Without business, there’s little room for design. That’s the premise of the LAUNCH Summit, Editor at Large’s first-ever daylong intensive, coming to L.A.’s Pacific Design Center on May 2. Open to designers at all stages of their careers, the day is packed with “business of design” master classes led by experts in topics including client and contract management, editorial pitching, branding, and charging. The program grew out of EAL’s successful New York- and online educational series, LAUNCH, which premiered in summer 2013. The summit’s experts sat down with EAL to give readers a glimpse into the program’s nitty-gritty—and what they can expect to take home from a veritable designer’s day of business school.
“Designers don’t necessarily take business classes in design school. This summit, like our LAUNCH classes, springs from the need for ‘business of design’ education, so that they can run more efficient companies,” says Kate Jerde, marketing director at EAL and LAUNCH Summit organizer. Embodying the educational model, the intensive is made up of a series of six seminar-like talks designed to give creatives the necessary—though perhaps unsexy—practical tools they need to survive and thrive in the market, many of which are overlooked in the typical designer’s day-to-day. Jeff Sampson, vice president and director of marketing at the PDC, concurs, telling EAL, “Providing continuing education to the design community is a pilar of PDC’s mission and our support of LAUNCH responds to this goal through the breadth of meaningful, high-level programming developed to inform, inspire and further the success of trade professionals.”
“In order to build a business that’s both profitable and soul satisfying, designers are going to spend 70 to 80 percent of their time building and nurturing the business itself—especially in the first few years,” shares Alex Honeysett, a branding expert who will present on differentiating businesses from competition, creating a compelling brand statement and seeking out marketing opportunities. “The more designers feel comfortable and confident pitching clients, marketing their businesses, writing contracts, etcetera, the easier, more impactful and less overwhelming that business building will be.”
Sean Low, founder of The Business of Being Creative, will be presenting on client management, and charging strategies and structures, with a focus of being of service, not in service, to clients. “The business of your creative business tells the story of your client’s journey with you,” he tells EAL. What’s his philosophy behind fair pricing and charging? “Knowing how to separate the subjective from the objective, profit from return, is how you maximize all that you and your creative business do. Value and process drive price, not the other way around.” Low’s talk will center on ways designers can manage client expectations to maximize profitability and remain in control of both the creative process and their own workflow.
“The problem we’re solving is most interior designers don’t know how to sell themselves, or don’t feel comfortable selling themselves,” shares John Livesay, sales consultant, funding strategist and podcast host, of the summit’s purpose. Livesay will lead a discussion on pitching clients and closing deals. “The best way to sell yourself is to be yourself. And the best way to be yourself is to become an authentic storyteller,” he explains. To that end, he’ll provide attendees with common-sense tools for addressing sales quandaries, including a “mini version of what makes a good sales presentation.”
The summit will also host “Developing Airtight Contracts,” with instructor Dennis Ellman, Partner at Greenberg Glusker LLP, who will delve into the details of a contract that protects designers, as well as how to identify risk factors and address clients who fail to adhere to agreements. Additionally, Clinton Smith, editor in chief of Veranda, will lead a question-and-answer discussion on how to tackle the submission process, sharing what editors seek out; while Kate Verner, founder of Kate Verner + Associates, will lead “The Ins and Outs of Licensing,” helping attendees to understand and use licensing to benefit their businesses.
“LAUNCH is a jam-packed event to help designers deep-dive into the most important business building foundations,” says Honeysett. “Because each of us live and breathe our topics, we’re presenting the very best strategies we’ve seen in the industry and helping designers understand what they need to do to implement it themselves.”
Learn more and register.