Part 2 with Meredith Heron is revealed
How do you differentiate yourself from your competition in the design biz?
Meredith says she is involved in everything. Every project has her stamp. Lots of designers as they grow tend to let go of this part. Meredith also believes in empowering her staff to help a client, if something comes up that they can resolve
Meredith is constantly thinking about ways to streamline and push the creativity, while being hands on. She has been known to create her own artwork on or for the job.
She is sharp and quick, which makes it easy to keep everything moving with brief pointed communications.
Luckily Meredith used to be a school teacher (I know hard to believe, she is so glamourous) this allows her to articulate and quickly turn issues around.
This also helps with qualifying a clients statements: “I don’t like French Country” often the client has no idea what French country is, they simply may not like blue and yellow checks.
Design is all semantics. You have to be aware of what the client isn’t telling you.
What does you spidey sense tell you? There is an emotional awareness you have to connect to, in the client, to really make design work well.
What was your most disastrous design/ industry experience and how did you turn it around?
This disaster happened on Meredith’s birthday. For a job In a new house. She had sent the window installer to check the measurements and he over assumed the width by 3/8” .
A $22,000.00 mistake.
Luckily the fabrication house was really good and they manage to salvage the fabric so she lost only her profit.
But that day turned out to be a drinking day of woes not celebration!! It was a huge lesson in how a break down in communication can create enormous problems.
A reminder to Meredith to use good business practices, be focused on the details, and that design is a business first.
How do you show appreciation to your clients?
Meredith does lots of different things. They typically do a load-in in a day, so they have the “Installation Reveal” to wow the clients with.
She always includes fresh flowers, small and big arrangements that Meredith creates herself, and which the client is not billed for, which are part of the show and tell.
She also sends gifts for a client moving in as a house warming gift. Something thoughtful like a catered dinner the first night the clients move in.
or she will set up a home cooked meal. (I love this idea, something a client wont forget in a hurry!)
At Christmas time they make a charity donation in clients names to the Starlight Foundation, a cause that Meredith feels very strongly about.
Identify your most effective free or inexpensive marketing tool or strategy
Donating a number of free consultations to charity and fund raising at higher profile events, has proved to be very beneficial to their firm.
Twitter has been invaluable, this has opened up lots of opportunities. (always a good thing)
If Meredith Interiors do a bang up job they always ask the client for referrals; along the lines of “I look forward to working with you again, or someone you know.” strengthening the connection with a reminder.
People have found Meredith through the TV show, The Restaurant Makeover.
Meredith also likes to monitor that they are doing good work, keeping in touch with clients and asking for feedback always leads to referrals.
Where do you go for trends and inspiration?
Magazines on line, Design blogs.
Decorpad targeted search of room by color. (I love Decorpad)
She uses evernote to click images and save to projects.
She also has a huge magazine collection, and does a lot of virtual presentations to illustrate her vision as concretely as possible. (definitely smart)
How have you changed the way you do biz to meet the challenges of a changed world?
Meredith is more conscious of sharing knowledge with the industry. She says it’s important to put one self out there, to be a leader by example. The world is getting smaller. Another great interview about Meredith on Marcus Design
Any advice for would-be or for upcoming designpreneurs?
Make sure people are comfortable with what they are spending. Be fair and open.
Trust your instincts, lend credence to your ideas.
Some people are meant to work for someone and some are meant to work for themselves.
If you do work for some one with the intention of opening your own place, be upfront and be sure to credit them with the education and knowledge they empower you with.
Meredith says she could not work for someone.
Not everyone is meant to have their own business. There is nothing wrong with that. Give your employer your all. You get to play around and have fun. Your employer will reward your talent and efforts
Running your own business is less about creativity and more about keeping the business running. (I asked Meredith if I could work for her, she sounds like an incredible boss, she laughed)
What is the craziest thing you have done that resulted in helping your biz?
Meredith met her husband, the love of her life, through an online dating service. He was her 56th date in a four month period. Meredith and her husband are business partners. So I guess 56 was the magic number.
She also met her best friend online. A lawyer who always give her good solid advice. (definitely the kind of friend every woman needs)
Name a well loved way you celebrate your life?
Meredith’s husband used to be a caterer, she loves eating good food, having people over & going out to simple places.
They always joke that they spend all of their money on food (sounds familiar, no wonder I love this woman)
They support the local industry and love to travel, including eating at restaurants.
Her husband has taught her the value of eating everything in moderation. Having one piece of outstanding chocolate as opposed to a whole box of cheap sugary confection.
Meredith is not hung up on brand but rather on quality. A quality pair of shoes, makes one feel and look fantastic.
Like her favorites right now pretty Kate Spade flats which she enhances with a big satin bow.
What is something you could not live without?
My son. she says at once. I love that she is totally enraptured with her baby, and brings him to the office.
Her Iphone, her husband thinks its attached to her hand. LOL.
Couldn’t live without her sight, all the things this gives us. She loves beauty – enjoys seeing the evidence around her daily.
She has lost her sense of taste and smell, and some hearing since her son was born, so Meredith knows what she is talking about. Not that you would know it. Meredith is so vibrant and giving. Full of life.
Name a favorite item or place:
Favorite resort is in Zihautanejo in Mexico. (It looks outrageously gorgeous)
The cucumber margarita is pretty epic . They go there regularly. The waiters and staff are wonderful. They take Luke, Meredith’s son, around the restaurant. Fuss over him.
The place has amazing amenities. They have a cooking class which Meredith and her husband have enjoyed taking.
Whats next for you & how can we help you?
Meredith is working on a very hush hush project, so she wants us to keep fingers crossed and send good karma her way.
This year she us keeping her head down and working to nurture the tree, so that the business will have solid roots, based in quality and depth.
Here is the link to more of The Restaurant Makeover Show