Showrooms Can Be Great Classrooms

Teaching Young Designers to Hunt the Exclusive Inspires Creativity, Stimulates Sales

Successful designers introduce young associates to Market for incomparable training, their perspective on trends, and to enjoy the ‘deer in the headlights look’ when they arrive in downtown High Point. The newbies experience sensory overload and rave about their favorites while veterans seek the engaging story behind the innovations, match them to their clients’ tastes, and calculate profitability.

“There is no better investment in your business than educating a new designer at High Point. I learned this 18 years ago when I watched a young employee’s sales skyrocket within weeks after returning from her first trip,” said Janie Hirsch of J Hirsch Interior Design of Berkeley Lake, GA. “She told me, ‘I didn’t know what I was selling until I went to Market and talked to the vendors.’ That opportunity to see and touch the latest designs and meet with artisans from across the globe creates a passion that we bring home to excite our clients.”

Vanguard Furniture

Each designer has their own approach to working Market and guiding mentees. Mary Wilson of Nielsen-Wilson Design, of Raleigh, NC, builds her team’s schedule around educational programs. “Time on the ground in High Point is precious, so I never wing it. I start with the keynote seminars, which in October included The Property Brothers and the SCAD presentation. I add showroom visits around these events in my Outlook calendar. Hearing young industry leaders ignites a spark and reminds me why I have been in this delightful field for so many years. My advice is, ‘“Open your eyes to all the amazing learning experiences at Market and network with everyone!’”

Miller Interior Design’s Keith Miller, ASID, of Seattle, WA, sees Market as crucial to sourcing original pieces that distinguish him as a young designer and attract his discerning clients. His first trip was with a veteran who encouraged him to have a personalized plan of attack. “I’m high energy. I walk quickly, glance at everything, and re-engage when intrigued. I’ve had jaw-dropping revelations. I pigeonholed an old manufacturer as stale, but last Market, I inadvertently met their new design team, a young group, and was wowed by the new look. I have a fresh perspective on that company, and have added their line to my library and project lists, thanks to that accidental showroom visit.”

While the discovery of signature brands is a key motivator, many designers go a step further, targeting vendors for complete customization. Steve Rome of VergesRome Architects of New Orleans has traveled to Market since 1993, often bringing younger associates, and often bringing clients, as he shops for his high-end commercial and residential projects. “If I can’t find what I want, I’ll work up a quick sketch, share it with my rep, and they’ll build it. Younger designers should know they may have that option. Many are unaware of the sheer scope of resources at both ends of the price spectrum that can be found in High Point,” said Rome.

“I was flattered by how many people wanted my opinion as ‘the Millennial,’” said Salem Scholten after accompanying her boss, Kimberly Grigg of Knotting Hill Interiors of Myrtle Beach, SC, to her first Market. “You need comfortable shoes, lunch breaks, and a rolling briefcase,” she advised. “Market is Disneyland for designers. Watching Salem experience the energy and creativity brought back the adrenaline rush of my first visit in 1988,” said Grigg. “Sourcing new products is a priority, but so is enhancing relationships with reps, networking with other designers, and learning from industry leaders. It’s an investment in my sales team and my business that always pays back exponentially.”