In the future, the furniture store will be opening a second store in one of the most desirable locations in our area. I was given a 16- by 14-foot room in the store. Because I display what I offer for sale, I had the construction crew cut a five-foot opening in the wall so people can view my display. I also have a desk in that area.
Do you have any suggestions as to which suppliers I could contact regarding placing a large wall sample of free-hanging fabrics? I also need help in reference to pricing out the drapery jobs. I know I am not charging enough. Is there a certain markup I should be operating on?
The employers at the furniture store recognize that the service I offer is valuable. They also know it is going to take off and produce a lot of business for me and they would like a portion of the profit. How should I pay them? Do you have any thoughts on that? Maybe you could suggest some reading materials and some sound advice on the subject.
SOLUTION: As the designer, you need to make a couple of important decisions before you decide which suppliers of textiles and accessories you will display in your studio space.
Offering a selection of fabrics that suits the type of clients in your store is important. Based on the past performance of your fabric suppliers, you must decide if any meet these customer requirements. You have stated upscale clients make up most of your customer database, so fabrics and textiles that reflect a good quality product will be important. Performance, dependability, ease of ordering and wide selection are just a few considerations when deciding on a supplier of high-end fabric.
By offering a selection of fabrics, and not just from one supplier, clients will be more inclined to browse longer. Your display will not necessarily need to be large in scale. Each fabric company sales representative will be able to offer suggestions on displays that will enhance and show off each product that you display to its best advantage.
A must for your office is a computer. The ability to access information quickly will help you operate more efficiently. Most fabric suppliers have sites on the World Wide Web that are easily accessible for quick answers when your sales representative may be unavailable.
Fabric suppliers such as Brunschwig & Fils, Greeff, Stroheim & Romann and Kravet come to mind, just to name a few. You will find an array of suppliers in the newest edition of the D&WC Directory & Buyer's Guide, which also is available on-line (www.dwcdesignet.com/
Directory/index.html). Searching for fabric suppliers on the Web also will supply you with a vast amount of information. Keywords such as "interior design," "interior decorating" and "textiles" will lead you to many sources.
In reference to pricing of fabric, each supplier offers a suggested retail price on fabric in their line. This is a good place to start when pricing fabric for the client. As you develop a working relationship with your drapery workroom, you'll find assistance on pricing usually is shared. This will give you a good idea on how to price individual jobs as each job should be priced separately. There is not one magic formula that will work for each job. One client may require a few hours of time at one appointment, while another job may take many trips to the client's home when many windows are involved. Also, the type of window treatment involved affects how pricing is determined.
A book I would suggest for further reading in this area is The Business of Interior Design by Dennis Grant Murphy. Another book, Interior Design, second edition, by John F. Pile is a great resource for your business.
In reference to your questions about your employer, an agreement should be made and put in writing in reference to the pay scale for each job. The store's attorney should be able to draft up an agreement between you and the store owner. You may need to request a meeting to discuss the agreement between you and the store owner in reference to profit structure, pricing and commission figures.
An additional source for information on running a business would be the Small Business Administration (SBA). Check for a listing in your area. The SBA will send you forms, reading materials and information on profit structure and writing a business plan. Someone there also should be able to handle any additional business questions you would have.
Sharon L. Anderson has more than 20 years experience as a professional interior designer in both commercial and residential design. She has taught at numerous colleges throughout California and currently is an educator at Moorpark college in southern California. She is a published author and frequent public speaker.