlights:

  • Jean explains how Sweeten assists interior designers.
  • Finding the right general contractor to suit the design project.
  • Jean talks about where she started with Sweeten.
  • Jean wanted to figure out how to get high-quality construction and design resources to regular people.
  • How Designers get matched a contractor through Jean's website.
  • What's included in the service that Jean offers.
  • Sweeten has a vetted group of contractors that have all committed to working transparently.
  • The kind of data that they re able to collect as a result of staying with all their projects to completion.
  • They do an original content piece on their blog every single day.
  • Sweeten can hold their contractors accountable based on the fact that their communications, signed contracts, and estimates are all on the Sweeten platform.
  • Sweeten is always working on ways to get everybody on the path to completion.
  • How the contractor's ratings on the Sweeten platform affect the number of projects Sweeten will send their way.
  • The way that the contractors are incentivized to stay with Sweeten and deliver great service.
  • Treading lightly in the process of learning what works best for everybody.
  • Jean shares her contractor vetting process.
  • Jean gives some tips for interior designers to work successfully with contractors.
  • Sweeten charges interior designers no fee at all.
  • Jean offers an awesome incentive of $500 for a referral.


Jean Brownhill, Founder, and CEO of Sweeten

After earning an Architecture degree at The Cooper Union, Jean Brownhill spent a decade in design and construction, including in Global Architecture at Coach, where she won the Chairman’s Award for designing web platforms to streamline retail construction worldwide. After a challenging renovation of her own home, she saw the need for a free service to match people to vetted general contractors, providing support throughout the process.

Sweeten (as in “home, sweet home”) launched in 2011; the concept earned Jean a prestigious Loeb Fellowship from Harvard University's Graduate School of Design.

Today, Sweeten has more than $1B of construction projects in the pipeline. The service has been called a “Renovation Game-Changer,” with Jean hailed as “The Contractor Whisperer” by New York Magazine as well as one of Inc. Magazine’s “Most Innovative Women Founders in America.”  Sweeten brings trust, technology, and transparency to the $340B+ residential renovation industry, allowing consumers to renovate fearlessly. The company expanded to commercial projects—restaurants, retail, offices, etc.—in 2017.

Just as Sweeten sets new standards for contractors, Jean is taking on traditional barriers for diversity and women in tech. She's a female founder disrupting a male-dominated industry. She’s co-founder of the African American Student Union (AASU) at Harvard's Graduate School of Design, an organization supporting African Americans in architecture, real estate, and urban planning. She’s a member of the 2018 Class of Henry Crown Fellows at the Aspen Institute. And she’s one of few black female entrepreneurs to raise $1M+ in venture capital, as featured in Vanity Fair.

For more info, please contact Randi MacColl at or 212-671-1713.



Blog Sweeten

Design Trade VIP Program: Sweeten Architects Designers

Instagram: @sweeten_home

Facebook: @theSweeten

Pinterest: Sweeten

Twitter: @sweeten home

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