February News and Tips for Interior Design Professionals

Hello February !!!

January was a wonderful opportunity to set new goals for the coming year. "New Year - New You".... we think that you are already fabulous! Focused on your continued success, we love sharing secrets and tips for prosperity and growth.

We've discovered that you can set sustainable expectations for your clients and yourself and keep everyone happy – even yourself! While no two clients are alike, all successful client relationships begin with great communication.


Start by being very clear about what you are willing to do and what you do not do so there aren't any surprises for either of you down the road. Next, there needs be a conversation about the client's budget so that you are both very clear about the constraints you are expected to work within. Some designers believe a flat fee is less problematic than an hourly rate. And finally, educate your client about your design process, the extent of your responsibilities, and the day to day expectations.


Having these conversations before you even cross their threshold will make for smooth sailing as you progress with their project, keeping the client – and yourself – happy and satisfied.

Don't miss Q&A with Melissa Galt
and a Moment with Suzanne Kasler below!!! 

All the best!


Natasha Lima-Younts DSA


Designer Society of America

New Logo!

For those RIDQC students who have successfully passed the Residential Interior Design Qualifying Certification, we now have a new logo available for your use. Please log in to your student console to access the new logo. It will only appear for the students who have successfully completed the certification exam.

Q&A with Melissa Galt
Advice for Success

Whether you're brand new to the industry or a seasoned professional, it never hurts to hear advice from someone who has “been there, done that.” Melissa Galt is a highly-respected business consultant and marketing coach to the design trade, operating a successful residential practice for over 20 years and consulting with designers on how to build a business they love with the impact and income they deserve and desire.

Melissa is offering her professional advice to our members and will answer a submitted question in each of our newsletters. If you have something you'd like to ask, send your question to support@dsasociety.com 

Q: My clients are increasingly resistant to my markup. Should I change how I charge?  Lisa R.

Melissa G. responds:     It's not your markup that they object to, it's the word choice you're making. None of us want to pay a “markup.” What we're happy to invest in (notice the language) is a management fee to ensure that the piece(s) are ordered correctly, tracked, received, delivered and installed - all of which takes time, expertise, and talent to coordinate and ensure success. That deserves a project management fee of 20-30 percent.

A markup vs. a project management fee suggests a fee over cost for the designer. Your client doesn't understand what that fee is for, so reframe it as a project management fee as I did above and provide detail of the many steps required. You can also include trouble shooting and problem solving because if anything comes in broken or damaged that's what you'll be doing, they will not. You're saving them a boatload of time, headaches and scramble (aka coordination of all the necessary parties).

Q.  I just completed my Residential Interior Design Education, HOW DO I GET MY BUSINESS OFF THE GROUND?

Janet R.

The only focus you have right now is to GET CLIENTS. Whether it's doing design for family and friends (not for free), canvassing your neighborhood, getting out and networking at professional groups that have disposable income, and attending charitable events where you can connect to even 2-3 people and, in conversation, assess if they have any desire for design services. Notice that I didn't say need for design because as far as you and I are concerned, everyone needs good design. The gap is that you want to work with those who want design and will invest in it.

When you get your first clients, your priority is to create a design that is worthy of professional photography, so you can build your portfolio both for your website and social media. One of the designers launched her business when we began working together about a year ago, did this step by step and without any connections just got picked up by Dering Hall and Elle Décor as one of their featured online designers. She has literally been in business just 12 months and because she was so focused on getting her ideal clients, and delivering great design, and investing in professional photography and consistent social media, she got recognized.

Looking for better clients? Check out Melissa's FREE report “15 Unexpectedly Awesome Places to Meet Upscale Clients”. Join her Private FB Group and catch her weekly FB Live Trainings. As a group member, you can download

your very own copy of her letter of agreement and her eBook “How to Set Transparent Rates for Profit” and lots more. Melissa is committed to your design success! 

A Moment with Suzanne Kasler

By  K.K. Snyder

Inspired by architecture, art, fashion and travel, Suzanne Kasler designs spaces and products that are luminous, distinctive and timeless. Her designs always reference the past but move towards the future with an edited and discerning eye on the present. Mixing the high and the low, traditional and contemporary, the new and the old, she creates signature interiors and products that convey a sophisticated simplicity. Her designs inspire everyone to live a more beautiful, stylish and authentic life. 

With work published in major design magazines, including Architectural Digest, Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Traditional Home and Veranda, Kasler has been named to Architectural Digest's AD100 and Elle Décor's A-List, among other accolades. Also, her award-winning interiors have been captured in three books with Rizzoli, Inspired Interiors, Timeless Style, and her most recent title, Sophisticated Simplicity. 

She challenged herself by making this book more personal, sharing stories about her upbringing in a military family and dedicating the book to her parents. Her father was a fighter pilot in the Air Force, an Ace during the Korean War and a prisoner of war in Vietnam for seven years with John McCain.

“So I had a little different upbringing. We moved every two years of my life. You know, with some designers, they grew up designing when they were six, and that was not me, so I have a different approach,” she laughs. The new book discusses design in sections based on location of the projects – town, country and shore.

“I think the big thing with the new book and how things have evolved is that the clients we work with today have a lot more sophistication and knowledge and interest in design,” she says. “At the same time, a lot of clients want a more edited way of living, not overdone and over decorated, which I've kind of always kind of had as my concept. I called it Sophisticated Simplicity because people are wanting simplicity but still very sophisticated, and that's what I've been able to bring to my clients.”

Known for rooms with a foundation in tradition, pretty palettes and timeless sophistication, Kasler mixes American and European eclectic furnishings to create comfortable living spaces. Her latest book highlights a collection of recent unseen residences in town and country and at the shore, accompanied by the designer's reflections on the catalysts for her inventiveness. 

Along with richly photographed profiles of inviting and modern family homes and oceanfront estates, Kasler's book illustrates her methods for incorporating fresh ways to organize a guest area, create outdoor spaces for luxuriating and entertaining, and assemble captivating vignettes. The result is a wealth of original ideas for design professionals and anyone with a passion for interior design—an essential addition to every design library.

In addition to designing timeless interiors for her clients, Suzanne has produced signature lines for partners including Ballard Designs, La Cornue, Lee Jofa, Visual Comfort and Hickory Chair. For over 20 years, Kasler has created warm, inviting environments that strike a balance between elegant, traditional design and practical comfort. Her collaboration with Hickory Chair brought that same spirit to her extensive line of furniture.

“I truly love product design, and by working with the different partners I've been able to translate what designers are looking for in products. One thing that's very special about working with all these partners is the process – working with the factory workers and working with the artisans that really make sure they put things together. I think that dimension is a positive in my design work, and I think my being a designer first and foremost, and the passion I have for designing homes, is an asset to all my partners.”

Known for her love of all things French, Kasler brings a fresh mix of Continental flavor and classic style to her interiors. By mixing both antiques and modern pieces, she creates environments that are timeless, sophisticated, and, most importantly, livable. Kasler's passion for perfection and detail is consistent with Hickory Chair's tradition of personalized home furnishings. The collection features couture details, such as grosgrain ribbon trim, slipcovers with graceful ties, and custom-made hardware for a perfect finishing touch.

Last spring, Kasler introduced the Paris Collection inspired by pieces that she has collected over the years. The new collection is a sophisticated blend of intricately detailed, hand-crafted wood products, as well as tailored upholstered pieces. Throughout the elegant offerings, architectural elements are highlighted with modern details and clean lines for a timeless look. Her debut line of lighting and accessories for Hickory Chair features boxes, trays, sculptures and lamps to perfectly complement her new and existing furniture collection.