In 1994 Dian Garbarini read an announcement from Rory McNeil, TechStyles Window Covering Products, on the startup of Window-Pro, an online group of window coverings professionals. “That was really exciting, to participate in something that was worthwhile over the Internet,” Dian recalls. “I participated in Window-Pro very actively for a year and realized that there were people on the forum that did draperies,” Garbarini says. “It was a weird venue to be discussing soft treatments on the hard treatment site. So with Rory’s blessing, he thought starting another forum would be a good idea.”
In 1996 a second forum went online: DraperyPro, coordinated by Garbarini. One of its most important features early on was a live chat room for those with accounts on America Online (AOL). Those weekly sessions became quite an event, eventually replaced with today’s daily e-mail digests and Web site (www.draperpro.com).
“We’ve been active for 11 years and I’ve learned so much from that,” says Dian. “I learned what other people were charging and realized that I wasn’t charging nearly enough. It really gave me courage to raise my prices and also in knowing that I can sell anything, and not even have a clue of how to get it accomplished but knowing that I can turn to the people that I had met within the industry,” Garbarini says.
Today, still coordinated by Dian, DraperyPro has 300 members around the world. For a nominal annual fee, members can contact and network with others in the soft treatments business across the United States and in Canada, Europe, Japan and Pakistan. They share knowledge, ideas, experiences and lots of laughs.
Giving back to and helping others in the window coverings industry is one of several deciding factors we consider when choosing our D&WC Retailer of the Year. Based on that alone, Dian could rise to the top of anyone’s list of dedicated professionals. But there is more (see page 20).
We’re pleased to present Dian Garbarini, Designs by Dian, as our second annual Retailer of the Year! As yet another example of what is best about the window coverings industry, we offer back Dian’s own words: “I love this business . . . While I continue to learn every day, I enjoy knowing that by sharing my knowledge and talent with others, I have contributed to others’ lives.”
Draperies & Window Coverings