Lori Weitzner was at a pivotal moment in her career. After establishing herself as a promising young textile designer, she had scored a meeting with fabric icon Jack Lenor Larsen and pitched him on what at the time seemed like an audacious vision. “I had built my own design studio, and I didn’t want to give it up, so I decided: Go for what you want, not what you think is possible,” she tells host Dennis Scully on the latest episode of The Business of Home Podcast. “I said, ‘Jack, I want to do autonomous collections, I want to travel the country doing trunk shows, I want ads with my name on them, and I want to only work for you three days a week and keep my studio.’ I was going on and on like that. … He just looks at me and says, ‘That sounds fine, Lori,’ and that was it.”
Asking for what she really wanted, not what she thought was possible, has been the operating principle of Weitzner’s sparkling, multifaceted career. A condensed list of her endeavors and accomplishments: acting as passementerie powerhouse Samuel & Sons’s long-running design collaborator of choice; founding her own wallcovering and textile brand, Weitzner; designing product for brands ranging from Estée Lauder to Artistic Tile; launching a jewelry line; writing a book on color; and, most recently, creating an experiential exhibit for the Venice Biennale. The secret to sustaining such a prolific work life? Aggressively handing off logistics and finances to others, and focusing purely on creative tasks. “I have endless energy when I’m creating,” says Weitzner.
An ambitious, sprawling career has also had its challenges. When Weitzner started her own wallcovering line, she took out a $100,000 bank loan to stock up on inventory. The collection was a hit, but she had underestimated how much stock she needed and had to desperately scrounge up some extra cash. There have been doubters as well. The reason she first started her independent wallcovering line was because her employer at the time, European textile giant Sahco Hesslein, passed on her pitch. “In those cases, I have two choices,” says Weitzner. “I can either live in my own misery and just feel bad about it, or I can use it as fuel to go do it anyway.”
Elsewhere in the podcast, Weitzner discusses some strong feelings on performance fabric, the secret to great product design, and how she sees the future of shopping in the trade.
Homepage image: Lori Weitzner | Courtesy of Lori Weitzner Design