Behind-the-scenes can make or break a designer

Behind-the-scenes can make or break a designer
When we hit a bump in the road we tend to deal with the issue on the fly and figure out the best solution as the problem is happening.

Greensboro, NC - The finished product almost always comes with plenty of “wow!”

The interior designer has come into her client’s home and captured the vision with a creative plan that includes furniture, accessories, rugs and more.

But getting the product from point A to point B is where the project is made and exceptional service is every bit as important as choosing the right product. After all, service is what keeps clients happy and creates repeat business and recommendations. 


So how do designers cope with the inevitable snags in the plan? 

“Our day-to-day is all about thinking on our feet. When we hit a bump in the road we tend to deal with the issue on the fly and figure out the best solution as the problem is happening,” said Kerrie Kelly, owner and lead designer of Kerrie Kelly Design Lab in Sacramento, Calif. “With that said, we like to set ourselves up for success by allowing plenty of time to work on projects and order product for clients so things like delays, backorders, and pushback don’t set our timeline back any further.”

Claire Bell, owner of Chic Abode Interiors & Remodeling of Atlanta, says she tends to stick with what she knows she can get in a timely manner.

“To stay on track time-wise, I only spec items that are in stock at the time of presentation. I prioritize my selections based on manufacturers that show their stock on dealer websites in real time,” Bell said. “I select directly from those lines with consistently good stock and the right look for each project. I start by selecting rugs, upholstery, and drapery. Anything involving fabric typically takes longer and also drives the design.”

Bell added that good fortune and a friendly rep are also important. The Jaipur Living rug that she used in a recent project showed only two in stock when she finalized her client’s proposal.

“By calling my rep right away, I was able to secure one of the rugs I needed, ensuring a cohesive look and the promised timeframe for the project,” Bell said. “Rep relationships can be vital factors in smooth installations.”


Bell and Kelly agreed that companies that can fulfill orders quickly typically earn repeat business. Kelly cited Wesley Hall, Feizy and TileBar as a trio of producers that get it and keep her coming back.

“Our Design Lab is always about face-to-face interaction as much as possible so we appreciate when reps take time out to visit and check up on our project needs,” Kelly said. “A ‘boots on the ground’ strategy paired with great communication is a fabulous combination.”

Being based in Atlanta, Bell said Surya, which is nearby in Cartersville, provides plenty of product quickly.

“With Surya, you can even order on the Internet and it just arrives,” Bell said. “I’ll get it in a day from Surya because they’re so near to me. Their logistics are amazing.”

Kevin Westerhouse, chief operating officer for Surya, said the design community is an important channel for the rug and accessory producer. He said while Surya goes out of its way to provide excellent service for designers, designers reciprocate by providing valuable input that goes into the company’s product design plans. 

“The input that designers offer helps us build our brand and ensure that we’re coming up with innovative products and designs that not only reflect the latest trends but also meet designers’ real world needs,” Westerhouse said. “Just as with our retailer customers, receiving feedback from designers is critical to making sure we’re moving our business forward.”

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Thomas Lester covers rugs, top-of-bed and a variety of other topics for Designers Today. In addition, he covers these subjects for several of Progressive Business Media’s properties, including Furniture/Today, Home Accents Today and Kids Today. He’s been a professional journalist since 2000, covering everything from local and major collegiate sports to local government, schools, crime and courts.


When he’s not working, Lester enjoys spending time with his wife and son, running, reading, watching football and baseball and playing music. He’s a decent enough bass guitarist and he’s starting to get the hang of the six string.