A Well-Designed Business®

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







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Now displaying: May, 2016
May 30, 2016

Arlene Angard is a New York City Interior Designer. She manages a full service interior architecture and design firm that specializes in luxury residential and new age commercial. She has been an Art Curator and table top connoisseur most of her life. She has curated global art exhibits, participated in art culture panels and collected fine art from around the world. She recently launched a colorful collection of area rugs inspired by her extensive travels abroad.  

She tries to learn as much as she can about her clients' lifestyle and her design decisions are made within this context. Her work has been featured in prestigious magazines such as  Elle Decor, The New York Times, Traditional Home Magazine, New York Spaces Magazine, Luxe Interior + Design Magazine, Ocean Drive Magazine, EL UNIVERSAL, 1stdibs Introspective Magazine, NYC Cottage & Gardens and numerous other design and art publications.   

  • Arlene came from Venezuela to New York in 1997 to pursue her Orthodontics program.
  • She enjoyed New York and pursued another specialization, TMD (temporomandibular) after completing her Orthodontics.
  • As creativity has always been in her blood, she enrolled at the New York School of Interior Design and decided to become an interior designer.
  • As an interior designer, she noticed that her clients didn’t have the right art pieces for their homes and she was always looking for the correct art pieces to match her clients’ furniture pieces and décor.
  • Arlene decided to open her own art gallery. She owns and manages an art gallery at Madison Avenue.
  • She set up the art gallery to help both her clients and the artists community in the city. She gives the artists a space to feature their artworks.
  • She sets up art gallery events depending on the season, one for the winter, one for spring, one for summer, and one for fall.
  • She focuses on contemporary art pieces but she loves learning anything about art. Emerging artists attract clients because they offer a different budget. Arlene has pieces for different budget levels.
  • To source art, she goes to art events to look for new artists worldwide. She is also approached by artists and art dealers who know her as a contemporary art dealer.
  • Arlene discovered that since NY spaces are small, she had to custom-make the furniture pieces to fit the client’s space. Still they are all high-end pieces made of exotic woods and with high gloss lacquer.
  • Her exotic wood furniture includes tables, dining tables, meeting tables, and coffee tables, wing back chairs, ottomans, classic chairs.
  • The main idea of Arlene’s line of furniture is to have the best quality to help the interior designers and clients to complement the pieces they already have.
  • Most of Arlene’s clients go to her Gallery to discuss their projects. Then if projects are feasible, Arlene visits their home.
  • Distant clients communicate with her first by sending measurements of their space.
  • Arlene is a member of the prestigious family.
  • Arlene is also designing custom area rugs.
  • Learn what materials she is using for rugs.
  • She compares a project to delivering a baby.
  • Know that if a client is decisive, work would take 6 months, if the client is indecisive, it would take 9 months, sending samples back and forth.
  • Arlene serves high-end national and international clients.
  • Her advice to new designers: Write down the list of goals to be accomplished daily and week. You have to pursue your dreams with passion. It’s a lot of work to be an interior designer and if you want to succeed, don’t count the hours, the sky is the limit….Do it with passion and every time that you find a product that doesn’t work for you, go far beyond, try to design a new one for your client. If you cannot design, go to a manufacturing company and ask if they can do a custom piece for you.
  • She also recommends that a future designer must have a strategy, persistence, patience, dedication, and must be highly organized. A business plan is also a must.
  • I’m a humble connoisseur but I have an expert eye. I want to be active as an art dealer and as an interior designer as well. – Arlene Angard.
  • When you love what you’re doing, when you have the passion to do it, then the time you spent doing it doesn’t matter at all. – Arlene Angard

  Arlene’s Art Gallery: 15 East 71st Street & Madison Ave, New York, NY 10021


Arlene’s website:

May 25, 2016

Robin Baron, interior designer and lifestyle expert creates homes that are uniquely fabulous , yet captures  her clients’ individual personalities . She brings a striking sense of style to everything she does.  

  • Her motto “Confidence begins at home” helps her guide her style and design in creating a sense of  happiness, fulfillment,  and peace in her clients.
  • She prides herself on her ability to capture her clients’ individual personalities in their homes. 
  • She is currently the President of  American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) for  New York  Metro Chapter; 


  • Robin is affiliated with many industry organizations, including:  Sustainable Furnishings Council (SFC), The  International Furnishings and Design Association (IFDA), Interior Design Society (IDS), Women in the Home Industries Today (WithIt), International Interior Design Association (IIDA), Women President's Organization (WPO) , The Beacon Group, Founding Member Board of the Devereux Glenholme School, Benefit Committee of the Promise Project


  • Over the years, her clientele has grown to include many celebrities and top personalities.
  • She feels that the best design work comes from the collaboration between her creative vision and the lifestyle and vision of her clients. 
  • She has been on TV and in the media, including HGTV
  • She has also been featured in many print and online magazines including, Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, New York Cottages & Gardens,  Redbook magazine, among many others. 
  • She has spoken at events such as D&D Building, New York Design Center, NY School of Interior Design, Fashion Institute of Technology, Zoffany, Benjamin Moore, and many others. 
  • In her blog:  “Simplifying Fabulous”, she shares her design and lifestyle tips and more.
  • She has a multi-platform social media presence. 
  • She gives back by actively contributing to several charitable organizations. 
  • She is also the founder of an independent living program for high-functioning young adults on the autistic spectrum
  • She finds inspiration around her and always says:   “You never know where you’re going to find inspiration so always have an open eye and an open mind.”  
  • “Our goal is to create beautiful homes that empower our clients and reflect their lifestyles.” – Robin Baron
  • Her services include:  Space planning, floor plans, CAD drawings, Furniture, décor, finish selections, Custom furniture design, Window treatment design, Interior architectural design, Project management, Pre-construction consulting,  bath & kitchen design,  comprehensive interior design services, and selection  of construction-related materials and surfaces including: mouldings, doors, flooring, hardware, plumbing selections, etc.

You can read the full show notes at

May 23, 2016

Steven Cooper is the CEO of Cooper Pacific Kitchens, the experts in the field of kitchen design, kitchen remodeling, interior design, engineering, and installation.  Through innovation and premium design, Steven’s team always aims to bring each client’s  unique vision  and sense of expression to life.

They provide homeowners with functional kitchen spaces that are stunning expressions of their individual tastes.

 Cooper Pacific Kitchens was founded in 1986 by Neil and Shirley Cooper, Steven’s parents.

  • They have just celebrated their 30th year in business.
  • Steven’s parents have retired and the business is now managed by Steven and her 2 daughters. One of them is already working full time and the other daughter is still in school and is working part time.
  • His daughters are training on the managing of logistics, scheduling, and installation.
  • They have a team of highly qualified kitchen designers.
  • They are based in Los Angeles, California
  • They have projects all over the country and outside USA too.
  • Cooper Pacific Kitchens is also a resource center for the kitchen design business and experts.
  • It may take a thousand details in creating and designing a beautiful kitchen.
  • A Team of designers and engineers help put the kitchen together.
  • They always keep up to date with the latest developments in appliances, construction materials, new processes and trends.
  • It’s a fast-changing world. The team has to know which appliance to recommend for each particular client and for which particular location in the kitchen or home – the ovens, dishwasher, cabinets, all other appliances such as refs. He often recommends the combination convection and steam oven rather than microwave oven. The steam oven is taking the place of microwave.
  • Each project is a collaborative work of experts
  • Every team member is given due recognition and importance.
  • Synergy among the team is valued.
  • Steven’s projects are worth six figures each and every one is very careful not to make any mistake.
  • Steven is on the line for all the minutiae of the work – the small, precise details of the project in order to avoid mistakes



May 18, 2016

Graduation is coming up! So I thought we would do a week of podcasts giving advice and tips to the new graduates coming into the design business. One of my employees: Kim is our special guest today. She has been out of school for 9 years now and has been working at “Window Works” for 8 years. She is going to share some of her personal experiences from school to job.

Kim shares with us:

  • Dealing with one project a semester taught time management and how to deal with deadlines
  • One presentation a year in college
  • Don’t underestimate the projects
  • Look to create teamwork
  • Internships are important ~ start internships as soon as possible to build up resume and get as much experience as you can
  • First intern experience was a “what not to do” experience
  • Organization and having a system in place is important
  • Going from intern to job ~attention to detail very important
  • Expect high expectations~ be prepared to deal with everyday issues
  • Figure out how to deal with what has been given to you
  • Bring good work ethic
  • Pay your dues then you will be able to do the bigger, important jobs
  • Be in the industry even if it’s not a design assistant
  • See how other businesses are run
  • Get the tools to run a business before you start your own firm

May 16, 2016

This is Shannon Leddy’s second time on the show! We are so happy to have her back! She is going to share some tips on how students can be more effective before and after graduation.

Shannon shares with us:

  • Keep up with your portfolios- think about how you need to set it up
  • Have some flare with your outfit going to an interview
  • Research the firm you are going for an interview for
  • Go on as many interviews as you can 
  • Ask for feedback even if you didn’t get the job
  • The follow up- know what you want to get paid
  • Ask about benefits and overtime
  • Stay at a job for at least 6 months- give it a chance
  • Make and keep relationships on good terms
  • Keep up with education
  • Look to see what you have to do to be a certified interior designer

Shannon's Website

May 11, 2016

Andrew Suvalsky has been in the interior design business for 11 and a half years! He worked for icon designer Benjamin Noriega Ortiz for a time and then established his own business: Andrew Suvalsky Designs. Andrew has a very interesting story about how he got started in his business and some great tips for running your own business that he learned along the way.

Andrew shares with us:

  • 10-year business mark was a turning point
  • Bought two apartments and renovated them
  • Worked from home for a time
  • Sometimes you just need a nudge
  • Listen to the “voice”!
  • You have to take risks!
  • In the new place the first three months were slow
  • It took a year or so for everything to come true
  • A business coach is a good idea
  • Have knowledge on the different jobs in your business
  • Be flexible

Links Mentioned:

May 9, 2016

Marlaina Teich has been in business for ten plus years with her business Marlaina Teich Designs. She did not start out in interior design. She started out in fashion and then had a family and while she was home taking care of family she decided to go back to school for interior design. It turns out going to school and starting her own business in interior design was a great choice. Marlaina has some great advice on how to avoid the blurry lines between an interior designer and client(s).

Marlaina shares with us:

  • Success of client = relationship with client
  • The top signs that your client is crossing the line
  • How to draw the line
  • Interior designer therapy
  • How to deal with the “elephant” in the room
  • Don’t get taken advantage of
  • Know your worth!
  • Learn to delegate
  • How to keep up with time with clients
  • Limit alcohol

Links Mentioned:

May 4, 2016

Kae Whitaker and her husband/business partner have a unique business called Kae Whitaker Solutions. Kae is a personal branding and business development coach who specializes in creative business. She will teach you specific strategies to build your business to success. Remember “just because you are a master at design does not mean you are a master at business.”

Kae shares with us:

  • What about brands?
  • Know the background
  • Personality draws customers
  • You need to have core values to make decisions
  • Initial coaching sessions: how they work
  • How she works together with her husband
  • Sometimes you need to have people to delegate to
  • Tips for struggling businesses

Links Mentioned: 

May 2, 2016

On the show today, we have Peter Fasano who sells hand-silk screen, hand painted fabrics and wall coverings. Peter’s story is special because he discovered his business by accident. He had gotten out of the Army and started painting, and that’s where he discovered the potential for a successful business. Peter has done just that: made a super successful and environmentally friendly business, I might add!

Peter shares with us:

  • Art gallery vs. fabric painting
  • Location, location, location
  • Fabric painter vs. fabric designer
  • He works with his wife and has been for forever
  • 1/3 of his studio is commissioned by other designers
  • His most rewarding experience
  • A new collection!
  • His work is showcased in 15 states in the United States and in other countries!

Links Mentioned: