Friday, October 9, 2009

Industrial Goes Glam

I just decorated and staged a house for the Parade of Homes in Winston Salem. The event runs this weekend and next. When I work with a client I like to pay tribute to the homeowners and family, the people who live in the space. In this case it is the builder. So, I incorporated a lot of unique industrial and hardware accessories throughout the home. This is my favorite.

Check out my napkin ring holders. Industrial goes glam. I love to decorate with the unexpected. So, this is one of my "shout outs" to the . He took a lot of time and effort into building the home so the least I could do was to acknowledge and recognize him in my design plan. What do you think??

I got these in the plumbing aisle at the Hardware store. You should have seen the look on the sales associates face when he asked "Can I help you?" They didn't have the vision and looked at me like I had 10 heads. Oh well. So, I was on my own, in search of the perfect napkin ring holder. I think this did the trick.

Check out my blog for more photo and inspiration on how to "decorate outside the box." Or as Joanne Lenart-Weary likes to say "I never would have thought of that!"

Happy Friday,

Bringing new life to your decor and more
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

How much are good pictures worth to you and your business? I would venture to say a lot! We use them in our online gallery, marketing materials, portfolio, etc. So, we better make them good.

I was in search of an affordable wide angle lens camera. After much research, I found this one. The . It was in my price range, under $400, has the capacity to attach an external flash for poor indoor lighting, of course has the wide angle lens and it has a mega zoom to boot. (I got mine on sale for $379 - do a search for best pricing). I wanted something easy to use and didn't want to have to deal with changing lenses all the time. This fit all of my criteria and got great reviews.

I am totally in love with this camera. I give it 5 stars. I went on a recent family vacation and the details captured were amazing. My kids were jumping in the lake and you could see the tiny droplets of water frozen in the air. The focus on action shots was amazing, no blur. That is a great victory when trying to capture an active 3 and 5 year old on film!

I have also noticed a huge improvement when photographing my room redesigns. I can capture so much more of the room when I use the wide angle setting. Huge bonus! I have not purchased an external flash, but I think I may down the road.

So, my friends. What are your photos saying about you? If you are in search of a better camera, this is worth the small investment. Your business and portfolio will thank you!

Feel free to comment or ask questions. And no, I don't get paid to endorse this product.

Happy photographing,

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Monday, July 27, 2009

FINALLY... Some Good News!

Finally, in case you didn't read it already, I thought I'd pass on some good news for homeowners, realtors and us stagers...

According to the Associated Press, earlier this month, the government reported that new home construction rose to the highest level since last fall with new homes sales rising almost 11 percent in June. And data reported last week showed home resales rose almost 4 percent in June which was the third straight monthly increase. They report that the last time sales rose so dramatically was in December 2000.I knew something was going on since my business suddenly shifted from redesign to more real estate consults and stagings. Now if we can keep the momentum going into the fall and winter.Just thought it would be nice to focus on some good news for a change!

Happy Decorating!

Jeffery Rice
Decor Designs, Inc.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Does Virtual Staging Really Work?

A realtor partner of mine just sent me an article posted on regarding "virtual" staging and she asked my opinion of it.

I guess virtual staging is exactly what it sounds like... staging that takes place electronically through computer assisted design (CAD).

While I know of a few stagers that offer consults by looking at photographs of rooms, I was intrigued by the idea that someone would take those same photos (especially of vacant properties) and electronically enhance them by adding furniture, art and accessories.  The re-touched photos are then used to market a warmer, more homey feeling property.

I've taken a look at Before and After photos on one of these virtual stager's websites and I have to say I'm not very impressed.  Perhaps the technology just isn't there, but I thought the After photos seemed very artificial, not achieving the desired effect.  While perhaps an improvement over photos of empty rooms, I can't imagine that a prospective buyer would be that much more enticed to see a listing after seeing these digitally staged rooms.  And what happens when they show up for a tour only to find a vacant listing?

While simple staging advice can certainly be offered by looking at photos, I think the real test of staging's effectiveness is how the space feels when a prospective buyer walks in the door and it FEELS like home.

I'm curious what you think of this technological approach.  Have you offered this service to your clients?  Did you actually alter photos of a property or simply offer staging advice based on them ?  Have you perhaps had your own listing virtually staged?

Comments Welcomed!

Jeffery Rice
Decor Designs, Inc.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


It's no surprise that the real estate market has seen better days.  Double digit property value increases had us all spoiled; so this downturn has been particularly painful.  Thankfully,  I'm starting to see signs of improvement.  I have had several of my staged listings sell or go under contract in the last couple of weeks and my realtor partners are busy as ever.

Amazingly, I continue to hear that staging really doesn't make a difference in the sale of a property.  Of course, I take great exception to that since half of my business is staging.  But more than that, I think sellers and stagers across the country have seen results to the contrary first hand.

I never disillusion my seller clients into believing that staging will result in a rapid sale.  But they know when I'm done that their property, whether vacant or occupied, now shows to its full potential.  They understand that, in real estate, it just as much about selling the "dream" as it is about selling the property.

These are a few pictures I took during a recent staging.  You tell me if you think staging made a difference?



Jeffery Rice
Decor Designs, Inc.
Crystal Lake, IL

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Alternative Decor

A recent listing I staged was in need of artwork. I needed a piece for the living room. Canvases are great stock pieces for my staging and seasonal decor business. I have used this piece on multiple occasions. Here, I covered it with a shower curtain I found at Dollar General for $10. I used my staple gun to attach it to the canvas...Voila! Instant artwork!

The same canvas was used over a client's mantle as artwork for her seasonal decor. I used coordinating wrapping paper that was also used on her "faux" presents. It made for a great focal wall! I know it's early to be thinking about seasonal decor, but my Hobby Lobby has Christmas stuff out! What are some ways you've improvised with your artwork? I would love to hear about your creative ideas!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Contest Call For Entries

The Society of Decorating Professionals is announcing the call for entries in Decorating, Redesign, and Staging contest. For more information .

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Low Cost, High Impact Decorating and Home Staging

Here is my umm...lovely light fixture. This WAS my light fixture in my dining room. This thing had more buttons and options on it than NASA put on our last space shuttle! Can you guess when my house was built?

A. 1885
B. 1985

When we moved in a few years back, I had to go around the house and point out all the "personality" I wanted to update. Here is exhibit one. Know what, I had two relatives fighting over it. To each his own, right? My mom won. We even installed it for her.

For decorating or for home staging, changing your light fixtures gives you a huge bang for your buck! Here is my updated fixture!

I also painted the room - another lost cost, high impact decorating and home staging idea. Before it was "builders beige." This is a great example of picking colors that tell your story. This isn't a color I'm going to find in every home I walk into. With the proper placement of accessories and furnishings and inexpensive updates, this room was updated without using the "popular blue." This is my blue! What's your blue?

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Believe it or not, I have found a whole new way to go Green.  It's a great idea if you need instant curb appeal for a party or for real estate staging.  Since I've seen this several times over the last week, I felt compelled to post about it.  Tired of a dormant lawn or one filled with brown patches?  Why not spray paint it?

Apparently an increasingly popular way to spruce up your lawn and on a budget is to spray paint it green.  Companies are popping up all over the country that offer this service especially to improve the appearance of vacant or foreclosed properties.  I could even see doing this for a party, wedding, or other outdoor event where you want the lawn to be a beautiful green but can't afford to re-sod, seed or pay huge water bills.

I know what your thinking.  How can this kind of green be "green"?  Actually, the product is not paint but a non-toxic green dye sprayed onto the existing lawn.  You can even adjust the color intensity by adjusting the dye to water ratio.  Athletic teams and golf courses have been doing this for years to ensure a beautiful, consistent turf.  Now the idea is catching on with home and business owners.

Lawn painting instantly improves curb appeal by masking ugly, dormant or damaged lawn.  the dye will dry in about one hour and will last up to 3 months or until the lawn is mowed.  It is harmless to people, pets, wild animals and the planet.

While some may think this is deceitful or dishonest, it is no different than the other cosmetic improvements we stagers make to accentuate the positives and detract from the negatives of a property.  It's not like someone isn't going to realize the lawn has had a little help to look its best for an open house.  And it's not like you're covering up a structural defect or other safety hazard.

More information is available online.  So, the next time you need a beautiful green lawn for a staging or outdoor event... don't forget to go Green.

Jeffery Rice, PIR, PRS
Decor Designs, Inc.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Scratching Your Niche

As small decorating business owners, we all know about niches.  And we're not talking about those cute little tucked-away cut outs in a wall somewhere.  Those really are awesome!  What a great place for a punch of visual excitement... maybe small statuary or your favorite floral creations.....  but I digress!

We actually should think of our "niche" in terms of how we distinguish ourselves from our competitors.  What can we offer or do better, cheaper, faster than others in our business?  Is there an area of need that isn't being filled?  If so, how do we do it?

An article in the April 09 issue of Costco Connection lifestyle magazine by Paul and Sarah Edwards called "Scratching that niche" caught my eye because it elaborated on just this concept.... about how it's better to have a special niche than to be a "jack-of-all-trades".

Whatever your focus, from event/holiday decorating, to window treatment, color/painting, staging, redesign, senior move management or any other niche, I truly believe you're more valuable to your client if you specialize in one or two areas while offering referrals for those things that aren't necessarily areas you're skilled in or passionate about.  The most successful decorators I know are those that have discovered their niche and know exactly how to "scratch" it!   

I've done this over the last few years with my own company with a great deal of success.  I've found that by focusing my business on 3 key areas, clients actually seem to respect me more than when I tried to do it all.  And my business has grown as a result.  In the meantime, I've developed quality resources for my clients to "one stop shop" me for other services they may need.  Good business partners are never a bad thing to have in your decorating toolbox.

So, I hope you'll take a minute to click on the link and read the full article in Costco Connection.  I think it'll give you some food for thought.  Maybe it's time you started Scratching Your Niche!

Jeffery Rice
Decor Designs, Inc.
Crystal Lake, IL

Friday, April 17, 2009

Staged to Sell

This is a question I got asked and answered for my Down Home DIY April Column in . I wanted to share these helpful staging tips for those getting ready to put their house on the market.

Dear Down Home DIY,
We are getting ready to sell our home this Spring. Do you have any tips on getting it ready?
Joy, aka Spring Seller

This is a photo of the room before we got the S.O.S. call to help stage their house.

Dear Spring Seller,
I commend you on being so proactive. Many people wait until their home is vacant before they start thinking about staging, which can be a very costly mistake. Staging a home is a great return on your investment. According to Staging Report on Home Gain, you can get at 343% return on your investment (ROI). Do a Google search for “Home Staging Return on Investment” and you will consistently find a very high ROI.

Where to begin?
The first step is to get in the right frame of mind. You need to start looking at your house as a product, not your prized possession. You need to market and showcase that product in the best way possible. You need an S.O.S. action plan; which is to Simplify, Organize and Spruce It Up.

Here are some quick tips on how to get it sold.
This is a photo of the room after we rearranged and streamlined the furniture to create a warm and inviting vignette to help stage the home to sell.

  • Determine and showcase the house’s assets and highlight these areas, whether it is a bonus room, golf course view, etc. On the flip side, downplay the negatives like a bad view or small spaces.

  • Remove excess furniture--you want the space to feel as expansive as possible.

  • Reduce clutter by half. Have a garage sale or rent a storage unit to help purge. Buyers are distracted if you have too much stuff and can’t look past it and visualize themselves in the house.

  • Kitchens and baths are big selling points, so showcase that counter space by removing all personal items, appliances, etc. Visit a model home and take note of how these rooms are decorated. Minimal and clean are key!

  • Depersonalize. You are selling the building, not your belongings and beliefs. You should remove family photos and personalized items, as well as any political or religious artifacts.
  • Organize your cupboards, food pantry, linen closets, refrigerator, etc. Purge anything outdated or not needed. Boxes should face the same directions and labels out on cans, products, etc. OCD tendencies work well here.

  • Put non-seasonal clothes in storage. Closets should look neat and spacious. Hang clothes facing in the same direction, with like hangers. No wire ones, please. Recycle them at a local dry cleaner.

  • On the Go Organizing Tip – If you get a last minute call for a showing, have a laundry basket and storage bin on hand to quickly stash and go. (A must for those with young children)

  • Got kids? Keep a ready-made bag filled with snacks, drinks and activities to keep them entertained while you have to vacate the home for a showing or Open House.
Spruce It Up
  • A home that is dirty or in need of repair sends a message that the house was not cared for properly. Avoid this by taking care of all maintenance projects like a leaky faucet, repairing any cracks in walls, floors, etc.

  • Make floors, windows, walls, showers etc. shine. Hire a cleaning service or crank up your favorite tunes and clean like there is no tomorrow.

  • Hire a professional carpet cleaner or replace worn and outdated carpets. It gives the impression of that new home feel.

  • Eliminate any strong odors – pets, smoke, dirty shoes are big culprits. And, please don’t cook fish inside; use the outdoor grill instead. You don’t want your house smelling like an aquarium.

  • Set out new, plush towels in the bathrooms for an Open House and individual showings.

  • Let there be light! Make sure you have adequate lighting and working light bulbs. Open up all window treatments and blinds to let the sunshine in!

  • Don’t forget to spruce up the exterior too! Add seasonal flowers, fresh pine straw, etc. Get a new welcome mat to make a good first impression.
Hire a Professional Stager
A certified Home Stager, like Addressing Spaces, can provide a professional analysis of your home and help you sell it for the most amount of money in the shortest period of time. Interesting fact: the cost to stage a home is typically a lot less than the first price reduction! We come in with an unbiased eye and can help you determine and prioritize what needs to be done. A Home Stager like Addressing Spaces can implement and activate your S.O.S. plan to help you outshine your competition and get your house sold ASAP! (Yes, I may be totally biased, but we are good at what we do.)

Happy Staging,

Bringing new life to your decor and more.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Home Decorating With Baskets

A Tisket A Tasket, I think I'll use a BASKET

A Basket holds a light and plant on a Nightstand.

Celebrating Spring and decorating my own home started me thinking about how often we use baskets in decorating.

I'm always on the hunt for these when or for clients.

Their versatility is what amazes me. Whether it is used literally to hold items or as an accessory, I enjoy their "decorating" qualities such as adding "Texture" or containing a cluttered life.

Basket is elevating the plant to create a larger presence for Staging to sell.

Nice and simple. Home sold in 4 days!

The Basket is much celebrated by my Mother. She has been collecting baskets for as long as I can remember. They are manufactured in Newark, Ohio. I believe they have the LARGEST basket in the WORLD.

Their Home office building is GREAT Design.

How have you used a basket? Share with us some of your Basket decorating ideas.

My Best,

Monday, March 30, 2009

Staged Home SOLD in 4 days!

WOW, what a phone call! Staging homes as a profession is such a great and fullfilling life. Mike from Ohio just called me, "I'm so excited I had to call......we just sold the house....I know you told me to be prepared for a quick sale but WOW".

You see this really isn't magic. It is "Planning the work AND working the plan".

  • Be the Top of Mind House(TOMA in marketing, TMH in Real Estate)

  • Best looking house, PRODUCT, in your location and price range

  • Have them at "HELLO"
  • Neutral in color and Style
  • Space, Space, Space

The Staging industry is a viable business because IT WORKS!



The seller had taken the closet doors off and replaced them with matching curtains. I had the doors put back on and used the curtains as a Headboard.

Staging your home in this economy is a must. We, Design By DesAnn of Ohio, have Staged and SOLD 10 homes in less then one week in the last 6 months. If you are looking to sell please find a professional Stager. The seller also needs to be committed to make changes. Yes it is a lot of work but IT WORKS.

There were a few of these homes that only had made a $250.00 investment with us. Some invested 1%-3% of the sales price. Staging is affordable.
Let us help you sell!

My best,

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Blessings of A Decorator/Stager Business

I wanted to say thanks for my amazing life. The SDP, Society of Decorating Professionals, has helped me on my journey. For those of you considering a career as an Interior Decorator or a Home Staging specialist, I wanted to share with you the bounty of greatness that may occur.

I have been literally "showered" with abundance. My hubby and I were discussing how fantastically "lucky" I am. You need to understand that the "luck" has come from hard work, dedication, passion & education.

You see, in the past few months, I have hardly had a day off. I have been privileged to be a part of my client's lives. I have helped to "Stage To Sell" and have done several "Decorating" projects. I came home Saturday and announced to my hubby, "I am THE luckiest person on Earth". I do not know very many people who get to:

BE PAID, (handsomely)
BE FED, (fabulous lunches-proudly served & prepared)

Now of course my hubby is paid well for what he does but how many of us are treated like Royalty and are paid?JoAnne Lenart-Weary is my Mentor & Teacher. She taught us that if we did our "job" right we would become more then just another "Service" provider. We become a part of their family. The SDP's first conference in Erie had Stan Hustad as a speaker. Stan told us that if we as Decorators/Business owners could:

SAVE people money
SAVE people time

The people would commit an unnatural act of handing us money & hugging us at the same time!
Well Stan was right. WOW how Blessed & joyful is that??

My commitment to be a member of The SDP since April of 2006 has not only provided me with the education that I needed but they also provided me the opportunity to learn just how AMAZING of a business I could actually become.

Today I feel amazingly BLESSED.

I hope that you too will be "SHOWERED" with greatness.

Friday, March 13, 2009

If You Just Believe



Believe in what your heart is saying
Hear the melody that's playing
There's no time to waste
There's so much to celebrate

Believe in what you feel inside
And give your dreams the wings to fly
You have everything you need
If you just believe

I was flipping through songs on my IPod yesterday and happened to tap on a song titled "Believe". I guess I was thinking Cher but when the song started I realized it was actually Josh Groban's version from the soundtrack to the Christmas classic, The Polar Express. Does anyone else feel like they're breaking an unwritten law by listening to Christmas music outside the season? I do...but for some reason, I let it play. The chorus struck me in a different way than it had during the holidays.  Aside from the sleigh bells in the background, it seemed even more poignant in these uncertain times.

I guess I have always been a believer that when a lesson needs to be learned the teacher presents itself. Perhaps I needed reminding that one of the biggest hurdles we face in life and in business is actually believing in what we want to achieve. I know it's easier to say than do. But believing in yourself and your business is probably the single most important thing you can do to reach your goals and dreams.

For what it's worth, I'm thankful that I ran across this song. It has put me back in a more positive mindset. What messages have you found (or overlooked) in the most unexpected places? If you've had a similar epiphany, I'd love see it in your comments here.



Believe in what your heart is saying
Hear the melody that's playing
There's no time to waste
There's so much to celebrate

Believe in what you feel inside
And give your dreams the wings to fly
You have everything you need
If you just believe

Jeffery Rice, PIR, PRS
Decor Designs, Inc.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Commercial Staging

I think the lagging economy, especially in the housing sector, is hitting real estate stagers too.   I know my staging business has declined over the past few months.  And I can see why.  Even though many realtors and home owners appreciate the benefit of real estate staging, they are hesitant to invest any more money for "cosmetic" improvements when the property value has declined significantly.  While we could all argue the point, negative equity is a big deterrent from further investment in a home, no matter how justified.

So what is a stager to do?  How can you put your inventory to work for you in new ways?  Why not search for commercial staging opportunities? I was approached a couple weeks ago by a local newspaper.   They were looking for sponsorship of a new and expanding part of their online business that includes a studio for filming interviews and spots for local advertisers.  They expressed a need for "props" for the studio to create talk show style vignettes.  While I'd never considered that aspect of "staging", I was determined to make it happen.

Because much of my inventory is currently rented in other homes, I contacted another SDP Certified Stager, Judy Pelinski (, to help me with the project.  Between the two of us, we were able to create the needed vignettes using what we already had in inventory.  So other than the investment of our time and expertise, we were out no money to complete the project.

What do we get in return?  The paper has agreed to offer editorial mention for all segments filmed in our "staged" sets.  They are also negotiating other advertising with us and have suggested that we will be the subject of future online video content by doing stories on our respective companies as local interest pieces.

In difficult times, the businesses that succeed are the ones that can adapt quickly to changing market conditions.  Small business owners are perfectly poised to think outside the box and embrace new opportunities.  I'd love to hear new and creative ways you are adapting your business.

Jeffery Rice  PIR, PRS
Decor Designs, Inc.

Monday, March 9, 2009

One a Day Marketing-"NORM!"

Today's Motivation-"Where Everybody knows your Name"

Many of you may have watched the show, “Cheers” years ago. The show took place in a bar in Boston, where everyone knows your name. The regulars at Cheers shared life’s ups and downs and became an extended circle of people who impacted their lives. One of the regulars was always greeted with a loud shout of his name, “Norm,” whenever he entered the bar. The supposed bar thrived because they focused on customer service and making people feel important. After all, don’t we all want to matter?

Personal Service has played different roles over the years in the process of doing business. At one point, it was the cornerstone of a business relationship, and then as time went on, pricing became more important than customer service. Now the world is turning, and customer service and being valued is as important as a fair pricing. After all, how does your business grow? It grows mostly by referrals, if you are a sales oriented business. And face it, I don’t care what you do…you are in sales! No, maybe you don’t sell widgets door to door, but whatever you do, you probably sell concepts, service, talent, products, and mostly YOURSELF…if you are smart. Relationship Marketing never goes out of Business. So let’s build a Relationship, next time you see me, lift your glass and yell loudly, “JoAnne.”

Today’s Dare-“Everybody knows your Name”

How many people do you meet during the course of a month in your business? How do you stay connected? How do you foster relationships? Well, today, think of 5 new acquaintances, who might be great business connections or maybe just someone you want to get to know better. Reach out to them and make sure they know your name. Send a card (I use sendoutcards) or an email telling them what a pleasure it was to meet them, or suggest you meet for a happy hour cocktail and share ways you might mutually benefit one another. Relationships and businesses begin when one person makes the first move; let it be “YOU!”

Thursday, March 5, 2009

One a Day Marketing - Gimme some Passion!

Today's Motivation-A Passion for Profit

I started a business without even realizing I was starting a business. I was a young, thin, (oh, I miss those days) with my whole life ahead of me. All I knew was I loved houses and would do anything to get into them. Hmm-mm, how could I do it, how could I do it? Lightbulb moment, I would get my real estate license, and then I could get the keys to any house I wanted to see...without breaking and entering. Now combine that with my wallpapering and painting business, life was great. I didn't do it for money, I did it because I was addicted to decorating. But my passion helped me to make money without even realizing what I was doing. I was selling real estate when interest rates were 16% and was a top producer in my office. I didn't understand that was an unusually high rate, I just knew I loved, loved, loved houses. Each listing that I received was a part of my continued joy as I made suggestions and tweaks that improved the showability of a house. Many of those original clients are still now, decorating clients 30+ years later. Now Staging wasn't even on the radar yet but I knew showing a house was like going on a blind date, appearance was critical and my talents helped to increase the opportunities to sell the house. Suddenly, due to my passions, I was in business. I was working hard, but not consistently. I lost money more than made money because I wasn't a good business person. I didn't market myself, I didn't even know that was part of it. I listed a house if someone called me, I sold a house if I had a client, I had a field of dreams approach to business. After all, I had a business card, so they would come. But boy, I was passionate, every day.

As time went on, my life changed, I became a single Mom with 3 kids, and my passion had to be replaced with a need for consistent profits. I was now driven with the need to pay the eclectic bill, but I knew that whatever I did, I had to work hard and put profits first to pay the bills. I did the expected and got a J-O-B. And I hated every moment of it, it wasn't in my field of choice, but I got a paycheck each week. As time went on, I realized that I needed profits but I also needed passion. (in more ways than one) Time to look at becoming an entrepreneur again, but I needed to be an informed entrepreneur. My passion for the process would make me money, but I needed to be as good at marketing as I was at creating beautiful spaces. I needed to ensure I knew how to get people to buy what I had to sell, and focus on the areas of my business that were more lucrative. I also learned what make me passionate might evolve over time as I grew older, and no matter how old you are, you deserve to feel passionate.

Today's Dare-Get Passionate

What are you doing right now to get a paycheck? Do you love it or do you hate every moment of what you do? You are allowed and deserve to be passionate about what you do. Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? Maybe it isn't what you are doing right now, so start the ball rolling.
Start to put some passion back in your life. Do what you need to do to make it happen. Start taking classes, either live or virtually. In the last few years, we at One Day Decorating and The Decorating Academy have embraced the power of webinars, to learn and teach. So there are many ways for you to learn without interrupting your current life. Life is short, make it sweet and do what you want to do.
But do it right, start a business plan, map out a marketing strategy, surround yourself with other passionate people. Now go get passionate. I know I am!

Monday, March 2, 2009

One a Day Marketing-The Strangest Story You have Ever Heard

TODAY'S MOTIVATION-Is there a Stranger in your Life?

My baby sister, Stephanie Vollentine, turned 50 this weekend and it prompted a fun gathering and a rarity, all five of the Lenart Clan together. I love spending time with my siblings and it doesn't happen often. My brother Tim Lenart, flew in from Florida, and along with my other brother, Joe Lenart, (named after my Dad) and my sister, Linda Rozanski, we all gathered Friday evening to raise a glass to our Dad,(who we all miss dearly) and wish Stephie a Happy Birthday! There was much hugging, laughing and yes, even a bit of crying as we shared stories that only family can relate to.

About midnight, I cooked breakfast and then everyone left for the night. Tom (my DH) and I went to sleep...after locking all the doors. About 6:30 AM, we got up for coffee and Tom mentioned someone was sleeping in the family room. Thinking my nephew had decided to spend the night at our house, he headed to make coffee, while I continued to the family room. He was right, someone was sleeping in the room, the only problem was it was someone I had never seen before. A Stranger was sleeping in my family room.

Needless to say, I was a bit taken by surprise. First of all, I am a light sleeper, or so I thought and I had never heard any noise doing the night. Second of all, I had locked the door but evidently because of the extreme cold recently, the door hadn't latched tightly. So here we are, a sleeping stranger in our house, and Tom trying to wake him.

I couldn't help but think how lucky this person was that Tom and I are fairly calm people, someone else could have shot him as an intruder. It took over an hour to get him to wake and be coherent. He was a young man who had been socializing way too long and thought he was sitting in the lobby of a hotel waiting for his room. We asked his name, fed him coffee, and eventually sent him on his way. He meant us no harm but how frightening to think he had wandered into a stranger's home not even knowing where he was. He finally had a moment of realization right before we escorted him out of our home and apologized. It also terrified me to think of what harm he could have done to someone else in his condition.

The story spread threw our little town like wild fire, and the guy called that afternoon to apologize. Even though we didn't know him, he knew who we were and knew an apology was in order. So why do I share this with you? Well, you have to admit, it is a strange story, but it also made me think how many things do we "sleep" through? How many strangers have entered your life or business without you knowing? Strangers like Apathy and Fear. Do you "sleep" through the messages your significant other is sending you or maybe the stories your children are trying to share with you? Does the Stranger Apathy cause you to approach your life and business with a no passion or joy? Or maybe, it is Stranger Poor Me! Wake Up, there may be a stranger in your house or your business that may not be as harmless as my stranger was.

TODAY'S DARE-Banish the Strangers

Are you reading this series with the stranger Apathy at your side? Do you think, "yeah, some good ideas, but I have been there and done that." Or perhaps, you think you will start tomorrow trying to remember what you love about what you do. Today, take a few moments and banish the strangers from your world that are causing you to not reach your dreams and potential. It is tough out there and Poor Me can suck you right into a funk that is hard to escape. But before you can banish the strangers, you need to wake up and see that they are there. So look around you and get ready of the Strangers tha are sucking the joy out of your life and business.

See you tomorrow, JoAnne

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Decorating Coalitions

One of the most difficult aspects of being in business by and for yourself is the loneliness. Let's face it, what could sound more lonely than "sole" proprietor? You know what I'm talking about... that nagging feeling that you are one against many... struggling just to keep your head above water and be noticed. Oh, and let's not forget those not-so-fun aspects of running a business like paperwork and billing. Sometimes, you just can't help wonder what on earth you were thinking when you muddled up your passion for decorating by making it a "business".

Thankfully, there is a pretty easy fix for business separation anxiety. You are not alone. There are others who share the joys and frustrations of running a small business. All you have to do is find them. That's where a networking group can come to your rescue!

Our own Society of Decorating Professionals (SDP) is an excellent example of a national organization that helps bring professionals together to socialize, network and learn. While larger organizations are wonderful resources for their members, unfortunately you can still suffer from separation anxiety if you don't participate or if you're only around other like-minded folks once a year at conference.

In the Chicago area where I am, we have been able to overcome business separation anxiety by forming a group that meets more frequently. It is the newly named GREATER CHICAGOLAND DECORATORS COALITION™ (GCDC). This rapidly growing group of independent business owners actually began meeting in 2006 founded by SDP Member Sue Motto Burky. Taking our cue from the SDP, our more intimate group is open to all decorating trades. On a local level, we focus on networking, educational and marketing opportunities with area business partners and vendors. We look for and promote relationships that benefit the coalition and our individual businesses.

Our most recent seminar-style meeting was with a representative from Wisconsin Draperies. She introduced our group to the various product lines they offer which are produced in nearby Milwaukee. As an added bonus, we have even been invited to tour their facilities to see firsthand how their products are manufactured and learn even more about how they can benefit our clients.

I realize in smaller towns and cities, it may be more difficult to network or form a group. But I'm confident that, with a little effort, you can find business networking groups, chambers of commerce or other social groups that will help alleviate business separation anxiety. If you can't find one, form one. As they say, build it and they will come. Our group is a perfect example!

So, remember that you are not alone. Don't let business separation anxiety limit you. Join a business networking group today. You'll be glad you did!


Jeffery Rice, PIR, PRS
Decor Designs, Inc.
Crystal Lake, IL