Posts filed under ‘Design Economy’

Steal This Idea

Recently Home Textiles Today asked their retailers at a series of roundtables what were their best and workable business ideas were.  Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery; so borrow one or more of these ideas for your business in 2012.

1. Interior design services. An increasing number of retailers are saying they are thriving and surviving thanks to their interior design businesses. Sometimes it’s a design studio with a retail showroom, or a new design studio or gallery addition. Retailers are also moving from free services to fee-based with the addition of a licensed interior designer or two. Inviting customers to bring in their own digital photos, measurements and swatches is a great way to move more product. Accent Interiors, in Wichita, Kan., calls its design program Seymour Homes: “Seymour is the name of our digital camera that allows us to see more homes. We loan Seymour to customers who don’t have a digital camera to take photos of areas that they want to address. We print out the pictures, and with their swatches, our staff can help them with their projects without playing the guessing game of “it’s about this big” or “it is sort of this color.” They can bring their home to us courtesy of Seymour.”

Is your Retailer competition adding interior design services?  How can you make that threat an opportunity?

2.  Vendor trunk shows. Some retailers have told us their most successful store events and promotions featured a favorite product line, trunk show, or merchandising event hosted by the vendor or rep. Wyoming retailer Jody Horvath, owner of Reindeer Ranch in Cody, said one of her best retail ideas was a showcase of Pendleton Home. “We set three beds and merchandised blankets hung over the balcony railings. Pendleton is now my number two vendor.”

 What vendor(s) could you do an event with?  You don’t have to have a storefront- think unique venues or even online.

3.  Artists/author nights. Like vendor trunk shows, store events that bring artists and authors and their creative works onsite  are consistently bringing in first-time visitors. Why? Many of them actively blog and use Facebook to promote their products, as well as their upcoming appearances. “There’s added value in that the participating artists and authors are blogging and posting on Twitter and Facebook. It’s no longer just the store’s mailing list.  A percentage of sales went to a charitable organization, so they sent something out to their email list, and the artists sent something out, and it was really great for business.”

Selling custom products is a perfect fit for this concept- showcase artisans, workrooms and craftsnmaen and their stories.

 4. Focus on your brand. Now that marketing channels have grown to include social media, websites, blogs and YouTube, maintaining a consistent brand logo and personality is more important than ever. Susan Taylor, owner of Black-eyed Susan in Holicong, Pa., does it well with a simple line drawing logo (of a black-eyed Susan blossom) – easy for Facebook fans and Twitter followers to identify. She also plays off the theme with “Susan on Sale” promotions, a “Susan’s Pick of the Month” board showing new trends and colors, and an overall “Oh, So Susan!” merchandising style that sets her apart from her competition.

5.  Get personal.  Think local.  Get back to old school etiquette. Send birthday cards and thank you notes. If not by mail, then post it on the customer’s Facebook page, so all of the customer’s friends will see it. Mail gift certificates to new homeowners in the area. One California retailer sends a postcard and discount coupon to repeat customers, with the note: “I appreciate that you understand the importance of coming in and supporting your local shops. Instead of making a discount available to you during one event when it might not be convenient for you, here’s a little coupon to use at your convenience.” She says the response has been great.

6. Add categories. As a retailer said earlier this year, “Think Anthropologie.” Add interest with a few antiques, vintage, one-of-a-kinds and handmades. Mix it up with a few lines of books, accessories, jewelry even gifts.  

What would you add to shake up your product mix?

7. Let them take it home on approval. “We’ve seen a renewed interest in furniture, but we’re a very design-driven business. For a client who only buys the furniture, we drive a truck full of accessories and give it to them on approval. They often keep everything, and that easily adds several thousand to a sale.”  From letting clients borrow products for privacy and light control until their window fashions arrive or you offer accessories , accent furniture or soft furnishings on approval this could be a path to a new revenue stream.

8. E-commerce. Some retailers are successfully selling online, others say they are content keeping their online catalogs just that – online catalogs. If you want to test the e-commerce waters without investing a lot of time or money, check out Big Cartel, a company we first wrote about in 2008. It’s a good way to go if you only want to sell a few products (up to 100) and can’t justify the expense of paying a Web designer to customize and maintain an Internet storefront for you. Several companies also offer low-cost e-commerce platforms for Facebook, like one we wrote about last year called Payvment that lets your customers shop right on your page, by clicking on an “Ecommerce” tab.

Do you have an e commerce platform?

9. Mobile Technology. Mobile technology is changing the way products are sold at every level. We’re seeing design professionals begin to test tablets, smartphones and kiosks as mobile cash registers, catalogs, shopping alert and coupon delivery systems, and product customization tools. Within our industry, the iPad is making it easier for vendors and reps to show and sell product to dealers, and for designers to show and sell product to consumers. We just did a series on the iPad  and it was the best attended webinar of the year. It is pretty amazing how some designers are leveraging the iPad for their business. We’ll continue to monitor the burgeoning technology and report on it.

How can you use this technology to be more efficient, dynamic and surprising to your clients?

10. Use a rewards program. One retailer said: “We offer $10 back for every $200 they spend. With a rewards program, it’s easier to ask for e-mails; not tomention keeping them and turning theminto influencers and advocates, There are customer rewards programs in Quickbooks software – it’s all free, but people don’t know it’s there.” Another is Square.

 

11 December 2011 at 8:19 pm Leave a comment

DBRx Launches New Workshop Track at Vision11



The small-group, consultative approach of the Design Business Rx sessions run by Deb and Susan at the Vision shows have proven to be both extremely popular and incredibly fulfilling for the participants. So, in the spirit of DBRx, there is now an entire track of small-group workshops, focused on key topics past attendees have requested. Presented by acknowledged industry experts, the DBRx workshops provide an opportunity for you to receive specific advice and information based on your interest and needs. These business-changing strategy sessions are intense, detailed and focused on YOU, allowing you to leave Vegas with pragmatic action plans that will grow your business. 

Deb and Susan along with industry experts Melissa Galt, Vita Vygovska and Vickie Ayres will be presenting the following workshops:

  • How to Ignite Demand in YOUR Client Base
  • Fame 101
  • 5 Marketing Mindsets to Make YOUR Design Business Profitable
  • She Told Two Friends: Developing a Powerful Client Referral Systems
  • QuickBooks Deep Dive
  • Love Your Business Twice as Much—And Get More Done in Half the Time!
  • From a Whisper to a Shout: Social Marketing Secrets for Designers
  • The Power of Packaging: Bundle your Services & Build Sales

DBRX@Vision11 is a series of educational workshops that will run as an adjunct to the Vision 11 seminar program in Las Vegas. Unlike the general seminars, these will be highly focused, more advanced sessions, where a small group of attendees will walk out the door with something—a marketing plan, a press kit, a new target market,  improved customer service techniques, etc. etc.

You’ll be working in sessions with 10 people, at the most, in order to give you  the time and expertise necessary. This will most likely require pre-show and post-show homework on your part.  Each workshop notes any additional preparation, exceptions or materials.

 

7 February 2011 at 2:37 pm 2 comments

Extras, Extras From IMM Cologne

The show team at IMM Cologne just announced a great tour that will introduce English-speaking visitors to some of the off-site “mini design centers” that have sprung up around the city in recent years. The tour is arranged so that in a half-day, you’ll get to see three of the locations, multiple showrooms at each, have lunch and still end up across the street from the main show by mid-afternoon, leaving you plenty of time to explore the vast halls of IMM Cologne for even more design goodies!

The stops on the tour include: RheinauhafenSpicherhoefe and ending up at Design Post which is a year-round showroom destination right next to IMM. Some of the many showrooms you’ll be able to visit on this tour include: Boffi, B&B Italia, Moroso, Kvadrat, Nya Nordiska and many others.

For more information on the tour, contact the U.S. office of IMM Cologne.

Hope to see you there!

7 November 2009 at 3:28 pm Leave a comment

What Makes “Couture” Couture?

The Paris couture shows for Winter 2010 are taking place right now, inspiring oooohs and aaahs of envy and inspiration for both Deb and myself. But as Deb often mentions, the descriptive phrase “couture” is too often tossed off to describe something without have a true understanding of what separates couture from something well-built, well-made, well-crafted.

Take a look at this video, where a Karl Lagerfeld sketch is transformed into a finished Chanel dress and jacket. Each pattern is made and cut by hand, each sequin hand-sewn, each seam hand-pinned…

Lagerfeld is known for his dedication to the petites mains, the specialty seamstresses, milliners, button-makers and other decorative artisans whose elaborate handiwork transforms a design into a showpiece, this video is a clear example of why they deserve his high praise.

10 July 2009 at 7:25 am Leave a comment

Heimtextil 2009/2010 Trends

Although the overall theme of the trends presented at the January 09 edition of Heimtextil was Expect the Unexpected, none of the individual trends really broke any new ground. The trend hall did however present a comprehensive, well-grounded look at the near future and, as one would expect for a textile show, there was a strong emphasis on innovative fabric constructions, fibers, techniques and finishes.

Here’s a quick look at each of the six main trends along with a sampling of shots from the trend hall. For greater detail on the Heimtextil 09 trends, along with the trends and new product finds from Frankfurt, IMM Cologne, Paris Maison&Objet and other shows, I’ll showing hundreds of images during my presentation on Thursday, May 14, at the Vision show in Atlanta.

Illusionist
New technologies allow for featherweight padding, layering and folding that create mass and volume without the weight and bulk. This volume can come from layer upon layer of breezy mille-feuilles; soft yet structured folds; or sculptural padding.

Heimtextil 2009/2010 Trend

Illusionist: Heimtextil 2009/2010 Trend

Time Traveler
Open up a rare treasure chest where every second slipping by is cherished for the creation of a new cultural heritage. From medieval mystique, a rejuvenated Art Nouveau and Art Deco to centuries-old classics, the stage is set for ornamental opulence, laced luxuries and sensuous graphics.

Heimtextil 2009/2010 Trend

Time Traveller: Heimtextil 2009/2010 Trend

Fortune Teller
In a world where cultures collide and yesterday spills into tomorrow, inspiration comes from the vagabond, the bohemian and free spirits everywhere. Eco and ethnic folks break all the rules and create a rainbow of new ethics and traditions. Fame and fortune can be found in chaos and eccentricity.

Heimtextil 2009/2010 Trend

Fortune Teller: Heimtextil 2009/2010 Trend

Alchemist
Dissecting the structures of metals and minerals, alchemists recalculate the laws of nature. Catching the light from every angle, facet and curve, sharp shimmers and sheens add new dimensions to an intriguingly sculptured surreality.

 

Heimtextil 2009/2010 Trend

Alchemist: Heimtextil 2009/2010 Trend

 

Witchcraft
Bewitched and bewildered by the mythic creatures of the forest, artisans copy real and imaginary fur, feathers, floral and fauna. Vintage skins and technology that allows fabrics and finishes to mimic nature are key looks; while loose, floating yarns add to the modern rustic mood. 

 

Heimtextil 2009/2010 Trend

Witchcraft: Heimtextil 2009/2010 Trend

 

Enchanted
The artist’s sketchbook of pop fantasies has been torn up and stuck together again. A playmania of bold and brash color explosions, free-painting a wacky world with a sprinkle of anar-chic to smooth over the crazy edges.

 

Heimtextil 2009/2010 Trend

Enchanted: Heimtextil 2009/2010 Trend

Which is your favorite trend? Take our poll and find out where you’re favorite ranks!

13 February 2009 at 11:53 am Leave a comment

Top Ten Things They Never Taught Me in Design School

So as I was cleaning out and starting a New Year,  I came across this piece written several years ago by Michael McDonough and published by Design Observer. I have to confess, I pull this out periodically and reread it because it is timeless advice for designers.  Each time I read the list something different hits me. Lately, its number 9 -Show me the outputand I’ll show you the money. What ones strike you?

Enjoy and Happy New Year.

From Michael Bierut, Design Observer Blog  03.24.04:

The Architect’s Newspaper is my new favorite design publication. It’s a 16-page tabloid that comes out about twice a month. It’s literate and timely, a fast-paced collection of news, reviews and opinion from voices as various as Michael Sorkin, Peter Slatin and Craig Konyk, all beautifully designed (in two ruthlessly efficient colors) by Martin Perrin. And, best of all, it has a gossip column.

Last month, they published a piece by Michael McDonough, the accomplished New York-based architect, writer and teacher, called “The Top 10 Things They Never Taught Me in Design School.” I read lots of these kinds of things (and even written a few myself), but I found McDonough’s not just entertaining but actually quite useful, and valid for nearly any kind of design discipline. He has graciously given us permission to reprint it here at Design Observer.

The Top 10 Things They Never Taught Me in Design School by Michael McDonough

1. Talent is one-third of the success equation.

Talent is important in any profession, but it is no guarantee of success. Hard work and luck are equally important. Hard work means self-discipline and sacrifice. Luck means, among other things, access to power, whether it is social contacts or money or timing. In fact, if you are not very talented, you can still succeed by emphasizing the other two. If you think I am wrong, just look around.

2. 95 percent of any creative profession is shit work.

Only 5 percent is actually, in some simplistic way, fun. In school that is what you focus on; it is 100 percent fun. Tick-tock. In real life, most of the time there is paper work, drafting boring stuff, fact-checking, negotiating, selling, collecting money, paying taxes, and so forth. If you don’t learn to love the boring, aggravating, and stupid parts of your profession and perform them with diligence and care, you will never succeed.

3. If everything is equally important, then nothing is very important.

You hear a lot about details, from “Don’t sweat the details” to “God is in the details.” Both are true, but with a very important explanation: hierarchy. You must decide what is important, and then attend to it first and foremost. Everything is important, yes. But not everything is equally important. A very successful real estate person taught me this. He told me, “Watch King Rat. You’ll get it.”

4. Don’t over-think a problem.

One time when I was in graduate school, the late, great Steven Izenour said to me, after only a week or so into a ten-week problem, “OK, you solved it. Now draw it up.” Every other critic I ever had always tried to complicate and prolong a problem when, in fact, it had already been solved. Designers are obsessive by nature. This was a revelation. Sometimes you just hit it. The thing is done. Move on.

5. Start with what you know; then remove the unknowns.

In design this means “draw what you know.” Start by putting down what you already know and already understand. If you are designing a chair, for example, you know that humans are of predictable height. The seat height, the angle of repose, and the loading requirements can at least be approximated. So draw them. Most students panic when faced with something they do not know and cannot control. Forget about it. Begin at the beginning. Then work on each unknown, solving and removing them one at a time. It is the most important rule of design. In Zen it is expressed as “Be where you are.” It works.

6. Don’t forget your goal.

Definition of a fanatic: Someone who redoubles his effort after forgetting his goal. Students and young designers often approach a problem with insight and brilliance, and subsequently let it slip away in confusion, fear and wasted effort. They forget their goals, and make up new ones as they go along. Original thought is a kind of gift from the gods. Artists know this. “Hold the moment,” they say. “Honor it.” Get your idea down on a slip of paper and tape it up in front of you.

7. When you throw your weight around, you usually fall off balance.

Overconfidence is as bad as no confidence. Be humble in approaching problems. Realize and accept your ignorance, then work diligently to educate yourself out of it. Ask questions. Power – the power to create things and impose them on the world – is a privilege. Do not abuse it, do not underestimate its difficulty, or it will come around and bite you on the ass. The great Karmic wheel, however slowly, turns.

8. The road to hell is paved with good intentions; or, no good deed goes unpunished.

The world is not set up to facilitate the best any more than it is set up to facilitate the worst. It doesn’t depend on brilliance or innovation because if it did, the system would be unpredictable. It requires averages and predictables. So, good deeds and brilliant ideas go against the grain of the social contract almost by definition. They will be challenged and will require enormous effort to succeed. Most fail. Expect to work hard, expect to fail a few times, and expect to be rejected. Our work is like martial arts or military strategy: Never underestimate your opponent. If you believe in excellence, your opponent will pretty much be everything.

9. It all comes down to output.

No matter how cool your computer rendering is, no matter how brilliant your essay is, no matter how fabulous your whatever is, if you can’t output it, distribute it, and make it known, it basically doesn’t exist. Orient yourself to output. Schedule output. Output, output, output. Show Me The Output.

10. The rest of the world counts.

If you hope to accomplish anything, you will inevitably need all of the people you hated in high school. I once attended a very prestigious design school where the idea was “If you are here, you are so important, the rest of the world doesn’t count.” Not a single person from that school that I know of has ever been really successful outside of school. In fact, most are the kind of mid-level management drones and hacks they so despised as students. A suit does not make you a genius. No matter how good your design is, somebody has to construct or manufacture it. Somebody has to insure it. Somebody has to buy it. Respect those people. You need them. Big time.

1 January 2009 at 12:51 pm 1 comment

Style Definitions

So somewhere in the blogosphere I came across a link to a style definition quiz and it turned out to be a fine way to spend a sticky summer afternoon. My problem is I don’t have one “style” I like, but many different looks, and I’m in a constant struggle between the “mom” in me who wants everything spic, span and in order and the “boho soul” who enjoys the visual adventure of found treasures, piles of books, etc.

So, on my first go-around with the style quiz, I was dubbed a “Home-Coming Queen” with the following general definition:

“Nothing – budgets included – stops you from putting your all into creating a dream home. Your look is quintessentially feminine: cool, pretty colours; layered patterns and textures; and flawless attention to every detail. You like to spend every spare moment on home improvements and making your fantasy become reality. Your home is as pretty as a chocolate box and almost good enough to eat.”

And here’s one of the key photos I choose in the process, a modern classic living room by Fox Nahem Design. I definitely love it, but it’s not totally me.

 

Fox Nahem Design

Fox Nahem Design

So I went in search of other photos that perhaps represent other other facets of my style and this is what I came up with.

 

Bedroom from an older copy of Marie Claire Maison

Bedroom from an older copy of Marie Claire Maison

 

 

By designer Matthew Smyth

By designer Matthew Smyth

 

From Inside Out magazine, date unknown

From Inside Out magazine, date unknown

 

 

 

A luminous bedroom by Lucinda Symons

A luminous bedroom by Lucinda Symons

All of these bedrooms speak to me, each appealing to a slightly different aspect of my style personality. I went back and took the test a second time and ended up with a different result…I might just drop by on a regular basis!

Take the test and let us know your results.

6 August 2008 at 9:07 am 2 comments

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