Category Archives: Lost & Found

Lesson Learned – Humble Pie Served.

I just went to visit Willard (not really his name) at McFabulous Draperies (not really his company name) who is one of our top clients and not a happy camper.  A couple of months ago I made the very boneheaded decision to ignore his answering machine message thinking that he would call someone else at the office who would handle his question.  It turns out that he really did want to talk specifically to me, and was truly offended that I did not return his call.

I visited said offendee today, with hat (and scones) in hand, to deliver my honest, sincere, and excuse-free apology.  It was graciously received, but time will only tell if the bridge has been burned beyond repair.
This experience was a powerful and valuable reminder that every company we deal with is run by people who don’t just want respect, they need it and demand it.  I was reminded that every professional relationship has a personal element that can be subtle and easily overlooked. Relationships of all flavors are delicate and perishable and we would all be very wise to treat them as such.
Over 40 and still learning,
Jay

Twisted Sisters

Grandmas Old Silverware

There are obvious concentrations of creative minds in artistic communities and hot-spots, but when I find them in my own bustling city it is oddly rewarding. Years ago, a designer walked in to our showroom wearing one of the most unique necklaces I had seen. She told me about a little shop down the street called Twisted Sisters, and it has become my go-to gift shop ever since.  I really love their ability to masterfully repurpose the most unlikely materials.

Check them out www.twistedsistersdesigns.net

SERIOUSLY!? Customer Service

As a rule, whenever a company makes me say “SERIOUSLY!?” during the course of an issue reconciliation, I instantly become their biggest fan. I recently called Yakima, the manufacturer of my bike rack, to report a crack in it. After a few questions and some emailed images, they said that since my rack was discontinued they would be sending me the more current, way better and more expensive version. I said “SERIOUSLY?!” and they said “seriously.”  I expected to have to defend myself against implications of misuse……and never had to.  I was expecting to have to pay to ship the product back for assessment……and I didn’t have to. They even apologized for the trouble! It has been three days since the email, and FedEx already delivered my new rack.  I don’t know exactly how much it cost Yakima to provide this white-hot service, but I intend to reward them for it with my personal and passionate recommendation at every opportunity.

If you find a company who treats you right, I hope that you all will shout its praises from the rooftops. They deserve it.

New World vs Old World by Cheryl Draa

There is no better place to see the “Old World” than in France, where much of the architecture, and history can be traced well past 12 centuries.  I visited Paris recently seeking inspiration from the past, and how that can be melded into the present.   Figured there was no better place to start than Versailles, home to many of the King Louis’, Marie Antoinette, and Napoleon.  I was amazed by the palace itself, the fabrics, the tapestries, all the marbles and gilded everything.  Attention to detail was apparent everywhere I looked.  And yet there were modern trends in place…mirrors and luscious fabrics to name a few.   And then I turn the corner, and my eyes popped out as I saw a modern exhibit from the Japanese Anime plopped down in the middle of the rooms.   The perfect juxtaposition of new world being introduced to the old.  And it made me smile!

The key to the blend was the significance of each piece for the particular room.   For instance, in the throne room, there is a large white shaped “doll” with a large crown on its head.   In a room meant for the kings to receive visitors, there are round eyed animes standing around gawking…much like all the visitors gasping at them  and the surroundings.

All was breathtaking and a great reminder to go ahead and blend that old with the new.   How about using a new contemporary hardware piece on your old curtains?  Or adding some mirrored or crystal finials to the same window you’ve had for ever.   Look around…start changing your old world into a new world that makes you smile.

Planes, Trains, and Exhibition Halls

Open letter to all members of every interior design association,

It occurred to me recently that some of you may benefit from a variant perspective on the trade-show experience, so I thought I would share my experience as an event sponsor and exhibitor at a recent exposition.

Dallas, T minus 72 hours:
I spent most of Tuesday and all of Wednesday preparing and packing with trips to the pharmacy for mini toothpaste, the printer for forms, and the cleaners for shirts, then turned in and slept like a zebra in lion country with sketchy visions of missed flights and forgotten cell phone chargers dancing (like a mosh-pit) in my head.

I somehow managed to drag my haggard butt out of bed at 3:30am Thursday, raced to the airport, hastily consumed an overpriced airport breakfast, wedged into my seat like an out of shape contortionist, then hurtled through the air for 2 hours in an aluminum germ-tube which,  judging from the ashtrays and chipped paint, must have been manufactured in the early to mid seventies.  

While counting freckles on the bald snoring head 12 inches from my face, I endured a relentless, persistent, and silent yet deadly nostril assault from the sweet little lactose intolerant old lady next to me who evidently was up all night eating broccoli and yogurt.

After landing in Dallas and retrieving my bag, I was forced to listen to my cabbie on his cell phone engage in what can only be described as an argument with a fellow Martian for the entire white-knuckled 25 minute ride to the expo center. At this point, I thought of a certain Steve Martin/John Candy movie and privately enjoyed a little chuckle.

After paying the pissed Martian, I hustled to my super duper premium upgraded space on the show floor, set up my exhibit,  and was doing all the typical nervous pre-show tweaking with strategically placed mints and pens, perfectly stacked contact forms and brochures, and business cards in the shirt pocket. Then I hit the restroom to run some final checks. What’s left of my hair was perfect, no peppers in the teeth, performed the breathe/sniff breathe/sniff into the cupped hand check, no TP stuck to the shoes, the belt buckle perfectly centered, and fortunately my nasal hairs were burned off by the old lady on the plane, which saved some plucking time. I was officially ready to rock and roll.

The first hour came and went without a single attendee in sight. I started thinking; “no big deal, late must still be in fashion,” and “well, they need to come by to get their card marked so they can win the money.”

Hours two and three produced a couple of random visitors that left me hopeful and thinking…. “I’ll bet Paris Hilton is B.F.F.’s with her fathers top designer and they are about to sashay over here, look at my drapery rods, and fall head over stiletto’s. Then I bet she’ll say “that’s hot!” and pout till daddy makes them standard in every room.” and “Maybe this town is just thriving and all the designers are too busy to care about finding new sources,” and “Was that designer really into my drapery rods or am I just another John with a nice sharpie?”

I spent hours four and five feeling like a desperate “carny” at an empty carnival in post-apocalyptic Detroit. There I stood, sucking in the soccer-dad belly and popping mints like candy with a big hopeful permagrin on my face, waiting for those golden business cards.  My mind started going again…  “Oh snap! Do I have a booger in my whiskers?” and “Maybe if I had puppy-dog eyes…, and ”Jesus, is there a cowboy hat sale somewhere today?” and “I wonder where I can find a Wilson volleyball to paint a face on.”

It was at the start of hour six when I realized that most of the random people milling around had black stripes on their badges!  Noooooooooooooooooooooo! (on knees, looking up, with hands outstretched to the heavens) It can’t be!…..It was…..The halls were filled with fellow emaciated and starving exhibitors who had resorted to….wait for it….trade-show cannibalism!  Utter desperation and hunger had driven them out from behind their tables and into the halls to feed on their own! I can still hear their gurgling plea, “Sales, must…..have……..sales…”  My mind was racing…. “Boy, for some reason those nine dollar cocktails are not looking so expensive now,” and “I love a challenge, but nine hundred dollars per lead?” and “At least I am not being farted on in a metal tube….”

At 5:45 I knocked down my exhibit and headed straight for the bar where I ordered a stiff drink and dinner with extra garlic and extra onions.  Very soon my psyche was sedate, and I started to write.  Hey, I got a decent blog post out of the experience, right?  It’s all good….

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I may have sensationalized some or possibly all of this, and I sincerely hope you all take it in the light-hearted spirit intended, but believe it or not, this is a fairly typical breakdown of an exhibitor experience.  Exhibitors spend thousands of dollars, endure travel misadventures, and sacrifice time with their families just to meet you.  Please do not get me wrong…usually it is totally worth it.  Believe me, I have exhibited all over the country a hundred times and absolutely loved about ninety nine of them!
My message is valid though, and deserves to be heard; please consider the efforts of the industry suppliers who support your associations, and attend expositions as frequently as you can.  WE NEED YOU!

Shadowy Sheers

I was clickedy-clicking around the other day and tripped (in both senses of the word) over this super-cool Dutch drapery design at nsybrandy.nl.  I was intrigued by how the simulated shadow effect creates the oddly relaxing sense that you are high up in the branches of an enormous tree.  As a kid, I spent many  hours climbing trees. This photo brought back many memories of peaceful time spent watching clouds and thinking from my comfortable perches. Our good pals over at Adaptive Textiles told me that given an image of sufficient resolution, they are capable of large scale printing on a variety of light filtering fabrics similar to the one shown above.  This is great news for me, as I am in the process of remodeling my office and have the perfect wall of windows for it! Keep an eye on our Facebook fanpage for photos in a few months.

Steelworkers United By Cheryl Draa

My 30th High School Reunion was this weekend, and I traveled to Ohio to see all my friends from long ago.   I was impressed with how accomplished they have all become, and how they have blossomed in their skills.   The drive up and back seemed longer than the actual reunion, as it was 12 hours each way.   Along the way, I came across the most unusual sculpture I’d ever seen.  Ohio is known for its coal mining and steelworkers, and that particular area has also taken an economic hit.  But there is still a lot of pride.   Take a look at the quality of craftsmanship in this architectural feature found along the side of the road, in front of the Steelworker’s Union House in Niles, OH. 

I imagine someone building it onsite, with scrap metal as it came along,  fellow workers checking it out as they came and went from their jobs/meetings.  It has weathered well outdoors, and is still inspiring others as they pass by.   

Helser Brothers Hardware is the same….built on site, compiled by skilled artisans, and a piece of art in the making.    Just ask them can they make (fill in your questions about hardware here)….and the answer is usually yes.   They are a united team that can make all your draperies look even better.   Call for a custom quote now!

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Contributed by Cheryl Draa of Cheryl Draa Designs.

And The Oscar Goes To…..

CB056255I look forward to the red carpet Oscar glamour and all of the hoopla as much as anyone else.  I tune in every year to see who wears what and to jot down the names of all the dark horse winners and offbeat foreign films that I will want to rent after seeing snippets of footage during the Oscars.  Of course I’m curious about who will win the biggies like Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Film – but every year I’m amazed by the number of Oscars that are awarded to people I’ve never heard of, whose hard work and creative energy behind the scenes is absolutely essential to the making of a great film.  In addition to the Best Composer of a Musical Score, the Best Set Design, the Best Special Effects, etc., think about how many more collaborators on those films never set foot on stage: the musicians in the orchestra, the carpenters who built the sets, the writer who wrote those memorable lines, not to mention the key grips, assistants, and countless others without whom film production would come to a screeching halt. 

Filmmaking is a collaborative effort on a gigantic scale, but the parallels to the design industry are striking.  The client sees a fabulous finished room or a beautiful window treatment, and usually only has the designer’s face to associate with it.  Can you imagine what it would look like if we could present the client with a group photo of everyone whose efforts and ingenuity went into pulling off that one show-stopping design?  The designer would be in the picture, as well as the client (producer) for financing the production and influencing the direction of the project.  But we’d also have our ingenious drapery installers and our workroom owners, seamstresses, and the workroom assistant who calculated yardages and coordinated the project to ensure it was finished on schedule.  The showroom manager would be in my photo as well, along with her staff for assisting me in locating the perfect trim to complement that gorgeous fabric.  My cast and crew photo would also include the artisans who created our handmade molded tassel fringe, the people at the fabric mills who wove the breathtaking silk damask, the fabric company that imported that fabric from the mill and their sales rep, who provided me with samples, as well as the person who designed the trim and the textile historian who discovered the antique damask pattern in some dusty archives somewhere.  The hardware manufacturer would be in my photo, along with the men and women who designed, crafted, and carefully packaged each exquisite piece for shipment.  I’ve got hundreds of people in my photo already, and those are just the ones responsible for the window treatments – imagine how many more are involved if we’re designing an entire room or an entire home.  Clearly, the success of the design industry is made possible by the dedication and passion of millions of unsung heroes whose work goes on behind the scenes.  This year, as Oscar night drags on interminably with speech after speech thanking everyone from the gardener to the kindergarten teachers, I’m going to be thinking of all of the many people who have made my successes possible…  this year, the Oscar goes to YOU!

Rebecca Deming Rumpf

 

By Rebecca Deming Rumpf of Custom Interiors By Rebecca

Praying Monk

Praying-Monk-on-Camelback-M 

We were invited to “ride along” with a local installer recently.   This particular “ride along” was a very special one, as the hardware has not been released yet, and is of the highly classified top secret nature ;-) As usual we left with piles of good information including tips for improvement.  I can’t tell you how valuable it is to us to be allowed to observe and learn in an installation setting and how much we appreciate it.

The client had the most incredible views.  Here is a shot of Camelback Mountain as seen from one of her windows.   WOW!  Can you find the “Praying Monk” rock formation?

Bloody Wal-Mart “Hell-Hooks”

 Our draperies came back from the cleaners the other day without pin-hooks. Being the cool-headed and forgiving Gentleman that I am ;-) I smiled and said to myself “oh well” and ran down to fetch some at Wal-Mart.  (You know where this is going, don’t you)  In the hours that followed, I lost a dangerous amount of blood and invented several new cuss-words.

Keep in mind……I am no chump when it comes to hanging drapery.  I have inserted thousands of pin-hooks in my lifetime and, though no person in possession of all of his marbles enjoys it, I don’t really mind it much. 

Excited to strike one more thing from my honey-do-list, I commenced pin-hook insertion.  Five minutes later, I was still working on the first hook, and was running through possible explanations for this unwelcome challenge in my head….”Maybe I got a bad batch”…..”Perhaps this is some new fan-dangled high-strength buckram technology”….and…..”Am I getting weaker with age?”…..  After twenty excruciating hooks I start looking around for hidden cameras and trying to imagine what I could have done to deserve such a cruel prank.  I was thinking “dull pin-hooks? what the hell is this world coming to?”…and…..”It has been a while since I have done this, but I don’t remember all the bleeding!”

eeyoreAfter verifying with a dictionary that the word “pin” does in fact strongly imply sharpness, I moved on to the next drapery panel.  I managed about ten more hooks when my fingers started screaming “uncle” and refused to go on, so I headed out to the garage with a big dark Eeyore cloud over my head to find some pliers.

The pliers helped, but those damned “hell hooks” (I needed to name them so I could curse them directly and with conviction) were still a nightmare to insert.  I finally had to go to the hardware store to buy an awl to start a hole, which worked pretty well, but did not prevent me from quietly repeating “what the…?” in a state of defeated disbelief for the remainder of the project.

Like the mother whos’ tragic experience causes her to start a foundation to help prevent further suffering, I came in to the office this morning determined to raise awareness and was filled with the standard ”if I can save just one person from…blah…blah…, then all the hard work on this ridiculously long blog post will all be worth it…yadda…yadda…yadda.”

I started by hitting Wal-Mart and the Home Depot which are the two main “uh-oh, I am at a job site without enough pin-hooks but don’t want to drive all the way back to the workroom” hot-spots, and bought pin-hooks. When I got back to the office, I borrowed a Rowley Company pin-hook from Anita, and was ready to find an answer to the burning question, which, as we touched on earlier, is ”what the…”?!?!Drapery-PinHooks

I took a photo of the three pin-hook specimens together, and I am the first to admit that my eysight ain’t what it used to be, but they all look about the same……

Drapery PinHook Points Close UpBut look what we discovered under the intense scrutiny of our super-duper macro lens!!!  The bloody fingers…..the new cuss words…..it..it..it  all made sense now!  The Wal-Mart “pin”-hook (left) was just chopped at a slant and called good, the Home Depot version (middle) was pretty but duller than Al Gore, and the Rowley pin-hook (right) was gloriously sharp and efficient looking.  So my advice to you window coverings professional out there is to double and triple check your pin-hook supply before heading out to an installation.  I would not wish a Wal-mart “hell-hook” debacle on my worst enemy!

Clever Shower Curtain Design

Shower-Split-Grommets   -I was having a conversation with our web guru about how once a person starts blogging they tend to see little blog posts everywhere they turn.  This is the first (and hopefully the last) time, though, that I have found one in the shower!  I think that I can speak for all drapery hardware guys when I say this…… if every hospitality designer on earth thinks it is a good  idea, then it is! I remember thinking “wow, that is pretty clever” the first few times that I saw it, but then occured to me this morning that this shower curtain design has been in every room that I have stayed in for a while now!  The design is a no brainer for the hospitality industry because you can remove them very easily for cleaning and they just simply work well.

Smokin’ Customer Service From Barnes And Noble

pam-largura-barnes-and-noble

Pam Largura showing her bike guarding moves

Pam Largura at our local Barnes and Noble greeted me with a cheerful “Good morning sir, can I help you?” I explained that I was there to get a book called “Homer and Langley” (great so far by the way) but that I had forgotten my bike lock and was nervous about leaving it outside.  She quickly said “well I will watch it for you while you shop then.”  I knew exactly what I wanted and it was clearly displayed so I only took about ten minutes, but Pam stood out in the heat and watched my bike just as promised.  Pam, you really blew my mind with outstanding customer service, thanks!

Cash For Clunkers By Pacific Manufacturing

Fugly-sofaOur buddy Mark Erwin has struck again!  Ideas like this are the very reason I drag my keester out of bed way too early a couple of times a month to meet this ingenious inspirator and creative business strategist for breakfast……ok…….I am slightly (a lot)  motivated by the fantastic food at La Canasta too….

Here is the lowdown on the Pacific Manufacturing  cash for clunkers furniture program, as reported by Penny Bonda over at the interiordesign.net Design Green Blog….

Pacific Furniture, a fourth generation to-the-trade high-end furniture company is promoting a win-win deal. Select or design any new furniture piece or mattress from Pacific’s line and take 10 percent off the price when you donate a “clunker.” You or your client will also receive a tax-deductible receipt for the donation, which will be delivered to a family in need. Pacific is partnering in this effort with Neighborhood Ministries, an organization that provides outreach and empowerment programs to the community, as well as with Miranda Delivery Services who will deliver the clunkers locally at no charge. The program expires on September 18th.”  read the entire story….

NYPL Digital Gallery

A french window curtain & grec... Digital ID: 1597459. New York Public Library

The NY Public Library has a fascinating digital gallery with hundreds of thousands of vintage images.  I am going to include the link, but click at your own risk! You might find yourself missing a few hours that you needed for something else. If you click on an image, you are given the option to order things like prints (framed and unframed), coffee mugs, greeting cards, totes, and even Christmas ornaments!  If you type keywords in the search field of things that interest you (like…say…curtains or drapes) you might be amazed at all the interesting images you will find.

 

I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a cigarette card yet here I found one with instructions for the renovation of venetian blinds from 1922.  Does anyone else think this stuff is as cool as I do……….or should I check myself in somewhere?

Renovating venetian blinds. Digital ID: 1641348. New York Public Library

I used their very cool custom gift application to make this tote to give away so….you know the drill…..just leave a comment for a chance to win it.  Thanks for reading, and remember, we are never too busy for your referrals ;-)

Hand Written Cards

thank-you-card2

Is it just me or are hand written sentiments ultra meaningful?  We have many clients who still take the time to pick up a pen and boy does it mean a lot.  The world has gotten very small and I think it is very easy to forget that there is a real person with feelings on the other end of that email.  Hand written notes like the one above feel like a warm handshake and, like I said, it means a lot.