DSA Newsletter - September 2009

Notes from Natasha

Whether you are a small business owner or are thinking about starting a small business, everyone in the country is impacted by America's small business economy. Small businesses continue to be the heartbeat of America, representing 99.7 percent of all employer firms and generating 60 to 80 percent of new jobs over the past decade, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

While many think that small businesses have been hit harder than the average consumer in the current economic environment, small businesses are often credited as the sector that will likely lead us out of the current "Great Recession." To remain successful in today's economy, it's critical for small business owners to reduce expenses and better manage their day-to-day work.

Here are some tips for surviving the down economy:

  • Be smart about your cash flow - Everyone has heard the phrase "cash is king," but for today's small business owners should adopt the mantra, "smart cash flow is king." Maximizing your earnings potential on idle cash balances is a smart way to get the most out of your cash flow. Small business owners can do this by placing funds in money market savings or short-term CD accounts. Interest earned on money sitting idle will always benefit your business in the long run.
  • Reach out to ask for advice and support - For many small business owners, this is the first time they are navigating their business through this type of economy. It's important to remember that it's okay to ask for help. Asking for advice and information from peers who may have experienced a similar situation is a great way to strengthen your business. There are also forums out there for small business owners to obtain expert advice and gain access to additional information they might need for their business.
  • Every little bit helps - The current economic environment has brought with it many discount opportunities. Many vendors are offering deals right now, making it a good time to invest in new technologies and equipment for your business. Investing in your business now will ensure that when the economy turns around, you are prepared to take advantage of any and all growth opportunities.
  • Delegate jobs to optimize efficiency - As a small business owner, you need to focus your time on innovation and business growth. This means remembering to delegate other office work like staying on top of invoices and collecting on receivables to a trusted employee or service. There are many tools available to help small business owners be more efficient and make managing your company's money easier and less time consuming.

Remember, smart business moves now can help ensure your small business will be around when the economy finally takes a much-needed upswing. Hang in there!

What our members are saying....

Thank you so much, Cindy. In this economy it is a pleasure to know that the organizations we belong to really stand by their members. I was a member of ASID for many years and am so glad to have found a new organization to grow with.

Faith S. Rosenthal
Long Island Design and Construction Inc.
Valley Stream, NY

Thank you, Faith, Our goal is to make a difference.

Regards, Cindy

(Cindy Beauchemin is DSA's member administrator)

Member Spotlight

Anishka Clark
Ishka Designs, Inc.
Brooklyn, NY

"To create beauty from nothing, find beauty in something and to see beauty in everything" - these simple words are the driving force behind Anishka Clarke's design company, Ishka Designs. The company, which she started in August 2007 before finishing her Interior Design degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology (NYC), caters to both residential and commercial clients at all levels. From a small café and juice bar in the Caribbean to a dental office in Long Island, her flair for combining environmental consciousness with modern and eclectic style has resulted in this very young firm rapidly expanding not only its client base, but also its borders.

Although Anishka takes her cues from modernist schools, her unique background in finance (10 years combined on Wall Street and in Jamaica) and contemporary dance gives this designer a wide appreciation and understanding for organic spaces, movement and traditional styling.

Ishka Designs creates unique interior experiences that lean towards minimalism. The overriding essence of each Ishka Design'ed space is the organic quality that allows for freedom and flexibility. Their process always attempts to make environmentally conscious decisions to improve the well being of everyone.

With a very strong creative streak and a desire to influence the public with design, the firm expects hospitality design to drive its revenues within the next couple of years. That said, since people will always need a beautiful place to call home, Anishka will always want and need to continue evolving in the residential design arena.

Weak Link in the Chain

In case you don't already know this, it is less expensive to develop business from existing clients than it is to find new clients. Despite this sage advice, many professionals, me included, spend an inordinate amount of time looking for new business. So, being the business coach that I am, I have decided to lead by example and contact all of the clients in my database.

This is what I have learned - Number one: they are very happy with the advice I have given them, much of which, when applied, works. Good news for any professional! Number two: there is a fair amount of my advice which is not getting implemented - bad news for my clients and, ultimately, me. This is equivalent to someone buying a design plan from you and then not using it. You get to be creative, but you don't get to experience the finished product.

After some reflection, I have decided that the original design plan (my advice) is flawed. If I don't make sure that my clients can execute the tools that I teach them, it doesn't much change their situations. If anything, they are worse off having the knowledge of what to do and the newfound guilt of not using it. The happy ignorance of the past is quickly erased and replaced by awareness and direction.

In order to rectify this situation, I now realize that my advice needs to include an action plan that I am part of. If only to periodically check in to see if steps have been taken or if new questions have arisen, I can provide a gentle nudge when needed to keep momentum going. Even if I am not doing the implementation, I can help make sure that it is happening now.

I believe that there is a direct application for design professionals and their clients. As I see it, the trend for "do it yourselfers" is going to grow, and the industry will be called on to fill in where needed, assuming full-service design has not been engaged. Allowing that the public will bite off more than they can chew at times, I think it is wise for designers to sell a plan and then negotiate some handholding along the way. This is not to suggest that you want to relinquish control, but sometimes you just need to move out of the way and let clients do what they want. You can, of course, remain available and visible to be a guiding light in the sometimes murky world of design.

Lloyd Princeton
Design Management Company
(212) 777-5718

NKBA Education Back To School Sale!

Register for your first course at Back-to-School rates and receive 10 percent off the cost of your second course - effective September 1 through September 30, 2009. Call NKBA Customer Service at 800-THE-NKBA (843-6522) to take advantage of discounted rates.

click here for details).

Become an NKBA Member - 2010 Certification Exam Dates: Considering taking the certification exam for 2010? Click here for application and exam dates. To view the NKBA Member Benefits Handbook, click here.

Time is Running Out!

Take a well deserved break and smell the fresh air

Don't miss your opportunity to register for our Designer Retreat Oct. 12-16 at Miraval Spa, frequented by Oprah and friends. Registration deadline is September 20!

The Miraval Experience Package is All-Inclusive as follows:

  • Round-trip Tucson Airport transfers
  • Luxurious, casita-style accommodations
  • Welcome tote bag and water bottle
  • Three gourmet meals daily at leisure
  • All snacks in Palm Court
  • All non-alcoholic beverages in Resort Outlets
  • One spa service per day* OR One round of golf per day*
  • High Speed Internet Access in guest rooms and meeting room
  • General Session room for meeting
  • Motivational speakers on profit for designers. Unlimited Regularly Scheduled Activities include equine experiences, wall climbing, mountain biking, hiking, tennis, fitness, nutrition, swimming, meditation, yoga and more!
  • DSA Member preferred rates available. Not a member?
  • Call us to make your reservations/Last day for reservations is ; September 21,2009 (866) 311-1372.


To The Design Trade Only

In 1975, Mindy McVay Heilmann opened Mindy McVay Interiors, a residential and commercial interior design firm and retail store. After 35 years in the interior design industry, she sold her business and established To The Design Trade Only, a venue for interior designers, small businesses and architects with an interior design department to purchase many lines of furnishings and home decor at a very low mark up.

During Heilmann's interior design career, there were several occasions that desired wholesale sources were unavailable to small design firms and many companies had minimum purchase requirements. Local retail stores were the only option for many interior designers.

To The Design Trade Only was launched in 2008 and designers throughout the United States have successfully utilized the complimentary search service and purchased merchandise for their clients.

Below are some questions we recently received from industry professionals curious about To The Design Trade Only and how we could help increase their business and profits:

Q: I am a one person design firm with a home office and I do not have many accounts set up as I cannot meet many of the minimum purchase requirements. Are there minimum purchase requirements in order to purchase through your firm To the Design Trade Only?

A: We do not establish minimum order requirements for our clients. We are a purchasing source for interior designers in the trade and will order just one lamp or a turnkey project at our cost plus a very low mark up. All you have to do is register on our website and we will send you requested pricing and information.

Q: I am a designer living in a small town with limited access to catalogs. How can I find furnishings for my clients?

A: We have a link on our manufacturers' page to all of the exhibitors at the Highpoint market. I also offer a complimentary search service and will assist you in finding sources for your projects. Feel free to contact me for ideas or any information you need.

If you have a question regarding services available through To The Design Trade Only, send it to Mindy using the contact information below:

Mindy McVay Heilmann, ASID DSA
(843) 424-6701

Recycled Content

The point of entry for environmental activism is often recycling. We sort and recycle our household waste and feel good about our positive contribution. As designers, making material selections with recycled content is often a way to begin greening our professional practice. Here are a few simple tips to follow when assessing recycled content.

  1. Understand the difference between post-consumer recycled content and pre-consumer recycled content.

    Post-consumer means it is material that has already had a useful life as a consumer product. Some carpets are made with post-consumer recycled plastic bottles. Therefore, those carpets are said to have post-consumer recycled content in them.

    Pre-consumer recycled content means it is a material that has not been used in a consumer product but instead is waste from a manufacturing process. Wood fibers used in many composite panels are a kind of pre-consumer waste. It is waste from the process of milling wood. When these pre-consumer waste products are used in a composite panel then the product is said to have pre-consumer recycled content.

    Pre-consumer recycled content is sometimes called post-industrial recycled content. Both terms are accurate.
  2. The best way to find the accurate value for the recycled content of a product is in manufacturers' technical data sheets and specifications.

    Marketing materials sometime describe the recycled content in terms of the individual ingredient not in terms of the final product. For example, composite panel marketing material often states that the panels are made from 100 percent recycled fibers, meaning that 100 percent of the fibers are from recycled sources. But the product is also made with resins and waxes so the final product will have less than 100 percent recycled content.

    Always question a value of 100 percent recycled content. It's prudent to dig a little past the marketing material to find the accurate recycled content value for product comparison purposes and LEED documentation.
  3. For credit calculations regarding the recycled content of products in the USGBC LEED-CI rating system, post-consumer recycled content is mathematically weighted as twice as valuable as pre-consumer recycled content.

    You may want to consider post-consumer recycled content as more valuable when making material selections as well. Post-consumer recycled content means the material has already had a longer useful life. So, simply put, the longer the use the more value we're getting from the material.

    Understanding and applying the basics of sustainable design criteria can go a long way in building our professional knowledge base and supporting our sustainable design decisions.

Sue Norman
Managing Editor

Feng Shui Tips

In the midst of current make-over mania and growing interest in creating nurturing, harmonious environments, the decorating enthusiast turns to the ancient art of placement, called Feng Shui. This art has had a profound influence on decorating values since gaining international media exposure. Each month, Feng Shui designer and educator, Mary Dennis, will offer tips on Feng Shui that will be useful to you and your clients. Mary kicks off her column with a focus on the living room.

When re-designing any room that has furniture in it, clearing the clutter is imperative. All things are reflected through the physical environment of the room. The daily image of our home needs to be in order for clear thinking to take place. Too many items, organized or sloppy has an effect on the way we feel, think, and function. The more we clear the clutter, the more we create room for new experiences and new opportunities to come into our lives.

Next, decide the room's purpose and set your intent. Empty the room so that you can begin with a clean visual palette. If this is not possible move the larger pieces to one side of the room. Look at the entrances to the space, as this will determine some of your walk patterns or chi flow. Three feet is wheel chair friendly and incorporates a Universal Design accepted standard. It is important when re-designing your room not to place furniture in this path. I like to use masking tape to mark off this 3ft. chi walk- way, as it helps me to see the open design area remaining.

Look to see if there is an established architectural focal point, such as, a fireplace, alcove or bay window that will be the center of your design. If not, create a focal point! It could be a beautiful painting, piano, or entertainment center, dependent upon the room's purpose. Once you have determined the focal point, place the largest upholstered piece facing that point. This position will assure you visual access and balance.

Check back next month for a continuation of this Feng Shui tip. For more information on the 5 Day Feng Shui ReDesign Program, please visit us @ www.gracefullifestyles.com.

Mary Dennis
Executive Director
School of Graceful Lifestyles
Feng Shui Designer & Educator