The Next Phase: Designers Make the Most of a Challenging Situation

High Point Market photo
 by Davina van Buren

The Next Phase: Designers Make the Most of a Challenging Situation   

The good news is that, on the whole, designers have used the past several months wisely. In our last newsletter, we spoke with NYC-based designer Young Huh about how her company used the transitional period caused by COVID-19 to turn inward, take a thorough look at the brand, and approach marketing efforts with a fresh perspective. Many designers have been taking classes and improving their skill sets in the past few months. And design behemoths like House Beautiful's Robert Rufino have offered mentoring and free critiques to up-and-coming designers in an effort to find and highlight new voices and perspectives. 
Now that the collective energy is shifting, it feels like it's time to put what we've learned into action. This is the perfect time for designers to up their online game, which means making sure that your social media profiles and websites look their best. This month, we got to know Maryland-based designer Laura Hodges, who generously shares tips for shaping your online image. 
Speaking on upping your game, we will announce the winner of the interior design contest in our next newsletter. Why did people not know about it? Contestants "design members" were judged on the quality of their photos, websites, and social media accounts. The winner will receive a banner on the homepage of the DSA site (alongside our celebrity interviews) as well as an individual landing page to showcase their work. 
How are you adapting to yet another energy shift in 2020? Have you recently taken a class or learned something you plan to apply to your business? How do you feel halfway into Q3? Email us at and we'll share your thoughts with the DSA community.

High Point Market Opens Fall Registration, Debuts #HPMKTsafe Initiative

The High Point Market Authority has opened online registration for the Fall 2020 High Point Market, scheduled for Tuesday, October 13, through Wednesday, October 21. Along with such, the Market Authority is also debuting a microsite,, to outline safety measures pertaining to Fall Market in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

Until next time - stay well,
Natasha Lima-Younts DSA

Photo credit: Jennifer Hughes

 by Davina van Buren

Q & A with Laura Hodges

Laura Hodges is taking the design world by storm.


It was just a little over two years ago that she opened her Catonsville, Maryland studio. That same year, Home & Design featured her as one of their “Designers to Watch.” Last year, Laura was featured in Traditional Home as a New Trad and a Next Wave Designer in House Beautiful, and most recently, she was named as one of the 20 Designers for 2020 by Sotheby's Home.

And this is just the beginning. 


Known for a distinctly international aesthetic—a direct influence of her own multicultural family and love for travel—her signature style is tailored and eclectic with a mix of curated art, natural elements, vintage finds, and one-of-a-kind pieces. Her design studio is also home to Domain, a brick-and-mortar and online shop which features fair trade and sustainable art and décor. Sustainability is a large focus of her business; she is LEED AP and GREEN AP certified, signifying her commitment to sustainable design practices including sourcing fair trade and renewable resources,  donating unwanted furnishings, optimizing energy efficiency, and indoor air quality, and recycling cabinetry and other building materials.


We caught up with Laura this month, and she was generous enough to share some advice and insight into her brand. If you're ever in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. area, stop by and show her some love.  


1.  What led you to a career in interior design?

I've always loved interior design but didn't quite realize the full potential of this industry when I was in high school. I earned my business degree and after a few years of working at a marketing company after college, I felt the need to do something more creative and decided to go back to school for a second degree in interior design.

2.  How would you define your personal and professional style(s)?

My style is refined and eclectic, with a mix of influences from my travels overseas. I love studying all kinds of design from architecture and interiors to textiles, furniture, and ceramics. I have a love and appreciation for a range of styles, so I tend to mix and change my design style frequently while maintaining a tailored aesthetic.

Photo credit: Jennifer Hughes

3.  Has social media played a role in your success? Any tips for designers on this front?

I do think that social media plays an important role as a way for potential clients for our design studio and customers for our shop, Domain, to see our design aesthetic. We're able to connect with people in a much more approachable and down to earth way so they can see behind the scenes and learn more about us. I would suggest to other designers that you make your social media a true reflection of your design aesthetic and carry along with the style of your website and portfolio for a cohesive brand message.

4. What skills and experiences have contributed most to your success?

I find that as designers we need to have excellent communication skills and really be empathetic with our clients. We sometimes play a bit of a therapist's role in working with spouses and families, so we have to read our clients and understand how they want to live in their homes.


5. What are the biggest challenges of growing your business/brand?

A big challenge of growing the business is balancing marketing and PR with design projects and family life. We definitely want to grow and continue to explore new opportunities, but we also love being a small business and want to always stay connected to our community.

6. What business adaptations have you made due to COVID-19? Any business advice that relates to doing business post-pandemic?

We have pivoted to integrate more virtual technology in our business from doing entire design presentations via Zoom to initially exploring e-design offerings early on in the pandemic. We've actually been fortunate enough to have enough projects to keep us very busy right now. We're working from our home offices, doing limited site visits as needed, and operating our shop, Domain, entirely online.


7. What design/business apps or software can you not live without?

We use Ivy and really love the functionality of the program for our design business. This industry is so detailed and unique that having our own software that is both easy to use and beautiful for our clients to interact with has been a great benefit to our company.

8. What's your favorite place to travel and why?

My favorite place to travel is France, specifically Paris or Provence. I love art, design, food, architecture, and music. There's so much to see and do no matter how many times we visit.

—Davina van Buren, Senior Editor, and VP of Marketing, Designer Society of America

Business Success Skills: Should I or Shouldn't I?


While a storefront can be a big investment it can also drive your interior design business. Learn from three experts why they decided to take the plunge and how it helps build clientele and boosts revenue. Please join Schumacher President Benni Frowein for a conversation and Q&A with interior designers Dennis Brackeen, Laura Hodges, and Patrick Mele.

High Point Market Opens Fall Registration, Debuts #HPMKTsafe Initiative

HIGH POINT, N.C. — The High Point Market Authority has opened online registration for the Fall 2020 High Point Market, scheduled for Tuesday, October 13, through Wednesday, October 21. Along with such, the Market Authority is also debuting a microsite,, to outline safety measures pertaining to Fall Market in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Previously announced as a 9-day Market as the first part of the #HPMKTsafe Initiative, this revised structure will allow for social distancing and expected reduced capacity requirements within buildings and showrooms. During the registration process, domestic buyers and industry guests will select their primary attendance period based on the designated region for the home state of their company's headquarters. Additional details about the new registration structure can be found at The debut of the #HPMKTsafe Initiative microsite is the second part in the Market Authority's master safety plan. The site outlines registration details, begins to overview the overall safety measures that will address health and safety on-site during the Market, and shares a detailed preparation plan for attendees, encouraging all to plan ahead for a safe, efficient, and productive Market experience. A separate page with specific information for exhibitors is also part of the site.