Window Fashion VISION September + October 2020

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designer Vita Vygovska




the timeless look of linen Introducing new STYLE 7800 / 7850 Blackout and light-filtering roller shade fabrics

contents : volume 41, issue 5

in this issue INSIGHT 16

Online Marketing “Safety” Guide—Trickor-Treat Edition

Doing an online marketing safety check can keep your business from looking ghoulish.



Take the positive lessons learned from the pandemic and apply them to your business.

How can you keep your business strong even in difficult times?

Is There a Silver Lining from COVID-19?

by Kathy Wall

Remaining Resilient in Times of Crisis

by LuAnn Nigara

by Welton Hong


Exploiting Your Productivity Sweet Spot to Increase Production

Learning how, when and where you work best can help you be much more efficient at work.


The Speed Block Technique This one trick will help make window treatment installations go faster.

by Roger Magalhaes

by Amber De La Garza




40 MUNICH a total concept

Discover more

contents : volume 41, issue 5

in this issue INDUSTRY 26

Updates from IWCE Virtual

Get highlights from this year’s online event.


Green Woods: A Look at Wood Window Treatments and Sustainability Ideas for sourcing more sustainable blinds, shutters and more.

by Susan Inglis


The Wonderful World of Wood Window Treatments

The latest and greatest in wood shutters, blinds and woven woods.

by Sophia Bennett


Material Trends

What textiles are consumers clamoring for right now? What will they want in the future? We asked a group of experts for their thoughts.

by Sophia Bennett


20 Under 40 Awards

Window Fashion VISION is proud to recognize 20 of our industry’s brightest up-and-coming leaders.

by Sophia Bennett


Strong Roots, Strong Support Keep Forest Successful

Quality products and outstanding customer service have helped Forest Drapery Hardware remain an industry leader for 25 years. Photo courtesy of Smith & Noble

by Sophia Bennett V ISION |


contents : volume 41, issue 5

in this issue I N S P I R AT I O N 44

The Best of the Best (Part 2)

View the winners of this year’s VISION Workroom Competition Awards.

by Sophia Bennett


How to Construct a Mitered Double Flat Flange Pillow Making this beautiful pillow is easier than you might think.

by Rose Mary LeBlanc and Amanda Smith


Grace Note

A word from our publisher


Letter from the Editor

Celebrating an anniversary


Product Showcase


What’s Next

We pull back the curtain on our next issue.



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W IND OW FASHION V ISION MAG A ZINE President | Grace McNamara Editor-in-Chief | Sophia Bennett Chief Marketing Officer & Circulation | Ania McNamara



Creative Director | Nichole Day



Industry Liaison Editor | Gail Gutsche

Social Media Lead | Corina-Elena Buzdugan

CONT RIBUT ORS IN T HIS ISSUE Sophia Bennett, Amber De La Garza, Welton Hong, Susan Inglis, Rose Mary LeBlanc, Roger Magalhaes, LuAnn Nigara, Amanda Smith, Kathy Wall

DESIG NERS IN T HIS ISSUE Leigh Anderson, Tracie Bresnahan, Tina Fontana, Elizabeth Gerdes, Melissa Hammann, Jennifer Linds, Sigita Nusbaum, Olga Polyanskaya, Vita Vygovska

SUBSCRIPT IONS 877.344.7406 •

Window Fashion Vision magazine makes every attempt to credit each person involved in the process of creating a window covering and will not be responsible for crediting any person whose name, company or participation did not surface during the information-gathering process. Crediting disputes between parties other than Vision magazine are solved at the discretion of those involved. Window Fashion VISION (ISSN 08869669) (USPS 708930) published bi-monthly by AIM Communications LLC, 321 Stillwater Road, Willernie MN 55090.; Tel 651/330-0574; Fax 651/756-8141. Visit our website at Periodicals postage paid at St Paul, MN and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to Window Fashion VISION, PO Box 15698, North Hollywood, CA 91615-5698. Allow 60 days for address change. Subscription rates: $22/yr. U.S. and possessions; $29/yr. Canada; $90/yr. Foreign (includes airmail postage). Single copies/back issues $6 each, except for special issues, which are individually priced. (Payment must accompany order.) Copyright © 2020 by AIM Communications, LLC. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission prohibited. Canadian Publications Agreement Number: #40036514. Canadian Return Address: Station A, PO Box 54, Windsor, ONT N9A 6J5. September + October 2020, Volume 41, Issue 5.

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Copy Editor | Maude Campbell




ANNOUNCED – Including cover designer Vita Vygovska




SEPTEMBER + OCTOBER 2020 VOLUME 41, ISSUE 5 ON THE COVER: Vita Vygovska with Vitalia, Inc. (pictured on the cover), took second place in the specialty window fashion category at this year’s VISION Design & Workroom Competition Awards with these three-color, two-story draperies. Photo by John Armich with John Armich Photography.

Go to for magazine updates

Keep up with all the news @WFVMagazine

Follow us and re-pin

Follow us on Instagram at #wfvmagazine


welcome : grace note


hat a summer it’s been! Just as we thought we would be back to normal, the news continued to change and provided no real answers about when some semblance of ordinary life would return. I remember

clearly what went through my mind in early March as we were completing preparations for the International Window

Coverings Expo in Charlotte and coronavirus took hold of the country. It seemed unreal and impossible that it would move so


quickly that the show would be shut down. But that’s what happened and we have had to deal with the reality. As a company, we could not sit back and do nothing. Our

only option was to take the educational opportunities and resources we had prepared for Charlotte and make them available online. IWCE Virtual was born so we could still offer something meaningful to our industry. It was both exciting and frightening to venture into this new realm of technology. Virtual shows were growing but certainly not the norm in how business was conducted—until now. There were many unknowns that surfaced as we went through the process of setting up the show.

But we did it! We did it together and thank you to all who participated! A big thanks to our wonderful panel of experts who presented relevant information in our seminar lineup: LuAnn Nigara, Madeleine MacRae, Nicole Heymer, Darla Powell, O’D

Thank you to our cutting-edge exhibitors for your support and promotion. And thank you to everyone who attended and embraced a new way to connect and learn. You were all pioneers and I’m proud of our industry for its resilience, enthusiasm and support. This summer, we also recognized our first class of Window Fashion

VISION 20 Under 40 Awards winners. This program is our way to recognize the up-and-coming talent that will take our industry into the future. We want to encourage the next generation to learn all of the benefits of making custom window coverings a cornerstone of their design businesses. Please congratulate our first winners on page 36. As we look to what’s next, I hope you enjoy this issue. Our wonderful VISION Workroom Competition winners are featured. We have a beautiful how-to project for you to try and information about wood window products, a very popular category with consumers right now. Stay safe and keep in touch! We’re here for you, so let us know how we can continue to help you.

McKewan, Michele Williams, Sara Lynn Brennan, Sandra VanSickle, Ann Johnson, Cathy Tucker, Melissa Galt, Welton Hong, Roger Magalhaes and JoAnne Lenart-Weary. You were so fantastic!

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welcome : letter from the editor


ver the summer, my family and I spent a couple of days in an Airbnb in southern Oregon. Our little house had east-facing windows that provided a gorgeous view of the mountains

and the families of deer that grazed on our lawn throughout

the day. It also had no curtains or blinds, which meant that by 5:30 a.m., blazing sunlight was pouring into the bedrooms. Needless to say, no one slept very well on that trip. I’ve never appreciated window coverings more in my life.


My respect for this field goes much deeper than this anecdote, though. It’s been two years since I produced my first

issue of Window Fashion VISION. Over that time, I’ve come to appreciate how integral window treatments are. I’ve loved learning about how they can provide beauty and function to homes and businesses. And it’s been a real joy getting to know many of you. Thank you for welcoming me into your

Awards, who are featured on page 44. If you’re looking for more inspiration, make sure you check out the following article. Rose Mary LeBlanc and Amanda Smith with Seamless Workroom have contributed another outstanding how-to article, this time on making a mitered double flat flange pillow. We have lots of interesting industry news for you too. First

community—and making my job so easy and enjoyable.

and foremost, I’m thrilled to share the winners of Window

I’m sure many of you are looking forward to seeing the

We’re excited to shine a bright light on some of our industry’s

winners of this year’s VISION Workroom Competition

Fashion VISION’s new 20 Under 40 Awards program (page 36). up-and-coming leaders. Our theme for this issue is fibers—a favorite topic of mine since I’ve been a quilter for many years. The article on textile trends (page 34) is a fascinating read, as is our look at wood window covering products (page 28 and 30). I hope you’ll discover some new shutters, shades or woven wood treatments that are perfect for your clients.

Sophia Bennett Editor-in-Chief

14 |




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insight : welton hong

Online Marketing “Safety” Guide—Trick-or-Treat Edition

Checking up on some basic details can help you dress up your marketing efforts and keep you from looking like a ghoul to your customers BY WELTON HONG


id you grow up going door to door each Halloween, showing off your adorable costume and begging the neighbors for candy?

It’s a time-honored tradition, with more than 40 million children participating annually in recent years. It’s also a fun opportunity for around 122 million households to dress windows, doors and other exterior areas with fun and spooky decorations. Whether you remember trick-or-treating fondly or still participate by decorating your own home and handing out candy, you’re probably wondering what this tradition has to do with online

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marketing. As summer fades into autumn, leaves change colors and kids take to the streets to fill sacks with tasty treats, local news channels and other media usually bring out the Halloween tips. Turns out some of those tried-and-true Halloween tips—whether for safety or general fun—can be applied to online marketing to help protect your business’s reputation and bottom line.

Indulge me for a few minutes as I give you the online marketing version of trick-or-treating tips— and maybe indulge yourself in a piece or two of that candy you’ve got earmarked for Halloween while you read.

Stick Together in Groups—Or Targeting the Right Audience

You’ve likely heard it or said it: Stick with a group when trick-ortreating. A single child wandering the streets on Halloween night can run across all manner of dangers. When you’re marketing home improvement services online, you also need to stick with a group. Except here, I’m referring to the overall group of people you’re advertising your goods and services to. It’s called your target audience. Many businesses start marketing before they take the time to truly understand who their target audience is and that’s a mistake. It leaves you open to dangers such as wasting marketing money on content that doesn’t convert or offending potential clients because you don’t understand what your target audience needs, wants or believes. Before you invest in any marketing, ask yourself questions such as: What problems do your products solve? Who has those problems and is likely to be interested in a solution? Where are those people, geographically and online? What can you find out about the age, income level and interests of your target audience? These questions all help you dial in your marketing so you can stick with the group most likely to become clients.

Don’t Eat the Unwrapped Candy—Or How to Protect Your Clients Online

Halloween might be a magical night for young children, but adults know the world isn’t so magical. Unwrapped candy could have been tampered with, so you throw it away. You know what else might be tampered with? An unsecure website. Modern consumers are growing increasingly aware of the dangers that lurk online, and many are learning how to identify whether a website or business is taking appropriate precautions. For example, if you haven’t invested in an HTTPS site—that means it’s encrypted—potential clients might leave as soon as they arrive. They certainly are less likely to enter personal information, including their names, email addresses or payment information, without seeing signs of security and encryption.

inviting people to click your link in search results with the implied promise that when they arrive on your page, you have something of value for them. If your content doesn’t follow through with that promise, visitors feel tricked. They’re not going to egg or toilet paper your website in response, but they’re also a lot less likely to check out your services or return when they’re ready to make a purchase.

Wear Reflective Clothing or Carry Lights—Or Make Sure Your CTAs Show Up

While many locales have moved trick-or-treating to daylight hours, especially for younger children, plenty of Halloween activities take place after dark. It’s just common sense to ensure that kids or adults who will be on the streets when the sun goes down can be seen by motorists and others. And it’s common sense to ensure that your calls to action (CTAs), value propositions and buy buttons can be seen by people who visit your site. If they’re buried well below the fold (that’s the imaginary line that divides the webpage between the part you see immediately and the part you have to scroll to see), people are usually less likely to click. Likewise, if your CTAs or offers are hard to decipher, people will become frustrated and leave your page. We live with a culture that prizes instant gratification. After all, what kid didn’t sneak at least one piece of candy out of his bag on the way home to taste? So, it’s important to do what you can to make your site easy and safe to access and your marketing messages clear and concise. That way, when potential clients visit your page, they’re more likely to find what they need. That brings them back for the candy (your expertise, goods or services) more often. V Welton Hong is the founder of Ring Ring Marketing and a leading expert in creating case generation from online to the phone line. He is the author of “Making Your Phone Ring with Internet Marketing for Window Covering Companies.” Facebook: RingRingMarketing

The takeaway here is that if your candy (aka your website) isn’t wrapped, people are going to throw it away. And that means you wasted any marketing effort getting them there in the first place. Have Candy for Trick-or-Treaters—Or Follow Through on Your Promises

If you leave your light on during trick-or-treating hours and don’t show up at the door bearing candy, tradition supposedly says you’re in for a trick. And that can be bad for your house, depending on how mischievous it gets. When you create titles and meta descriptions and add keywords to your site content, that’s akin to leaving the porch light on. You’re



insight : kathy wall

Is There a Silver Lining from COVID-19?

Take the positive lessons learned from the pandemic and apply them to your business BY KATHY WALL


fter months of self-quarantine—working and teaching our kids from home, eating nearly every meal at home, binge-watching Netflix at home— we’ve come face to face with some ugly truths: the flaws in our homes.

The dining room table works fine for sending a few emails, but now we need a truly functional office space—one with enough style to keep us inspired for eight hours a day. Our range has gotten us through many a Taco Tuesday, but it’s sadly not up to the task of baking the ultimate sourdough loaf. Our living space feels comfycozy for the latest episode of “The Crown,” but shape-shifting between family game time and streaming 317 straight minutes of “Tiger King”? Please send blackout shades. The laundry list of problems sounds painful, but in this brave new world, no one is going to be defeated by little things like fading paint or last decade’s window treatments. We’re ready to fix

our home’s flaws. And that’s good news for the design industry.

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The rush to redo, redecorate and refresh can be seen in the packed parking lots of furniture stores and home centers. It can be heard in the renewed ringing of interior designers’ telephones. But it’s not quite business as usual. People are still rightfully concerned about their health and well-being. There are lessons to be learned from quarantine times—things retailers, designers and window covering shops may want to consider as they fine-tune a business model to flourish in these unprecedented times.

Stay Engaged on Social Media

With nary a social event on their calendars, people had more time to spend perusing Instagram and tuning into live chats with designers. They’ve been rewarded with loads of inspiration. Home furnishing and interior design companies that have increased their social media promotions and advertising budgets are also reaping the benefits—with a significantly higher percentage of new followers than those that aren’t pursuing this avenue to grow their business. Social media advertising continues to be a low-

cost, efficient tool to reach targeted audiences.

Don’t Pull the Plug on Technology

After endless Zoom sessions, webinars and the like, our first impulse is to end the e-meetings. But don’t be hasty to

abandon technology that’s working for your business.

Many consumers are still hesitant about in-person interactions, and some just like the convenience of learning, shopping and buying from home. Tech—Zoom, Google Hangouts, FaceTime—has a place in today’s business arsenal. Even with some restrictions lifted, it might make sense for shop owners to continue doing video walk-throughs of their displays and responding to questions in live chats. Designers may still want to offer video consultations and eDesign services.

Make It Easy

In the Instacart era, we expect things to come to us. Shops are giving customers the convenience of picking up their prepaid purchases at the curb—or having them delivered to their homes. Designers are mailing samples to clients for review, allowing homeowners to see true colors and feel luscious textures without the need for a showroom visit. Some design firms are even turning to the project-in-a-box approach for smaller endeavors, talking through a project remotely and then shipping everything the client needs right to their doorstep. Whatever you can do to

simplify life and reduce stress for customers in these harried times will be appreciated and pay dividends for your business. V

Kathy Wall is president and ringleader of The Media Matters, an agency in the Triad area of North Carolina offering marketing, advertising and brand strategy to a roster of international clients. Kathy has shared her talents with the home furnishing industry for over three decades and formed her own business 18 years ago. Her motto? “We don’t work with jerks.” Facebook: TheMediaMatters Twitter: TheMediaMatters Instagram: Tmm.Agency



insight : luann nigara

Remaining Resilient in Times of Crisis Crisis reveals our true entrepreneurial character. How can you take your business in a positive direction even when the rest of the world is struggling?


BY LUANN NIGARA he saying goes that “crisis reveals our true character.” I believe it’s more accurate to say that crisis reveals our true character to others.

We have all processed the COVID-19 crisis in our own way. Some people haven’t missed a beat, going to the grocery stores, picking up takeout and doing as much as quarantine possibly allowed them to do. For the most part, these are people with a high tolerance for risk in business and in life. We also saw those who observed quarantine to the letter: staying at home, undressing at the door if they had to leave their homes and wearing a mask from the outset. These people tend to be conservative in all areas of their life, not just with COVID-19 protocols. Neither reaction is right or wrong, but it does reveal something about us to others. Crisis also reveals our true entrepreneurial character. Two weeks into the quarantine, a designer colleague named Susan emailed me and said, “I am scared. I have 18 years invested in my business, 12 employees and a revenue goal of $3 million in 2020. I am not

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giving up, I am not going down.” She continued, “I need to be with like-minded business owners so we can help each other get through this. Will you gather some people and help us?” My answer? “Yes, ma’am, all day long. You want to work? You want to be proactive rather than reactive? Yes, I will show up and do this with you.” I called Eileen Hahn, a leadership consultant and one of the coauthors of my second book, “A Well-Designed Business: The Power Talk Friday Experts, Vol. 1,” and together we led an eight-week mastermind for six business owners whose firms earn more than $2 million a year in revenue. The first three weeks, we strategized on these topics: •

How important it is to be compassionate leaders to our employees and what does this look like for each employee

Analyzing our adjusted gross revenue projections based on best- and worst-case scenarios

Analyzing which expenses need to be cut to meet revised revenue projections

Brainstorming new ways to market during the new world order of COVID-19

Faced with the very real possibility of losing much or all of what they had built, each was willing to take a hard look at their business, their employees, their clients and themselves. In crisis, I watched as the character traits of these entrepreneurs were revealed. They included decisiveness, vision, compassion and resilience. Their true character changed the outcome of their businesses and of our mastermind.

Because of the results we were experiencing, during the remaining five weeks we happily switched gears and focused on only three specific topics: •

Managing growth while working virtually

Revising gross revenue goals back to pre-COVID targets and, in some cases, increasing them

Strategically hiring more staff to meet the new company goals

Examining Your Entrepreneurial Character

We are several months into the COVID-19 crisis. Is your business thriving, merely surviving or, sadly, has it succumbed? What I know, from dozens of conversations, is that how you have shown up as the leader of your business is directly related to where your business is now. If you are in either of the latter categories, that may be hard to hear. But you can still succeed going into the future by examining your entrepreneurial character. In crisis, did you spring into action? Did you look for new ways to succeed and turn your business around? Or did you make statements like these? •

2020 was going to be my year and now it’s blown.

Quarantining killed my business.

My customers won’t select fabric and treatments through a Zoom call.

If I can’t install, I can’t make money.

Customers are too scared. No one will buy anything now.

If you did, it’s time to reevaluate your entrepreneurial character. I challenge you to make changes through the examples set by these leaders in our industry. Susan is the designer I mentioned above. Even though she needed and wanted help, she decided her business would survive COVID-19. Leaders know they don’t have to have all the answers, but they know it is their responsibility to get them. They accept personal responsibility and learn how to become more self-reliant. Vin Nigara, co-owner of Window Works and my husband, made it very clear to each of us that we would keep our entire 12-person team intact. He said, “No man left behind.” This was not easy, and it increased our risk of all-out failure, but he was decisive and committed. His commitment inspired each of us to work to make it happen. Steve Bursten and Steve Wishnow, the leaders at Exciting Windows, sprang into immediate action. Monthly group meetings became weekly meetings. Each week, they focused on new ways to do

business virtually. Not one minute was spent lamenting on what used to be or how hard it was now. Instead, every meeting was filled with information, ideas and tools pouring out at us like a waterfall on how to do business in the new environment created by COVID-19. They provided vision for how we needed to adapt to our new environment. I want to commend Grace McNamara, publisher of Window Fashion VISION, for showing incredible adaptability in the face of change. The thought of taking a long-standing in-person conference with several thousand attendees and dozens of speakers and sponsors and making a massive pivot to virtual is, frankly, overwhelming. But leaders like Grace think outside the box, look for solutions and act. Eileen Hahn teaches business owners to lead with love in everything they do in their business as well as their life. During the pandemic, Eileen consistently stressed to business owners, myself included, that a successful leader allows each employee to process the crisis in their personal way. Leaders see their team as individuals; they acknowledge each person and support each in a way that honors them. This compassion instills trust and respect, enabling each to be their best self. Sarah Daniele, CEO of Mydoma Studio, is a relatively new entrepreneur, yet she is wise and seasoned beyond her years. With the COVID-19 crisis, Sarah saw an opportunity to make a huge, positive impact on designers’ businesses and created the 19 Hours digital conference. Even more astonishing, she launched it within three weeks of having the idea. Sarah and her team organized dozens of speakers and attracted more than 4,000 virtual attendees. Mydoma Studio exemplified resilience in its own pivot and led the way for thousands of designers, teaching them skills and lessons that encouraged them to build resiliency in their businesses as well.

The Year of 2020

Twenty-twenty vision is the vision of hindsight. What is your 20/20 view this year—your 2020 vision, so to speak? What has the crisis revealed to you? Are you content with your actions and reactions, or do you need to adjust, adapt and recalibrate? If you are like the people mentioned above, then you are probably on track to meet your goals. If you are not on target, please don’t give in. There are many selling days left in 2020. You have time to turn things around. I implore you to take the actions necessary. Find entrepreneurs who inspire you, who can teach and collaborate with you and show you the way to achieve success. We are here for you. V LuAnn Nigara is an award-winning window treatment specialist and co-owner of Window Works in Livingston, NJ. Her highly successful podcast “A Well-Designed Business” debuted in February 2016. She has since recorded more than 400 episodes. Facebook: WindowWorksNJ Twitter: WindowWorks_NJ Instagram: WindowWorks



insight : amber de la garza

Exploiting Your Productivity Sweet Spot to Increase Production

Learning how, when and where you work best can help you be much more efficient



ike many ambitious design professionals, you likely get caught up from time to time spending entire days engaging in fruitless activities that don’t make you money. You could be kept busy by administrative tasks, distractions and interruptions and not move the needle forward in your business at all. That is no way to increase your revenue and grow a successful company. Ineffective days need to become rare occurrences and productive days your new norm. For that to happen, you must be intentional with your time by exploiting your productivity sweet spot—the combination of factors that makes you most productive. You will get far better results working in your productivity sweet spot for only two hours each day than working eight hours each day haphazardly. Consistently choosing to honor your unique rhythms, staying authentic to who you are and following a schedule in alignment with your energy levels and natural tendencies will help you show up at your best for your business.

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Your Natural Tendencies

The adage “the early bird gets the worm” is true for many people but not necessarily for you. If you must

fight an uphill battle to be a morning person, you are only setting yourself up for failure because you are battling against your natural tendencies. If you are naturally a night owl and get your best work done when everyone else is asleep, own it and stop giving yourself grief.

Winston Churchill, one of the most successful and productive leaders of all time, took a two-hour nap every day while others continued working. He said this “siesta” allowed him to get oneand-a-half days’ worth of work out of every 24 hours. Churchill was a self-proclaimed night owl and often worked through the night. In fact, he sometimes held war cabinet meetings while taking a bath. Why? Leaning into your own natural tendencies enables heightened productivity.

Your Working Environment

It is worth doing some trial and error to determine where and how you work best. Perhaps you best prepare

for meetings in your noise-free, private office but need the hustle and bustle of a coffee shop to get your creative juices flowing while brainstorming business ideas. Don’t just plan when and on what you’re going to work, but also where you’re going to work. Reviewing contracts at the kitchen table may be convenient until your teenagers get home at 4 o’clock and their chatter prevents you from focusing. Perhaps retire to a less public space just prior to their noisy entrance so you can finish reviewing your contracts without distraction. Also, consider your actual work space. Do your desk and chair promote good posture so you are not suffering back pain come lunchtime? Does your office provide ample natural light that elevates your mood? Are your frequently used files and supplies within arm’s reach? Design your ideal work environment to promote focus and productivity, not hinder it.

Your Time Blocks

The Pomodoro Technique, which trains you to focus for 25-minute periods followed by five-minute breaks, is popular because most people work best in short bursts of focused energy. Just as athletes train their muscles to do a repetitive exercise, if you have trained yourself to focus for longer periods of time and require less breaks, great. What is important is that you work for time blocks of optimal length for you. Honor the method that works best, whether that’s 25 minutes on/five minutes off, 90-minute blocks or six-hour marathons. Schedule those blocks of time and exercise selfdiscipline to ensure your high-value activities get done.

Your Energy Flow

When scheduling your time, be cognizant of your zone of genius and unique energy flow. If you are not naturally a detail-oriented

person, you should not be doing detailed tasks for long durations because such tasks will drain you of energy until your tank is empty. Alternatively, when you work in your zone of genius, tasks will fuel you and prompt energy to flow toward you and what you are working on. If you are an extrovert, you typically gain energy when engaging with other people. Such interactions light you up and fuel you. If you are an introvert, you generally feel depleted after engaging with others. As necessary, switch off between energy-increasing and energy-decreasing tasks. Running on empty all day long is exhausting and unsustainable long term. Maybe you’ve determined you’re a night owl who works best on a full stomach in a private office with a messy desk while listening to classical music. Awesome! That’s your productivity sweet spot.

Commit to settling right down into that productivity sweet spot whenever you’ve scheduled the time to work. You will reap many benefits from it. V

Amber De La Garza, aka The Productivity Specialist, is a sought-after coach, trainer, speaker, writer, host of the “Productivity Straight Talk” podcast and creator of the S.T.O.P. Leverage Formula. She helps small business owners improve their time management and elevate their productivity to maximize profits, reduce stress and make time for what matters most. Facebook: TheProductivitySpecialist Instagram: Amber_DeLaGarza

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insight : roger magalhaes

The Speed Block Technique

This trick will make window treatment installations go faster BY ROGER MAGALHAES


have a very competitive mindset. Not to compete against others, but to compete against myself. I am always looking for ways to improve whatever I am doing, and that goes for all areas of my life, including leisure, financial planning and work.

So every time I start an installation, I look for ways to cut down on unnecessary movements that take extra time. One installation technique I have developed over the years is to use spacers to install shade and angle brackets at the exact same distances. Instead of wasting time measuring every bracket placement with a tape measure, I carry several spacers of different sizes and thicknesses to provide me with the most appropriate measure for a particular job. It is a similar idea to a measuring cup set for people who cook. Once we create systems, repeat tasks happen faster. That is the whole goal of this technique.

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Sometimes, there is a piece of wood trim on the window that must be cleared in order for the blinds and shades to work freely without hitting anything. What I do is select one of my spacers (or speed blocks, as I call them) that provide the necessary thickness to just clear the window obstruction. Then I will use the same spacer throughout the course of that installation to keep all brackets with the same projection and, consequently, have all my shades mounted the same way. I also created 2- and 3-inch marks from both edges of my blocks. That way, I save time placing my brackets exactly the same way from the edges of each window. The idea is to create a pattern and follow it. You can use the thickness, width or height of your block as a measure. As I mentioned above, I have several. The two shown in the photos are the two I use the most. One is ½ inch thick and the

Roger Magalhaes is the owner of Shades In

other is ¾ inch thick. One is also wider than the other. Depending on the job, I can even combine both spaces to give the exact distance (clearance) I need.

Place, Inc., in the Boston area. He has received formal training and certifications from many of the country’s most respected vendors such

The big-picture takeaway here is to pay attention to your routine as you install your treatments to find out which tasks can be improved upon. In my “bag of tricks,” I

as Somfy, Hunter Douglas, Norman Shutters and Lutron. He also attended the Custom Home Furnishings Academy for formal installation

carry more than 60 tools to help me be more efficient, quicker and, therefore, more profitable at my installations. I hope you will do the same. V

training focusing on drapery and other soft treatments. Roger is the founder of the Facebook group Free Speech Window Covering Pros and the Installation Instructor for the Window Fashion Certified Professional FastTrack program. Facebook: ShadesInPlace Twitter: Shades_In_Place Houzz: Shades-In-Place



industry : iwce virtual

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BRINGS THE INDUSTRY TOGETHER Window covering professionals embraced the first online

industry conference and trade show, IWCE Virtual, from the

convenience of their own space. Due to the forced cancellation of the International Window Coverings Expo (IWCE) last March, the show pivoted to offer the industry the only

Impressive after-show statistics showed nearly 300 people attended most seminars. Exhibitors had as many as 600 visitors at their booths. “Of course, there is nothing that compares to meeting in person, but until we can produce a live IWCE safely, we have to consider the alternative,” says show producer Grace McNamara. “IWCE Virtual worked and we know we

possible alternative: a virtual event.

can do it even better the next time if we have to. The

On July 29 and 30, IWCE Virtual served up 14

window covering industry is resilient and we will all

strategic seminars covering topics such as social

do what we have to until this crisis is over.”

media, marketing, financial planning, motorization,

IWCE followed on the heels of the virtual VISION

tips for workrooms and installations, and virtual

Design & Workroom Competition Awards

consultations. Industry superstar LuAnn Nigara and business consultant Madeleine MacRae were the

ceremony, which was held on June 25. “It was so

opening and closing keynote speakers, respectively, and

exciting to have the winners join us and say a few

inspired viewers to be the best they can be during these

words, even from Japan!” says Sophia Bennett, editor-in-chief

uncertain times.

of Window Fashion VISION. Bennett was also thrilled to co-host

Nearly 2,000 industry professionals enthusiastically took classes and visited the 42 companies that exhibited in this

debut virtual event. One unique aspect of IWCE Virtual was the

the presentation of the annual Window Fashion VISION 20

Under 40 Awards, which honored up-and-coming industry professionals (view all of the winners on page 44).


ability to reenter the Exhibit Hall and watch the seminars for 30 days after the live experience.

Here’s what attendees had to say about IWCE Virtual:

The show has certainly helped us communicate with a few

key potential accounts. Hats off to your team for their hard work in making this a successful happening!

—David Migi, Amzak International Sample

IWCE Virtual is just terrific so far and I’m only halfway

through the day!

—Linda Bassert, Masterworks Window

I would like to take this opportunity to thank your entire

team for organizing IWCE Virtual. We really appreciate the fact that you are so progressive and enthusiastically boost our industry in these ever-changing times. IWCE Virtual was our first digital live event. We really enjoyed it and learned a lot from it. This wouldn't have happened without your help. Many thanks for your advice and support.

—Ray Ebbekink, Coulisse

Fashions & Design, LLC

I attended and felt like it was well worth the time and

expense. Overall, with all the moving parts and details involved, you did a great job.

—Pam Haston, Haston Interiors V ISION |


industry : green woods


A LO O K AT WO O D W I N D OW T R E AT M E N TS A N D S U STA I N A B I L I T Y BY SUSAN INGLIS There are dozens of things that influence the true sustainability of your choices in window coverings. For this article, I’m going to discuss your choices for wood products, which you might use for shutters, blinds or shades. Wood is a logical place to start because saving the forests of the world is so important to addressing global warming. Scientists working with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have concluded that preserving and expanding our forests is by far the most efficient—that is, easy and inexpensive—way to slow global warming. Unfortunately, we are still losing a net 10 billion trees a year. So, our choices in wood for window fashions are important. Here are five simple strategies for doing your part in helping to halt deforestation.



Certified wood means a trustworthy, independent agent has been hired to inspect and verify that the wood used is legally logged and sustainably harvested. Certification is the best defense against deforestation. Though it has not been commissioned for most forests, plantations or wood products, it is worth seeking out because the more we ask for it, the more it will become available.

The Sustainable Forestry Initiative was formed by the largest trade association in the wood industry. It combines independent auditing with self-auditing, depending on the location. The last of the three is the Programme for Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), which was created by European tree farmers. It is a careful desk review of many different certification systems. The challenge with certified wood is finding enough of it. About 11 percent of the world’s forests are now certified, including about 4 percent by FSC and 6 percent by other PEFC-recognized certifications. This represents about 30 percent of the world’s wood supply. As public awareness and concern about climate change and deforestation have risen, more companies have made the investment to get their wood certified.


There are three main certifiers of wood around the world. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), created by the World Wildlife Fund and other environmental groups in 1992, was the first and remains the best. It has the strictest standards and the most strenuous auditing protocols, giving its approval more weight in the environmental and governmental communities. The program operates in 46 countries, issuing forest management certificates in over 100 countries.

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Beyond sustainable growing, it prohibits converting forested areas and using hazardous pesticides and genetically modified species. It addresses social issues by supporting the rights of local populations. Every year, it audits every one of the offices that performs its certifications.


REUSE A N D RECYCLE The second strategy is using reclaimed and recycled wood material. It is important to note that what we throw away is now our world’s most abundant natural resource. That includes, of course, wood that we have used for one purpose, such as making pallets or constructing buildings, that can now be reclaimed and reused for another purpose. Reclaimed wood can actually add significant value to the resource. Street trees that can be milled into wood and barnwood are two examples.



Using plantation-grown trees can also make a big difference in the fight against climate change. For many years, wood suppliers have recognized there is a strong market for more exotic hardwoods like teak, mahogany and zebrawood. Their challenge was that these trees were always in short supply because they grow very slowly and, increasingly, only exist in protected areas.

The solution was to start plantations that grow trees specifically to be cut down and used as raw materials. Much like certified wood, the sellers will have paperwork verifying the trees come from plantations. Whenever you are looking at tropical hardwoods, ask if the wood is plantation grown and to see the company's certificates. There are a couple of wood species that are grown on plantations, but not for the wood. Mango, for instance, is the most abundant fruit in the world. The trees stop producing fruit after 12 to 15 years, so the growers have no choice but to cut them down, sell the wood and start over. This is true of any mango wood, so paperwork is not necessary.



Many companies in the furnishing industry are planting trees to ensure there is plenty of wood for future generations to use, either in their own programs or by working with state forestry departments and nonprofits engaged in planting trees.



that can serve as good alternatives to wood. There is a whole class of materials called “rapidly renewables.” By definition, these include plants that grow to harvest within 10 years. Many of them are excellent natural materials for use in window fashions: bamboo, rattan, seagrass, various canes and reeds, and textile fibers. There are, of course, many chemical and mechanical inputs in turning these plants into window fashions, but here is a look at some of the attributes of these materials. Bamboo is a popular and fairly common material. It is actually a grass, not a tree or shrub, so like your lawn, it doesn’t need to be replanted after being cut and grows back very quickly. It is also extremely versatile. It can be made into fabrics as well as wood substitutes and is as strong as any hardwood. Other commonly used plant materials—like rattan, water hyacinth and cane—typically grow wild in moist, tropical areas and are harvested by local farming communities that use them for traditional uses that use no electricity. Purchasing these products supports the preservation of handcrafted traditions and native economies in very low-carbon enterprises. Our consumer research over the years shows that 90 percent of people would prefer an eco-friendly product if they like the style and the price is within their budget. On wood specifically, our research shows that fully 76 percent of us are willing to pay up to 5 to 10 percent more for wood furnishing products that are certified as legal and responsibly harvested. I think you will find great satisfaction in doing your part to save the forests of the world. Providing these products to willing consumers has never been easier or more important. V

Susan Inglis is the executive director of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, a nonprofit that helps companies in all segments of the residential furnishing industry reduce environmental footprint and consumers find more environmentally friendly home furnishings.

I am also going to give you a fifth strategy: choosing plant materials V ISION |


industry : wood trends

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The Wonderful World of Wood Window Treatments BY SOPHIA BENNETT


rends may come and go, but one thing is certain: Wood window treatments are here to stay. This enduring class of window coverings offers beautiful aesthetics and terrific function. Wood treatments are widely available and versatile, able to help homeowners meet a range of goals.

Wood is a perfect fit with consumers’ desire for more earthy-looking products. “The warm and natural feeling wooden window treatments add to a space cannot be created by any other material,” says Jop Vos, managing director of Coulisse, based in the Netherlands. “Wooden window treatments give every room a lively radiance and the feeling of being close to nature. Besides, wooden venetian blinds allow you to create any type of light and privacy. While they cover the window, wooden blinds still provide an open and inviting atmosphere.”

Consumers excited about green home products may be drawn to things like bamboo shades and solid wood shutters. “For those customers who are looking for an environmentally friendly material, wood products are a perfect option since they are produced from trees, a naturally renewable resource,” says Monica Chavez, senior product manager for Smith & Noble in Corona, CA. (Just make sure the wood comes from sustainable sources; see “Green Woods” on page 28 for more details.) Tamara Brown, a San Diego-based design consultant for Denver-based Stoneside, says design professionals sometimes overlook wood window products because they’re considered dated. That idea is as passé as avocado shag. Thanks to the wide range of stain options and materials now available, they can be exceptionally attractive, high-quality and durable. Many wood treatments can be motorized. There really is no excuse not to explore the wonderful world of wood window treatments. We look at what’s new with the three main categories—blinds, shutters and shades—on the following pages.

Photo courtesy of Smith & Noble



industry : wood trends


“Interest in all wood blind categories has stayed relatively constant over the past few years,” says Brown. “We typically see people wanting wood blinds when they are upgrading from lower-quality mini blinds, but occasionally we will have a client who wants them purely because they offer an earthy and organic look to the home.” According to Vos, one of the fastest-growing categories is motorized wood blinds, especially ones for large windows. “With our innovative automation concept MOTION, the wooden blinds can easily be turned into motorized blinds,” he says. Smith & Noble added wood blinds to its Smart Shades motorized product offering last fall. One of the exciting things about modern blinds is the huge range of paint and stain colors. “The color selection can make a product go from modern to traditional and fit into a specific trend,” says Chavez. “For example, a flat dark gray finish with a sleek valance and a tone-on-tone decorative ladder tape on a wood blind can modernize it, while selecting a mahogany finish with a more decorative valance and decorative tape could be best suited in a more traditional setting.” “After a great demand for light wooden blinds for many years, dark-colored wood is increasingly popular,” says Vos. Coulisse recently added a gray tone to its wood and bamboo products, which is being very well-received in the U.S. market. Whatever stain is used, the grain of the wood will give the blinds a beautiful final appearance. However, Chavez does caution that finishes may look different on varying types of blinds. “Depending on the wood, the finish will be absorbed differently, and within the same species, some lots could vary on the color of the wood. This will affect the final finish, especially on stains or more transparent finishes.” For consumers concerned about green products and indoor air quality, specify low-VOC finishes. Although wood blinds are ideal for nearly every room, be careful about using genuine wood blinds in spaces that are humid—for example, bathrooms or over the kitchen sink. “Faux-wood blinds are a great option here because they will not warp,” says Brown.

Photo courtesy of Hartmann&Forbes

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Photo courtesy of Southern Shutter Company


Interest in shutters has stayed steady in recent years—which is to say they remain a popular window covering choice, both for interiors and exteriors. Homeowners from Virginia to Maine still tend to flock to natural cedar shutters, says Keith Davis, retail sales manager for Southern Shutter Company in Montgomery, AL. They also want functioning shutters, whereas in other regions, people purchase them more for their aesthetic value. Composite shutters made from materials such as PVC and fiberglass seem to be gaining ground, though. This has to do with the perception that they’re easier to maintain. A quality cedar shutter can last for 150 years if it’s properly cared for, Davis says. “But just like the rest of your house, they have to be painted and maintained. If they’re neglected, they will rot.” California has a strong market for composite shutters. In terms of style, “Clean, Shaker-style shutters to coincide with that modern farmhouse vibe are very popular lately,” says Madison Miller, an interior designer and owner of Avenue Designs in Houston. “Interestingly, though, I have also seen shutters with a combination of styles being used; for instance, a raised panel with a louvered detail for a little something different.” Exterior shutters have traditionally been painted a darker color so they stand out against brick or stucco. “Lately, we have seen an uptick in a lighter-colored shutter,” says Miller. “Clients are also using more and more natural elements on their exteriors, so keeping the shutters in their natural raw wood state is on the rise.” One of the biggest changes to interior shutters is that the louvers have gotten bigger over time. “The standard in the U.S. is 3½ inches, where in the late ’80s it would have been a 2½-inch louver,” says Davis. Single-panel shutters are also more popular than the doublepanel variety. Rather than seeking out shutters where the control mechanism is in the center, consumers are increasingly drawn to those with a hidden control rod attached to the rear of the louvers. Ensuring shutters are the correct size and shape and are mounted correctly is paramount, says Miller. “Think of the windows as the eyes of the home and the shutters as the eyebrows to understand the impact. If the shutters are incorrectly placed, sized or designed, they can ruin the appeal of the entire home.”



Woven wood shades are trending upward right now, driven by the desire for natural looks and materials, says Nikki Hummel, director of merchandising for Blinds Galore in San Diego. “Historically, woven woods are most popular along the coastlines for use in homes with a beach-focused interior. With the increased interest, I find that natural shades are purchased across the nation and in numerous age demographics,” she adds. Mike Jones, founder and CEO of Hartmann&Forbes in Tualatin, OR, says younger consumers are especially excited about the company’s products. Millennials are more interested in the story of how the shades are made and more likely to seek out sustainable products.

Photo courtesy of Southern Shutter Company

When people envision woven wood shades, they typically picture the traditional bamboo or matchstick varieties. But there are many more options available today. “With the continued interest in the category, suppliers have expanded materials and we are seeing more cloth-like finishes made of grass weaves and silk,” says Hummel. “These closely resemble roman shades.” “Early in our company’s history, we made the strategic decision to invest heavily in our knowledge of plant fibers and on becoming experts in natural fibers and weaving,” says Jones. “We staff a horticulturist in our weaving facility and have chosen to weave outside of regions where all of our competitors weave. This has given us access to local fibers and we work directly with our farmers to create exclusive harvests that can meet the demands of our broad product mix.” Beyond materials such as bamboo, jute and river reed, Hartmann&Forbes is able to make shades from arrowroot, banana, cork, hemp, palm, water hyacinth and a number of other materials. While shades in multiple styles are popular, “in general, we see interest moving more toward simple, elegant and lightweight versus more classical chunky, textural and darker hues,” says Jones. “Of course, automation is a huge trend these days and we have developed an in-house team of automation specialists to accommodate the need for expert help. We also offer full automation project management at no charge for the design community.” Hummel recommends using a liner on woven wood treatments. “Most common issues with these shades come from aging. Due to the use of natural materials, they are more prone to drying, cracking or warping, and bleaching from the sun. A liner will slow this process, but it will still happen over time.” She also notes that the newer shade materials may require edge binding to prevent wear and damage to the shade. V

Photo courtesy of Hartmann&Forbes



industry : material trends

Material Trends



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abric is a foundational part of all draperies, soft shades and other home goods. What textiles are consumers clamoring for right now? And what can workrooms and designers expect from the fabrics of the future? We asked a group of experts for their thoughts.

Photo courtesy of Libeco


Textiles for healthy homes

People were already thinking about how to make their homes healthier before COVID-19—and the pandemic is likely to accelerate that trend. One of the biggest things Kelly DiFoggio, director of sales and merchandising with the fabric division of Stein Fibers in Albany, NY, expects to see over the coming months is rising demand for washable fabrics. “You’ll probably see a surge in natural fibers and slipcovers,” she predicts. “People are wanting to take that fabric off their sofa, throw it in the washing machine, wash it and then put it back on.” It’s also likely that demand for antimicrobial and antibacterial fabric will increase. Antimicrobial fabrics can be made by dipping the fabric in a special solution during manufacturing, applying a topical treatment to finished fabric or incorporating it into the fabric itself. “People are turning silver into a thread and weaving it into textiles because it has antimicrobial and anti-mildew properties to it,” says DiFoggio.

Natural fibers and dyes

In line with many other trends—health, sustainability, interest in natural and organiclooking home products—natural fibers are becoming much more popular for the home. Consumers are also realizing that there are some practical benefits to natural textiles for things like bedding. Wool is naturally flame retardant, which means there is no need for added chemicals. Linen has anti-pest and antimicrobial properties built into the fibers. “Flax promotes health sleep,” says Kathryn Richardson, vice president of sales for Belgian linen manufacturer Libeco. “Studies have shown that people sleep 20 percent better because linen helps with thermal regulating.” One of the biggest consumer-driven trends DiFoggio sees is chemical-free fabrics. “Instead of doing chemical dyes, companies are doing more vegetable dyes. You’re going see a lot more of those fabrics,” she says.

Outdoor comes indoors

This popular category will only continue to grow. According to Zion Market Research, sales of performance fabrics are expected to increase around 3 percent every year, giving the grouping a value of $93 million by 2025. Part of this growth is fueled by the fact that performance fabrics aren’t just for the outdoors anymore. “In the past, outdoor fabric has been hard and stiff and didn’t have the same upper-end look as the indoor residential,” says DiFoggio. “Now the outdoor is just as sophisticated as the indoor. Anything

that you can do outdoors you can do indoors.”

More sustainable products

Textiles are a resource-heavy industry. It takes a tremendous amount of water and energy to produce them. There aren’t many good ways to recycle fabric. Many in the industry are actively looking for ways to be more sustainable. Libeco became carbon neutral in 2018 and plans to further invest in green technology. According to Richardson, the company is looking for ways to minimize energy consumption and utilizes only wind and solar power—something that’s provided it with huge cost savings. Expect to see more firms following in their footsteps as it becomes more economically viable and more in line with customer values. Demand for recycled textiles is on the rise, DiFoggio says, and companies are responding. “It’s harder to recycle fabric when you have blends, unless you know exactly what the components are, but if you’re using a very pure product or very simple blends, it’s very simple to recycle that product into its raw yarn state again,” says Richardson. “Our remnants and offcuts we can upcycle for sure, or other industries can use the fibers. They can go into insulation and cardboard and paper manufacturing.” Textile makers are looking into ways they can upcycle unwanted products. “The Gifted Company takes all of the leftover scraps from several ITA members and makes aprons and tote bags,” says DiFoggio. The program also provides job training for disadvantaged people. “Upcycled for Hope takes the leftovers and makes and sells these beautiful cosmetic bags and tote bags.” Proceeds from their sales support cystic fibrosis and epilepsy research. More manufacturers like Coyuchi are engaging in circular economy initiatives to ensure their products can be reused or recycled when customers are finished with them. Companies like Millican are making polyester and other synthetic fabrics from recycled plastic water bottles. Expect to see new innovations in this area in the coming years, as there is research into topics such as fiber recycling and waterless dying happening right now.

Unusual materials

One potential way to make textiles less wasteful is to use renewable resources or waste materials from other industries. Richardson is familiar with fabrics made from water lilies, banana peels, algae, fungi and soy protein. Italian manufacturer Vagea is manufacturing a vegan leather from

grape must (the collection of seeds and skin left at the end of the winemaking process). Multiple companies turn milk byproducts into silky fabrics. The consulting firm Material Connexion maintains a database of innovative textiles and other materials designers can use for projects.

Infused fabrics

A difference type of “performance” fabric is textiles infused with a beneficial oil or other material. Libeco can put aloe into linens and cottons destined for bedding. “Infusing sheets with aloe provides softening properties and skin-enhancing technology as you sleep,” says Richardson. “It adds softness to the textile, but it’s more about the benefits for human skin.” Devan, a Belgian company that develops finishing chemicals for textiles, can add microcapsules filled with beneficial oils to fabrics. Its aromatherapy product can be filled with oils that smell good and help promote sleep. Scents can even be customized to different regions. Devan’s Purissimo technology contains microcapsules filled with probiotics that help control allergies to dust or pet dander. The capsules break when friction is applied, but a dog or cat rubbing against the fiber may be enough to release the oils, says CEO Sven Ghyselinck. Richardson cautions buyers to ask questions about the washability of infused fabrics, as well as how long and for how many washes the infusion will last. Results may vary based on the technology used to do the infusion.

Cannabis in your curtains?

Probably not, but it has crept into other home products. ZBD bills itself as the world’s first CBD-infused mattress. The mattress’s cover contains microcapsules filled with CBD oil that break open with friction, like that from a person lying down or moving in their bed. In addition to anti-inflammatory properties, CBD has been shown in multiple studies to help people sleep better, said CEO Joe Iuliano. But the oil must be absorbed through the skin or ingestion to be effective, which is why it’s more likely to succeed in bedding than draperies. The more likely hemp product to make its way into curtains is the fiber. Hemp has moved beyond the nubby, neutral-color fiber people may picture and can also be used to make products with the texture of silk, canvas, fleece, denim and stretch fabric. In any form, it’s ideal for customers leaning into the natural fiber wave. V



industry : 20 under 40

The Future Looks Bright:

Window Fashion VISION Names Inaugural 20 Under 40 Class

Room design by Tartan and Toile. Fabrication by Main Line Window Décor. Photo by Jon Friedrich

This year, Window Fashion VISION launched a program dedicated to recognizing up-and-coming leaders in the window covering industry. The Window Fashion VISION 20 Under 40 Awards will be given every year to young people who exhibit great leadership, skill and promise for moving the industry forward over the next 50 years. We’re proud to present this year’s winners.

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Alicia Acosta Owner Hazel Slate, Indianapolis, IN After graduating from Ball State University, Alicia Acosta worked as a seamstress at a nearby window treatment company. Within six months, she had worked her way up to workroom manager. When that company changed ownership, she decided to transfer her passion for sewing and interior textiles to her own business. Hazel Slate has become a multifaceted workroom offering draperies, other soft and hard treatments, reupholstery services and more.

Lance Bracey Regional Sales Manager Mermet USA, Cowpens, SC Lance Bracey is described by Mermet CEO John Fryc as “one of the most professional and talented individuals I have ever worked with in the window treatment industry.” His technical knowledge of textiles and roller shades is unparalleled, and his willingness to share that knowledge means he’s developed a number of loyal fans among his customers and colleagues.

Gil Breef Founder and CEO Shades By Design, Miami, FL Gil Breef began his window treatment career by founding New York Window Fashion, which is still one of the city’s leading companies for custom window treatments. In 2014, he founded his second company, Shades By Design, with the goal of expanding his services outside of the United States. The company has grown to become one of south Florida’s largest custom window treatment retailers, with more than $4 million in annual sales.

Cali Cochran National Account Manager Forest Drapery Hardware, Cartersville, GA Cali Cochran started at Forest Drapery Hardware straight out of college. She quickly showed great promise as a salesperson. After completing the company’s management training program, she began managing a small regional territory. In two and a half years, Cochran had quadrupled sales in her states and was given a more significant territory with some of the largest players in the window covering industry. She is now national account manager for Forest. V ISION |


industry : 20 under 40

Sara Lynn Brennan CEO Sara Lynn Brennan Interiors, Waxhaw, NC Sara Lynn Brennan is described as an “entrepreneur on the rise.” She is a skilled designer who understands the value of window treatments and makes them an integral part of her designs. She is a great partner with workrooms, respecting their expertise and treating projects as a true collaboration. Brennan serves as a brand ambassador for WCAA and has spoken on panels at High Point Market, IWCE Virtual and other events.

Darin Filhaber Director of Sales and Marketing The Marquis Design Group, West Palm Beach, FL Darin Filhaber is responsible for marketing and advertising at her family’s window treatment company. She deals with clients and handles a majority of the administrative responsibilities in the office. The firm is in the process of opening a new shade business and she has led that effort, arranging for marketing material and setting the overall tone. Her colleagues describe her as detailoriented and able to bring the showroom to life.

Jessica Harling Owner Behind the Design, Chicago, IL Jessica Harling started her window covering career as the showroom manager at her family’s business, Drapery Connection. After advancing into a management role—where she was involved in recruiting new employees and providing them with training— she realized how hard it was to recruit and retain staff. She started Behind the Design to help other companies find good employees and develop processes to keep them.

Anthony Iannone Vice President Window Trends NJ, Morris Plains and Chatham, NJ Anthony Iannone is the driving force behind Window Trends’ continued growth. In 2016, he opened up their second, state-of-theart showroom. He is a certified Hunter Douglas consultant and has expertise in serving both residential and commercial customers. He is a person who puts a smile on everyone’s face.

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William Linn Workroom Manager The Marquis Design Group, West Palm Beach, FL William Linn worked at a workroom during his summers home from college. He continued to work there after graduating until he made his way to Marquis. He started as a sewer but eventually worked his way up to workroom manager. He loves building custom ottomans, cornices, bed frames and other pieces. The bigger the challenge, the more eager he is to solve the mathematical equation necessary to complete the project!

Sherica Maynard Interior Designer Interior Design by S&S, Decorating Den, Conyers, GA Sherica Maynard is an immensely creative designer who uses her BFA in architectural design from Parsons and her background in fashion to design creative and exciting projects. She believes in quality, doing everything she can to ensure her clients get custom products they will cherish. Maynard is also one of Window Fashion VISION ’s Window Fashion Influencers for 2020.

Max Nguyen CEO World Wide Wood, Dallas, TX Max Nguyen was instrumental in bringing World Wide Wood, the only window shutter components manufacturer in Vietnam, to the American market. Although he’s still young himself, Nguyen is extremely passionate about passing down knowledge to younger generations and is invested in providing training and professional development opportunities for those around him. He is described as patient, helpful and kind and regularly gives back to charities overseas.

Gladys Payne Order Department Manager Shades By Design, Miami, FL Gladys Payne is described as “the force that’s allowed Shades By Design to become the company it is today.” She was the company’s first employee and is now managing the entire business. She has trained over 30 employees, instilling each with a passion for the company, its products and its customers. She is constantly attending training sessions to further her window treatment education and support the people around her.



industry : 20 under 40

Aaron Preusser Co-Owner/Senior Sales Consultant Shutterhawk Blinds and Design, Wilmington, NC Aaron Preusser spent more than eight years working as an installer and window covering sales professional before opening Shutterhawk Blinds and Design with his wife, Amy, in 2019. Preusser is described as a hard worker who is dedicated to customer service and educating himself so he can always provide people with the best products for their needs. He is a good leader who treats his employees well and works closely beside them.

Christina Price Owner Main Line Window Decor, West Chester, PA The colleague who nominated Christina Price calls her an integral part of the local window treatment community. She has a natural design eye, great attention to detail and is generous with information, regularly sharing ideas on social media and helping her colleagues when they have questions. She also shares her knowledge through participating in educational roundtables and speaking on podcasts.

Lindsey Putzier Interior Designer Eclectic Interiors, Hudson, OH Lindsey Putzier is known for her distinctive and colorful window treatments. The person who nominated her described her as talented, creative, strong, determined and generous, and always willing to share lessons and expertise with fellow designers through social media and in person. This colleague also called Putzier “one of the smartest people I know” and said she expects she’ll be speaking and sharing her talent even more over the coming years.

Javier Rodriguez Founder and CEO Shade Studio, McAllen, TX Javier Rodriguez comes from a family of window covering professionals. At the age of 17, he attended his first International Window Coverings Expo. Not long after that, he started his own company, Shade Studio, in McAllen, TX. People in this area of Texas are often not willing to invest in quality window treatments, but Rodriguez is slowly changing their minds, bringing them around to the idea of fashionable, unique window coverings.

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Jordan Silver Managing Partner, Lead Installer and Marketing Specialist Blinds Shade and Shutter Factory, Warrington, PA Jordan Silver started working for his family’s firm, Blinds Shade and Shutter Factory, when he was only 14 years old. He’s now been employed there for half of his life and has become a trusted friend and mentor to many of the people who work there. He is described as a true one-of-a-kind solution specialist with a strong focus on customer service.

Rafe Tawil VP of Commercial Friedland Shades, Keyport, NJ Tawil is a longtime employee of his family’s firm and brings enthusiasm and commitment to his job. He is described by his colleagues as an outstanding, visionary leader with knowledge well beyond his years. He is personable, hardworking and responsive. Tawil is always honest and upfront with all of his dealers, which creates a tremendous business relationship and even better friendships.

Karla Teuffer Chief Financial Officer Hotel Drapery and Bedding, San Diego, CA Karla Teuffer has brought tremendous energy, ideas and expertise since joining her family’s company. The firm specializes in window treatments and soft coverings for hospitality companies—an industry that’s been hard-hit during the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite that, the firm is having its busiest year to date so far. Teuffer has developed a tremendous following online by publishing regular articles on LinkedIn, and is known for establishing strong personal and professional relationships with her clients.

Daniel Patrick White Designer, Motorization Specialist and Certified Installer Blinds Etc., Rathdrum, ID Dan White started working for his family’s window treatment company a year ago, but he’s already been the driving force behind many positive changes. He designed a new website, introduced new product lines, helped open a new showroom and expanded sales beyond the local area. His willingness to take initiative and tackle unusual projects has helped the company grow into new niches and increase business substantially. V



industry : forest drapery hardware

Mercury Ultimate Mount roller shades offer a designer look and finish options. These shades can be cord drawn or motorized.

ABOVE: DS Track has a sleek curved profile and the same high-quality powder-coated finish plus patented lubrication as expected in a Forest track system. Looks great with today’s popular ripplefold drapery. BELOW: The ultimate combination of beauty and functionality, the Dresden Motorized Collection comes in this gorgeous brushed gold and three other finishes. Pair with a Shuttle motor and control by remote, wall switch, app or a gentle tug.

The KS Track is how it all started back in the `70s when Henk Bosgoed developed this system and began the company that is now Forest Drapery Hardware.

In 2012, founder Henk Bosgoed and his wife Dana joined Steve Wright and the Forest team for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the company’s new 40,000-square-foot facility.

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Strong Roots, Strong Support Keep Forest Successful A strong focus on quality products and customer service has helped Forest Drapery Hardware remain an industry leader for 25 years BY SOPHIA BENNETT The story of Forest Drapery Hardware begins once upon a time in a land not so far away. Henk Bosgoed, an enterprising young Dutch man, started an upholstery and soft furnishing materials business from the back of a truck in the 1970s. Within 10 years, he was the largest wholesale distributor in the Benelux region, which includes the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Try as he might, Bosgoed could never find a curtain track system he liked, so he finally developed one himself. The Forest KS Track System was so popular that in 1995, Bosgoed sold the soft furnishing materials business so he could focus on drapery products full time. The company opened its first U.S. operation the same year. (The company gets its name from its founder; “Bos” means “forest” in Dutch.) Today, the company has subsidiaries on three continents and has expanded its product line dramatically. “We are the only manufacturer offering a full range of drapery hardware products, including tracks, decorative pole sets and traversing rods, roller shades and motorization across all categories,” says Steven Wright, the company’s current president. In addition to Bosgoed’s original aluminum extrusion tracks for residential and hotel draperies, Forest led the development of traversing ripplefold systems. Decorative traversing rods are available in a variety of shapes, including round, rectangle, square, “C” and oval. The RBS Roman Blind System has a clutch that will pull up to 18 pounds of fabric. Designers looking for decorative metal pole sets have a new option in the Glasgow Collection, which combines metal accents with acrylic poles.

Forest is one of few firms that continues to offer wood drapery hardware. “While we have seen competitors eliminate wood hardware from their line due to lagging demand, Forest will continue to include wood as part of its mission to be a one-stop shop,” says Wright. The growth in motorization is one of the biggest trends Wright has seen during his tenure at Forest, and the company has gone all in on this category as well. Top products include the FMS track, which comes in black or white and can be curved or straight; FMS Plus, which has a recess

mount option; the Dresden Motorized Decorative Metal Collection, which combines style and functionality; and the RBS roman blind system and roller shades. “Four Forest Shuttle motor options suit any environment,” says Wright. They can be operated by touch control, remote control, wall switch or automation system. All come with a 10-year warranty, something offered only by Forest. The newest addition to the company’s products is roller shades. The Apollo collection offers a single and double direct mount or cassette roller shades. “Mercury is our designer collection, with chain or motor operation, designer finishes and a variety of mounting options,” says Wright. Shades in the Atlantis system include full blackout fabric and heavy-duty motor operation.

One of the things that made Bosgoed’s original business excel was his focus on customer service. That’s something that has never changed, says Wright. “We have a team of inside and outside sales folks working together to serve customer needs. We provide sales and technical advice and support over the phone.” The company offers in-person trainings for people who are new to the products. That’s supported by a website with an extensive library of support documents and a YouTube channel with videos that provide installation and programming tips for the company’s products. Forest also prides itself on keeping an excellent inventory position. “We have a 40,000-square-foot warehouse space with product ready to ship from Atlanta,” says Wright. “Plus, we stock with distributors across the United States to save time and shipping costs. Component orders received by noon can ship same day. Assembled orders ship in seven to 10 business days.” Need a custom finish? No problem. The company offers custom painting and staining. For the past few months, Wright has been focused on making Forest stronger at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has reorganized the warehouse, developed new time-saving procedures in the assembly areas and created new video content for technical support. “Although we have been lucky to stay open and continue to serve our customers, we have had some downtime to reflect and make improvements within the company,” he says. “It is an exciting time for Forest as we celebrate the first 25 years of business and make plans for a strong next 25.” V




inspiration : workroom competition winners

Find out who received our annual Designer of the Year and Workroom of the Year awards at

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2020 VISION WORKROOM Competition Awards

The workroom is the heart of the window fashion industry in many ways—and it’s easy to see how the winners of this year’s VISION Workroom Competition Awards poured their hearts and copious talents into these very special projects. Enjoy your look at this year’s recipients and their phenomenal projects. For a complete list of the winners of the VISION Design & Workroom Competition Awards, as well as interviews with the Designer of the Year and Workroom of the Year recipients, visit



inspiration : workroom competition winners

Tracie Bresnahan Custom Creations 1st Place, Bedding & Pillows This project was a collaboration between Bresnahan and designer Beverly Baribault of Beverly Baribault Design Group, who worked together on a designer showhouse to raise money for a local children’s shelter. Bresnahan fabricated the bedding and pillows. Notable pieces include the front velvet accent pillow, which includes two rows of historical tassel trim, and the mohair euro shams, which complement the standout wallcovering behind the bed.

Melissa Hammann Riviera Decor 2nd Place, Bedding & Pillows Hammann’s teenage client had planned a dream bedroom filled with zebra-print fabric, crystal bling and loads of pom-poms. A custom-built and upholstered daybed is highlighted by a monogrammed cornice with crystal studs and a zebra canopy. The black velour banding along the top of the daybed and leading edge of the bed draperies complement the design. Drapery panels with pom-pom trim on the leading edge and black velour banding frame the window.

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Sigita Nusbaum Delaney Window Fashions, LLC 1st Place, Combination Treatments Nusbaum’s client came to her with two antique brass cornices, which he envisioned incorporating into window treatments for his office. An antique rug inspired the color scheme and design. Fabrication came with its own challenges, including matching the pattern on the pelmets and the roman shades and getting the right proportions on all three pieces of the treatment. But the client loved the final result, which reflects his personality and passion for antiques.

Tracie Bresnahan Custom Creations 2nd Place, Combination Treatments The goal for this beautiful dining room, designed by Beverly Baribault of Beverly Baribault Design Group, was to maintain the view while providing protection from the sun. The drapery panels are blackout-lined to protect them from sun damage and maximize the color and beauty of the fabric. The solar shade is motorized with a Somfy motor and has a 5 percent opacity. The nailhead-studded cornice provides a crowning accent to this simple yet appealing window fashion trio.



inspiration : workroom competition winners

Tina Fontana Fontana Designs 1st Place, Curtains & Draperies Rather than placing a basic shower curtain in this unique bathroom, the design team decided to ceiling-mount a board-mounted valance at the entrance to each shower. The color scheme in the client’s bedroom, which came from several framed pieces of vintage veterinary artwork, inspired the red valances trimmed with black banding. Gray tones in the curtains complement the tile in the shower and soften the overall look.

Olga Polyanskaya Drapery Expressions and Blinds, LLC 2nd Place, Curtains & Draperies Polyanskaya’s clients wanted contemporary drapes in neutral colors to make their dining room appear more expansive. The panels were mounted closer to the ceiling and outside of the frame to draw attention up and out from the windows. To hide the difference in the windows’ heights, faux roman shades were installed under the panels. To tie the two treatments together, a white portion of the striped fabric in the finger-pleat drapery header was incorporated into the vertical border on the leading edge.

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Jennifer Linds Lyn’s Draperies 1st Place, Ingenious Installations Linds’ client wanted a functional drapery to divide an open-concept loft and create a private space for yoga and meditation. But midway through the design process, the general contractor decided he would not allow the designer’s original plan to drill into the thick steel beams and mount brackets there. Instead, the designer created double saddle brackets to hold the front and back rods in place. The outer rod extended past the steel beam and used welded spot rings to hold the stationary panels in place. The back hardware was inside-mounted to give the rod the necessary support.

Tracie Bresnahan Custom Creations 2nd Place, Ingenious Installations The designer wanted a very large upholstered headboard and bed frame in this bedroom, but the wall was too large for one headboard. Instead, the team created a series of upholstered boards that would surround a tufted headboard, creating a custom bed wall. Motorizing the drapery panels allows the homeowner to program certain windows to open and close at certain times of the day for privacy and sun protection.



inspiration : workroom competition winners

Elizabeth Gerdes Stitch Above the Rest, LLC 1st Place, Specialty Window Fashions Each of the windows in this circular dining room was a different size, as were the wall spaces around them. The client wanted privacy and a finished design that made the windows look symmetrical. Gerdes made a layer of individual sheer panels that could open and close as needed, and also stack neatly under neighboring panels when opened. The stationary drapery was calculated so that each panel matched in fullness but not necessarily in size. Each was patternmatched to the cornice.

Vita Vygovska Vitalia, Inc. 2nd Place, Specialty Window Fashions The goal of this project was to balance out this twostory family room while adding drama and excitement. After considering many options, Vygovska chose long and dramatic drapery panels. To mitigate the risk of overwhelming the room with too much verticality, she used a three-part blocking technique and aligned each fabric block with each window. Piping between each block adds a touch of customization. Double top-tack pleating in the header, napped sateen lining in the back and understated metal hardware round out the project.

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Olga Polyanskaya Drapery Expressions and Blinds, LLC 1st Place, Top Treatments A cornice board accented with black diamond nailheads and side panels in gray and platinum provide a dramatic look to this dining room. The cornice had to be railroaded to eliminate the appearance of vertical seams and ensure the pattern wouldn’t be interrupted. The middle part was made shorter to show off the roman shade folds and make the cornice appear lighter. Underneath the cornice, ripplefold panels were attached on short stationary traverse rods to ensure perfect, smooth folds from top to bottom. Faux roman shades hide the wall above the windows.

Sigita Nusbaum Delaney Window Fashions, LLC 2nd Place, Top Treatments This home, which was part of the Underground Railroad, had two large windows that provided plenty of light during the day but no privacy at night. The client ordered antique Victorian sheeted brass cornices to include in the window treatments. The challenge was to come up with a design that had historical decorative elements but also added privacy and elegance. Nusbaum fabricated shaped pelmets with soft bells, and added functioning roman shades and crowning pelmets to the cornices.



inspiration : workroom competition winners

Leigh Anderson Willow Drapery & Upholstery 1st Place, Upholstery & Slipcovers This 100-year-old Victorian-style bench was acquired by the client’s father-in-law in New Zealand. The wooden frame was cracked and being held together by the upholstery, so it was no longer functional as a seat. Once the piece was repaired, the exposed wood on the frame and the carved Eastlake-style frets were stripped, and the bright mahogany finish was swapped with a subtle steel gray lacquer. The steel gray chenille upholstery, accented with jacquard cut velvet, provided a calming antidote to the bench’s original ornateness.

Tracie Bresnahan Custom Creations 2nd Place, Upholstery & Slipcovers The owners of this home wanted a unique look in their back entrance and a clever area for storage. Bresnahan began with a handcrafted bench seat, then added a tailored, upholstered faux-leather seat cushion. The shiplap walls needed more softness and interest, so the next step was to create customshaped wall boards for the back of the bench, which were carefully upholstered with the faux leather and hand-applied nailheads in a coordinating pattern.

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inspiration : how-to

How to Construct a Mitered Double Flat Flange Pillow BY ROSE MARY LEBLANC AND AMANDA SMITH, SEAMLESS WORKROOM Fabricating a stunning pillow sham that will showcase your skills and please both designers and clients alike is easier than you might believe with some easy-to-follow instructions. The square pillow measures 19 inches by 19 inches with a 2-inch flat mitered flange and a 20-inch square down-blend insert. The face fabric is a print with a solid back and a double flange around the edge. This mitered corner fabrication method is fast and easy. All it requires is a steam iron and a right-angle square.



inspiration : how-to

Measuring and Cutting BACK OF SHAM: Measure and cut the back fabric 23½ inches by 23½ inches and mark all the fold lines according to the diagram. FRONT OF SHAM: Measure and cut the face fabric 20 inches by 20 inches. Out of the contrast fabric, cut four strips that measure 5 inches by 30 inches.

Prepare the Flanges and Face Fabric STEP 1: Take each flange piece and fold in half. Press to set the fold.

STEP 2: Lay the face fabric, front piece facedown,

on the worktable. Fold in seam allowance and press. It will be easier to stitch the final seams later on if pressing is done now.









STEP 3: Center the flange pieces on each side of the face fabric seam allowance. Pin the flange pieces to the seam allowance, leaving several inches open at the corners. STEP 4: At the corners, fold back each flange to

form a right angle as shown. Check the angle with a right-angle square.

STEP 5: Press flange corners flat. STEP 6: Open out flange corners and mark the pressed lines. STEP 7: Match marked fold lines. Pin. Stitch on sewing machine. Trim seam allowance. Fold along fold lines. Pin the corners to the face fabric and machine stitch.

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Prepare the Sham Back STEP 8: Refer back to the sham back diagram. Press along all the fold lines. Turn under the corners.

STEP 9: Fold in each side to form a right angle. STEP 10: Sew the invisible zipper to front and back





as you normally do.

STEP 11: After the zipper in sewn in, place both layers flat on the worktable, wrong side to wrong side. Pin front to back, lining up all sides. STEP 12: Machine sew along face fabric. V






Product Showcase Ona Drapery Hardware Company is your source for custom made drapery hardware. From contemporary to traditional, we offer an extensive selection of styles and finishes. We manufacture every rod set to order using only premium heavy gauge steel, wrought iron, crystal and more. Custom curving is available for all rod profiles. Be sure to look at our new Acrylic Rods, Art Glass finials and Polished Chrome finishes in addition to our popular French Rods and ONAVERSE™ Iron Cord Traverse Rods. We pride ourselves on quality workmanship, timely delivery and customer satisfaction. Select Ona Drapery Hardware and order with confidence. For a free catalog please call 800/231-4025 or visit our website at

The Modern Barn Rail Track marries function and fashion that complements any décor. The solid flat iron 1-1/2” track accommodates hand drawn one way or split draw pinch pleat draperies up to 18 feet wide. Rectangular forged “C” rings seamlessly slide over concealed wall mounted brackets. The track is available in 35 hand crafted finishes or specialty chrome and nickel metal plating. | 877.476.6278

Uni-Soleil new roller clutch are smoother, easy go and much quieter. With complete range of roller collection in the world with USA patent, we can advance your roller blind to high end class. The standard colors are in white, black, ivory, grey and brown. We offer full solution in window blind industry. Please contact Uni-Soleil for further information. or visit

Surewin – Quality components at competitive pricing from our Florida warehouse. Custom sourcing available. Plastic bead chain in rolls or continuous loops; numerous colors in all lengths, nickel plated and stainless chain in rolls and continuous loops in all lengths, stop balls, connectors, safety devices, c-clips, alligator clips, tassels, lift cord, vertical components, cord locks, and the easy-to-fabricate, lowprofile Sure-Lift® Roman Headrail System for shades up to 50 lbs. Get our new catalog! Contact:, tel: 239/362-3342, fax: 239/362-1383

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In Our Next Issue… 2020 was quite a year! In the November + December issue of Window Fashion VISION, we’ll have a look back at the year gone by and share some predictions for 2021. Curious about what colors will be popular as we head into the next year? We’ll have our annual look at color trends and how to best use various hues in homes. As the holidays approach, JoAnne Lenart-Weary will share ideas for celebratory décor. Manufacturers will present the latest in hardware trends, plus our columnists will offer plenty of business advice you can use and share.

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