Design For All

How to grow your revenues by bringing a designers eye to a larger audience

Building on her success as a design and lifestyle blogger, Arianne Bellizaire opened her eponymous interior design firm in Baton Rouge in 2013. Her followers soon became clients. Now, to supplement her firm’s services, she will launch The Style Academy, a 12-week digital course for design enthusiasts. Among the topics she’ll cover are space planning, color selection, and mastering scale.

Arianne Bellizaire

Using video, she’ll also capture scenes of herself at High Point Market for use in the course. “One of the modules in my curriculum shows the students how I shop, and what I look for in terms of quality and design,” she says. “I then help them understand how to apply these same principles to shopping for their project at retail stores.”

At retail, her students may locate items from the brands seen in Bellizaire’s showroom visits, including Universal Furniture, Hudson Valley Lighting, Hooker Furniture, Surya, and A.R.T.

A.R.T. Furniture

Surya

Universal Furniture

Hooker Furniture

While some industry peers may register alarm at the thought of oversharing, Bellizaire has a larger purpose in mind with her acolytes; she wants everyone to enjoy the benefits of good design.

“Hiring a designer is not in the realm of possibility for many people,” she says. “If we’re smart as an industry, we’ll demonstrate that we really value good design. Well-designed spaces serve everyone psychologically, physically, and socially.”

For Bellizaire, this means nurturing prospective clients from an annual crop of students, and counting on their interior design budgets to grow over time, along with their loyalty to her.

Before the new Netflix show “Dream Home Makeover” was even a twinkle in her eye, Shea McGee of Utah-based Studio McGee knew her signature look for interiors was resonating with her social media fans. She wanted to give them a tangible way to access it.

Shea McGee

“We knew that interior design services weren’t something that could be scaled easily,” says McGee, whose husband Syd McGee is her business partner. “We started working on a plan back in 2014 that would enable everyone to get a ‘Studio McGee feel’ in their home.”

The outcome of that planning includes a thriving, branded online retail store, featuring transitional furnishings and decor items curated by McGee and her team.

Shea McGee

“We pride ourselves on having a very collected feel on McGee & Co.,” she adds. “Everything that’s on the website fits a certain aesthetic.”

Accustomed to attending High Point Market twice each year, McGee acquires additional resources for her online store when shopping the show. Now, to help with these decisions, a member of her visual styling or e-commerce team is an essential part of her Market team.

To avoid picking favorites when it comes to naming vendors, she offers a clue about what her online customers want. “A good portion of the people who are shopping at McGee & Co. are looking for investment pieces that are timeless and crafted from high quality materials.”

McGee says she expects to see more e-commerce stores featuring curated experiences from interior designers in the future.

Nicole White, founder and principal of Miami-based Nicole White Designs, employs yet another approach in the goal to expand access.

In the space of a few clicks on her website, style boards digitally produced by White and her team supply whole room design inspiration, and outbound links to the featured furnishings offer near instant gratification to an audience of aspiring design clients. For these prospects, the site delivers “a hint of the magic our brand can deliver, but at a more comfortable price point.”

Nicole White

White attends High Point Market at least once a year to stay on top of product introductions. For the virtual packages, she frequently sources the TOV, Safavieh, and Sunpan showrooms, which all sell products on Amazon, the leader in e-commerce transactions.

TOV

Safavieh

Sunpan

“I think many of us shunned affiliate links and other online shops because they were viewed as a watered down option of what we do, but it’s not,” concludes White. “This is our way to engage as many clients as possible and at various levels of income, which can never hurt our business or our brand.”

E-commerce has certainly changed many of the ways in which we conduct business. No matter whether you deliver home furnishings via a bricks and mortar store, design services, or a website, you have to be able to experience a product before you can sell it. And you’re going to need good relationships with the manufacturers you’re sourcing from. Like Arianna Bellazaire, Shea McGee, and Nicole White, you may find that the best place to achieve those objectives is right here at High Point Market.