Designer Series: Joie Wilson

June 2013

Featured designer: Joie Wilson
Naples, FL |


Joie and I go way back.  Surprising, since we are still so young!  She and I were Training and Development Specialists for Ethan Allen in the mid 80’s after being successful Designer Salespeople on EA retail floors.  We reconnected a dozen years ago after bumping into each other at High Point Market when she was working for the Hearst Corporation (Good Housekeeping, House Beautiful, Veranda, Elle Decor, and more).  She’s a talented designer and a great sales person who has just opened a small retail hot spot in Naples, Florida – where she serves something cool and sparkling late every afternoon.  With her innovative style, and her enthusiasm and sense of fun… plus a couple of dogs on the sofa…her new digs (Joie Wilson Design Studio) will be the place to stop and shop in the on season and off!


1.  What are the biggest changes you have seen to the industry and to your business in the last 5 years?

One of the biggest  changes is how both designers and clients find products.  First Dibs allows me to shop the world for both one of a kind furnishings and accessories, and also to refine my one eye for sense of scale and pure design inspiration.  I have not had the experience of clients checking prices on line, but they do look for specific items.  It is just so efficient, if I need a “map” wallpaper, I simply Google that, and I find wallpapers from several sources.  Usually I call the showroom and they will even overnight memo’s, so we can be so much more efficient with our time.

In the last few months I have opened a design studio as an alternative to a home office.  It is truly remarkable to see the reaction of clients to large presentations, possible with large work surfaces and a display/presentation board, as well as their reaction to one of a kind artisan items I display.  Items truly do just seem to jump in the car and go home with clients, which reinforces that clients really do want to see, touch and experience items first hand, the total opposite of web-based shopping.

Also, I bring my dog to work somedays.  Clients love the immediate connection to a part of my life that exists outside of the work environment.

The principal reason I opened the studio is for street advertising (vs. print).  I found a location on a major road, with over 1 million cars that pass by in a year.  This was the best advertising I could do.  I use my local wholesale showroom to facilitate my ordering, and the showroom has partnered with me by putting inventory in.  Saves me out of pocket for furniture inventory, and gives them a direct experience with more retail customers.  I have become a bit of a case study for them.  Also, I do not have any price tags in my studio.

This enables me to start a conversation with almost everyone that stops in, and they also realize this is a service based studio, not just a store.  Of course, this may change if I see a return on more cash and carry items.  I also feature lots of art work on consignment from local artists.


2.  What have you done in your business to respond to those changes – and how is that working for you?

Response to changes, I have started taking credit cards for payment.  I do increase my percentage for cost plus fee basis to cover the cc charges.  It is just so immediate for my payment, and for payments to my work rooms.  It also simplifies book keeping as I no longer have to manage a large balance of money from my clients through the purchase stage.  Many of my clients live in other cities as I am in a resort community, so now I do not have to track them down to send checks.  It is a seamless way to handle billings and payments.  My cc service is through my bank and there is even a line on the receipt/transaction form where I can identify “Draperies for Steve’s room.”

I have also worked to develop relationships with the local magazine editors, which does create an opportunity for press coverage.   I have offered the use of my studio to local service organizations for meetings, it is just good energy to have that flow of guests.


Joie Wilson (5)

ASIDFSC Showhouse 045

3.  What do you predict for the future of the interior design industry – and how can designers prepare for that?

Just to stay aware of the best of products that suit your client base.  They love it when I show them something that is new to the town, the first of a series from an artist or manufacturer.  Also I customize a lot of furniture pieces that I buy from standard furniture vendors.  I live in a tropical market, so the large number of white, blond, washed or almost unfinished items offer a wonderful canvas for colored glazes and surface applications.  Also continue to offer the total package, if they just want an item there are so many great resources available to all of us as consumers.

Just keep trying to have something that no one else features, I design custom curtain rods for example with star fish, and can offer any shell or coral design.

Designer Series: Corey Damen Jenkins

November 1, 2012

Featured designer: Corey Damen Jenkins
Bloomfield Hills, MI |

I first met Corey in 2010 at the Michigan Design Center where I was speaking on “Pricing Design.” Corey sat in the first row, beautifully dressed and with a bright smile, his portfolio in one hand and a pad and pen for note taking in the other. He came prepared to get as much as he could from an ‘expert from afar’ as he developed his then fledgling design business. His questions were thoughtful and on target for someone early in his design career and appropriate for where the industry was at that time. He was his as ever gracious and charming self, poised to be noticed nationally. Since then he has become an HGTV celebrity designer, grown his business and studio to incorporate more designers and support people at a time when other designers are cutting back, and the future is blazing for him. We have developed a lovely friendship and I am proud and delighted that he chose to participate in the Designer Series, further evidence of his generous nature and his commitment and contribution to the industry.

1. What are the biggest changes you have seen to the industry and to your business in the last 5 years?
Answer: One thing is the huge proliferation of clients making efforts to “shop” products by using the internet or competing showrooms against the interior designers. Also, fabric houses seem to be discontinuing lines far more frequently and keeping even less material in stock.

2. What have you done in your business to respond to those changes – and how is that working for you?
Answer: We’ve placed a clause requiring initialing at the time of contract signing that specifies that any product we source is subject to a steep (and threatening) 25% referral fee should the client decide to source said products independently of the firm. It has been very effective when they realize that any savings they hope to get are in effect eaten up by our referral fee. Our contract also says that we are responsible for 100% of the selection and procurement process.

In terms of dealing with constant production drops at the fabric mills, I’ve found that I have selected 1 or even 2 additional “back-ups” for many of my design packages just in case a favorite option is dropped from production. It’s been a little more work, but at least doing so prevents scrambling later. Another key has been to put friendly “pressure” on the client to commit to purchases quickly as timing is of the essence. I tell them that if they “LOVE” what they see on my presentation boards, they need to bust a move quickly because someone else in the country is likely “loving it too” and may buy it out from under us. This seems to put the “fear of the design gods” into them and a fire under their fannies for action.

3. What do you predict for the future of the interior design industry – and how can designers prepare for that?
Answer: I predict that consumers will become even more savvy with the internet, getting tax exemption IDs, and other tools to under-cut designers’ commissions. Designers need to protect themselves with their contracts. They also need to embrace technology and wield it as a tool in protecting their creative vision. Finally, designers may need to move away from certain items i.e. decorative lighting options where SKUs and costs are common knowledge on the internet, and seek out pieces that cannot be shopped, i.e. antiques. This will protect their sales as well as give their project a more unique look.