Looking Ahead...

I received my copy of a Home Accents Today special issue magazine today. In it, I found an 'annual report' of sorts on the home accents industry. Lots of facts & figures, lots of info, and a few of those things just jumped out at me:

Consumers look for decorating ideas in magazines (67%), store displays (60%), tv design shows/channels (53%), and the internet (38%). Other sources are friends & family (43%), decorating books (36%) model homes (27%), and home shows (25%). Designer showcase homes, newspapers, interior designers, and store sales people are low down on the list at @ 10%. (I sure hope store owners are reading this study, and focus on those store displays!)

Only 4% of households in the study hired an interior designer. Reasons given by the 96% who didn't hire one include that they wanted to decorate by themselves (59%), Designers are too expensive (40%), didn't even think of hiring a designer (14%), they were afraid the room would be decorated in the designers' taste and not their own (10%), and they didn't know how to find a designer (6%).

O dear. I'm going to ramble here for a moment.
That whole 'designer ego' issue scares the bejeebers outta' people. Hildy Santo Tomas and Doug Wilson are very talented designers, but they did more damage than good on Trading Spaces when they forced their wacko design aesthetics on wary homeowners who were used to white walls and overstuffed couches. (CHICKEN FEATHERS ON A WALL???? Hildy, good lord, what were you thinking???!!!) I actually never say the words 'interior designer' when someone asks me what I do. It just conjures up horrified responses. I say 'Creative Visual Designer' and they look at me like ....'oooooohhhhhhhhhh', meaning they have no clue. Better than a jaw drop and rolled eyes!

This report has helped clear away a bit of the clutter in my head. I've been working on clarifying just where it is I want to take my business in the coming year...considering options, looking at new opportunities, facing changes that landed on my doorstep within the past month (two major clients making massive changes in January, ending my consultancy with them), and creating a new plan.

I do find it interesting that the Holiday retail reports on the news focused on the big box stores, with no info at all on independents. The women entrepreneurs I know reported that their sales - both online and in brick & mortar shops - were up over last year. Those news reports and the Home Accents Today articles did not take into account sales of handmade merchandise through blogs, web sites, or boutique brick & mortar shops. This avenue of retail is growing by leaps and bounds as we all redefine the way we shop, live, work, and interact.

Part of my plan is that I am going to focus on the 'end user' a bit more - the consumer who is buying boutique merchandise and furnishing her home with it. I want to provide inspiration & resources & information that will make the entire design process better, easier, more fun for her. I'll be looking at opportunities to speak at home shows & conferences for decorators, and writing for shelter publications. I am really excited about retreat, the new venture I've started with my husband. We are creating products out of vintage & reclaimed materials, driven by our philosophy of 'rethink, recreate, reuse' and selling them through booths in cooperatives, at shows, and eventually online.

I'm not cutting wholesale shows, retail clients, or gift shows out of my picture, by any means, but that realm is changing and so am I. 2008 will certainly bring changes, clarity, and challenge my way! And this Diva is ready......

....no chicken feathers required. wink.


  1. Anonymous1:03 PM

    Yes, the realm of the gift show is changing! I think you'll find more in the category of "Hand Made" than ever before along with special exhibits of "green" products. I believe I read that one of the NYC shows will feature an entire area of up and coming new designers and their products (in addition to NY's Newest) which will be a great resource for indy retailers.

    It is a shame that these polls don't include a picture of the whole retail pie - they might have been surprised to discover that 4th Q was not all doom and gloom!!

  2. That was an interesting poll. Thank you for sharing it. My Mother was an interior designer and I used to listen to her stories about her clients with my mouth hanging wide open sometimes!

  3. I completely agree with you. About everything. I can't wait to see what RETREAT looks like.

    Trading Spaces did horrible things for design. At first, it got people excited that they, too, could "do it themselves" - but then people saw the over-the-top things that were created by (Frank!) the designers and either copied it or feared it.

    The best designers on that show were Laurie and Vern. I stopped watching it in its heyday, it started to get crazy. Sometimes I walk into people's homes and think, "youv'e been watching some Hildy, haven't you?".

  4. Interior Designers are alive and well here in the Dallas/Ft Worth Texas area! I have a small design firm and my business has continued to grow. But I will say that many of my clients have had horrible experiences with designers in the past. Either they were price gauged by them or they were pushed into something they did not love...what a shame. My job is not to force my taste on them, but rather listen and take what they want and turn it into a unique expression of them and their families. The best compliment is when a client is told that their home is "so them". I found the poll interesting and can't wait to see more of RETREAT, I always enjoy your blog!!-Sandra

  5. Deb, your observations about consumers are right on target. In my Retail Update column for the January '08 issue of Home Accents Today, I spoke with independent retailers about what's selling in their shops (and what's not) -- and compiled an "In and Out" list from the results... granted, it only represents the views of a handful of shop and boutique owners, but they're pretty geographically dispersed. Handmade, authentic, artisanal products ranked high on the list --I hope you (and your readers) will keep an eye out for it and share your thoughts after you've read it. The Internet version should be available in about two weeks at homeaccentstoday.com. Thanks and Happy New Design Year, Susan Dickenson, Retail Editor, Home Accents Today

  6. Deb, Thanks for your comments on the HAT article. I have been in a limbo over how to point my business for a while now. Though I am trained in ID and my mother is a designer, I can't get into the "snobiness" of the industry. Like you said, many clients can't either.

    My issue with handmade items is that many times people aren't willing to pay you what an item should be worth once you figure your time into it. I usually end up giving items as gifts or keeping for myself.

    Your blog has really been an inspiration for me over the past year or so. I managed a retail store for a while for the experience and soon learned that the displays were what really made my wheels turn. Your ideas have really helped me.

    I am now working in the outdoor side of design and am really loving it. You are able to let go of a lot of the snobiness and I hope to add to this venture soon with online direction.

    Good luck in the new year and keep all the inspiration coming! Can't wait to see more of retreat.

  7. Susan Dickenson7:47 PM

    Following up to my earlier post... click on my name (above) for the link to the January "In & Out" list... and feel free to comment.

    Retail Editor
    Home Accents Today

  8. I tried to comment on Susan's article but the confirmation feature is malfunctioning. I spent ten minutes on a comment for nothin'! Ah well.....

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