Just saw the BEST quote on Twitter from @SpikeJones
"When your car breaks down, do you want to take it to the Guy/Gal who blogged about it or the Guy/Gal who built it."
Just wanted to document to the world the following policy that I'm putting in place as of this very moment.
All quotes or estimates or ballpark figures that are asked of me on the fly, in person are pure conjecture on my part. They do not constitute an agreement, a firm quote or anything that I will be held to. The same goes for recipes. A smidge of this, could in fact, mean a half a cup or vice versa. I'm not a numbers person. I don't do quick calculations in my head. If you ask me the price of a fabric I reserve the right to be off give or take $20-50/yard in either direction. All prices asked of me never include taxes, shipping, airfare or monies necessary to grease the right person's palms in order to get said item here on time in one piece. Also, numbers I may quote you are often in foreign currency. You are on your own with that one given the rollercoaster that is the stock market.
So there, I've gotten this little bit of housekeeping out of the way. Now I just need somebody to bake me some Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies, sans Evil Cinnamon. Oh and a cuppa tea would be lovely too. Two milks, 1. 5 sugars.
I'm back from London. Had a fab time with some pretty awesome people. London is gorgeous. I'm exhausted. I have beautious things to share with you though... so it will be worth it. I promise.
Gots to catch up on all of our projects.
Shan-Na-Na-Na Tova to all of those of you who are celebrating with Bowzer this Jewish New Year.
Pray for me, my husband's Aunt's Rosh Hoshanna Dinner is well... Pray for me.
Dear Decor/Design Retailers,
This has been brewing for some time now. I need to get it off my chest.
Designer Discounts - let's discuss.
For starters, I offer my clients discounts and bill for my time. The value of the discount varies. Many factors are involved - duty/brokerage fees/deliveries/incidental charges all affect the price I as a designer can purchase an item for I then discount after that has been taken into account. It's an art form let me tell you - higher level thinking, advanced math and in some cases tantric yoga are involved. It's never straightforward and sucks up a HUGE amount of time. I bill for my time and for the time it takes my staff to perform these Cirque Du Soleil type moves. However....
If one more client comes to me and says "Can't I just have your discount?" or "I'll just get the designer discount from the store..." or tells me what said designer discount is because the salesperson told them what it was or offered it to them to try and get them to commit to purchasing right then and there I am going to BLOW MY FREAKING STACK OFF. Oh wait, I think I just did.
THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN PEOPLE BROKEN. It's like the Design World is the Titanic, which has hit the iceberg and is about to do a Swan Song into the depths of the Ocean and every salesperson/Decor Store owner is throwing the designers overboard in hopes they can make it just a little bit longer. I'm not blaming the clients, I'm putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of the stores.
I tend to pass on my discount when it is offered on the retail level because I CHOOSE to give that perk to my clients. However, it is NOT a right. Anyone and their neighbour seems to qualify for said designer discount and this MUST MUST MUST stop. Stores need to buck up, qualify the individual, get them to fill out a form, PROVE they are a designer and establish a mutually beneficial relationship with said designer. I think designers need to jump through a few hoops in order to get a discount. Prove that they are equally as invested. I'm not looking for freebies or an edge here really I'm looking for solid relationships that will serve both parties over time.
Let's not be naive and think that there aren't those willing to say they are designers and feel they ARE designers of their own homes. Those people DO NOT QUALIFY FOR A DESIGNER DISCOUNT! You need to have a business, do work for other people have some actual credentials even say... PAY TAXES!!!!! Stores who just give out a discount to any Looky Lou I'm disappointed in you. You are KILLING THE MARKET. Watering it down to Big Box Store mentality and devaluing the role of designers who are essentially - FREE SALESPEOPLE for you. Stores clearly raise their prices to take into account these 'token' discounts thrown out without discretion. So in the end, who is winning here? Not the designer and CERTAINLY not the client.
In order to combat this depressing trend, I've taken to going over stores' heads. I try and buy directly from the same suppliers the stores are. I give my clients better discounts than I would be able to get with the sometimes laughable discount stores even offer. This often includes getting them better pricing on custom goods. Seeing as arranging to get my discount to a client takes up as much time as ordering the product myself, I'd rather do so. It's a better win/win situation for both me and the client. I get access to more items than stores carry, I establish my own relationships with suppliers and so forth.
How can we teach our clients to invest in their homes and buy quality pieces when everyone is competing over price and not over quality pieces?
Believe you me, I WANT to support my local merchants but the system is broken. I WANT to feel that these stores are supporting me and my business too. A stronger Designer/Store relationship will benefit everyone involved. I hear stores bemoaning the lack of business or loyalty but come on, let's get real. It's a two way street. Protect your designers. Do not disclose your discount policy. Ask your customers in advance if they are working with a designer. Assign Designers a key staff person to deal with and structure your commission policy accordingly. Look past just the initial or one off sale and seek out long term relationships. Offer special promotions or sneak peeks to designers only. Offer special promotions or sneak peeks to Designers WITH their clients only... Simply put, invest in professionals and you will reap the rewards. We are a fiercely loyal bunch. For goodness sake, host a bloody Tweet Up at your store. Crate and Barrel has done so - and it brought in people on a quiet night to experience their furniture and have some fun. However, that's the only one that I can think of... for real.
It's time to think beyond the box. Step outside your comfort zone. Hire a Social Media PR person - Leslie Carothers of the Kaleidoscope Partnership @tkpleslie on twitter comes to mind. Do SOMETHING but for goodness sakes, stop throwing your potentially biggest fans under the freaking BUS!
Taylor or Dearborn, I'm in one of them right now.
Tomorrow (almost today) I'm participating in a panel discussion with Masco Corp as I mentioned earlier today (now almost yesterday). If you have any thoughts you'd like to share on how Design Bloggers and Designers can partner better with Brands to achieve the common goal of servicing the consumer better - please get in touch would love to have your feedback. Do it before noon. HA!
The drive here was well interesting... I didn't kill my husband - yay me. We didn't really get too lost - yay him (sorta) and we are still (mostly) on speaking terms. Always a good sign when you can in fact do long distance road trips with a partner and live to talk about it without copious amounts of therapy/PTSD. I mean, don't get me wrong, some TV network missed out BIGGGGGGGGGG Time on the conversation (I'm being polite) that ensued when my directions via Sarnia were ignored in favour of the driver's preference and then I was inundated with questions from said driver about where we were going and what route to take - um.. dude... my directions were case specific to the OTHER crossing so we are S.O.L. I digress. We got to where we were going. We even found a Best Buy so that I could get an American phone to perform some sort of elaborate tethering process for which I have yet been trained.
Sigh. If only Canadian Cell Phone companies worked WITH their customers to provide us with decent and affordable roaming packages to the US. Snooze you lose guys. AT & T got my money.
What does any or all of this have to do with design? Nothing. Let's be frank. I'm wiped. Exhausted. I worked all weekend in order to take three days away from the office and still worked the entire way down here in the car, returned emails as soon as I got into the hotel room and again upon my return from dinner. Fabulous Sushi Resto in Dearborn called Crave. Seriously. Divine. Salmon Sashimi that melts in your mouth and a Chocolate Lava cake that was pretty much God and I'm not that big a fan of chocolate. I'd like to thank the extremely patient and friendly patrons of the restaurant for entertaining my son, letting him hang out with you on the lounge sofas and the impromptu photoshoot with someone's blackberry. xo
So now to sleep. I have to rest up to be witty and insightful tomorrow. I've already located the nearest Starbucks. I think I've picked out what I am going to wear. I have options. Will mull these over. I'm also trying to figure out how to make a dressing room look fabulous using a less expensive millwork option, putting together a fabric scheme for Wed Luxe offices, plotting out some additions and alternatives for Christine's gorgeous kitchen (did you see the sneak peeks we teased over the weekend and today on her blog?) and worrying about demolition on a project that starts Wednesday - reminds me I have to send the contractor a note about the key!
The Bed here is redonk comfy. AND my sweet little baby is sleeping in a bed by himself for the first time in his life. He's sooooo big now. I can still eat him hourly though.
Enjoy your day! Make it beautiful!!!