14 2020 winter rgb min
Winter 2020 | Issue 14

In a designer’s very first conversation with a client, “How much is this going to cost me?” is immediately on the table. Explaining your terms and outlining your vision in the same breath are essential ingredients of closing the deal. Designers across the country are rethinking the equation when it comes to their fees. In this issue, we uncover why the most important ingredient might not be how you charge, but rather how you talk about it with your clients.

Designers across the country are rethinking the equation when it comes to their fees. Thinking about making a big change of your own? BOH uncovers why the most important ingredient might not be how you charge, but rather how you talk about it with your clients.
BY Kaitlin Petersen
Houston-based designer Jillian O’Neill reveals how she turned her interior design business into a first-of-its-kind franchise across two continents.
BY Kathryn O'Shea-Evans
You probably won’t get rich or famous from a licensing deal, but every year, dozens of designers still sign on the dotted line. We asked them why.
BY Haley Chouinard
High-end furniture and decor brand Kathy Kuo Home has been profitable (and self-funded) since its founding in 2012. In 2019, Kuo met with investors to explore fundraising that could grow the business even faster—but ultimately decided to pursue a different route.
BY Hannah Hickok
Christopher Peacock, founder of his eponymous Norwalk, Connecticut–based cabinetry brand, had the good fortune to sell his company to British furniture maker Smallbone at the top of the market in September 2008—and the ill fortune to get caught up in the new owner’s subsequent bankruptcy just months later. Here’s how he brought his company back from the brink (and then some).
BY Hannah Hickok
After working in multiline showrooms for 12 years, Katrena Griggs became the vice president of showroom operations for wholesale brand Codarus in 2015, and then launched her own company, Curated Home Brands, three years later. Though the brand is young, when she saw a chance to open her own space in Atlanta last August, she jumped.
BY Hannah Hickok
Six years after launching ALT for Living to represent boutique to-the-trade brands in 2008, Analisse Taft-Gersten opened a new showroom with a unique twist: a coffee bar. Here’s how her hybrid retail model came together—and created a positive feedback loop for her business.
BY Hannah Hickok
For Lee Mayer, who co-founded Denver-based e-design platform Havenly with her sister Emily Motayed in 2014, operating her startup far from Silicon Valley has offered her a different perspective. Instead of falling prey to groupthink, the self- described contrarian made a marketing move that was nearly unheard of at the time: not spending a dime on new customer acquisition.
BY Hannah Hickok
Auckland, New Zealand–based James Dunlop Textiles is a fourth-generation family brand with a century-long legacy. So when managing director Ben Moir decided to cut the longstanding product range by 40 percent, the decision raised a few eyebrows ... until revenue jumped.
BY Hannah Hickok
When Catherine Connolly became CEO of Merida in 2007, she didn’t know that the Fall River, Massachusetts–based rug company was hurtling toward an identity crisis. Facing an unsustainable retail landscape in the wake of the Great Recession, Connolly made a not-so-popular decision to pull the brand out of retail entirely—a move that ended up paying off big-time.
BY Hannah Hickok
Design Dispatch
ones to watch
Five years ago, Jean Lin opened Colony, a gallery for independent American makers that currently represents 13 furniture, lighting, textile and object designers. Now, she has created a new initiative to discover and exhibit up-and-coming talent—and help them establish sustainable business, manufacturing and marketing practices.
real estate
A white box in a great location isn’t enough anymore. Increasingly savvy house hunters are making interior design a bigger part of the real estate equation.
in the year and a half since Kristan Cunningham and Scott Jarrell opened the second branch of their Arts District shop, the wife-and-husband duo have seen astounding growth.
Designers Roric Tobin and Summer Thornton face off on whether or not to pull the rug out from under the dining table.
The Handbook
Interior design can be a tough business, but there’s plenty of opportunity (and profit) out there if you know where to look—and how to ask for it. Just ask iconic decorator Elsie de Wolfe, who, in one morning, landed what may be the biggest design commission ever. All it took was a little hustle.
No one becomes an interior designer because they love spreadsheets. Problem is, a bad spreadsheet can tank a project just as dramatically as the wrong shade of pink. Accountants, financial advisers and project managers for some of the industry’s top talents explain how to streamline a design firm—and avoid common money mistakes.
Admit it: You’ve got entrepreneur fever. You’ve always had a great idea for a business kicking around in the back of your head, maybe something that could transform the industry, or at least turn a tidy profit—if only you had the money to get it off the ground. Before you start playing chicken with your credit limit, check out this list of ways design world entrepreneurs are getting funded, how they work—and what to watch out for.

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