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DESIGNERS TALK BUSINESS: An Inspiring Story Of Three Women Starting And Growing Their Businesses In Furniture Design - Faye Nwafor Winter 2012 -reprinted from original newsletter
Ideas for starting the business of your dreams can come from anywhere at anytime. I met Lorna Lee of Lorna Lee John Muller Designs at the Architectural Digest Home Design show and learned that the idea for her business occurred during a romantic walk through the woods of her Vermont farmhouse. Ms. Lee noticed the yellow birch trees, turned to her husband, now business partner, and said, "we could make beautiful things [with this]."
She says, "At first he thought it was a crazy idea." After all, his background was as a painter and she had come from a newsroom. She says she forged ahead, as someone who has always appreciated design, and got to work. The first thing Ms. Lee did was make six prototypes with accompanying media kits. Next, she went out and bought a copy of Architectural Digest Magazine, using it to select the showrooms in which shed like her designs showcased. She heard back from 12 of the 20 shed approached with offers to represent or buy her furniture-handmade pieces using the traditional method of mortise and tenon joinery - furniture made without the use of nails. Since then, she says, 95% of our work has been to decorators and architects, with some pieces ending up in the Ritz and Four Seasons. Even so, she says she still works with clients who dont have their own decorator.
Robin Wilson of Robin Wilson Home, an eco-focused interior design firm, says she grew up with asthma. Imbued with the knowledge that indoor air quality can be 100% more dangerous than outdoor air quality, she decided that eco-friendly design concepts were the next step in helping people live healthier. As with many great stories, this one came after a different career path- hers, in an executive search firm. With a team of 4 ladies Ms. Wilson works from her Manhattan, New York design studio on residential and commercial spaces. She shares some exciting news with woman of the month club. "I'm the first woman to license my name to kitchen cabinetry," she says. This new side of her business launched beautifully at the design show. Her growing firm is not just kitchens and includes an online retail arm, neststore.com, which features a line of affordable towels, sheets and more.
Interior designer rona landman started her business in 1995. She founded the business in part, she says, "because its nice to be professional." That professionalism has garnered her a position as something of a New York design darling, bestowed her design business with a multi-page color layout in the New York Times and surprised her with something she hadnt been banking on. During a chance meeting she was asked to decorate a room by a cast member during the taping of "The Real Housewives of New York City." At first hesitant (shed never seen the show) of connecting her business with reality t.v., she decided to talk it over with a friend over lunch. Another patron in the restaurant overheard the conversation and quickly chimed in, setting ms. landman straight about the huge opportunity shed been given. ms. landman acknowledges this has led to even more media write-ups just in time for the launch of her furniture line. Its called Inspired, by rona. Theyre elegant pieces she says are from South American locales like Argentina and they really are inspiring.