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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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:

Apr 27, 2016

I am so excited about our guest today on the show. Krista Coupar has a unique business that includes business coaching, PR, marketing, staffing, design support and management. Wow! She can work virtually or in person. If you can FedEx, you can work. You have got to listen to this episode! It will blow your mind!

Krista shares with us:

  • Showcasing designers work online
  • Started business coaching in 2007
  • The who, what, when, where, why and how much you should spend on billable
  • How to get the least amount of pushback
  • Plan out your day
  • Facing the “NO”
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • Online designing for designers
  • Have a place to hold court

Links Mentioned:

Apr 25, 2016

Rio Hamilton is a marketing and business development strategist who is based in Manhattan for interior design industry. He has had the privilege to work at NIEDERMAIER and be an apprentice to Judy Niedermaier as director of sales and marketing. He also has a wonderful blog. If you have not read it, you should!

Rio shares with us: 

  • Designed his own furniture
  • Niedermaier was family owned until doors closed
  • Share your knowledge
  • The Holiday House
  • How does his business work?
  • Mon Oncle
  • How did the blog come about?
  • Unexpected things make things fun
  • Bigger camera = serious

Links Mentioned:


Apr 20, 2016

Fred Berns is a Denver based coach for interior designers. He teaches interior designers how to be successful at copywriting and Bios. His motto is “Your most important sale is a personal sale.” You wouldn’t believe how many ways you can use your bio. Fred has some very in depth information and tips on how to beef up that bio, so that it really sells you.

Fred shares with us: 

  • Best way to promote yourself- most important sale is a personal sale
  • What goes into a good bio?
  • Is there an order the information should be placed?
  • Don’t sell yourself short
  • Your bio is worth more than just the “about me” section of your website

Links Mentioned:

Apr 18, 2016

Our guest today is our first guest who specializes in hospitality! Stacy Garcia has three different businesses in three different markets! Talk about talent! Stacy has a degree from Syracuse University in Surface Pattern Design. She started her first business in 1999 called Lebatex Inc. and she named it after her great grandmother. So sweet! Stacy is going to share some great advice on the differences between trends and fads and how to use it to your advantage.

Stacy shares with us:

  • Worked at Ralph Lauren
  • Educate yourself!
  • What is the difference between a trend and a fad?
  • Influencers
  • “Trend is your friend”
  • How to forecast
  • Her new brands!

Links Mentioned:

Apr 13, 2016

Today on the show we are going to talk to Arianne Bellizaire! Arianne is not only a successful business owner of Arianne Bellizaire Interiors, she is a blogger, public speaker and an author of a Kindle Amazon top seller! She has been featured in several magazines. What really makes Arianne’s website so special are her videos. The story behind her passion for using videos in her work is very touching.

Arianne shares with us:

  • How the videos on her website came to be
  • Have the customer tell the story
  • IMovie on mac
  • Measure time with video
  • How did she start her platform?
  • Keep learning new things
  • Find what you are good at or passionate about and figure out a way to incorporate that into your work
  • “How To Get Moved In & Totally Unpacked: In 30 Days Or Less”
  • More books coming soon??
  • Use outlines to see progress

Links Mentioned:

Get her book “How To Get Moved In & Totally Unpacked: In 30 Days Or Less”

Check out this video of Arianne that we mentioned in the show

Apr 11, 2016

Welcome back! Today we are going to be talking to a fabulous designer who is always up for a new adventure: Susan Jamieson. Susan has been an interior designer for 25 years and has been featured in several magazines and tv shows. Her newest projects include her own paint line called Bridget Beari paints that has about 200 different colors and custom wallpaper designs. Stay tuned to hear her tips and upcoming projects and events!

Susan shares with us:

  • Richmond show house pictures- you have to check them out on her website!
  • What is Design on a Dime?
  • Have a PR agent to help get out past your local area
  • Blogging since 2007
  • Is there a book coming???
  • Where does she get the names of her products?

Links Mentioned:


Apr 6, 2016

Today on the show we have a brilliant and when I say brilliant I really mean it, brilliant business woman: Vanessa DeLeon. Vanessa has starred on several television shows on some big television networks such as NBC, Bravo, HGTV and DIY Network. She has also been in several magazines such as TIME, Cosmopolitan etc. and on top of that she is a spokesperson! Wow! Talk about impressive resume! Please stay tuned to hear all of her great advice and her shared experiences.

Vanessa shares with us:

  • The triple “D’s”
  • What she would have done differently before starting her own business at 20
  • When does the momentum pick up?
  • Dreams do come true
  • Are vision boards a yes or a no?
  • Entitlement…I don’t think so!
  • Vacation? What’s that?
Apr 4, 2016

Elizabeth Lamont is a self-made entrepreneur, interior designer and the owner of her store “Room at the Beach”, which has been named a top store in LA Magazine to name a few of her accomplishments. She has been in business since 1990! Elizabeth shares with us her tips and advice on how to be successful and stay successful. You don’t want to miss out on this episode!

Elizabeth shares with us:

  • Her transition from a 5500 sq. ft. store to an 1800 sq. ft. store!
  • How to source product
  • Make your shop an experience!
  • Kravet = the best
  • The most important thing to remember!
  • How to be successful in business
  • Vision boards!
  • What is in the future for Elizabeth…

Check out the full show notes at

Mar 30, 2016

Charles founded Pavarini Design nearly 30 years ago and it is a full-scale New York based Interior Design Firm that specializes in Architectural Interior Design, Custom Furniture Design and Lighting Design.  

Charles has sat on the Designer’s Lighting Forum of New York, board of directors for twenty-eight years.

And his talent has earned 21 awards for excellence in design over his career. The list includes the most prestigious of lighting awards, the coveted Lumen Award. In addition he has received the Interior Design Magazine Best of Year Award for Architectural Lighting, an Award of Merit from the Illuminating Engineering Society for Lighting, a 2014 International Property Award for the Americas, an ASID Design Specialty Award, a CODA Works Award for a Public Art Installation,a Circle of Excellence Award and now lets add- to the list an award for Best in Show Architectural Digest Design.

You can see the full show notes at

Mar 28, 2016

Today on the show we have Nancy Ganzekaufer! Nancy is an art and accessories consultant. She is the founder and owner of her business Expressive Living. Before her business she worked in banking all the way to vice president! After this she was a stay at home mom and then became a personal trainer. While trying to figure out what to do next she got a phone call from her mother one day that would change career plans. Her mother wanted to get rid of her art work. Nancy started having home art parties and this is how her business in art and accessories all began.

Nancy shares with us:

  • Build relationships
  • “Niche is rich and broad is broke”
  • Research, research, research!
  • Tools to success
  • New business???
  • Free giveaways!!

Links Mentioned:

Mar 23, 2016

Rock star designer Malene Barnett created and built her business specializing in handcrafting custom carpets and dabbling in wall design and tile design. She has a background in surface design from F.I.T (Fashion Institute of Technology) in New York. Malene has some great advice to share with us!

Show Notes:

  • Inspiration from experiences behind her work
  • How to get from point A to point B starting out
  • Growth plans
  • E-guide series!

Links Mentioned:


You can get all the resources at

Mar 21, 2016

Jeff Brooks has been a designer in business for 30 years! When he was starting out in the design world he did a lot of kitchen design until he decided to open his own design firm in 1986. He does a lot of residential work and has been interested in earth work and environmental design. Jeff has some fantastic advice for designers starting out or even designers who have been doing their thing for any amount of time!  

Show Notes:

  • What is the best use of a space?
  • Hospitality and public spaces
  • Execute a plan!
  • How to let someone know if the designer is within their budget      
  • Where does the inspiration come from?
  • Be kind

“Plan every project by starting with the intended result”. Jeffrey Brooks


Links Mentioned:

Jeff’s Website

Mar 16, 2016


Today my guest is Ren Miller: editor in chief of Design New Jersey! Ren has a background in design and editorial management. He worked with newspapers and then worked with a jewelry magazine. On 9/11 he caught a bus to get to his home in New Jersey and made the observation that the other people were just trying to get home because home is safe. That was his aha moment when he realized he wanted to work for a magazine that portrayed homes. He applied to Design New Jersey and was fortunate enough to get the job. Ren has worked his way up to where he is now and has been doing a fabulous job as editor in chief! 

Ren Miller shares with us:

  • Why should designers want to put their work in publication?
  • Know the magazine
  • Keep up with the trends
  • White rooms in publication
  • Background
  • How to get accepted
  • The “No’s”

Links Mentioned:


Mar 14, 2016

Robin LaMonte is an amazing interior designer who is based in Atlanta. She spent 13 years in New Jersey building her name and then she and her husband made the decision to move to Atlanta. Robin has started her empire from scratch…again. Today’s show is all about re-establishing yourself and your business after a move to a new city or state. But truthfully the strategies we discuss apply if you are beginning your interior design business or even if you need to give a boost to your established firm.

Robin shares with us how she has accomplished this and gives advice for other designers who are starting out in today's episode!

Mar 9, 2016

Denise and her team deliver diverse and fashionable designs for those who live on the fast track. Her company specializes in turnkey, concierge-level services---in as little as 90 days! They execute high-end interior design projects with their organization and signature deadline-driven design solutions. Denise honed her business practices, sophisticated methodology, and solid business acumen while working with Neiman-Marcus. You will be impressed with what she accomplishes with her relatively small staff. Join us for more from Denise!

In this episode, you’ll hear the following:

  • Denise’s business is built on a three-tiered philosophy: Delivered in 90 days, Designed in a Day, and Designer Full-Time. Stay tuned to learn more!
  • Denise’s full-service design came first, as she found a niche for people who want things quickly.
  • “Doing the job faster means getting your money faster!”
  • The niche was needed in the industry; Denise asked, “How can we brand it and make it happen?”
  • Her systems are driven by project plans, timelines, and a very scheduled process.
  • There are multiple team members working on multiple projects.
  • Organization and precise communication are essential for the Delivered in 90 Days option!
  • The client has to be ready to make decisions and move fast, just as Denise’s team does.
  • Every decision, order, and email has a deadline attached to it to keep the process moving.
  • This business requires a strong team who are ready to work within the timelines, and requires respect and trust from clients.
  • Surprisingly, Denise accomplishes this with just THREE employees!
  • The initial timeline is 2-4 weeks until presentation is made to the client, and then the team hits the ground running when a contract is secured.
  • Denise operates in other locations outside the Dallas area, but those are more difficult and present greater limitations.
  • Not every client comes to Denise for the 90-day timeline; many come for the design quality.
  • For other designers who question this process, Denise asks, “How much time did you spend and how much did you bill for? What if you compressed the time? How much time is wasted from week to week?”
  • The Designer Full-time option is a complete project, with construction, furnishings, etc. These are large projects that take 1-2 years to complete.
  • Denise implements a screening process for clients so that she can understand their needs and the scope of the project.
  • She gives great advice for accepting clients and knowing which clients are NOT a good fit; it all comes down to chemistry!
  • Designed in a Day gives Denise the opportunity to get out of the office for a day to help a client who wants a quick update with what they already have in place. 
  • Denise runs down the entire process of her Designed in a Day option, which is an unusual niche that fosters a face to face relationship and connection for the future.
  • Denise explains her partnership with Curated Kravet, the sponsor of our podcast. They are one of her favorite vendors, and she explains why!
  • Denise designed vignettes for them with their fabrics and in-stock items. You can view it online!
  • Denise’s advice for designers:
    • Make a plan for all that you do and your processes.
    • See where you can be very, very efficient.
    • Work smarter, not harder.
    • There is no need to fret over decisions.
  • Denise explains her upcoming project Show House in New Orleans, already in the design process!


Mar 7, 2016

Today on the show we have the talented, go getter Rona Speigel! Rona started her own business, Lifestyle Designs in 1980. About 4 years ago she started another business, Red-Zebra. Red- Zebra started out as just photography but then grew into something extraordinary!

Rona shares with us in this episode:

  • How Red-Zebra came to be
  • The “sideline”
  • What is ADA?
  • The process of post-production 

Links Mentioned:

Mar 2, 2016

Today’s guest is the queen of show houses: Barbara Ostrom! Barbara attended New York University and New York school of Interior Design and then went on to get her masters in architectural design from Pratt and received a graduate certificate from Sorbonne in Paris. After working as, a designer’s assistant for 8 years and then working with a company that designs stores she decided to start her own business. When Barbara first started out showhouse rooms were not popular. Since then she has really shown that she knows how to work the showhouse rooms. You can check out some of her fantastic showhouse rooms in her book: “Curtain Up!: Thirty Years of Spectacular Showhouse Rooms”.

To read the full show notes click here.

Feb 29, 2016

Today’s guest is the fantastic Lisa Dreissig! Lisa went to school at The Fashion Institute of Technology. She then worked for several startups and then moved onto an architecture firm. Working with these firms helped her immensely with the starting of her own business. But before she started her own business she created a blog that she started in 2007 when she was laid off from her job. It turns out that this blog has really opened the horizon to be a great way to have people get to know her and find potential clients. Lisa shares with us today how her blog has helped her business and why it’s a good idea for others to start a blog as well.

Lisa shares with us in the broadcast:

  • Her inspiration for her blog
  • Platform she uses for her blog
  • How to get through writer’s block
  • Make a personal connection
  • If someone doesn’t like what you post, then don’t work with them
  • Her advice for starting a new blog
  • Her biggest struggle with her blog
  • Recommendations of other blogs to read

Links mentioned:

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