23 Mar

Flourish at High Point Market


Looking to rise above the noise of your daily operations, discover how you can dramatically increase your profits, and run your business with even greater passion?  Then you can’t miss the  Flourish Summit.  Presented by High Point Market Authority, Gail Doby and Lisa Ferguson are hosting  the Flourish Summit on Friday, April 17, 1pm – 6pm at the High Point Theatre at the Transportation Terminal. They will share fresh and proven strategies to help you:

•Manage your time for maximum results with minimum effort

•Align your income with your core values

•Identify YOUR top strengths

•Find and get hired by your ideal clients

•Stay in your sweet spot 80-90% of the time, and

•FLOURISH in your business and personal life!

Think: Less Hustle. More Profit. WAY more joy.

Lisa Ferguson headshotLisa Ferguson is going to be a busy woman during Market. She is offering a RISE, a StrengthsFinder workshop on Monday, April 20th.  Lisa discovered StrengthsFinder® nearly five years ago and it quite literally EVERYthing changed. She successfully shifted services, people and processes around her top strengths at the same time as meeting the new way interior design clients want to do business.  After significant changes in her business resulted in less hustle, more profit, Lisa invested in becoming a fully trained facilitator for StrengthsFinder® to empower and equip others to also reach their full potential.



The result is a tactical, practical and inspirational  full day workshop, Rise.  Interactive and customized to meet the six participants’ specific goals using Gallup’s science based StrengthsFinder® assessment and post it notes,  Lisa will help you recreate your business around You.  Click HERE For more details or to Register.


#flourish  #rise  #softdesignlab  #HPMKT

15 Mar

A Stellar Line Up

Our itinerary for High Point  Buyers Tour is finalized and we couldn’t be more stoked! We think we have a stellar line up of private and exclusive events for our first time High Point Buyers Tour. Here’s a taste of what we’ll be doing.

We arrive on Friday and kick off our tour with The Designer’s Guide to Upholstery with Kirstin Drohan. At our Welcome Dinner courtesy of High Point Convention and Vistors Bureau, Style Spotter and our good design friend, Jeanne Chung will Talk Trends with us. We’ll be giving our tour group  a heads up of what to look for at Market.
Jeanne Chung of Cozy~Stylish~Chic

Jeanne Chung of Cozy~Stylish~Chic

On Saturday, the first day of Market we ‘re going from dawn to dusk. Breakfast at High Point Theater and the Barry Dixon Panel and then our adventure begins exploring the IHFC floors with stops and presentations at  Codarus, the Wrenn wing and much more.  We’ll move onto Market Square to see Thibaut and Eastern Accents. Finally, we’ll end the day with a tour of the IMC Home Textile Pavilion a glass of wine and meet up and a video PR opportunity for each of you with High Point Market Authority. Not to mention we hope to squeeze in a quick tour of ADC with The Antiques Diva.


Sunday means breakfast with Kelly Weartsler and WITHIT,  lunch  at Taylor Burke Home and we’ll spend time in the  afternoon with Jana Platina Phipps & Robert Allen for a visual tour of the evolution of passementerie. Then onto the  outdoor concert with Christopher Cross.
Kelly Wearstler

Kelly Wearstler

Monday we have a private luncheon and tour of Currey and Co. and Fromenthal followed by desert at CR Laine as Tobi Fairley shows us her new collection.
Fromenthal at Currey and Co.

Fromenthal at Currey and Co.

tobi crl
Tuesday we visit the Madcap Cottage guys to learn about their new ventures and what it takes to put together your own line. At the end of the day, we’ll be whisked away to our farewell dinner at the Green Valley Grill.
madcap book
Finally, on Wednesday, we end our design adventure at Design Camp at Jaipur.
21 Feb

Prep for Success

It’s that time of year when we are reorganizing, editing and looking ahead to what 2015 can do for our business. We jumped on the bandwagon with our Take Ten: Prep for Success in 2015.  You can get your copy HERE.

Ok, I know we’re almost 60 days into 2015… If you’re like most of us, you had good intentions , but haven’t gotten to it yet. So let’s all regroup and take a few minutes to look ahead. If you’re looking for more tips and tricks, here’s our curated list to increase productivity  for 2015.

7 end-of-year planning tips for your small business

by Nellie Akalp  |  October 17/2014  |  End of year business planning, small business tax planning


14 Tips To Make 2015 Your Most Productive Year Yet

We talk to the most productive people all year, here are their best productivity tips for 2015.  By Rachel Gillett

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re a little obsessed with productivity. To make your quest for a more productive self this year something you can really work towards, we asked some of the most productive we work with all year what they do in their everyday lives to get so much done. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Visualize And Set Up Your Day The Night Before

Before emotional intelligence expert and author of The Other Kind of Smart Harvey Deutschendorf goes to sleep, he says he makes some basic decisions about the next day like what he’ll wear, eat for lunch, and the route he plans on taking to work. “The less time and energy you take to focus on routine, everyday things, the more you will have to work on what is important,” he explains. He also suggests visualizing what exactly you plan to accomplish the next day. “Become extremely focused upon making this an ongoing part of your routine and you will surprise yourself by how much more you accomplish,” he says.

2. Surround Yourself With Productive People

“It’s very easy for me to work alone, but I find that my productivity is maximized when I surround myself with productive people I don’t know,” says Vivian Giang, a freelance journalist who covers leadership, organizational psychology, and gender issues. She says working around productive strangers keeps her accountable for staying on task. “I’m not browsing social media without purpose. I eat healthier, I don’t take long breaks. I semi-compete with them because they always look like they’re coming up with great ideas,” she says.

3. Stand While You Work

When journalist and co-author of The Art of Doing Camille Sweeney had to interview 15 prominent newsmakers in just a few days, she made her calls standing. “This was the year I got out of my chair and on to my feet at my desk,” she says. “It’s made such a difference.”

Before Sweeny’s portable standing desk arrived in the mail, she improvised and put her laptop on top of a nine-inch square cardboard box on her desk. Now she alternates every few hours between sitting and standing.

4. Focus On One Word For The Year

“A one-word theme creates simplicity, clarity, and life change,” says Jimmy Page, author of One Word That Will Change Your Life and vice president for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. “You’ll find renewed passion and purpose by achieving laser-like focus that drives productivity,” he says. “Best of all, one word transforms not only what you do, but who you become; it impacts every area of life—physical, relational, mental, spiritual, emotional, vocational, and financial. One-word focus eliminates distractions and turns our intentions into actions.”

5. Maximize Your Most Creative Time

Sally Poblete, Founder and CEO of healthcare technology company Wellthie, tells us to first track and explore when we’re the most creative and then create the space in our schedules to capitalize on it. “I find that I think best in the mornings with fewer interruptions, so I do my best to keep that time open for brainstorming, writing, and meeting with others who inspire and challenge me,” she says. “I save my necessary meetings for the afternoons, when I am energized from my morning productivity and excited to share my plans with my team.”

6. Know When To Not Be Productive

On the flip side of this, Starr Million Baker, CEO and cofounder of PR agency INK Public Relations, points out that there are only so many things we can do in a day. More importantly, he says, there are only so many things we should do in a day.

“Knowing when to say ‘that’s not going to happen today’ is a skill that has given me a greater ability to have a laser focus on the stuff that really, truly must get done.” Baker says he uses the task management tool Todoist to get all of his tasks in one place. He then religiously clicks the “postpone to…” button throughout the day as the clock marches towards 5 p.m. “I evaluate my tasks more than once a day as I work in a field full of fire drills, so priorities are ever-changing.”

7. Slow down and reassess to avoid getting overwhelmed

“When you have more things to do than you can count,” says Scott Eblin, author of Overworked and Overwhelmed, “it can quickly throw you into a fight or flight state of overwhelm. If you feel yourself getting spun up like that, stop before you start to do anything else.” He instructs us to think of STOP as the acronym for Slow down, Take three deep breaths, Observe what needs to be done most, and then Proceed.

8. Prioritize what matters

One of the secrets to feeling satisfied with your productivity according to Erin Baebler and Lara Galloway, certified life and business coaches and the co-authors of Moms Mean Business: A Guide to Creating a Successful Company and Happy Life as a Mom Entrepreneur, is spending the majority of your time on the things that really matter to you—your priorities. “When you’re clear on what you want to accomplish and the actions that will get you there, it becomes much easier to decide what needs to get done and what can either wait for later or not be done at all. Plus, and here’s where the real productivity comes in, we are much more motivated to work on things that truly matter and therefore able to get more done in a shorter period of time.”

9. Batch Tasks To Create Flow

As a writer, The Five-Minute Mom’s Club: 105 Tips to Make a Mom’s Life Easier author Stephanie Vozza’s day consists of research, interviews, first drafts, and final edits. She’s more productive she says if she can stay in one task mind, instead of changing gears. “I try to schedule my day around one activity; a day of interviews, for example, or a morning of writing and an afternoon of research. I discovered this after interviewing Steven Kotler, author of The Rise of Superman for Fast Company, who writes about how being in a state of flow can quintuple your productivity.”

10. Be Intentional About Email

Before opening any email, cofounder of Crazy Egg, Hello Bar, and KISSmetrics Neil Patel says you should first ensure you have the time to respond to it. “If you decided to respond later on, it will cause you to have to re-read the email, which is an inefficient use of your time,” he says. And remember that most emails don’t need an immediate response—or any reply at all—says Zendesk CEO and founder Mikkel Svane. “Take a breath and wait a minute before jumping into the fray on group emails and non-urgent issues. You’ll find that sometimes the most powerful response is no response at all. You’ll suddenly have more time for the replies that deserve your time and attention.”

11. Do Whatever It Takes To Block Out Distractions

Vozza likes to spend an hour unplugged from the Internet, removed from distractions like email and Facebook, and sometimes ventures to spend an entire workday offline. “I discovered how much time the Internet sucks when my service went out for a day; in six uninterrupted hours I finished work that would normally take me two or three days. If you need to check something online, make a list and when you restore your service look up everything at once.” David Johnson, COO and CFO of craft brewery Fireman’s Brew, Inc., suggests simply closing your door. “You’ll find that it’s much easier to make progress on your own work when you’re not being pulled in a number of different directions.”

12. Create A List Of Easy To-Dos

Carson Tate, author of Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Productivity Style, makes a list of tasks that can be done in 15 minutes or less. She suggests we keep this list with us at all times so we can convert those odd moments of time like waiting in line or waiting at the dentist’s office into productive microsegments of work. “This list is also your go to when you feel the tug of procrastination. You can quickly complete a task, which gives you a little energy boost, helping you transition into working on a more challenging or complex project.”

13. Create A List Of Your Most Important Tasks

Speaking of lists, Jones Loflin and Todd Musig, coauthors of Getting to It, have another kind of list to make you more productive: an IT list, or Important Things list. This list requires us to identify the three tasks or activities that would most effectively move us toward the accomplishment of our highest priorities. “So much of today’s productivity depends on having the mental clarity to fully focus on the task of the moment. That can be difficult if there are items you haven’t addressed and they are holding some of your mental resources hostage.” Loflin and Musig offer these tips to help determine if any of our ITs may be limiting our productivity:

■An Essential IT: Something that if accomplished would significantly increase your ability to focus

■An Avoidance IT: This could be something you keep putting off, but your mind won’t let it go

■An Incomplete IT: Our brains are wired to not let go of something until it’s finished. Once you finish the task, your mental resources can be fully focused on the task in front of you.

14. Consistently Self-Evaluate

“Rigorous self-evaluation is the beginning, middle, and end of self-management. It is the essential habit of self-improvement,” says Bruce Tulgan, author of The 27 Challenges Managers Face. Tulgan instructs us to constantly assess our own productivity, the quality of our work, and our behavior. We should continuously ask ourselves: “What can I do to get more work done faster?” “Should I revisit my priorities?” “Do I need to focus my time better?” “How can I eliminate time wasters?” “Do I need better time budgets?” and “Do you need to make better plans?”

“But remember: Self-evaluation is an engine of self-improvement only if you use the information you’ve learned from it,” he says. “Start on one small goal at a time—the smaller the better. Once you meet that goal, take another small step. Self-management and self-improvement come one small step at a time. It’s a never-ending process because there is always room to improve.”

Hopefully these tips will make for a more productive 2015.

Do you have any tips of your own? Let us know in the comments.

20 Feb

High Point Market Buyers Tour

So excited to be filling in our Spring Market “dance card” with some outstanding and exclusive events and presentations. Here’s a look at what you’d be doing if you join us for our High Point Spring Market Buyers Tour  April 17-22, 2015*.


IMC Home Textile Pavilion- Tour  and reception

High Point Market Authority Meet- Up- PR opportunity and Video Interviews

Taylor Burke Home- Box Lunch and Presentation

Surya- Trend  Tour and New Product Launches

Design Camp- Breakfast and Presentation

Stop back to see new additions. We’re busy behind- the- scenes adding more opportunities.

*High Point Market Dates – April 18-23, 2015.


logo tour kristin Drohan logo      taylor-burke-home-300

14 Jan

The Genius Project


“Say it loud and if you already have one, wear it proud.”

At High Point Market in October Jackie and I were deeply honored to receive a Genius button from Mary Knackstedt as part  of her Genius Project. So when we spoke with Mary at HP about the Genius Project we were all in. Not only is she an industry icon who we admire greatly; but we champion her cause.  We have to admit after receiving the buttons to award to someone in our circles we felt a huge responsibility in making sure that who we chose met the criteria that is the Genius Project’s vision. It was daunting, but also liberating- making us step back, reflect and look for the geniuses among us.

After  working in the soft furnishings and window covering niches successfully for decades my mantra has been Specialize and Collaborate- You can’t be all things to all people. Not to mention, as design educators we also believe like Mary that accreditation needs to be reviewed and  brought into the 21st century. The design landscape is changing dramatically and we must change along with it.  Here is the story behind the Genius Project in Mary’s own words from this month’s Design Today’s From the Ranks column. It’s so worth the few minutes it takes to read.



In the early 1930s, Frank Lloyd Wright was essentially a world famous, but unemployed architect. His career trajectory altered for the better only when he began working in concert with skilled apprentices. There is an important lesson here for interior designers today.The field of interior design has become so extensive that one person simply cannot know it all. Yet our clients expect us to know it all and be responsible for everything that we do. This is a very tall order, and in order to fulfill it, we need to collaborate closely with other knowledgeable professionals. The fact is, if we expect to work with excellence, we just can’t do it alone. This means that it is becoming more vital than ever to identify the geniuses among us and to create relationships that will enable each of us to raise the level of our profession. At the recently concluded High Point Market, you may have noticed people wearing small black buttons with the word “Genius” printed in white. Or, you may have been given one to wear yourself. At many Market events, the buttons were instant conversation- starters, either between people wearing them, or people questioning those who were wearing them what it was all about.

Here’s the scoop: I created the genius button concept because I believe it is imperative to get to know the home furnishings industry’s best and brightest, the experts in every field, if we are to move forward. I had a limited number of genius buttons produced, and I shared half of them with a well-connected industry friend just as Market was about to begin. Together, we set about awarding buttons to individuals across all categories and specialties who we know to be exceptional in what they do and bring to our industry. To each of these people, we gave two buttons: One to wear, and one to award to someone else in their circle of influence, since it takes one to know one. Think of the genius button project as old-school social media that very quickly went viral. I launched the concept because so many companies today are using licensed names, stars of television or other media, to represent their products. That’s fine from a consumer standpoint, but unfortunately, these “names” mean nothing to the professional designer. We need to know the people—often behind the scenes— who really know their company’s products.

Frankly, I think we need to focus on the work. In seminar after seminar, I hear so much about personal branding, but I really believe that our individual brands are developed by the quality of the work we do, not just by mastering the art of marketing and publicity. Rather than focusing on self-promotion, to be truly successful in the field, I believe designers must:

1.) Figure out our strengths.

2) Determine the market that is appropriate for our abilities

3.) Create a system for presenting our special ability.

When we have an area in which we are truly experts, we are very happy to take full responsibility for what we do, but it is really frightening when clients expect a designer to be totally responsible for a project, and the designer does not have a full spectrum of the knowledge required, or the supporting team that is required to get the job done right.

If we are to be creative and try new things as designers, we must make certain we’re using new products appropriately. Otherwise, we can get into a lot of trouble. Additionally, as designer will tell you, clients expect us to know how to fix all the problems. So it is imperative that we develop resources that will work with us and above all ensure that we are using their products appropriately. These resources must also be willing to partner with us on the responsibility regarding the use of those products.

Enter the genius button. Awarded to those who care deeply about their craft and who are really passionate about what they do. Have you got yours yet? Our clients today want to know much more about the products they purchase. They want more technical information. By presenting this technical information to them, they realize that our recommendations are not just our personal preferences, but that there are substantive reasons behind each of the selections. In essence, clients today are buying the stories behind the products. They want to hear about the personalities who have sacrificed and exerted exceptional effort to create the products that will become a part of their environments. They want to know what inspired them. Presenting these stories well creates excitement, and affords our clients the ability to share the stories with their family and friends.

For many years I have talked to ASID and anyone else who would listen about the fact that our field needs to have more specialized categories. Instead of just taking the general NCIDQ qualifying exam, we need to be tested and accredited in individual specialties. Imagine, for example, kitchen specialists, lighting specialists, medical facilities specialists, technical laboratories, residential specialists, work environments specialists, and on and on. This type of advanced interior design accreditation would make a tremendous difference in the organization, and also the level of practice within each category. It would also be an excellent opportunity to introduce the specialists within each of the product categories to each other. Until then, we have the genius button. Awarded to those who care deeply about their craft and who are really passionate about what they do. Now, when you see someone wearing one, you’ll know to ask them about their special genius. And you can tell them about yours.

We’ll be keeping the project going next week at Design and Construction Week- the perfect storm of shows and markets.  Look for us and our Genius buttons.



Mary’s article from Design Today From the Ranks column, January 2015.

11 Jan



We are thrilled to announce our inaugural #HPMKT VIP BUYER’S TOUR  to High Point Spring Market in cooperation with   High Point Market Authority.


If you have never been to High Point Market or have not attended in the past five years, you are qualified to join our exclusive Buyers VIP Tour.

We are excited to share an extraordinary week of events with you which will include:

~A pre-market, informational webinar to get you ready to go
~Accommodations at Sheraton Four Seasons Greensboro, NC; double-occupancy (Super-convenient location on HPMKT bus routes)
~Daily Breakfast at the hotel.
~Airport transfers to and from airport. *
~Daily transportation to/ from Market and between showrooms and manufacturers.
~Private welcome dinner and trend presentation at the exclusive, members only, String and Splinter Club courtesy of the High Point Visitors Authority
~Farewell Dinner at the PrintWorks
~As-you-wish meet-ups for cocktails to review the day compare notes, share stories, etc.
~Pre-travel web session with to preview locations, planning, travel details, our HP faves and more.
~Exclusive Design destinations and insider access to showrooms and ateliers across High Point.
~VIP welcome package and market survival kit
~Daily educational event schedule
~Countless social and networking opportunities, VIP party invitations, concerts and more
~Exclusive guided factory tour
~Private presentations and workshops- some that will be CEU accredited


This is the only way to visit the most exciting home furnishings trade show in North America. You will join a ready made group of qualified designers so you don’t have to go it alone and we will show you haw to navigate market like old pros.

We will take care of all of the planning, so you can concentrate on the show and on having a great time. This tour is strictly limited to 20 attendees with places reserved on a first come, first serve basis.   For more details visit http://www.softdesignlab.com/events

#HPMKT VIP Tour Details  

#HPMKT VIP Tour Registration Form 


We can’t wait to show you all of the wonderful resources and inspiration that  #HPMKT has to offer.



30 Dec

Join Us in Vegas for Designology, IWCE and Las Vegas Market

Designology_logo-1logo Deb and I have been busy getting ready for Design and Build Week in Las Vegas January 18-25 which will include the IWCE show at the Las Vegas Convention Center.   We will both be teaching at the Las Vegas Market,   at IWCE,  as well as providing some intensive education  and experiences at DESIGNOLOGY  on January 19, 2015.  Here’s what you can look forward to:

Monday, January 19

DESIGNOLOGY is a unique opportunity for more—more learning and more time to learn; more in-depth discussions and more hands-on; more focus on you and your business needs. Scheduled for January 19, the day before IWCE opens, the master classes of DESIGNOLOGY will give a select few the chance to truly develop new skills or gain advanced training in specific areas. These four courses include pre-show webinars, post-show follow-up and individual one-on-one time with each instructor—totaling more than 7-10 hours of credited education for each. The Designology Concierge services include: a light lunch, snack, evening networking event with drinks and additional special bonuses exclusive to each course.

Digital Design Pro Presented by Deb Barrett 1:00 pm – 6:00 pm

A hands-on coaching program developed specifically for design professionals eager to master powerful digital technologies.Through demonstrations and real-life exercises, you’ll start to build your digital brand both on the important social media platforms and with your tablets and laptops. Specifically developed to suit the needs of the design industry, the small class size will allow Deb to provide focused attention to each individual. Session strictly limited to 10 people. 5 WFCP Credits $495

What Happens In Vegas – The VIP Red Carpet Design Tour

Organized by Jackie Von Tobel 12:00 pm – 6:00 pm

Spend a fantastic afternoon with local Las Vegas and soft design expert Jackie Von Tobel as she guides you through an exclusive, behind the scenes, red carpet, tour of Las Vegas as only she can.  We will begin with a VIP tour of a few of the newest and best hotels in town and their amazing soft furnishing designs, explained in detail by the award winning  designers who came up with the fantastic concepts and brought them to life.   Learn some of their best tips and tricks and secret sources they use to create magical interiors on The Strip. Then we will move on to the Las Vegas World Market Center where you will be treated like design celebrities as you visit four of the hottest soft furnishings showrooms at market and learn how they can help you build your soft furnishings business. Jackie is making sure that you will be pampered and treated like a design high roller with cocktail receptions, light nibbles and much, much more along the way.  You will never look at Vegas the same way again! Transportation provided Attendance is limited 6 WFCP Credits $295

Tuesday, January 20

IWCE Show,  Las Vegas Convention Center 6TU – 11:00−12:15 Quick Sketching System Jackie Von Tobel

Anyone can learn to draw professional quality sketches using my proven system. You will learn step by step methods that simplify and systemize the drawing process that can be used by beginners and experts alike to add speed and accuracy to their sketches. Using my simple shapes combined to produce fabulous sketches is easy and will improve your communication as well as your bottom line. 1 WFCP Business Credit and .1 CEU WFCP Certified Member: $35 Non-Member: $50

Build Profits and Elevate Your Business with Private Label Products                    Presented by, Jackie Von Tobel                                                                                                                 Las Vegas World Market Center 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm | BLDG C, Surya Seminar Room C174

Take advantage of new technology and to-the-trade services available today to easily design, manufacture, and sell private label products to your customers. Open a whole new stream of revenue for your business by offering exclusive home décor items to your clientele that reflect your design aesthetic and signature style. Learn step by step, how to enter into and profit from this lucrative market while using it to elevate your brand at the same time. Private Label Products not only add to your bottom line but they impart a level of professionalism and expertise to your business that sets you apart from your competition. You will learn about the basic techniques, skills, and technology needed to easily design products and bring them to market. Use these products to turn your website and blog into a profitable source of residual income through product sales while growing and promoting your brand. Jackie Von Tobel is an award winning product designer, author and interior designer who has self-produced product and licensed her designs for signature lines through established manufacturers in home decor product categories such as fabrics, drapery hardware, tabletop, gift, and garden. (0.1 CEU)

IWCE Show,  Las Vegas Convention Center4TU – 9:00−12:00 SUPER SESSION: Designing the Future: A Simulation to Connect with Today’s Custom Client

Deb Barrett and Susan Schultz

A full workout for you and your business! This immersive experience kicks off with a pre-show webinar outlining the trigger issues for the Millennial Client, at the end of which, you’ll get a client assignment to fulfill once we all meet up in Las Vegas. At the show you’ll have the opportunity to interview your client in person and shop for product. There will be twists and surprises as you work to finalize your design presentation for your client—which will be done “Shark Tank”-style on the show’s main stage—with prizes for the winning designs! You’ll stretch your creativity, exercise your time management and team-building skills, and develop presentation and marketing abilities and so much more. Learn and retain these new skills by doing, not just listening. You’ll walk away understanding the Millennial Client, the drivers behind purchasing custom, and the keys to communicating your unique abilities, how to navigate changing projects specs and many more aspects of what it takes to close a sale with today’s custom client. 3 WFCP Design Credit and .3 CEU WFCP Certified Member: $220 Non-Member: $265 STRICTLY LIMITED TO 32 PEOPLE

Wednesday, January 21

IWCE Show, Las Vegas Convention Center 2WE – 9:15−10:30

Deconstructing the Window Deb Barrett, Principal, Window Dressings, WFCP Certification Director

This visual exploration of the materials and techniques found in custom window treatments will help you look at the window with a renewed perspective. Did you realize there are more than 100 decisions the designer makes in the custom window design process? And at any one step things can go wrong. Deb will dissect inspirational images layer by layer, analyzing the individual design decisions that go into making a truly exceptional window treatment. Not only will she discuss proven methods, but she’ll share some new tricks and solutions to make your projects easier and more efficient for the entire team. Communicating the right techniques, options, and details between the client, workroom and installer helps everyone understand what comprises a truly custom window fashion—and ensures the completed design will be a stunning success. 1 WFCP Design Credit and .1 CEU WFCP Certified Member: $35 Non-Member: $50

IWCE Show Las Vegas Convention Center 13WE – 2:30−3:45 Jackie Von Tobel

Profit through Signature Products: Elevate Your Business

Learn to take advantage of new technology and services available today to easily design, manufacture, and sell signature product lines to your customers. Open a whole new stream of revenue for your business by offering signature fabrics, pillows, decorative throws, etc. that represent your brand and design aesthetic. Jackie will show you step by step, how to enter into and profit from a lucrative market while using it to elevate your brand at the same time. 1 WFCP Business Credit and .1 CEU WFCP Certified Member: $35 Non-Member: $50

World Tour: Smart Designs from the World’s Top Markets                                              Presented by, Deb Barrett                                                                                                                            Las Vegas World Market Center,    1:00 pm – 2:00 pm | Building C, Surya Seminar Room C174

Las Vegas Market attendees will discover the latest color, product and material trends sourced from the top international design markets. Covering a year’s worth of trade shows, you’ll see the most interesting, innovative and beautiful new fabrics, furnishings, lighting, accessories and more from Heimtextil, Maison&Objet, IMM Cologne, Decorex, 100% Design, ICFF and several other events. We’ll take a look at the social, consumer and cultural currents that will impact design in the coming years through the introductions of these new design products and services. This whirlwind tour brings the latest design themes to you, outlining how certain products and style references develop from one show to the next. Hundreds of photos are complemented by dozens of actual product samples. Plus, Las Vegas attendees will be the first to see what innovations were launched at Heimtextil 2015. A well-known award winning designer, editor, trend strategist, speaker and industry presence for more than 30 years, Deb Barrett attends dozens of industry trade shows and design events to keep abreast of the hottest new trends and product innovations. Tracking the most cutting-edge developments of the ever-evolving art + science of design puts her right at the forefront of the industry. (0.1 CEU)

There is still plenty of time to sign up for these events at IWCE 

signUpThe seminars at the Las Vegas World Market Center are free and do not require per-registration to attend.

11 Dec

T is for Tartan


Just in time for winter’s first chill, tartans are back and hotter than ever. As San Francisco Designer and lover of all things Tartan, Scot Meacham Wood says, “Tartans have a romantic quality.” For me, Tartans bring back childhood memories and just say COZY. I am mad for the plaid.

Scot Meacham Wood Design, House Beautiful

Scot Meacham Wood Design, House Beautiful

If you love symmetry, then Tartans are for you.  It is a perfect grid pattern- what happens in the warp; happens in the weft. Tartan is uniquely associated with Scotland and Scottish kilts. Tartan is often called plaid in North America, but in Scotland, a plaid is a tartan cloth slung over the shoulder as a kilt accessory, or a plain ordinary blanket.  Tartans originated as woven wools, but now they are appearing on all kinds of other materials.


What is it?

Tartan is made with alternating bands of colored (pre-dyed) threads woven as both warp and weft at right angles to each other. The weft is woven in a simple twill weave, two over — two under the warp, advancing one thread each pass. This forms visible diagonal lines where the different colors cross, which give the appearance of new colors being blended from the original ones. The resulting blocks of color repeat vertically and horizontally in a distinctive pattern of squares and lines known as a sett.

Historically, Tartan designs were produced by local weavers for local tastes and would usually only use the natural dyes available in that area. It wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century that many patterns were created and artificially associated with Scottish clans, or institutions who were associated in some way with a Scottish heritage. The Victorians’ penchant for ordered taxonomy and the new chemical dyes meant that the idea of specific patterns of bright colors, or “dress” tartans could be created and applied to a faux-nostalgic view of Scottish history.

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Ronda Rice Carman’s Sheil – Purple

The colors used in tartans can be altered to produce variations of the same tartan. The resulting variations are termed: modern, ancient, and muted. ( These terms refer to color only.) Modern represents a tartan that is colored using chemical dye, as opposed to natural dye. Ancient refers to a lighter  color shade of tartan. These shades are meant to represent the colors that would result from fabric aging over time. Muted refers to tartan colors which is shade between modern and ancient. This type of tartan is very modern, dating only from the early 1970s. This shade is said to be the closest match to the shades attained by natural dyes used before the mid-19th century.

Did You Know?

Tartan has a storied and tumultuous past. Seen as a symbol of Scottish rebellion, Tartans were banned with The Dress Act of 1747 until 1782. They became trendy again when Queen Victoria made her royal residence Balmoral and used her favorite setts in the décor. She loved the Scottish tartan kilts so much she ordered plaid carpets for the castle.

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Victoria tartan designed by Queen Victoria

Prince Albert personally took care of the interior design, where he made great use of tartan. He utilized the red Royal Stewart and the green Hunting Stewart tartans for carpets, while using the Dress Stewart for curtains and upholstery. The Queen designed the Victoria tartan, and Prince Albert the Balmoral sett that are still used as a royal tartan today.

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Balmoral Tartan designed by Prince Albert. Designed in 1857 it’s the private property of the Royal Family and can only be worn by permission.

Like Queen Victoria, today’s design icons love tartans too, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger’s lines regularly feature plaids and tartans. Vivenne Westwood takes setts to a whole new level. I have been spotting tartans on all kinds of home furnishings Think about adding a little plaid to make your wintry nights homey.


Is it Polished, Preppy or Punk?



Alexander Julian visionary behind Jonathan Charles whips up a case goods collection inspired by his Scottish Heritage. What better way to showcase his love of tartan textiles than to translate it into this Haberdashery chest inspired by the classic MacLeod tartan.

 Tartan Redfined

tartan hololandandsherry

Holland and Sherry’s tartans in the window of their Paris showroom.

holand sherry trim tartan


tartan rochebobois

Even Euro  contemporary powerhouse Roche Bobois gets in the act.


Tartan done in modular carpet tiles by Flor.


Spotted: Antique tartanware from at Craig Ringstad, Fairway, KS in the Antique and Design Center at High Point Market.


Not your typical tartan- Ronda Rice Carman recently introduced  Ronda Rice Carman Fine Fabrics available to the trade and consisting of 350 wools and cashmeres. She’s given the classic cloth a modern twist with unusual colorways and playing with the pattern’s scale.


Ronda’s Highand Collection as seen in Robert Pascal’s office. Combining the finest natural fiber, with time honored techniques; The Highland Collection takes its historical inspiration from the natural splendor and breath-taking colors of the surrounding Scottish Highlands.



More inspiration from Plinth and Chintz


Want to learn more about tartans? Check out Tartan, Romancing the Plaid by  Jeffery Banks.

20 Nov

Quick & Easy Thanksgiving Table Setting Ideas

With only a week until the big day we thought you could use some quick & easy Thanksgiving table setting ideas.  Exercise your creativity and use the resources you have on hand to put some of these lovely ideas into action to create a beautiful table for your family.

First up is the star of the event your table centerpiece.


We love these bare tree branches because they are dramatic yet you can still see the person on the other side of the table and they don’t interfere with the conversation.


Your produce drawer is full of beautiful colors and texture that you can arrange into a lovely centerpiece.  Throw in some paper leaves or other decorations and you are ready to go.


These colors are so rich and they are a nice break from the traditional color motifs of the season.  Who says it has to be orange and brown?



When all else fails go with gold!



This simple idea is a new twist on the classic orange studded with cloves.  Just think of the creative designs you can quickly carve into your citrus and there is the added plus of that great smell.


Raw wood rules supreme this year with these simple log cuts arranged in a tiered display topped with mason jar candles.



Place Cards set the mood for a more formal affair and give your guests a sense of belonging.  There are many easy ideas that you can throw together to make them all feel at home.


Small log cuts with a groove sawn into the top make cute place card holders.



Larger log cuts can serve as dramatic chargers.


The lowly walnut can serve as a quick name holder in a pinch.  Spray them with metallic paint or glitter to dress them up.


Put those Fall leaves to good use as place setters.


Candles light the room and add warmth and a sense of calm to your table as well.  Avoid scented candles that will clash with the wonderful aromas of your dinner.


Jute string secures these mini pilgrim corn cobs around a simple glass votive.  Add a strip of sticky tape around the jar to be sure everything stays in place,



Burlap ribbon has a million and one uses at  this time of year.



More pilgrim corn around a large candle



Fresh vegetables are a nice addition to any table.



Fruit illuminated in water is both beautiful and aromatic.



Hollow out small pumpkins and gourds for votives at each place setting or as a grouping in the center of the table.



Use those leftover apples that Grandma didn’t put into the pie to hold some tapers.  If you don’t have fancy candle spikes just bore a hole in the center of each apple for the candle.



Small twigs can be hot glues to the side of small votives for a rustic charm.


Table Runners are an easy way to dress your table .  Here are a few fun ideas for DIY projects.


Fall leaves are great if you’ve got them.



If you are like me and live in an area where the leaves don’t turn then improvise with stencils or stamps.



Burlap by the yard makes a great runner.  I love the way they tied the end here.


Upholstery strapping can be woven into runners or individual place mats.


Put that left over trim or ribbon to use to embellish your runners, place mats, or napkins.


The bottom line is that we are all very busy and sometimes the holidays can sneak up on us but with a little imagination you can put together a lovely table for your family.  Just don’t take it too seriously and have fun with it.  At the end of the day it’s really about giving thanks and enjoying  our family and friends and no one will remember if your table was set perfectly.

Wishing you and yours a fantastic Thanksgiving!




04 Nov



I am so happy to announce a special event in partnership with Little Dresses For Africa to be held at the IWCE -Vision15  Expo in Las Vegas January 20-22.

We are reaching out to attendees and members of the soft furnishings community to participate in this worthwhile dress drive by sewing little dresses or donating fabric and bias tape  for orphans and children in need in Africa.  Learn more about the charity in this short video clip or by visiting their website at  www.littledressesforafrica.com


The instruction sheet for a simple pillow case dress is available for download on the LDFA site HERE


This dress style is easy to construct, adjustable and grows with the child.  Both small medium and large girls sizes are needed as well as teen sizes.  You can use standard and king pillow cases or make up your own from excess fabric.  Embellish them any way you like and create a dress that a lucky little girl will love.

This short instructional video for making a pillow case dress is by Annie Selke.

Bring your finished dresses and any supplies you’d like to donate with you to the IWCE-Vision Expo in Las Vegas.

We will have a very special  display wall dedicated to the event where you can write a note to the recipient of each dress and then hang your dresses up to be displayed on the show floor.  Make as many as you can – there can never be too many of these important dresses and we want to show off our industries sewing skills.



The Construction Zone will also be holding a  SEW-A-THON each day of the Expo at 4:30 pm where volunteers can sew little dresses to add the total to be donated.  Our goal is to sew as many dresses as possible during the show, so if you can’t sew any dresses before the Expo you can volunteer at the Construction Zone to sew some on sight.  They will be using your donated fabrics and bias tape on these dresses sewn at the show.

Thank you to the Studio of Drapery & Fabrication Arts for helping us organize this fun and inspiring event.


If you are not going to make it to Las Vegas in January you can ship your dresses to us here and we will display them for you.  Please ship to arrive no later than January 5, 2015 to:

Little Dresses For Africa   –  2301 Norway Maple St   –   Las Vegas, NV   89117

After the show we will ship all of the finished dresses and donated supplies to the Little Dresses For Africa home base.

If you participate please download this button and display it on your website, blog and Facebook page.  Also please share this post with your sewing friends, groups, and associations so we can get the word out about this event with plenty of time for everyone to start sewing.


 Thanks for sewing your Little Dresses and I will see you all in Vegas!


 This event is proudly sponsored by Helser Brothers Inc.