& INSPIRED DESIGN
VOLUME 43, ISSUE 4 JULY + AUGUST 2021
WINDOW TREATMENTS TAKE CENTER STAGE IN HOME AUTOMATION
Meet the Recipients of This Year’s VISION Design Competition Awards
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LEADS How One Retailer Nearly Doubled Sales in a Year
A NEW STANDARD
The Latest in Performance Fabrics
SMART WINDOW COVERINGS
W I N D OW T RE AT ME NTS
& INSP IR E D DE SIGN
W IND OW FASHION V ISION MAG A ZINE President | Grace McNamara firstname.lastname@example.org
V IS I ON W
Editor-in-Chief | Sophia Bennett email@example.com Vice President | Ania McNamara firstname.lastname@example.org
WIND OW TREA TMEN TS & INSP IRED DESI GN
Graphic Designer | Randy Palmer email@example.com
WINDOW TREATMENTS TAKE
CENTER STAGE IN HOME AUTOMAT
Copy Editor | Maude Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org
Marketing Coordinator | Hannah Grisack email@example.com Accounting | Kim Rick firstname.lastname@example.org Editorial Contributor | Gail Gutsche email@example.com
CONT RIBUT ORS IN T HIS ISSUE Sophia Bennett, Jude Charles, Melissa Galt, Amber De La Garza, Hannah Grisack, Gail Gutsche, Will Hanke, O’D McKewan, LuAnn Nigara, Taryn Pearce, Michele Williams
DESIG NERS IN T HIS ISSUE Jill Ballew, Kim Boynton, Brandi and Samantha Day, Barbara Elliott, Elizabeth Gerdes, Kathleen Glynn, Keely Hersh, Madeline Kavanaugh, Kirsten McCoy, John McElroy, Emma Messerschmidt, Brenda Miller, Olga Polyanskaya, Marni Sugerman, Sunny Sun, Jennifer Ward-Woods, Amy Wolff, Katherine Wozniak, Lori Yanez
SUBSCRIPT IONS 877.344.7406 • WFVision@pubservice.com 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, 4707 Hwy 61 N #255, St Paul, MN 55110, Tel 651-330-0574. Visit our website at wf-vision.com. Periodicals postage paid at St Paul, MN and additional mailing offices. Postmaster: Send address changes to Window Fashion VISION, 4707 Hwy 61 N #255, St Paul, MN 55110. Allow 60 days for address change. Subscription rates: $22/yr. U.S. and possessions; $29/yr. Canada; $90/yr. Foreign (includes airmail postage). Copyright © 2021 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. July + August 2021, Volume 43, Issue 4.
VOLUME 43, ISSUE 4 JULY + AUGUST 2021
Social Media Coordinator | Corina Buzdugan firstname.lastname@example.org WINNING WAYS
Meet the Recipients of This VISION Design Competition Year’s Awards
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LEADS How One Retailer Nearly Doubled Sales in a Year
A NEW STANDARD
The Latest in Performance
JULY + AUGUST 2021 VOLUME 43, ISSUE 4
ON THE COVER: Marni Sugerman with Decorating Den Interiors used motorized roller shades by Comfortex, fabricated with Phifer 5000 solar screen and operated by Simplicity motors with a 14-channel remote control, for this home in New York. It took second place in the Motorization category at this year’s VISION Design + Workroom Competition Awards. Learn more about all of our Design Competition winners beginning on page 64. Photo by Vic Wahby of Vic Wahby Photography.
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V ISION |
contents : volume 43, issue 4
in this issue INSIGHT 22
Mentorship: The Key to a Strong Business at Every Stage
How to find a coach or mentor who will hold you accountable and help your company grow.
Automating Your Customer’s Journey
Making certain market tasks automatic will increase sales, customer satisfaction and your productivity.
by Will Hanke
by LuAnn Nigara
9 Reasons to Go Digital with Your Task List
Putting your task list online will make many aspects of your life easier.
by Amber De La Garza
The Importance of Creating a Budget and Managing Cash Flow
These tools will help you plan and manage your business more effectively.
by Michele Williams
8 | JULY + AUGUST 2021
Utilize a Video to Boost Your Business—in More Than One Way
Leverage one quality video into multiple interactions with consumers.
by Jude Charles
V ISION |
contents : volume 43, issue 4
in this issue INDUSTRY
Somfy: Setting the Gold Standard for Quality and Reliability Insights into this global manufacturer from President-CEO Yilmaz Ozturan.
Lessons in Leadership An interview with Steve English, CEO of One World Shutters. by Sophia Bennett
MotionBlinds: A Smarter Way of Living
The new motorization concept from Coulisse is perfect for the modern consumer. by Hannah Grisack
High Point Market Update Trends from the spring market will delight your clients. by Melissa Galt
SPECIAL SECTION: MOTORIZATION AND HOME AUTOMATION
How Beltway Blinds in Maryland supercharged sales and profits by focusing on lead generation. by Sophia Bennett
Manufacturers answer your queries about motorized window treatments. by Sophia Bennett
The many ways to make motorized window treatment projects attractive as well as functional. by Sophia Bennett
It’s All About the Leads
Performance Ready Colors, pattern, features and other trends in performance fabrics. by Taryn Pearce
10 | JULY + AUGUST 2021
Your Motorization Questions, Answered
Introduction to Hard Wiring for Motorization
Learning some basic terms and ideas will make hardwired motorization projects go much smoother. by O’D McKewan
The Next Frontier of Motorization
Large projects and home automation provide opportunities for experienced motorization professionals. by Sophia Bennett
contents : volume 43, issue 4
in this issue I N S P I R AT I O N
Winning Ways Meet the recipients of this year’s VISION Design Competition Awards. by Gail Gutsche
We’ve Got You (Re)Covered
Why right now is an ideal time to get involved in reupholstery. by Taryn Pearce
A word from our publisher.
Letter from the Editor Winning ways
New or Noteworthy Editor and reader picks for top products.
We pull back the curtain on our next issue.
Sunbrella photo courtesy of Trivantage
JULY + AUGUST 2021 | wf-vision.com
welcome : grace note
’ve been reading a lot about the “happiness factor”—what makes us happy and how that has changed for many since 2020. Having
privileges taken away from us for a year has resulted in some interesting findings. We learned a lot about
ourselves, and many of us have reassessed our priorities. Many people now count the quality of their relationships and their health as the most important basics of life.
The pandemic underscored this for me, but so did losing my father last December. His passing was very difficult, but it was made much more difficult by not being able to visit and spend time with him as we had done so often prior
This award-winning project from Lori Yanez at Sheffield Furniture & Interiors in just one of the gorgeous rooms entered in this year's VISION Design + Workroom Competition Awards. See all of the winners beginning on page 64.
to the pandemic. Over the last few months, I’ve made a point of reconnecting with many people that I hadn’t had time (or thought I didn’t have time) to connect with for years. It’s felt so great that I’ve vowed to do a much better job of connecting with people that I care about.
On another note, I hope you enjoy this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together. Motorization has been growing so quickly
With that in mind, it’s with great excitement I’m announcing we will be resuming the International Window Coverings Expo. The next show is scheduled for April 5 to 7, 2022, in Fort Lauderdale. Less than a year from now, we will have the opportunity to get together and share our experiences, knowledge and creativity in person. I can’t wait to see many of you again. Be sure to sign up for our newsletter and
that in addition to O’D McKewan’s regular Motorization Playbook column, we wanted to focus on the latest products and companies that are leading the pack with technology and user-friendly products. You can read our articles on motorization beginning on page 40. One of my favorite times of year is seeing the judging results of our annual VISION Design + Workroom Competition Awards. See the outstanding winning projects beginning on page 64. I wish you fun, relaxation and happiness as we all start to reconnect in person this summer. Warm regards,
check our website,
wf-vision.com, for more information as we develop the details.
14 | JULY + AUGUST 2021
Grace McNamara Publisher email@example.com
The SheerWeave app is available for free download to all mobile devices.
The office has never looked so good.
welcome : letter from the editor
n the day I sat down to write this letter, I was thinking about winning. Part of the
reason is that I’d recently received the news that LuAnn Nigara, our beloved contributor and industry superstar, had just received a gold medal from the Azbee Awards of Excellence (presented by the American Society of Business Publication Editors) for her columns in Window Fashion VISION.
EDITOR ’ S LETTER
I was also thinking about winning because in this issue, we’re showcasing our first set of winners from this year’s VISION Design + Workroom Competition Awards. I hope you’ll enjoy perusing this year’s award recipients beginning on page 64.
In general, it seems like little victories are cropping up everywhere. Over the most recent weekend, we attended our first outdoor event where most people weren’t wearing masks. It was a tangible, refreshing reminder that someday the pandemic will be behind us. The next day, I finished planting my vegetable garden and got brave enough to mow my lawn for the very first time (helping out my sweet husband, who was laid up with an injured foot). Whether it’s a major triumph or a small achievement, success feels good. And I’m confident that this issue is going to be a big success because we’re delivering a ton of really valuable information for you. Our main feat was developing a series of articles on motorization that you’re sure to enjoy. We took 11 of your top
GOLD NATIONAL AWARD
questions on motorization and answered them in an article on page 40. We asked designers for their take on creating impressive projects with motorized treatments on page 50. And for those of you who are looking to do more with motorization—maybe taking on bigger projects or getting further into the growing field of whole home automation—we have a piece you can’t miss on page 53. For the latest installment in our “Lessons in Leadership” series, we talked to football-coach-turned-CEO Steve English of One World Shutters, who offers some impressive insights into management (page 34). We also have an incredible interview with Oliver Schreiber, president and CEO of Beltway Blinds, who shares the secrets to his company’s phenomenal growth over the past year (page 58). Our columnists are also here to help you achieve better results in your company, whether it’s organizing your to-do list (page 26), getting your finances in better order (page 28) or finally digging in to marketing automation (page 24). Now that we’ve reached the middle of the year, you might take a minute to reflect on your wins so far and think ahead to what you want to accomplish the rest of the year. Even if your victories are minor and your goals are small, you’ll feel good if you celebrate yourself and set yourself up for more success into the fall and winter.
Sophia Bennett Editor-in-Chief firstname.lastname@example.org
16 | JULY + AUGUST 2021
Color Lux Window Treatments, available exclusively from Comfortex Window Fashions, is an innovative production-on-demand window coverings collection that coordinates color with cutting-edge design. Color Lux products are designed, manufactured, and assembled in the United States. The Color Lux program begins with 800+ solid colors and over 3,000 designer patterns. The collection includes cellular shades, roller shades, sheer shadings, insulating blinds, as well as a wide range of soft window treatments, including roman shades. We salute our 2020 Partners of the Year for driving Color Lux’s phenomenal growth! We look forward to our continued partnership for years to come.
DISTINGUISHED AWARD WINNERS
ELDEN DRAPERIES, BLINDS AND SHADES
ALANA ADAMS WINDOW TREATMENTS
GALAXY WINDOW COVERINGS
PARTNER OF THE YEAR
PURSUIT OF EXCELLENCE
INNOVATION IN LIVING COLOR
COLOR LUX PLATINUM PARTNERS ALANA ADAMS Window Treatments
COLOR LUX GOLD PARTNERS Blind Factory
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Peachtree Blinds of Atlanta
Sunrise Shutters and Blinds
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Window Fashions Northwest
COLOR LUX SILVER PARTNERS ABC Shades & Blinds
Baron’s Window Coverings
Best Buy Blinds
Blinds, Shade & Shutter Factory
Clinton Paint & Decorating
Drive-In Paint Mart
Hampton Roth Wholesale Shutters
Hansen’s Window Coverings
Interior Designer Services
KC’s Drapery & Blind Design
Maka Blind Co
Midwest Designer Supply
Morrison Drapery & Blinds
Right Choice Window Coverings
The Added Touch
The Blinds Side
For information on becoming a Color Lux Dealer, please email email@example.com.
welcome : new or noteworthy
NEW OR NOTEWORTHY
EDITOR AND READER PICKS FOR TOP PRODUCTS
Are you aware of a product that’s premiering soon? Do you have a favorite product you’d like to tell others about? Let us know! Email New or Noteworthy submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
20 | JULY + AUGUST 2021
ORNAMENTAL IRON, INC.
Orion is Your One Stop Resource for Drapery Motorization
5. 1. Visiontex for Your Outdoor Window Covering and Awning Needs
Visiontex is a leading outdoor solar mesh solution for residential and commercial exterior shading. It utilizes the latest technologies in vinylcoated polyester to ensure long-term outdoor performance and is manufactured to GREENGUARD Gold Certification requirements, so it contains no toxins like lead or mercury. Visiontex is available in a variety of shade factors and a standard width of 126 inches and is supported by a 10-year performance warranty. visiontexusa.com
2. Go Hi-Tech with R-TEC Motorization from Rowley Provide clients with innovative window treatment solutions that fit their budget expectations with R-TEC Automation, the motorized drapery and shade systems from Rowley. R-TEC Automation offers unrivaled design, uncompromising quality and service, and intuitive control options at exceptional price points. Pair it with Rowley’s R-TEC Automation app or smart controls. bit.ly/R-TEC-Rowley 3. Bond Bridge for a Simple, Smarter Home Looking for a powerful, reliable and easy way to automate shades as well as ceiling fans and gas fireplaces? The Bond Bridge is a smart home device that controls a large variety of shade motors, including Somfy RTS, and can be operated from a variety of home automation systems, including Alexa, Google Home and Control4. Use the Bond Bridge Pro for very large installations. bondhome.io
Credit: Joona Fab
No need to specify your drapery automation projects from multiple vendors, Orion is your go-to resource. Take advantage of our full range of drapery motorization for any budget- from entry level to luxury- and for any style – from traditional, eclectic or modern. Our Somfy motor options Movelite 35, Glydea 35e, Glydea 60e and Irismo wirefree motors. We’re in the Know When it Comes to Motorization Orion’s motorized drapery hardware is available in single or double track systems for ripplefolds or pleated headings in 5 powder coated finishes- white, antique bronze, silver, gold and black. Order your hardware with or without rings, your choice of any of our finials and coordinating glides with our ring option. It’s all about the details for us. Our motorized drapery hardware includes finished motor sleeve and end caps, return motor hooks and mitered returns. If your project includes bays, bows or corners- no problem- we can bend your tracks and fascias.
4. ShutterSMART’s Factory Expansion Guarantees Shutters in Weeks, Not Months. With supply chains still backed up and the continued rise in home renovations, waiting months for shutters delivered overseas is simply not an option. ShutterSMART’s brand-new state-of-the-art factory now guarantees rapid order delivery to meet your customers’ needs. bit.ly/shutterSMART
5. PowerShades Releases New Mobile App PowerShades, an industry-leading provider of manual and automated window shades for residential, commercial and hospitality applications, recently introduced a mobile app for controlling, pairing and setting limits for its TruePoE (Power over Ethernet) automated shades and RF automated shades. Users can now use a smartphone to control the brand’s entire line of motorized shades. powershades.com
email@example.com | www.ironartbyorion.com | 877.476.6278
V ISION |
insight : luann nigara
Mentorship: The Key to a Strong Business at Every Stage How to find and utilize a coach or mentor who will hold you accountable and help your company grow BY LUANN NIGARA
’ve had the privilege of working with many business owners through my coaching program, podcast and our live events. One of the biggest problems many of them have is the ability to see the actual challenges and opportunities they have and prioritize a plan to tackle them. This is why mentorship is important. As you are starting your business, the right mentor can help you gain clarity, show you how to avoid mistakes and help you shortcut your way to success. Once you are a wellestablished business owner, a mentor will help you continue to learn and become the be-all and end-all authority on your business. The truth is that none of us builds a business on our own. Not only is that a ridiculous expectation in terms of time and energy, this thinking traps us into doing “all the things” and prevents us from directing our energies into our unique superpowers. Here are the ways mentors can help you whether you’re a brand-new business owner or someone who’s been in the field as long as I have.
JULY + AUGUST 2021 | wf-vision.com
Mentorship at different phases of the business
When you’re first starting out, your “mentor” could actually be a group of colleagues to bounce ideas off. For a yearly membership fee, you can join the Window Coverings Association of America, Interior Design Society, Black Artists + Designers Guild or American Society of Interior Designers. In these organizations, you’ll meet people who are at your level and years ahead of you. Building a network of informal mentors is key to fast-tracking your industry knowledge and business acumen. In addition to associations, a no-cost solution is to approach a colleague and suggest what my friend, San Diego interior designer Rachel Moriarty, coined a “work jam.” If you click with someone you meet at the International Window Coverings Expo (IWCE), LuAnn University or High Point Market, suggest that you meet informally via Zoom on a weekly or monthly basis to hold each other accountable for making measurable improvements in your businesses. For years, my friends, co-authors and fellow podcasters Jamie Lieberman, Amber De La
Garza and Amanda Berlin have met every Friday after finding each other through a podcast conference. These three female CEOs with very different businesses meet virtually to advise each other on strategy, brainstorm ideas, vet opportunities and cheer each other on as well as pick each other up. Talk about the best one-and-a-half hours of your workweek! Sometimes you just ask someone you admire to mentor you. This can be tricky because people are busy, but when you find the right person, magic can happen. Cheryl Luckett of Dwell by Cheryl guided her mentee, Rasheeda Gray of Gray Space Interiors, as she worked through building her business up from a side hustle to full time. When Rasheeda came on my podcast (episode 267), she shared the value of her relationship with Cheryl. Hearing this, Denean Jackson of D’Nicole Decor reached out to Rasheeda and asked her to become her mentor. It was a beautiful cycle of mentorship.
Another option for mentorship is to seek out individualized help with a business coach. In this model, you get all the get,
whereas in the above examples, it is more give and take. That’s where many of my Chairman of the Board clients are. They know they want a personalized approach that is designed for them and helps them focus on the specific things they need to do in order to create the results and success they desire. We are fortunate to have many outstanding coaches and consultants in our industry, including Jessica Harling of Behind the Design; Madeleine MacRae; Kae Whitaker of Kae Whitaker Media Group; Vita Vygovska of Vitalia, Inc.; and Michele Williams with Scarlet Thread Consulting. When you are ready to get serious about your business, investing in one-on-one consulting can be a game changer. Think about it this way: It is possible for every single person in America to select, buy and install custom window treatments without hiring one of us. But how different is the outcome when they do hire a professional? We expect others to invest in a professional to get better results. But do you resist seeking a professional when it comes to helping you and your business get better results? Got you thinking? I hope so.
My community of advisers
After 40 years in business, I’m good at a lot of things. I have built skills that I never imagined I would. I have learned and grown as a person and a business owner. I think the biggest lesson I have learned, though, is not to waste my time trying to figure out something that I know someone in my circle is better at than me. We all have superpowers; the goal is to work in yours and hire or barter others for theirs. I have an informal board of advisers. Of course, it starts with my husband, Vin, and our partner, Bill. We meet biweekly to brainstorm, problem-solve and keep Window Works on track. When I have any issues with employees and hiring, I call my cousin, Eileen Hahn, a leadership consultant and expert on all things hiring and employee-related. When a marketing question comes up, I call Nicole Heymer, CEO of Curio Electro, our website
designer and developer. If I have a crazy idea and I’m not sure it’s on brand, I go to my daughter and soon-tobe podcast host, Christie, who sees what I cannot see. Diana is my guru for social media, who is able to curate my ideas into a coherent message. So, decades into my career, do I need mentorship? Yes. Maybe it doesn’t look like it did at the beginning, but it is there regardless. My mentorship needs have changed over the years, but like they say about kids: little kids, little problems… well, bigger business, bigger problems. All the more reason to have people you can rely on and turn to. Don’t be afraid to ask for guidance. Whether it comes in the form of formal mentorship, a coach, a mastermind, a board of advisers or simply a solid network of friends and colleagues who are happy to help you out, you can find someone to offer advice, help you fill the gaps in your own business strengths and provide assistance in areas that are out of your element. We all need someone to remind us that we have what it takes to decide to be excellent. I know for sure that surrounding myself with smart, savvy people with strengths and wisdom and value to offer has helped me more than I could even say. I am happy and grateful for the community that we have through IWCE, Exciting Windows! and A Well-Designed Business. V LuAnn Nigara is an award-winning window treatment specialist, co-owner of Window Works in Livingston, NJ, and a board member of WCAA. Her highly successful podcast “A WellDesigned Business” debuted in February 2016. She has since recorded more than 600 episodes. WindowWorks-NJ.com/podcasts Facebook: WindowWorksNJ Twitter: WindowWorks_NJ Instagram: WindowWorks
V ISION |
insight : will hanke
Automating Your Customer’s Journey Making certain marketing tasks automatic will increase sales, customer satisfaction and your productivity
BY WILL HANKE
arketing automation involves using software programs to automate multiple, repetitive marketing tasks across multiple platforms. When it comes to marketing automation, there is no short supply of platforms, apps and tools you can use to make it happen. The problem with implementing a plan, in many cases, is simply analysis paralysis—too many choices. This abundance of options tends to dissuade a business owner from making any choice, for fear it may be the wrong one. Unfortunately, that leaves them in the same predicament that got them thinking about automation in the first place: the need to work smarter, not harder. So, nothing gets done.
JULY + AUGUST 2021 | wf-vision.com
Let’s break down the steps for automating your marketing into manageable segments that correspond with how a customer interacts with your business before, during and after the sale. We call this the customer journey.
Awareness: Automating your outreach
The first step in a customer’s journey is simply letting them know your business exists. This is where most businesses put all their marketing dollars, when, in reality, it’s just one of four areas to do so. The most obvious digital marketing awareness play is social media. Using a tool like Buffer can help you get the word out to multiple platforms with ease.
Take the extra (manual) step to use the new Google Posts, adding in any specials or recent blogs that you’ve written. Google rewards those that use its tools, so take advantage of this when you can. Speaking of Google, we don’t recommend putting all your eggs in the social media basket. A better (yet less glamorous) route is SEO, which will lead to long-term returns for your marketing dollar.
Consideration: Automating the appointment process
Once a prospect is aware of you, what can you do to nudge them into action? This is the point where several avenues of communication need to be employed. First, make sure you provide a phone number that they can call or text. And if they text, someone (or some automation) needs to answer them
back promptly. We also recommend a chat-to-text option on your website to help them answer any presales questions. Communication must be easy, but your website also needs to have great pictures and easy-to-find product information. Every page needs an obvious next step that directs them to the most important page on your site—the appointment page.
TAKE THE NEXT STEPS IN GROWING YOUR BUSINESS
In our industry, appointments make the world go round, so making this step easy and friction-free for a potential customer is crucial. Using a system like Lead Boomerang lets you tie your website to a Google Calendar where customers can pick a time that works best for them, yet leaves you the freedom to add in appointment buffers (drive time), max appointments per day, an easy reschedule function and more. This results in a very easy-to-use and customer-friendly approach to appointment-setting.
Conversion: Nurturing the sale
Once a customer has set an appointment, they should go into an automated nurture campaign. While many businesses won’t communicate with the customer until they show up at the front door, this is a missed opportunity to tell them why they made the right choice. A simple nurture campaign is more than just an email. It could start with an automated text confirmation of their appointment, and another the day before. You could also easily drop a voicemail on their phone thanking them for their business and assuring them that the designer will help them make the best choice for their home. Last, you could shoot a video that thanks them and send that to them via email or text. This shouldn’t be overlooked, as video gives you the ability to showcase a few of your past rooms and really set yourself apart from any other company they may be considering.
Cheerleading: Post-installation automation
After installation, there is still an opportunity for you to use your marketing skills. This is the point where asking for a review becomes very important. Use a system that reaches out to the customer via one or more avenues—email, text and voicemail. Ask for a five-star review and don’t be shy. Getting reviews leads to more exposure. That means more prospects at the top of the customer journey aware of your business, and the cycle starts again. V Will Hanke owns Window Treatment Marketing Pros, a digital marketing firm that helps window covering and awning businesses generate more leads. His 24 years of search experience gives business owners across the U.S. a great advantage in growing in their market.
FIND YOUR TRIBE Join the WCAA today to level up your business with valuable education, industry resources, and a supportive network of like-minded professionals.
BECOME A MEMBER ODAY! WWW.WCAA.ORG
V ISION |
insight : amber de la garza
9 Reasons to Go Digital with Your Task List Putting your task list online will make many aspects of your life easier BY AMBER DE LA GARZA
re you still writing your to-do list on a legal pad? Or does your office look like a tie-dyed mess of brightly colored Post-it Notes reminding you of upcoming appointments and to-dos? It’s time to step into the era of digitization, starting with your task list. Doing this will help you work more efficiently and effectively. Here are nine great reasons to ditch paper and go digital with your task list.
When your tasks are on paper, they tend to multiply rapidly and find homes in random places. A sticky note on your computer screen. A jotted memo on the back of a client file. A reminder on a paper napkin from a lunch meeting. By having your task
26 | JULY + AUGUST 2021
list digitized, you’re able to capture all of your tasks and reminders in one convenient, centralized location.
Always backed up
How would you feel if you misplaced or lost the notebook you wrote down all of your tasks in? Would you freak out? That’s a given. You would also likely struggle to remember your tasks. What if you couldn’t find the contact information of a prospective client you were supposed to call? There went that potential business. If you go digital and activate the appropriate settings, your task list will be backed up online, so you’ll never misplace it or lose it.
Along with digitizing your task list comes the ability to integrate it with your calendar. You can best utilize this feature in two ways. First, if you have a task scheduled
for a particular day, you can clearly see it when you’re inside your calendar scheduling appointments. That serves as a visual reminder that even though you have an open block of time on your calendar, you don’t necessarily have adequate time for a meeting. Secondly, you can use the integrated calendar feature to prioritize tasks based on the time you have between appointments. This ensures you don’t overschedule yourself.
Your inbox is not your task list, so stop treating it that way. If you use your inbox as a task list, you will repeatedly inundate yourself with others’ requests for your time instead of accomplishing what you need to do. Working reactively through your inbox also prevents you from moving forward with what is most important to you.
Since many tasks are initiated from emails, it’s wise to set up one-click integration to easily add pertinent information to tasks during their creation. You can only take advantage of this time-saver if you use a digital task list. This is a strategic time-management method you can use when you process your emails. If you use Outlook, utilize the quick steps to add emails to your task list with just one click.
As entrepreneurs, we’re always on the go. Being able to work remotely has become a necessity. Your tasks and ideas come to you at all times of the day, not just while you’re conveniently sitting at your desk in front of your computer. Having your task list sync to your phone and other devices will enable you to capture tasks as you think of them. It will also provide convenient access to your list so you can view and complete simple tasks while out of the office.
Set up recurring tasks
Never forget a recurring task again. You know, the repetitive ones that fall off your radar but are still necessary, like purging your files, following up with clients or paying bills. Going digital with your task list means anything you want to consistently be reminded to do can be automated as a recurring task weekly, monthly or annually.
Categorizing enables you to quickly prioritize because you can group together similar tasks for greater efficiency. Initially, track the types of tasks you spend your time on and group them as either administrative or revenue-generating. This will help you stay focused on your goals because it forces you to identify the area of your business that will benefit from completing each task and the order in which you should complete them. If you want to take categorizing to another level, you can use specific categories for each project or division in your business.
Ready to take the leap to digital? Your next question might be, “What program will give me all of these great features?” For a beginnerlevel, user-friendly task manager, Microsoft Outlook is great. The software has all of the features mentioned above and more, but it is by no means the only program or app that offers effective task-list management. To optimally benefit from digitizing your task list, though, don’t settle for any program that lacks one of the aforementioned features. If you aim to increase your productivity, you must take advantage of the multiple benefits of operating off a digital task list. The ripple effects could be the game changer you’ve been hoping to find. 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.
TheProductivitySpecialist.com Facebook: TheProductivitySpecialist Instagram: Amber_DeLaGarza
Oftentimes, written task lists are missing the most important information: the due date. If you don’t have a digital task list, you’re probably only creating to-do lists for one day at a time. Any uncompleted tasks then get rolled over (hopefully) to the next day. Many of those tasks don’t need to be accomplished that day or even the next, but your attention is constantly being drawn to them. By assigning due dates to each task on your digital list, you will not need to look at them until the appropriate time, thus freeing up time and energy to focus on things that do require your immediate attention.
Digital task lists are a superior, more efficient method of keeping your task list. Truth be told, there are many days you will not complete all of the tasks you hoped to get done that day. It is super efficient to have those tasks automatically roll over to the next day. Making the move to digital means saying goodbye to rewriting your uncompleted tasks over and over again.
V ISION |
insight : michele williams
The Importance of Creating a Budget and Managing Cash Flow These important financial documents will help you plan and manage your business more effectively BY MICHELE WILLIAMS
any of us are feeling the current hiccups in the supply chain and other disruptions that are making it difficult to complete jobs on time. And with these disruptions, we are not getting paid in a timely manner. The trickledown from this is a cash-flow crunch. Even in a year of healthy supply chains, cash flow can be an issue if not managed closely. That’s why I believe it’s vital to monitor not just a cash-flow statement but a budget that will help you create the most accurate cash-flow statement possible.
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What is cash flow? Simply put, it is the cash coming in and out of your business at any given time. We usually manage cash flow by looking to see what is in our bank accounts. Before each year begins, create a budget for your company. This budget will show how much revenue you expect to come into the company and what income sources are most likely to deliver the funds. In addition to income, note the estimated cost of goods and gross profit derived from this. Then, list each expense category with the estimated amount that will be spent on that item throughout the year. Think of this as a glimpse of what you are expecting your profit and loss statement to look like at the end of the year in summary form.
Now, to create a statement of cash flows, we will look at what is actually coming in and out of your bank accounts at any given time that are working toward this budget you have created. It may be that January is a heavy-expense month, and for someone else, July is their heavy-expense month. A future statement of cash flows allows you to estimate monthly (or whatever time frame you are working with) what will come in and out (flow) through your firm. Knowing this gives you much-needed information on how much money needs to be on hand at any given time for expenses such as payroll and extra money on hand.
Managing to the budget and cash-flow statements each month creates a healthy view of your current financial status. A statement of cash flows is usually managed against your bank account and is created in a spreadsheet format. At the end of each month, after reconciliation, the cash in and out is compared to the estimated in and out for that month. It is good form to update the cash-flow document each month with the actuals and then adjust the future months for anything that needs to be taken into consideration. This adjustment could be higher profits because you sold more than you thought in the time frame, or it could be reduced profits because there were expenses you did not plan on that month. Either way, you are forecasting forward to see what is happening in your business so that you can make decisions with the most current financial information and plans in mind.
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Why does cash flow seem to be crunching more now than ever? Because our clients are often holding on to the final payments until the installs are completed—and we can’t
complete them. This is money that we may have planned to come in for the month of July and now it won’t come in until October. You can start to see the domino effect when these payments pile up and the only way to bring in more money is to take on more work now with upfront payments. One of the first things I do with my clients is look at their cash-flow cycle. How much are they getting up front in a new sale? When are payments due and based on what work product? How much in accounts receivable are they OK with? How do we go about reducing accounts receivable so that we have more money to pay ourselves, our employees and our contractors, and to run the company? Knowing your cash-flow needs each month is also very important. How much available cash do you need on hand to meet the monthly obligations of the firm? Every business owner should know this number. This indicator informs our marketing, sales process and delivery follow-through.
To be able to confidently make decisions about your company, and to know how making a purchase affects the business going forward, create a yearly budget and statement of cash flows, then manage to them monthly. Your understanding of where every dollar goes in your firm will be enlightening and allow you to really manage the finances with ease. V Michele Williams is the owner of Scarlet Thread Consulting, an advisory and coaching firm focused on profitability for the interior design industry. She works with designers to scale and grow their firms with ease so that they can reclaim their time and be paid a consistent salary. She is also the host of the popular podcast “Profit is a Choice.” Learn more about her online class, including Master Your Profit, on her website. ScarletThreadConsulting.com Facebook: ScarletThreadConsulting Instagram: ScarletThreadATL
The E-Series brings modern technology to our beautiful Sheerview Shades.
Each E-Series Sheerview Shade comes motorized with a rechargeable battery, control wand with charging port and a charging brick with charging cable. We have optional upgrades that include wireless Single Channel WINDOW FASHIONS Remote, Wireless Multi-Channel Remote or a Wifi Bridge Connector to control the shade with your phone. Our Envisioning Elegance E-Series motorized products are also available in Fabric Blinds, Cellular Shades and Zebra Shades! www.lantexwindowfashions.com
V ISION |
insight : jude charles
Utilize a Video to Boost Your Business—in More Than One Way Leverage one quality video into multiple interactions with consumers
BY JUDE CHARLES
n the last two issues, I’ve talked a lot about how you can leverage the power of your story to grow your business. First, you learned about the importance of capturing your story on video. Then, you discovered where you can find compelling stories. Today, I want to talk about the most critical part of maximizing your story to grow your business. It boils down to one word: leverage. What is leverage? What does it look like in action? On a very elementary level, leverage is a skill, tool or strategy that helps you over and over again. It only requires you to create it or purchase it once. A forklift is leverage. It helps you pick up or move something heavy to another area without much physical effort. A coffee machine is leverage. You put in water and ground coffee, walk away and, by the time you come back, a cup of coffee is already made. Your story is leverage. It’s a skill or tool that helps you over and over again. All you have to do is create it once and then repurpose it in different ways on multiple platforms in different modes of communication.
Here’s another way to think about leverage. In 1993, Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen published the book “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”
JULY + AUGUST 2021 | wf-vision.com
Their No. 1 goal was to make it on the New York Times Best Sellers list. At that point in their lives, neither had done that before, so Jack went around asking for advice from other authors. One piece of advice stood out from the rest. One author said, “Jack, if you really want to make this book a wild success, you need to do one radio show interview every day for the next five years.” Jack followed his advice, and within 14 months, “Chicken Soup for the Soul” hit the New York Times Best Sellers list. More than that, this one book turned into a series of books that has sold more than 100 million copies. Think about how most entrepreneurs and business owners use the content they create; not just video, but any content, such as a blog, email or Facebook Live. They create it, upload it, share it with their audience once and then move on to the next piece of content. It’s a never-ending game of creating new content just because it’s a new day. Imagine if you spent time creating a high-quality piece of content, like a video showing the behind-the-scenes story of what makes your product or service different from others, and then you spent months (if not years) repurposing and resharing that story with others.
In 2010, I worked with an entrepreneur named Keyshia Ka’oir who was launching a new cosmetics business. I spent six months filming behind the scenes of what she was doing and her vision for this new brand. This resulted in a 10-minute documentary. When she launched the business, she launched the documentary online at the same time. Within 12 months, the business went from $0 in gross revenue to $1 million in gross revenue. How? Using the exact strategy I’m telling you about now. Every day, over and over, Keyshia found new ways and new audiences to share her documentary (her story) with. This strategy has worked for William, the owner of an interior design firm in Pompano Beach, FL. It’s worked for Stefan, a copywriter and serial entrepreneur from Las Vegas. And it’s even worked for Darnyelle, a business coach from New Castle, DE. There are over 70 different ways to leverage one video, but I’ll leave you with five very quick examples you may not be thinking about. • Place the video on multiple pages on your website, such as the About page, Contact page and Services page. • When someone signs up for your email list, create a sequence of emails (let’s say four emails they get over the next four days) that share the video and more information about what it will be like to work with you. Bonus: If you create a series of videos that tells multiple stories, each email in this sequence could be a new video. • When you share the video on social media, schedule it on your calendar to reshare the video every three months. Why? Every day you’re getting new followers, which means there’s a great likelihood that new followers haven’t seen your older posts. • When you’re doing a presentation, play the video before you present. Then, when you follow up with your audience or client, share a link to the video again.
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• Finally, if you want to get booked to speak onstage or as a guest on podcasts, use the video as a tool. Podcast hosts are always looking for fascinating guests who can provide value to their audience. Your story or your unique process would make for great conversation. Tell your story, capture your story on video and, most importantly, share your story with others. Remember, hearing something said a thousand times is not as powerful as seeing it once. V Jude Charles is a filmmaker and brand strategist. For over 15 years, he has been producing stories for purpose-driven entrepreneurs and brands such as Google, Steve Harvey and Coldwell Banker. He digs deep to find compelling stories that no one else knows, and then leverages those stories to scale your business. JudeCharles.co LinkedIn: JudeCharles
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advertorial : the gold standard
SOMFY: SETTING THE GOLD STANDARD FOR QUALITY AND RELIABILITY Somfy has been a trusted leader in the window covering industry since 1969 and has manufactured over 170 million motors for customers in more than 58 different countries in that time. With a mission to “inspire a better way of living accessible to all” and a commitment to providing safe, healthy and environmentally respectful living environment for communities around the world, the brand has created a wide range of motorization solutions that are perfect for any project.
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Yilmaz Ozturan, President-CEO of Somfy North America, provides a snapshot of the company’s many products, as well as information on why becoming a Somfy Expert is a great idea for many retailers and installers.
With all the motorized window treatments growing in popularity, why choose Somfy for motorization?
Somfy is the world’s largest manufacturer of strong, intelligent, quiet motors and control systems for interior and exterior window coverings for both residential and commercial applications. Products powered by Somfy include interior shades, blinds, drapes and projection screens in addition to exterior awnings, rolling shutters and exterior screens. With production capacity of approximately 20 million motors per year and 100 percent of products tested for quality, Somfy is the gold standard for quality and reliability in the industry. Somfy has a product life expectancy of 10 years and proudly includes a five-year full warranty on every product that bears its name.
Is there a “good, better, best” in Somfy motors?
Since every project is unique, Somfy offers a breadth of motors and controls for you to choose from. Residential project needs differ from commercial projects, as do interior and exterior projects. We offer WireFree, plug-andplay and hardwired motor options that range from 12V DC to 120V AC. Somfy’s WireFree motors are 12V DC, eliminate the need for an electrician and offer external battery packs and lithium-ion internal batteries that can also be charged with a solar panel. This solution is great for homes where wiring can be challenging. Somfy’s 24V DC motor ranges offer a transformer for a plug-and-play solution. These motors are excellent where wiring is difficult and you need more lifting power than the WireFree motors. Our hardwired 120V AC motors are preferred for new construction projects and commercial applications since the wiring can be done before the walls are added and they offer the most lifting capacity. Residential and light commercial applications will benefit from Somfy’s Radio Technology Somfy (RTS) products, while our wired bidirectional motors are perfect for larger commercial projects. Somfy’s quiet motors were designed for silence and range from 47 dBA to less than 38 dBA. They are available as AC and DC, with a wide variety of torques and speeds to motorize all interior solutions, including the most demanding in terms of silence. Somfy also offers a wide variety of controls to suit your client’s lifestyle and personal preference. Our controls are compatible with other Somfy-powered products and smart home brands to provide the ultimate in flexibility and performance. Timers can open and close window coverings at certain times of the day and provide a lived-in look while away. Somfy products can even be controlled with a simple voice command or an app on your smartphone or tablet. The Somfy Digital Network (SDN) offers a wide array of control options for commercial buildings while still providing individual occupant control.
What is the “So Open with Somfy” concept?
The smart home market is complex, bringing together the historical players in home automation, agile Internet of Things entrepreneurs and leading internet players. In order to ensure our development in this market, we are convinced that the key is to be at the heart of the home with the multibrand management of essential domestic equipment, but also to make smart home opportunities accessible to as many people as possible by opening up our ecosystem to other objects or services. Our range of products are designed to complement each other to create customizable and scalable solutions that can be used with other brands and home equipment players. Somfy is stepping up the momentum by opening them up to the most important voice assistants and smart home ecosystems, including Amazon’s Alexa, IFTTT, Google Home and others. Faced with the rapid growth of the smart home market and the vast number of players, Somfy wishes to offer everyone the possibility to control motorized products with their preferred home automation brand for their daily use. Having an open technology enables end users to have flexibility and confidence to make future-proof technology investments, and the ability to extend and enhance software to meet their needs. Somfy’s TaHoma gateway uses dual-protocol RTS for current and legacy products and Zigbee technology that’s open and forward looking. Somfy is an active board member of the Connectivity Standards Alliance (formerly Zigbee Alliance), helping define the standards for tomorrow’s smart home.
If a window treatment professional is interested in working with Somfy products, why should they consider becoming a Somfy Expert?
The Somfy Expert dealer program is designed with a single goal: to help your business thrive. It provides access to effective sales tools and specialized marketing materials.
As a Somfy Expert Dealer, you gain access to powerful sales tools that help your clients experience the convenience and elegance of Somfy motorization and control—in their homes and in your showroom. Our new immersive, interactive Somfy Showroom app for tablets and laptops makes it fun and easy to demonstrate Somfy motorization to your clients. Somfy offers its dealers motorization training and a dedicated team of support specialists to help you with each step of your project. In addition to our extensive document library to help you sell and specify your project, we also have a library of technical questions, videos and guides. We offer motorized inhome and showroom displays to assist with educating your clients about the benefits of motorization. Somfy also supplies product and lifestyle images as well as content for your websites and advertisements to help you promote motorization and set your business in motion. Somfy’s website, social channels and marketing campaigns generate high-quality leads every day, giving you the ability to connect with homeowners in your area who are interested in motorized window coverings and other smart home products. Somfy Experts are featured on our “Where to Buy” tool, the starting place for homeowners interested in motorized window treatments. Every Expert also receives a customized profile page on somfysystems.com, where we feature information about your company, hours, photos, videos and more. somfysystems.com V ISION |
industry : lessons in leadership
Lessons in Leadership: Steve English, One World Shutters BY SOPHIA BENNETT
teve English grew up on a small farm in Texas. His father, a police officer, and mother, a teacher, instilled values like hard work and never making excuses in him from a young age. These helped him achieve great success early in life, first as a pole vaulter at Texas State University and then as a high school football coach. They continued to serve him well when he and his wife, Julie, started their own window treatment retail company in Texas. Running his own business helped English learned about every facet of the industry, from sales to measuring and ordering to installation. After just a few years, he took a full-time job as the regional sales manager for Texas and Oklahoma at Norman Shutters. His territory grew as the company expanded, and he eventually moved into an executive role as general manager of Norman’s regional business center in Texas.
English went on to become the executive vice president of PIC Business Systems, then the COO and CEO of Elegant Windows. He also opened his own CRM company, called zoes.com, to help companies manage contacts and business
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as he discussed his thoughts on the window treatment industry and management in general.
What is the biggest challenge facing the window covering industry right now?
The ongoing problems caused by the pandemic, as well as the current worldwide supply chain and logistics challenges, are huge. More than 40 percent of the labor force has vanished due to COVID-19. With fewer workers at the ports, fewer containers can be filled. With fewer drivers for LTL domestic trucks, we’re seeing many issues and delays. processes. In 2018, he began laying the groundwork to enter the shutter business once again. His new company, One World Shutters, offers high-quality hybrid and wood shutters to the trade. Despite his perch at the top spot in the company, he’s never forgotten his parents’ early life lessons. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without the values that I learned early on. It’s who I am, what matters to me and how I approach our work still today,” he says. He riffed on these and other themes
At One World, we have been deploying further local repair and production capabilities to keep up with consumer demands. We must all think on our feet and develop new strategies for how to supply the marketplace in a timely manner.
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industry : lessons in leadership
What do window covering companies need to be thinking about as they look to the future? I believe consumer awareness of window treatments is greater than ever. This awareness will force companies to create and produce products with greater design, quality and value.
I see dot-coms continuing to expand and develop, especially as younger buyers enter the marketplace. Instantly being able to
research, shop and even compare prices will further change the landscape of the industry. Companies are forced to tell their story, explain their value proposition and demonstrate how that leads to consumer confidence. At One World, we are pushing the envelope and constantly challenging ourselves to be better for one another and our customers. Our Hybrid Shutter program and “Shutter Shield” Guarantee, which covers nearly every type of damage including accidental damage, are examples of how
we are evolving with the ever-demanding marketplace.
What does being a good leader mean to you? Being a good leader involves caring more about those around you than yourself. It also means surrounding yourself with great minds and then getting out of their way. It is my job to support and help all of those around me in any way I can.
In addition, I believe no one wakes up in the morning wanting to fail. It is my job to get
Being a good leader involves caring more about those around you than yourself. Make sure your employees know how much you care about them as people. Our motto is “people first, business second.
JULY + AUGUST 2021 | wf-vision.com
people around me in positions where they can succeed. What is the right seat on the bus for each person so they can be successful for themselves and the company? There are times that a person’s seat is not clear. It is my job to lead and find the solution so we all win. Make sure your employees know how much you care about them not just as employees but as people. At One World, our motto is “people first, business second.” The great people we have around us form our ecosystem, and no one has time for that ecosystem to not be anything but outstanding, positive and fun. But while having fun, we work incredibly hard, as nothing is given to anyone in life. The marketplace is much like the playing field in sports. It is a constant competition. Aren’t we fortunate to get off the bench and play with our team each day?
Thanks for bringing up a sports metaphor, because now I can ask this question: What skills from coaching football have you brought to your leadership roles? Coaching is about motivation, planning and direction. It is also about working hard and standing by one another. I truly believe in the goodness and work ethic that each of us has inside. Create a positive culture and work environment by empowering those around you through positive reinforcement. Make sure your vision is clearly communicated and each person knows their part in achieving it.
How do you keep yourself and your team motivated despite conflicts and obstacles?
The love I have for my family, and my desire to build a great future for them and make them proud of my efforts, is my motivation. My family is defined as my personal family and my company family. In my mind, there is no better life than to help those around you have a better future. This past year has been very challenging for all of us. The losses we have seen have been tremendous on so many levels. I believe when you are knocked down, look up, get up and never give up. All any of us can control is how we take the next step forward in life. V
advertorial: MotionBlinds: a smarter way of living
MOTIONBLINDS: A SMARTER WAY OF LIVING
Coulisse Sets the Bar for Smartphone Integration ith the unexpected abundance of time spent at home in 2020, two important things happened: Consumers began investing more in their homes, and they became much more familiar and comfortable using technology. New innovations in smart home technology took the interior market by storm, becoming the catalyst for the creation and introduction of numerous new motorized blinds.
BY HANNAH GRISACK
The trend is exhibited by Coulisse’s MotionBlinds line, which provides a complete range of cable-free and wired motors and controls that are designed for easy assembly, installation and use for all types of window coverings in residential, commercial and hospitality. According to Coulisse’s Managing Director Jop Vos, products offer three fundamental advantages over competitors: safety, energy efficiency and convenience. Safety in the home is an uncompromisable feature. “Thanks to preset scenes and timers, smart window coverings powered by MotionBlinds are continuously in motion, making the home always seem inhabited,” Vos says. “It creates a sense of security and helps to prevent break-ins. Next, smart window coverings make spaces safer, as children and pets can no longer get tangled in hazardous loops or control cords.” In addition to safety, Coulisse prides itself on offering an energyefficient window covering solution. “Smart window coverings are able to automatically adapt to changing conditions inside and outside the
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rhythm of your daily life, creating the perfect atmosphere at any time.” MotionBlinds exist to make mundane tasks not only more enjoyable, but also effortless. Further advantages of MotionBlinds include simplicity, connectivity, design, pull control and bidirectional capabilities. Simplicity refers to their effortless assembly and installation, and after installation, to their easy setup simply by scanning a QR code. Connectivity is represented through the straightforward integration processes into smart home systems that may already exist in the household.
MotionBlinds work with the Apple HomeKit ecosystem, making it the only system that can be used to operate roller shades from an iPhone without the need for a hub or bridge. home,” says Vos. “This makes it possible to regulate the indoor climate and save energy by making the best use of the insulating properties of window coverings.” The energy savings that accompany MotionBlinds make the investment worthwhile, even for consumers who don’t consider themselves environmentally conscious. Convenience is arguably the primary factor in deciding to incorporate smart home technology. When it comes to motorized window coverings, MotionBlinds are seen as “smart window coverings that make everyday life even more enjoyable,” says Vos. “As part of a smart ecosystem, where various smart devices seamlessly work together, window coverings automatically move to the
The design of MotionBlinds incorporates a system approach, allowing for motors to integrate seamlessly with various hardware systems. However, the pull control was incorporated by designers as a novel motorized window covering feature to expand upon their simplicity. The bidirectional capabilities imply that MotionBlinds have a two-way protocol, “providing real-time feedback on the exact positioning of the blinds in the app, wherever you are in the world,” says Vos. “So, the smartphone app always shows the actual position of the window coverings, even if these are operated from home with the pull function.” MotionBlinds have the capacity to power the following window coverings: roller and double roller, honeycomb and pleated, venetian, vertical, roman and curtains. A smart switch for wired motors also makes awnings and shutters with wired motors compatible with MotionBlinds. The entire MotionBlinds range includes batteryintegrated rechargeable motors and wired motors, which are both available in low and high voltage. The batteries are rechargeable with a USB-C cable. Because of the simplicity of MotionBlinds, a high level of technology is not necessary. Instead, cable-free installation, programming and automation via a smartphone app and the manual pull function exist so that anyone can use and incorporate MotionBlinds. Those who opt to use high-tech solutions have numerous options for controlling the blinds. Vos was excited to announce earlier this year that MotionBlinds work with the Apple HomeKit ecosystem, making it the
only system that can be used to operate roller shades directly from an iPhone. “That is a true game changer in the market,” he says. Other control options include remote controls, a smartphone app, voice control and other smart home systems. As smart home technology advances, the window treatment industry must keep up with it. Coulisse’s introduction of MotionBlinds demonstrates that creative manufacturers are innovating right along with the best tech firms out there—and the window fashion industry can be a player in this ever-growing market. coulisse.com
MotionBlinds Advantage SAFETY
Makes the home always seem inhabited through preset scenes and timers No loops or cords to endanger children and pets ENERGY EFFICIENCY Regulate the indoor climate Ultimate savings for the consumer CONVENIENCE Part of the smart ecosystem making window coverings move with the rhythm of daily life Effortless assembly and installation, easy setup simply by scanning a QR code Two-way protocol provides realtime feedback on exact positioning of blinds and battery status Smartphone app can be used anywhere in the world Pull operation for manual override of smart controls Both battery rechargeable with USB-C cable and wired available Direct compatible with Apple HomeKit ecosystem, no hub needed
V ISION |
special section : your motorization questions
Q UESTIO NS,
Answered. BY SOPHIA BENNETT
Motorization is a tricky topic that still raises a lot of questions for people in the window covering industry. We surveyed professionals and asked them what issues were still vexing them, then put those queries to a variety of manufacturers and window covering pros. Their responses are included here. If you still have motorization questions, join us for a special edition of VISION Seat, Window Fashion VISION’s Facebook Live show, on Wednesday, July 21 at 4 p.m. Eastern.
What are some of the benefits of motorized treatments that I can communicate to consumers? According to research, these are the main drivers of smart home purchases: Safety: Smart window coverings make spaces safer, as children and pets can no longer get tangled in hazardous loops or control cords. Next, thanks to preset scenes and timers, smart window coverings are continuously in motion, making the home always seem inhabited. It creates a sense of security and helps to prevent break-ins. Energy efficiency: Smart window coverings are able to automatically adapt to changing conditions inside and outside the home. This makes it possible to regulate the indoor climate and save energy by making the best use of the insulating properties of window coverings.
V ISION |
special section : your motorization questions Convenience: Smart window coverings make everyday life even more enjoyable. As part of a smart home ecosystem, where various smart devices such as smart lighting and thermostats seamlessly work together, window coverings automatically move to the rhythm of your daily life, creating the perfect atmosphere at any time. Put simply, the key benefits of smart window coverings perfectly match the main motivators for consumers to make their homes smart. The extra investment makes life safer, more energy efficient and more comfortable. These are major considerations when selling motorized window coverings. —Roy Ebbekink, Coulisse
How do I sell motorization, especially given that it’s a considerable upsell? Motorized shades contain a certain “wow” factor, but as with any emerging technology, price is generally the primary hurdle to overcome. That is why selling the experience is the preferred approach to rationalize the investment in motorized shading systems. Consider the benefits of energy cost savings motorized shades provide. Many motorized platforms present unique features like sunrise/sunset detection to seamlessly automate a shading system. Additionally, energy-efficient homeowner rebate
programs are currently in development through the Attachments Energy Rating Council and nationwide utility providers, further validating the cost and energy benefits of motorized shades. In addition to energy savings, motorized shades deliver on convenience. Many popular motorized shading systems are engineered to present a wide range of features that enable effortless control of a motorized shade. Through devices such as pushbutton remotes, voice assistants or home automation systems, users have greater flexibility to personalize their interactions with their shades. Scalability is another important cost consideration to help transition into motorized shades and ease the burden of the upfront costs. Many existing manual shades, blinds and drapery systems can be converted to a motorized operation with retrofit capabilities through motor offerings. Customers have the option to purchase new motorized systems for key areas in the home and opt to upgrade existing systems now or later to spread the investment. Lastly, motorized shades are a child- and petsafe solution for the home, keeping our loved ones safe from the potential hazards chain and cord shading solutions present. The connected home continues to trend upward, and motorized shades are a natural fit to expand a home’s capabilities. —Jennifer LaBollita, Rollease Acmeda
Many popular motorized shading systems are engineered to present a wide range of features that enable effortless control of a motorized shade. Through devices such as push-button remotes, voice assistants or home automation systems, users have greater flexibility to personalize their interactions with their shades. 42 |
JULY + AUGUST 2021 | wf-vision.com
Do you need different motors to power different window treatments like shades, shutters and drapes? Yes, there are different motors for large or small windows and roller shades, draperies, roman shades, blinds and even transitional shades. There are many reasons for this. A motor that powers a shade is different in form than a motor that powers a motorized drapery track. Other factors to consider are the size of the shade and the weight of the fabric being motorized. Plus, you need to consider whether your client wants a wired solution or a battery-powered solution. —David Parrett, Somfy
What should I look for in drapery-specific motorization products?
Motorized drapery hardware products should offer a rich experience and simple, integrated solutions for your customers. Look for a belt-driven track that can be bent, spliced and is available as a single or double system. It should be compatible with decorative fascias and available for both ripplefold and pinch-pleat headings. Tracks should have automatic, manual and adjustable end limits and a manual override. Your motorized drapery hardware’s control technology should offer options to your client. It should be able to be controlled with the touch of a button, simple voice commands and third-party devices. Motors should be quiet, so check sound levels on the motor you are considering. Match the motor to the drapery’s weight. It’s essential to know that your draperies can operate seamlessly no matter the length, weight or area the treatment covers. Aesthetically, look for decorative motorized products that complement your design and its intent. Motorized drapery products should offer the same details that decorative hardware does, as well as a wide choice of finishes, rod sizes, finished motor sleeves, return hooks, mitered returns, coordinating tracks and slides to the finish.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Polymers
amperage power supply. Past 120 inches wide, the systems need even larger roller tubes, so no common battery systems provide enough power. But plug-in wall adapters (2A) work well, as does hard wiring to a central power supply (12V DC, 20 to 30A) if you want to hide the wires. Still, larger shades (up to 16 feet) need the largest motors (generally 6Nm+ torque) and must be powered directly with household current or large power supplies at 12V DC.
affordable solution, motorized wands offer intuitive operation with a three-button controller. As a safer alternative to corded lift options, these wands provide function as well as peace of mind. —Julia Dorn, Graber
The good news is these large systems still operate inexpensively with current radio frequency remote controllers and home automation hubs, so you can take advantage of all the systems currently available (e.g., Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant) to command even the largest of shades. — David Biedermann, Leviosa Motor Shades
Although solar panel efficiency relies on numerous factors (the direction it’s facing, shadows going over the window during the day, the height of the window, etc.), in most cases, solar panels are more than enough to charge a blind’s motor. Because solar chargers typically need a few seconds of some really good sun to get started, it is sometimes difficult to get them working in some locations during darker months of the year. However, newer solar systems are more efficient and can provide enough energy for the work even in isolated conditions. For example, as our office in Estonia, even the north-facing windows get enough sunlight to charge the battery of our smart shades fully, even in the middle of winter. —Danylo Herasymov, SOMA Smart Home
How do I know what type of motorization controller technology to use in different situations?
Don’t forget to check the manufacturer’s warranty and customer service reputation. Motorization is a more complex, technical process and you’ll want real-time answers. —Sunil Patel, Orion Ornamental Iron
What do I need to know about motorizing very large shades, screens or other window treatments? Shades can be motorized practically without limit, even to large sizes. In fact, motorization enables the largest of shades, as they cannot practically be opened or closed by a person without motorization. Very large shades are generally those wider than 96 inches because they require largerdiameter roller tubes to avoid deflection in the center. That then requires more motor torque, which mandates larger motors (generally 2Nm+ torque) and a higher-
It depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If the goal is to integrate window treatments into a smart home system, the Z-Wave protocol is the leading technology used in millions of devices around the world today, including Google, Alexa, SmartThings and Wink. Z-Wave-powered shades utilize lowpowered, advanced wireless radio technology with two-way communication for reliable, effortless operation and are compatible with all control types and power sources. It is an allencompassing, easy-to-use platform. If accessory coverage is a priority, Radio Technology Somfy (RTS) is an option that can be operated by remotes and hardwired to wall switches. This technology is also compatible with sun sensors that detect the position of the sun to automatically raise and lower window treatments. The RTS Assortment is an established offering that provides comprehensive solutions to all product lines, including horizontal blinds of 2 inches or more, draperies, exterior solar shades and light commercial motors. Lastly, if you are looking for a more price-conscious way to motorize window treatments without the use of remotes, consider a motorized wand. A simple and
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When is it appropriate to use a solar battery charger?
How is specifying motorized products for residential different than working on commercial projects? At its core, motorization is similar between residential and commercial projects in that they both utilize motors to provide handsfree operation of blinds and shades. However, commercial and residential projects have several key differentiators. For example, commercial projects are often focused on energy efficiency and worker productivity. By combining data from weather sensors, central control units, occupancy sensors and temperature sensors, commercial window treatments become an integral part of keeping the workforce comfortable and the building sustainable. Commercial solutions can dynamically manage the movement of shades across many zones to allow large buildings to have highly specialized climate
control depending on how each part of the building is impacted by the sun, occupancy and temperature throughout the day. As a result, sophisticated commercial shading solutions also require greater expertise to design and install. While automation is still an essential part of a residential project, the integrations are much simpler, easier to install and focused on on-demand use and predictable scheduling. For example, residential motorization is often integrated into the Amazon Echo or Google Home system for voice commands such as, “OK Google, raise my living room shades.” Further, scheduling the window treatments’ movements in residential projects typically revolves around optimizing one’s home experience by coordinating the shades’ movements with routines, such as waking up, watching TV and going to bed. —Mickey Fain, Stoneside Blinds & Shades
What are the differences between indoor and outdoor motorization hardware? What do I need to watch for in outdoor hardware particularly? With motorized indoor shading, you typically attach the product—valance, rollers, headrail, brackets, etc.—at the top of the window only. You need to consider blocking and measurements at this location. Power (low voltage or high voltage) is typically routed down through the header to the motor location. For battery-powered systems, you might have a solar panel to consider. Radio motors are popular for many applications. With outdoor shading, there are more considerations. You are installing a product that will face the elements and wind. This means the product will need side guides. In some products, these are guide wires and in others they are metal channels. You need to consider the whole opening, including how to anchor side guidance to the structure, leveling and aesthetics. Manufacturers carry channel adaptors to help install side channels secure and parallel, which is critical. Adaptors are aluminum pieces that help the install look and perform its best.
You also need to consider power. It typically comes to the header, but it might need to come up the side channel based on the location. Due to the heavier product and environment, higher-voltage, slowerRPM motors are required. Radio obstacle detection motors are popular options for outdoor applications. —Clint Childress, Draper
What tips can I share to make clients’ experience with smart hubs better? The single most important tip we provide to our clients and customers is to keep it simple. When setting up automation and scenes between your apps and smart hubs, you can tweak and fine-tune controls almost to an infinite level. We recommend that customers keep the commands simple and specific. For example, a good command would be “Living Room Close” or “Ryan’s Room Open” (my favorite for the teen trying to sleep in a little too long). By keeping the commands simple, they become easy for all users to remember. Making statements difficult can lead to users forgetting the commands and make the automated hubs ineffective and less user friendly. —Dan Carpenter, Turnils North America
stays very strong. These updates are done wirelessly, are encrypted and require no user interventions. Like smartphones, many automation systems have privacy features that can be turned on and off. For example, some systems have an option for geolocation accessibility so the user can have the motors go up or down based on sunrise and sunset. This location information is set to a low-precision value (specific to a city or region, for example, but not an address) so that the data is efficient while not being invasive. There are no logs kept of product usage. This feature can also be turned off. Last, look for manufacturers who don’t monetize the data they get from smart home devices. Many companies these days will give you a low-cost product in exchange for your private information. Others will not ask for or collect personal data, which gives you the greatest option for protecting your data and home. —Joseph Astran, Alpha Tubular Motors V
My customers are concerned about the security of the device they use to operate their motorized treatments. How can I reassure them that this technology is safe and won’t get hacked? As we have learned through recent events, there are vulnerabilities in technology, and this creates concerns for smart home automation. But there are a number of safety nets you can look for and share with customers to put them at ease. First, look for a system where all actions and equipment is encrypted. This keeps them protected at a very high level. The software is constantly being updated, both so it performs at its best and security V ISION |
special section : o'd mckewan
Introduction to Hard Wiring for Motorization Learning some basic terms and ideas will make hardwired motorization projects go much smoother
BY O’D MCKEWAN n my many years of teaching, I have found that most window covering specialists’ greatest fear regarding motorization is talking with electricians and contractors about the wiring needed for their projects. In this short article, I will explain the basics of wiring specifications for hardwired motorization systems so you will be able to have an intelligent conversation with electrical contractors.
available through the wall outlets. In the United States, all of our line-voltage motors run on 120 volts. Low voltage is just line voltage that has been reduced to a safe level by a transforming power supply (generally known as a plug-in transformer).
First, just like any industry, there’s specific terminology that is used. For electricians as it relates to wiring for motorized window coverings, the most important specifications are voltage, amperage, wire size and number of wires needed.
For motorized window coverings, the low voltage ranges between 5 to 32 volts DC depending on the manufacturer and motor size. It is important to note the specification of the DC. DC stands for direct current and is different than the AC (alternating current) of line voltage. All low-voltage motors for window coverings use DC. You must tell your contractor when using low-voltage motors that they are DC so they do not wire them for AC low voltage.
Let’s start with voltage. In our industry, we only work with two types of voltage: line voltage and low voltage. Line voltage is what runs through the house or building and is
Since there are several different lowvoltage motors on the market, you will need to find out what’s the voltage of the motors you are selling. You may end
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up selling several different voltage motors on the same job. Just be sure to let your contractor know which ones are going where. The next thing your electrician will need to know is how many amps each motor uses. Amps are a measurement of how much electricity flows through a device. Currently, all interior motors are 3 amps or less and most are less than 2 amps. It is important for electricians to know this because they need to know how many motors they can power through one fuse in the fuse panel. They also need to take into consideration what other electrical items will be plugged into that same fuse (TVs, stereos, security systems, space heaters, etc.). To speak with a contractor with more confidence, find out how many amps the motors you are using need. The most confusing option when it comes to hard wiring is the wire size and number
Electricians’ Commonly Used Abbreviations Like people in every industry, electricians use a lot of abbreviations. Here are the important ones you need to know for working with electrical contractors on motorized window coverings. V = VOLTAGE AC = ALTERNATING CURRENT DC = DIRECT CURRENT AMP = AMPERAGE WIRE SPEC = GAUGE/NUMBER OF WIRES Here is an example of a typical wiring spec for a linevoltage motor that has a 120-volt alternating current motor and uses 1.5 amps and 14-gauge wire in a 2-wire system:
120V AC, 1.5AMP, 14/2
Here is an example of a typical wiring spec for a lowvoltage motor that has a 24-volt direct current motor and uses 0.8 amps and 18-gauge wire in a 2-wire system:
24V DC, 0.8AMP, 18/2
of wires needed. Wire size is measured with a term called gauge. The tricky thing to remember is the larger the wire, the smaller the gauge number. For example, 12-gauge wire is more than three times thicker than 22-gauge wire. Line-voltage motors use either 12- or 14-gauge wires. Lowvoltage motors can use 16- to 22-gauge wires. The size of the wire is determined by the voltage and amperage of the motor and the distance the wire is run from the power source to the motor. For lowvoltage motors, the longer the distance, the thicker the wire needs to be. There are a lot of online wire-size calculators that you can use to determine what size wire will work best for your project. If you give your electrician the proper voltage and amperage of the motors being used, they should be able to determine what size wire needs to be used. The laws for wire sizes are different in many states and even different in many parts of the same state. So, it is important to make sure that the contractor is responsible for the final selection of wire size used. One good tip for low-voltage wire is to ask your contractor to use stranded wire instead of solid-core wire. Stranded wire (sometimes called braided wire) is much easier to work with and much more flexible. Your installer will be much happier and we all know how important that is. Next is the number of wires to be used for each motor— sometimes called wire pairing. This is a little more difficult to generalize in this article since there are so many different types
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of motors on the market, but I will try to summarize the options.
of commercial work, plan on using 2-wire systems for your line-voltage motors.
For most line-voltage motors, there are only two options: 2-wire or 3-wire, with 2-wire being the most common. The biggest exception to this is when you are using what we generally call a dumb motor (non-radio frequency). These are generally used in commercial applications like government buildings, hospitals, schools and other locations where the building does not want to rely on radio frequency remotes to operate the shades.
When it comes to low-voltage wiring, again, we must specify DC wiring. We generally only need two wires per motor. The best way to think of low voltage is that it works like a battery, where there is a positive and a negative side. So, for the wiring, there is a positive wire and a negative wire (thus the 2-wire system). Again, the exception to this is when you are not using a standard radio frequency motor. Some specialty motors require extra wires called data wires to tell the motor to open or close.
With a 2-wire system, there are actually three wires: a power wire that is “hot” and carries electricity (black), a neutral wire (white) and a ground wire (green or bare copper). They don’t count the ground wire because it does not carry any current. With a 3-wire system (actually four wires), there are two power wires—one black for open and one red for closed—plus the neutral and ground wires. Again, this is not used very often, so unless you do a lot
The more you become familiar with these terms, the more confident you will become at working with electricians, and the easier it will be to sell motorized window treatments. In our next edition, we will discuss the language of motorization and learn what talks to what. V
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O’D McKewan, the product coach for Window Covering World, is a master of motorization and a leader in the motorized window covering field. He has over a decade of hands-on experience with motorized window coverings, including fabrication, installation and selling. Interested in learning more about motorization? Sign up for the Window Fashion Certified Professional FastTrack course on motorization at wf-vision.com. WindowCoveringWorld.com
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Room design by Meadowbank Designs. Photo by Tom Crane
DE S I G N I N G
Kirsten McCoy, Allied ASID, a partner in Meadowbank Designs in suburban Philadelphia, sometimes runs into people who shy away from motorized shades or screens because they think they’ll detract from the beauty of a finished room. That couldn’t be further from the truth. “Today, there are so many great options available that you can do them with almost any style of window treatment,” she says. “Don’t be afraid to work with them. They’re not going to ruin your design.”
BY SOPHIA BENNETT
Motorized window coverings, whether they’re single roller shades or the most ornate of draperies, can do a lot to add function as well as form. Three designers share tips for creating gorgeous designs with motorized window treatments.
Seek out the right fabrics and hardware
Gone are the days when shade and screen fabric is black or white. “Suppliers of shades have these beautiful fabrics now, and that makes such a difference to our clients, especially at nighttime, when they’re looking at these pretty fabrics with textures,” says McCoy. “They’re almost as pretty as some of the drapery fabrics.”
Get client buy-in quickly
A designer can dream up the most beautiful treatments imaginable, but if they client says no, they’ll never make it off the page or computer screen. “What I’ve noticed with working with consumers is it’s important to mention early the words motorization and automation and how everything can be operated through Google or Alexa,” says Emma Messerschmidt, principal designer at 7 Sisters Interiors in Del Mar, CA. “Ask early if they’re familiar with these products and if they’d like to add the option of motorized treatments.” Another way to get consumers to buy into motorized window treatments is to present a beautiful drawing of what the final installation will look like—especially if it will be a combination treatment or one with decorative features. “If you can show good layers and textures and colors, a lot of people will go for more expensive, higher-end motorization,” Messerschmidt says.
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The beauty of built-ins
With new construction projects, there are ways to partner with the contractor and subcontractors to create installations where all of the non-shade elements are completely “out of sight, out of mind.” “During framing is when they build the cavities where the casing and roller assemblies are going to hide. The tracks are mounted to the inner portion of the columns rather than the outside, and the power can be placed inside the trusses and walls so you don’t have to look at plugs and cords,” says Boynton. “If you get involved in a project early, you can have everything built in a way where the motorized shades and screens look like part of the house instead of an afterthought.”
Photo by Kim Boynton
Cords, clunky rods and battery packs can take away from the beauty of motorized treatments. But it’s getting easier to find window covering housings that are unobtrusive. “One of the things we like are these newer, thinner products where the housing can be obscured in the window,” says McCoy. “Unless you’re really looking for them, you don’t really see them. We aren’t limited by having to have a valance to hide the mechanisms.” Even products that are left exposed can be enclosed in attractive casings. “We can get them custom powder-coated if you have a (paint) swatch that matches the walls or window frames,” says Kim Boynton, owner of 3/8 and Co. in Sarasota, FL. Builders can also create cavities that the shades and screen can hide in when retracted, or craft decorative fascias or soffits that cover up equipment mounted to walls, window frames and ceilings. That way, they’re completely hidden when not in use. If power cords in an existing home can’t be encased in the wall or ceiling, Messerschmidt will often use drapery panels to hide them. Valances and other top treatments can also be used to obscure tracks, rods and battery packs at the top of the window.
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Fully integrating motorized window coverings into a home’s design requires good and regular communication with many of the skilled tradespeople involved in a home’s construction, including the architect, electrician and finish carpenters. “You don’t want to give the builder a set of plans and walk away,” Boynton says. “Make sure that during the course of construction, you go in and check in on the project.” Otherwise, those important hidden components may not be put in the right place or make it into the project at all.
Find the right workroom and installer
Window treatments lose their attractiveness if they aren’t correctly made or installed. Messerschmidt recommends working with workrooms who have experience with motorized treatments. “Building relationships with installers who do these kinds of jobs is very important because they represent your company, and if they don’t know what they’re doing it can ruin the project,” she adds. A good relationship with these professionals, just like a strong relationship with tradespeople, will ensure a design delivers a final product that clients will love. V
The Next Frontier of
Motorization BY SOPHIA BENNETT
Motorized window treatments are past the point of being a luxury and may soon be considered a necessity. Kevin Anderson, product and marketing manager for Insolroll, compares motorized window treatments to garage doors. For decades, garage doors had to be pulled or pushed open by hand. “Now, it’s really rare to find anybody who has a manual garage door,” he points out. “I know a lot of people in the industry believe it’s only a matter of time before motorization is considered standard.”
Furthermore, companies that can make it past the beginning stages with motorization and move into more complex projects have a bright future ahead of them. As home technology becomes more sophisticated and people gain a greater understanding of what motorized treatments can deliver, window covering professionals have openings to become involved in whole home automation projects, large commercial installations and more. But window covering pros shouldn’t make the leap into major projects until they’re sure they’re ready. It’s important to ask yourself some honest questions about your experience and level of knowledge before committing to new or bigger projects. Even people who’ve done a couple dozen small jobs may not be fully prepared for the complexities of massive or multifaceted installs, says Matt Dugger, national sales manager at Insolroll. “Just like with most things in life, there are levels of understanding: simple, intermediate and complex. As the project size increases, so does the level of knowledge and understanding. The items you need to understand get more complex and the projects require more thought to be successful.” In this article, we examine what types of opportunities exist for companies ready for the next frontier in motorization projects, as well as things to know and ways to expand your knowledge before making a major leap.
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Preparing for advanced motorization projects The first thing any team or project manager should do before pitching themselves as a motorization expert is make sure they truly have the knowledge and skills needed to tackle bigger projects.
Gil Breef, owner of Shades By Design in Miami
Gil Breef, owner of Shades by Design in Miami, made it his mission to become extremely knowledgeable about motorization because he believes that to be in sales, you need to be an expert on your product. But selling and installing motorized window coverings, with their motors and power sources and controllers, is a lot different than selling manually operated blinds and shades. “A lot of dealers don’t go deep into it because it requires retraining your brain,” he says. “It’s a new field with new terminology. You have to form partnerships with electricians that speak a different language.” It’s essential to do your research and develop a real understanding of how the technology—and this new set of partners—works.
Kevin Anderson, product and marketing manager for Insolroll
Matt Dugger, national sales manager at Insolroll
Dealers can learn more about suppliers’ products through their training programs, which can include everything from videos to on-site educational opportunities. The other way to learn more about intricacies of the products is the school of hard knocks— installing a lot of these treatments and learning on the job. Breef has found it very useful to establish a partnership with an electrician and bring them up to speed on motorized window treatments. “If you have a good relationship, they’ll know what they need to do for any future projects,” Breef says. He can send his electrician to a job site and give him some basic details of what the client wants, and they come up with a good plan for getting the job done. Dealers looking to grow their motorization skills would be wise to find a mentor— someone to call with questions or ideas, says Dugger. “We do that internally among our sales staff. We also get it from our dealer base. There are a few people I talk to three or four times a month who are very savvy who call so we can bounce ideas off each other.” (For more details on finding a mentor, see page 22.)
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Be sure to pay attention to new advancements in home technology too. Services like IFTTT (“if this than that”) allow users to have motorized window coverings respond to real-time events. Shades that automatically raise or lower when the external temperature reaches a certain level are one example of this technology, Dugger explains. As the “internet of things,” for IoT, technology advances, the ability for window treatments to take on new tasks or connect to new devices will only increase. “Your knowledge of motorization is like a muscle or second language,” says Anderson. “You have to want to constantly learn and stay abreast of new developments or your knowledge will shrink and you will be left in the dust.”
“Take a 25-story building that’s all glass,” says Dugger. “If everything is tied into a motorized system that’s also connected into the HVAC and lighting, there are huge savings to be had.”
Commercial projects await
Retailers and window treatment specialists who have mastered simple motorization installations may look to commercial projects as their next source of revenue. Office buildings and universities are increasingly interested in motorized window treatments. For institutions looking to lower their carbon footprint or save energy, motorized window treatments and their ability to help regulate solar gain are important. “Take a 25-story building that’s all glass,” says Dugger. “If everything is tied into a motorized system that’s also connected into the HVAC and lighting, there are huge savings to be had.” Hospitals are also huge potential clients. “The biggest liability in a hospital is a patient getting out of bed and falling,” says Dugger. “I’ve had multiple conversations with architects where we talked about if window treatments are motorized, patients never need to get out of bed to open the blinds.” Besides an advanced understanding of motorized window treatments, it’s important to have outstanding project management skills and an advanced knowledge of the construction process to take on projects such as these. “It’s all about preparation, communication and planning,” says Anderson. “You have to know your products really well so you know what is compatible with other systems and what’s not. You have to be able to communicate not just with the dealer and the client, but with the electrician and the other partners.” (For more about speaking electricians’ language, see page 46.) Be prepared to spend more time on customer service than is typical with smaller projects. Building owners, architects and homeowners will be making a bigger investment with these projects, and they may not understand all of the options and benefits available to them. “Understanding customers’ desires and needs is important,” Dugger says. Professionals must also understand the role of everyone who will be involved in the project—from the electrician and designer to the contractor, drywaller and low-voltage electrician, says Dugger. This is critical for follow-through on both new construction and remodeling projects where motorization is
Tip for installers According to Gil Breef, home automation companies that sell motorized window treatments often subcontract out the measurement and installation work. It pays to develop partnerships with A/V and other home automation companies.
involved. “Sometimes I come in after a dealer who sold some higher-end motorization, and they’d say where they wanted the wiring, but they’d never come back and check it,” Dugger says. “A year later, they’d come back and look at where they hoped it would be, and there’s drywall and other stuff up and they don’t know where it actually ended up.” Obviously, this makes window treatment installs much harder to complete. Make sure you understand the flow of the construction process and are prepared to check on wiring and other installations at the appropriate time.
Sliding into home automation
There are two main ways to get into home automation: partnering with another company or offering those services in-house. Many whole home automation projects are handled by A/V companies, which may have expertise in home theater systems, video security, lighting and HVAC systems. It’s less common to find a company with expertise in window treatments, though, which gives retailers a good opening. “In order to partner with an A/V company, you really need to offer competitive pricing,” says Breef. “You have to lower your margins to be able to provide good price markup to the home automation company.” If the project goes well, the reward will be repeat business. Other potential partners on home automation projects include contractors, architects and interior designers. They need information
on how and where to install wiring, build pockets for hardware and otherwise prepare homes for automation. These professionals may also provide the foot in the door at A/V companies—and become sources of future work. Besides connecting with these professionals through networking events and social media platforms, Breef recommends adding language to your website that will attract contractors and other professionals looking for home automation partners. Keywords such as “wiring” and “ceiling pockets” will help with search engine optimization. Keep in mind, too, that a homeowner may be the main or only partner in a home automation project. “The growing segment is the customer who is doing their own automation,” says Anderson. “There are a lot more networks and accessories that people can get themselves and use to build their own system.” Anyone can purchase and hook up an Echo, a Nest or a Sonos One. Be prepared to work closely with these individuals to help them connect their shades to whatever device they’re using, as most people will be novices with these types of systems. Though it’s important to understand motors and batteries, it’s critical to understand how controllers function. In a whole home automation project, everything will run off the same controller. As a result, window treatment pros need to have at least some understanding of which products work with those controllers and how to integrate them. “This is where your partnership with a home automation person will become very beneficial, because they can direct you to what needs to be done to communicate with the ‘brain’ they supply to the client,” says Breef. The alternative to working with a whole home automation company is to become one. For brands interested in going that route, Breef recommends creating an automation team with qualified professionals. “I provide full automation systems, but I don’t do it myself,” he says. “I have a team with an electrician and a contractor on payroll. That’s what the client wants—they want turnkey. Don’t say, ‘I can sell you the lights, but I can’t install them.’” Focus on window treatments first, and once you’re a true expert, start adding products and services.
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inspiration : high point market update
HIGH POINT MARKET UPDATE BY MELISSA GALT
Trends to Delight Your Clients
The spring High Point Market made evident the impact COVID-19 has had on interior and home furnishing trends. Here are a few you can capitalize on with your clients. (Get an expanded version of this article at wf-vision.com.)
Design by JacobLukasDesign.com with Kurt Jacob Miller and Lukas Mack for Alden Parks
WALLCOVERINGS ARE BACK Pattern and color reign, whether it’s in a new traditional look, maximalist scheme or modern graffiti. Wallcoverings aren’t always permanent either. Today, there are a wealth of “temporary” papers that go up much like contact paper but can be removed and replaced with ease when you have a mood change.
MURAL PAPER TRANSPORTS US This is beyond wallcoverings. Instead, it is about creating the illusion of another time and another world. We’ve not been able to travel, so we want to surround ourselves with the look and feel of places that inspire and intrigue us. From the extraordinary pieces in Michelle Nussbaumer’s new Wanderlust collection for Paul Montgomery or the brand-new collection by Fenwick Bartel with coordinating fabrics, there’s a mural option for every taste. Seating by Palecek
SUSTAINABLE IS SEXY Mother Nature was our refuge during this crisis, and now we’re bringing her gifts and materials inside our homes more than ever before. Sustainability is a priority, along with ethical sourcing. We crave a feeling of wellness that comes from surrounding ourselves with organic materials and being kinder to the world that has been healing as we stayed home.
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From Michelle Nussbaumer's Wanderlust Collection
COLOR ME HAPPY There is a sense of optimism present with the release of restrictions and hope that the pandemic will come to an end. Color is a big trend. Whether it’s decking walls in bold wallcoverings, dressing a sofa or chair in vibrant fabric, or including happy accents, color lifts our spirits and makes us smile.
Rug by Dash & Albert
DECORATIVE BOOKS MAKE A BOLD STATEMENT The wave of remote working and the need for home offices has spurred the decorative book trade. Many homebound CEOs made a mad dash online for books to fill their shelves so they’d look like the leaders they are. Creatives used books to add interest and conversation pieces. Something to note: Some designers have turned both home office and Zoom backgrounds into a lucrative revenue stream.
FLEXIBLE FUNCTIONALITY REQUIRES ROOM DIVIDERS Previously the domain of studio-apartment dwellers and cozy home spaces, room dividers are experiencing a resurgence. Interiors today often have to serve multiple functions, including home office and home schooling on top of dining, sleeping and living. Whether you want a solid look or something more transparent, your options to divide space creatively and flexibly are expanding exponentially. V Screen by Poltrona Frau
Photo by Melissa Galt
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industry : lead generation
It’s All About the Leads HOW BELTWAY BLINDS IN MARYLAND SUPERCHARGED SALES AND PROFITS BY FOCUSING ON LEAD GENERATION BY SOPHIA BENNETT liver Schreiber, president and CEO of Beltway Blinds in the Washington, D.C., area, may own a window treatment company, but he doesn’t consider that his principal line of work. “I’m not in the window treatment business. I’m in the lead generation business and the sales closing business,” he says. Window treatments happen to be the product he sells. But a company needs sales leads in order to be successful, so that’s where he focuses much of his time and effort. This mindset has paid off. In spite of the pandemic, Beltway Blinds was able to increase its revenue by 75 percent in 2020. As of March, it was on track to see a growth rate of 53 percent in 2021. More importantly, the company increased its net profit from 1.62
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percent to 15.85 percent last year alone. Schreiber provided a window into the inner workings of his company, sharing suggestions for other window treatment retailers looking to increase their sales, profitability and overall success.
Finding leads and setting appoinments
Traditionally, Beltway Blinds has pursued two main strategies for generating leads: trade shows and canvassing. In 2020, the company planned to do 120 home shows, boat shows, car shows, wine festivals and other events where large groups of people gather. Most were canceled due to the pandemic, but when they start up again, Schreiber will operate under the same playbook. “When we go to a show, we have one goal
in mind: schedule appointments,” he says. The booth has no brochures or swag. “We have nothing except our people in the booth (and an assortment of high-quality window treatments for show). There are no chairs, so nobody that’s in the booth can sit down. There’s no eating. There’s no being on your phone. The goal for our show staff is to speak to every single person that walks by the booth.” Schreiber encourages his staff to make people smile by saying something as simple as, “You look like you could use some new window treatments today.” Once people stop to talk, each employee’s mission is to get them to set an appointment. The scheduled day and time are written on the back of a simple postcard that also provides the company’s contact information. (The postcard can also be handed out to people who want to follow up after the show.)
Schreiber’s other tactic for finding leads is to visit new housing developments. In these neighborhoods, it’s easy to look through the window and see who has purchased window treatments and who hasn’t. In homes that still have temporary shades or no window coverings at all, a salesperson will knock on the door, make their pitch and try to set an appointment. “Rarely are people mad at us because it’s a product that they’re going to buy in the near future,” he says. “If we’re in a new home development and they already have window treatments in the windows, we’re not even knocking on their door.” Although the company had to cancel canvassing in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak, it restarted the practice in late 2020. Canvassers wear masks and stand at least 6 feet from the door after they’ve knocked. Homeowners are still answering their doors and scheduling appointments without fear of contagion.
Digital advertising will continue to grow
“When the pandemic hit, we had to adapt and adjust,” Schreiber says. When the company’s traditional outreach tactics were suspended, “We found the internet was going crazy, so we focused our efforts on search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising and Facebook advertising. We had an unbelievable response to those ads.” More than half of new business in 2020 came from online advertising.
Beltway Blinds did engage in some traditional advertising. It ran print ads in the Washington Post, its local newspaper. It developed a relationship with local radio stations and did on-air segments about the company, which were followed up with email promotions sent to the station’s listeners. But Schreiber says, without hesitation, that online advertising is the way to go now and will only grow in importance. “Think about what you’re doing in your own life,” he says. “You’re looking for something and you don’t look at a newspaper or magazines. You go to Google and the first thing you do is type in ‘window treatments in your town.’” Younger people are especially inclined to do this, so as millennials and Gen Z become a greater share of the population, this trend will only increase. Beltway Blinds plans to continue its current
practices of allocating about 75 percent of its digital advertising dollars to pay-per-click ads on Google and Bing and 25 percent to search engine optimization in 2021.
Phones, people and (software) programs
Key to the company’s success is having a good call center. “We scheduled 65 appointments yesterday,” Schreiber said during his interview. “Think of how many people it takes to schedule 65 appointments. We probably talked to 200 people.” Schreiber has 12 people working in the call center, which is open seven days a week for 12 hours a day. The goal is to call someone back within five minutes of the time they leave a message or fill out an online form. “People move on to other things extremely quickly,” he says. “If we don’t call them back immediately, it’s hard to get them on the phone.” The call center is just one example of the idea that good people are at the center of any profitable business. With 85 employees and growing, Schreiber has learned a thing or two about management. “Putting processes and procedures in place that are trainable and repeatable make running the business much smoother,” he says. “Holding people accountable for what they’re supposed to do is also very important.” Investing in a good customer relationship management program is essential for success, Schreiber says. So is encouraging word-of-mouth advertising. This can be done digitally through websites such as Google and Facebook. It can also be done the oldfashioned way by asking existing customers to refer their friends and family. “Every client that purchases from you does it because they like you and they trust you,” says Schreiber. “If you ask them for help, they’ll give it to you. But if you don’t ask, they often won’t think to tell people.” Referrals are essentially free advertising for your business. Taking advantage of them, and finding more effective ways to utilize advertising and promotional activities, can send any retail business soaring to higher sales and profits, much like Beltway Blinds. V
HARD TREATMENT TRENDS IN THE MID-ATLANTIC Beltway Blinds offers only hard treatments. Within that category, president and CEO Oliver Schreiber says one of the top-selling items is plantation shutters. “We’re finding right now that zebra shades or dual shades are extremely popular,” he adds. “Roller shades have come back. We also find that cellular shades have remained very popular.” People on a budget continue to gravitate to wood and faux-wood blinds, which Schreiber believes will retain their appeal indefinitely. The company is also selling plenty of motorized products. “It’s a benefit for the client and it’s a benefit for us because it increases our average sale. They’re also cordless, so they’re a childsafe option,” Schreiber says. Young people, who grew up with technology in their hands and homes, often have an expectation that products will be motorized, making them an easy sell. “With people over 50, you do have to educate them a little bit and show the benefits behind it.” Discussing their ease of use and convenience is often enough to win over hesitant homeowners.
PERFORMANCE READY BY TARYN PEARCE
There was a time when you had to sacrifice comfort if you wanted fabric that offered a high level of performance. Stain and fade resistance came in the form of stiff, scratchy fabrics that elevated function over feel. Performance fabrics were used predominantly outdoors; indoor applications remained infrequent outside of doctor’s office waiting rooms and the occasional playroom bench cushion. Happily, those days are long gone. Performance fabrics have grown in popularity as they have become softer and more comfortable while still offering clients the durability they need for both indoor and outdoor use. Here’s what you need to know about performance fabrics in 2021.
performance fabric, but why they call it a performance fabric is because they put a certain coating on it.” This coating will wear out at some point. “Like a radish, when the red is gone, it’s white inside, and you will see that. So, the performance of Sunbrella fabric is really true to its core.”
THE CARROT AND THE RADISH
The same applies to Outdura’s line of performance fabrics. “Since we make our fabrics from 100 percent solution-dyed acrylic, our performance starts with the fiber,” says Haynes King, product manager for Outdura in Hudson, NC. “The color runs throughout the fiber and yarn, which gives our fabric superior lightfastness. Our fabrics are not only UV fade-resistant after 1,500 hours of testing, but also stain-, water-, mold- and mildew-resistant. Cleaning is a breeze. They are all very kid- and pet-friendly.”
Not all performance fabrics are made equal. A good rule of thumb is to look for a solutiondyed acrylic like products offered by Sunbrella. “Sunbrella (fabric) is like a carrot,” says Franck Seguin, former sales manager for Trivantage in Glen Raven, NC, and current market director for Trivantage’s sister company, Glen Raven Custom Fabrics in Burlington, NC. “You can take the yarn and peel it and peel it and peel it and it will still be orange to the end. Other fabrics dye a fiber and can call it a
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While the tactile appeal of performance fabrics has definitely increased, it may have hit a ceiling, at least for now. “There is a certain feel of a very soft fabric that we can’t achieve even though we’re doing a lot of research on that,” says Seguin. “Real velvet, for example, is super soft. We would not be able to achieve that feel with any performance fabric.” For designers trying to decide if a performance fabric is going to have the right textural quality, the best advice he can give is to feel it yourself. “It’s hard to explain with just words. This is why we have a lot of showrooms. People need to touch the fabrics.”
PATTERNS, TEXTURES AND NEUTRAL COLORS ARE ALL THE RAGE For performance fabrics, just like for traditional fabrics at the moment, neutral tones are in—especially when combined with supple textures. “Both velvet and linen textures are more in demand inside,” says Seguin. As for colors, brighter shades such as paprika are more popular for outdoor use, while grays, beige, off-white and darker blues such as indigo are in demand for the indoor. He also suggests that sustainable fibers, like
Sunbrella photos courtesy of Trivantage
those found in Sunbrella’s Pure Upholstery collection, are a growing trend. They can be used indoor and outdoor for high water and sun resistance. “Patterns and textures are both extremely popular now, as can be seen in our new Ovation 4 collection of 103 new fabrics, including blends of dobbies, jacquards and stripes,” says King. Performance fabrics have also become popular for window treatments. “Sun exposure is not only outside,” says King. “Furniture and drapes that are exposed to windows with strong sunlight will experience fading with blended fibers.” With performance fabrics, Seguin says, “Behind the window, the curtain or roman shade will stay like new for 10 years.” While performance fabrics come at a higher starting price point than most traditional fabrics, designers can assure their clients that the investment is well worth it. From sofas and outdoor lounge chairs to drapery and even pet beds, performance fabrics are here to stay.
INSIDE SCOOP THE PRESENT AND FUTURE OF PERFORMANCE FABRIC WITH TIMOTHY CORRIGAN Top interior designer Timothy Corrigan has been a fan of performance fabrics for years. “I know some people who won’t let anyone drink red wine in their home, and I hate everything about that,” he says. “When it is a ‘look but don’t touch’ zone, then you, your family and your guests are not comfortable, and who wants to live like that?” Though he praises how far performance fabrics have come in terms of texture and comfort, they didn’t always have the warm colors or classic patterns he wanted. So when he was offered the chance to design his own performance fabric line with Perennials Fabrics, he jumped at it. The collection hews to Corrigan’s aesthetic, which he describes as “very much Europeaninspired, but filtered through a more casual, California sensibility.” The collection includes a fabric that resembles an Italian tapestry, one inspired by a Chinese bamboo wallpaper and one that’s a take on 18th-century French chinoiserie.
Perennials performance fabrics are stainresistant, fade-resistant, mildew-resistant and bleach-cleanable. “Not all performance fabrics are created equal, and Perennials is kind of fanatical with how well their fabrics perform,” says Corrigan. “They taught me that a polyester outdoor fabric is not as sturdy as solution-dyed acrylic. Now, we only used solution-dyed acrylic fabrics when looking for outdoor performance fabrics that you can trust.” The future of performance fabric, Corrigan believes, is to be used indoors as much as outdoors. He also believes other outdoor home products will follow the model of becoming performance-based. “We’ll see an expansion into materials like wood (furnishings) with sturdier finishes, so people don’t have to worry about putting down a glass. The future of design is influenced by consumers who are not willing to make the trade-off between performance and beauty.”
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Photos courtesy of Nassimi
INSIDE SCOOP NEW IDEAS OF PERFORMANCE: ALLERGEN-FRIENDLY, ANTIVIRAL, SUSTAINABLE Traditionally, performance fabrics have marked textiles with properties such as anti-fade and anti-stain components. But as technology advances, fabrics can “perform” in other ways as well. Vertilux recently announced that its Polyscreen Vision and Eco-Planet FR fabrics were verified as “asthma & allergy friendly” by Allergy Standards Limited, an international certification body that prepares independent scientific standards for products. Theirs are the first window covering fabrics to gain this distinction. Alex Garcia, president of Vertilux, noted that the company has always been at the forefront of selling products designed to create healthier homes. “Our Healthy Choice collection, our wide selection of OEKO-TEX and GREENGUARDcertified fabrics, and our offering of antibacterial and antifungal fabrics are the best example of this,” he says. “However, it is not enough. We
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must continue looking for the best solutions and make them available to everyone, and we have the responsibility to educate (consumers) as much as possible.” Since the COVID-19 pandemic, shoppers have become more focused on creating healthy living spaces. “People are more sensitive and aware of what they buy for their homes, and they are investing in better-quality, longer-lasting products that are not only functional and beautiful, but also safe,” Garcia said. The goal of creating safe and beautiful homes and commercial spaces fits right into Coulisse’s decision to release a screen with antiviral and antibacterial properties as well as antimicrobial ones. In testing, the new screen—part of the Screen Essential 3000 series—deactivated 99 percent of coronavirus particles within 16 seconds.
“Screen fabrics have always been a preferred choice for public spaces, including hospitals, because of their functionality and durability,” Textile Engineer Eva Jongejan said in a statement. “Especially for such buildings, we have been seeing increased demand for hygienic solutions.” Watch for products such as these to be in higher demand in the coming years. Beyond health, consumers are also clamoring for eco-friendly products. That value can come into conflict with the desire for performance fabrics, which are often chemically treated. One new option for greener performance fabrics is Supreen from Nassimi. The woven fabric has a liquid-proof silicone-based barrier technology that makes it completely impenetrable to liquid. It is soft, long-lasting, bleach-cleanable and free of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA, which is used in the production of Teflon) and perfluorochemicals. V
BY GAIL GUTSCHE
he annual VISION Design + Workroom Competition Awards are a bright spot for the window covering industry. The awards honor the work of incredible designers and workrooms around the world who have brought the many benefits of window treatments—beauty, privacy, sun-control and more—to homeowners and businesses. In this issue, Window Fashion VISION is thrilled to share the winners of the Design Competition. In the September + October issue, we will show off the winners of the Workroom Competition and highlight our Designer of the Year and Workroom of the Year.
COMBINATION TREATMENTS | FIRST PLACE Katherine Wozniak, Kathleen Glynn and Madeline Kavanaugh Katherine Elizabeth Designs Barrington, IL 1ST PLACE 1ST PLACE
Challenges in this dramatic great room were many. Hunter Douglas Designer Screen motorized shades in Sheer Gray cut the glare of the eastern sun while preserving the spectacular lake view. A decorative wood cornice covered in textured grass cloth Romo wallpaper, then overlaid with custom metallic latticework by Tableaux, conceals the wiring and shades. Stationery draperies frame the wall of windows in a cascade of fabric by Robert Allen, with trim by Kravet and Fabricut. The drapery rod is by The Finial Company.
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COMBINATION TREATMENTS | SECOND PLACE Jill Ballew
High Country Drapery Designs Chickamauga, GA
Mid-century modern elements blend with arts and crafts style to create an inviting ambiance in this living room with a view. The family cat played a role in the choice of window coverings: The clients requested a treatment that was easy to clean. Motorized Oasis screen shades in Natural Weave linen fit the bill. Because hard wiring the shades was not an option, a battery pack and the drapery headrail are hidden by a Carole Fabrics-covered cornice enhanced by a Tableaux decorative grille. Neutral colors downplay the window fashions, allowing artwork and the Persian rug to take center stage.
COMBINATION TREATMENTS | SECOND PLACE Brandi and Samantha Day
Day Design LLC Fort Worth, TX
The focal point of this home office is the French provincial writing desk, from which inspiration for the window treatments was drawn. The soft colors of the desk and wallpaper dictated the neutral tones. Panels made from Texture Fabrics in Olsen-Putty were hung from the ceiling to give the short windows an elongated look. A swag in the same fabric adds additional emphasis. Mirrored cornices by R. Rogers Designs reflect the embossed ceiling tiles, which were individually handrubbed in an antique gold wash.
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CURTAINS AND DRAPERIES | FIRST PLACE Barbara Elliott and Jennifer Ward-Woods The Sisters and Company – Decorating Den Interiors Stone Mountain, GA 1ST PLACE
This dated dining room got a complete face-lift. Faded wallpaper was stripped and replaced with fresh paint topped with crown molding. A shimmery new dining set adds glamour and additional seating. Metallic wallpaper adorns the ceiling with a glass chandelier. On the bay window, goblet-pleated draperies made from a Lemongrass Trellis design silk fabric by Kravet are accented with a gray linen banding by Fabricut. The panels hang from chrome rods topped with crystal finials. Two-and-a-half-inch wood blinds with nickel cord accents add privacy.
CURTAINS AND DRAPERIES | SECOND PLACE Marni Sugerman Decorating Den Interiors Mamaroneck, NY
Inspiration for this master bedroom remodel was drawn from the antique sofa and art deco chandelier. The design team reupholstered the sofa in a gray sheen fabric, which set the stage for complementary draperies, shades and bedding in tones of shimmering silver. Comfortex roman shades in Glimmer Quartz add pizzazz and a touch of class. Cordless operation adds to the elegance. Stationary drapery panels in undulating embroidered fabric from Fabricut soften the window. An upholstered bed frame from Barnhardt and mixed bedding from Eastern Accents complete the makeover.
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CURTAINS AND DRAPERIES | SECOND PLACE John McElroy Window-ology Pleasanton, CA
The community gathering space in this luxury apartment complex is situated by a creek, which served as the inspiration for the project. The flowing drapery panels are constructed of Opuzen digital printed fabric in the pattern Submerge on Belmar and were designed to evoke the creek’s sights and sounds. The room’s curved wall presented a logistical challenge when mounting the metal hardware from Aria. Installers took extra care to secure each rod.
DECORATIVE HARDWARE AND TRIM | FIRST PLACE Brandi and Samantha Day Day Design LLC Fort Worth, TX 1ST PLACE
Eighteen-foot-high ceilings and furniture of substance demanded bold hardware and window treatments in this living room/dining room do-over. The quilted leather sofa inspired the faux-leather cornice in Ridgefield Tucson from Fabricut, which is trimmed with 7/16-inch nailheads. Faux-iron decorative grills by Tableaux add texture and depth to three transom windows. In the dining room, a custom-painted, 1¾-inch twisted wood rod with ornate finials by Antique Drapery Rod Company adds dimension to the drapery panels. Constructed from Carole Fabrics in Diligence Crimson, the panels feature goblet pleats adorned with buttons at the top and trim a third of the way down, where the patterned fabric blends into solid crimson.
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DECORATIVE HARDWARE AND TRIM | SECOND PLACE Keely Hersh Right at Home Interiors Placerville, CA
Hersh repurposed an old piece of hardware from an antiques store for the drapery rod, which the rest of the design concept for this laundry room window treatment was conceived around. Two scrolls from the original piece were welded onto a drapery rod, which was painted teal to match the chandelier. The valance is made from Fleur Botanical fabric in Sienna from Fabricut and features Beckwith Noir trim from Fabricut. Ribbon tabs threaded through grommets finish in a flourish of rosettes constructed of wired ribbon. A roman shade made with linen from Anna Elisabeth offers privacy and light control.
SOFT SHADES | FIRST PLACE Jill Ballew High Country Drapery Designs Chickamauga, GA 1ST PLACE 1ST PLACE
Renovating the kitchen in this 1910s Tudor-style home brightened and lightened the room while complementing the Italian flair reflected in the décor throughout the house. Flat waterfall roman shades in Ariana linen by Magnolia Home Fashions are inside-mounted to show off the gleaming woodwork. Ballew added side flaps to the shade to hide the headrail. A continuous loop cord that reaches all the way to the bottom of the window blends seamlessly with the woodwork and makes it easy to reach for the clients. The continuous loop is also a safe option for the many grandchildren who frequently visit their grandparents.
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SOFT SHADES | SECOND PLACE Keely Hersh Right at Home Interiors Placerville, CA
Hersh created this beautiful roman shade virtually and never met her client in person until the photo shoot. The diamond-patterned fabric from Calico was selected because it matched the wallpaper and could be railroaded. Finished with edging by Anna Elisabeth and bead trim by Calico, the outside-mounted shade gives the appearance of a valance when raised. Perfect for the client who enjoys a view during the day.
SPECIALTY WINDOW FASHIONS | FIRST PLACE Brandi and Samantha Day Day Design LLC Fort Worth, TX 1ST PLACE
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Weighty draperies and extravagant trims and tiebacks complete the elegant look in this expansive, French/Austrian-inspired living area. Design challenges included constructing cornices of varying sizes, working around enormous ceiling beams and adjusting draperypanel lengths to achieve uniformity on various-size windows. Scallop-shaped cornices covered in velvet by Kashmir Plush Jute are topped with scrolls by Reynolds Advanced Materials. Swags and bottom-of-drapery panels are also Kashmir Plush Jute; the tops of the panels feature LA Fred’s Jacquard Velvet in Taupe. Hand-painted tieback tassels from LA Fred’s are adorned with Swarovski rhinestones. A Tableaux decorative grille tops the fireplace.
SPECIALTY WINDOW FASHIONS | SECOND PLACE Barbara Elliott and Jennifer Ward-Woods The Sisters and Company – Decorating Den Interiors Stone Mountain, GA 2ND PLACE
Treating a variety of window types, improving kitchen-to-family-room flow and opening the space between the two rooms were the challenges presented to these designers. The triple windows in the kitchen are framed by a scalloped, arched, boxpleated valance covered in a striped woven fabric from Kravet. The top of the valance is trimmed with nailheads and the bottom with beaded tassels. The flowing drapery panels in Dove are from Trend. Graber 2½-inch wood blinds add clean lines and provide privacy.
TOP TREATMENTS | FIRST PLACE Sunny Sun Fu’s Drapery Irwindale, CA
This master suite got the full-on luxury treatment! Yards and yards of luscious fabrics, all from Fabricut, created elegant swags and drapery panels that frame double doors and a breathtaking view. Double swags lavishly finished with tassels are topped by edged cornice boxes adorned with wood decorations. Motorized blackout draperies allow for complete sun control and privacy.
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TOP TREATMENTS | SECOND PLACE Amy Wolff Amy Wolff Interiors Scottsdale, AZ
Three huge windows on a 139-inch curved wall, coupled with a 98-inch split window, presented plenty of challenges to Wolff. Waves of sheer, striped fabric embedded with tiny sequins (Galactic Pewter by Lafayette Interior Fashions) make up the roman shade top treatment. A white metallic vertical border fabric, made with Dead Ringer Snow from Carole Fabrics, delineates each section from the one next to it, creating the look of separate treatments. Paramount Azure ¼-inch lip cord from Carole Fabrics trims the header. To add weight to the treatment, a tiny black welt was inserted at the bottom.
WHOLE ROOM INTEGRATION | FIRST PLACE Brenda Miller The Miller House Stephens City, VA
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The great room and dining room make up most of the first floor in this Delaware beachfront property. The interior of the house has a subtle coastal feel, and Miller strove to create the ambiance of a day at the beach. The palette of blue and sandy colors is reminiscent of sea and surf. Stationary pinch-pleated draperies with blackout lining increase energy efficiency. Ticket Navy Diamond fabric by Greenhouse Fabrics makes the great room appear cozier, while the small dining room feels more spacious thanks to panels constructed of Inner Child Ivory fabric from Carole Fabrics. Panels are trimmed in Linen’s Best in Persimmon by Carole Fabrics. The beach look is completed with distressed, whitewashed 2½-inch poles and finials from the Highgate Collection.
WHOLE ROOM INTEGRATION | SECOND PLACE Barbara Elliott and Jennifer Ward-Woods
The Sisters and Company – Decorating Den Interiors Stone Mountain, GA
The designers gave this master bedroom the swanky makeover their client desired. The duo wallpapered over an unwanted window behind the bed with Arabesque wallcovering by York Wallcoverings. Stationary drapery panels in Fabricut Luxury Silk, color Midas, are accented with the same Greek key trim as the oversized bed pillows. Drapery rods and glass finials are by Contrak Drapery. Double benches at the foot of the bed are covered in shimmery Bonnaro Shine, color Gold Dust, by Fabricut. A pair of Bernhardt gold leaf oversized chests flanking either side of the bed create an expansive feel.
WHOLE ROOM INTEGRATION | SECOND PLACE Lori Yanez Sheffield Furniture & Interiors Phoenixville, PA
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This palatial great room underwent great changes to play up cathedral ceilings, solid wood trusses and a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace. The client wanted a room that would comfortably seat a family of 12, including two grandchildren. To dress the rows of windows and offer abundant light, Yanez designed 10-foot-tall panels made from fabric from Unique, style Pembrook in Cornhusk. They feature a 5-inch-wide vertical ogee border that draws the eye toward the soaring ceiling. They hang from 1¼-inch twisted iron rods from Iron Art by Orion. Mock roman shades hide cordless Norman cellular shades on the French doors. Two-inch wood blinds by Hunter Douglas are stained to match the woodwork on the single windows. V ISION |
COMMERCIAL | FIRST PLACE Elizabeth Gerdes
This massive drapery installation graces a new luxury co-working office space in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta that is more than 30,000 square feet. The job called for draperies and sheers Stitch Above the Rest installed over extra-long and extra-wide windows along corridors and in meeting rooms, booths and Woodstock, GA hallways, plus a few locations like sitting areas and phone booth rooms. On average, the windows in each corridor were 16 feet tall and 20 feet wide, with the largest coming in at 22 feet by 20 feet. The job included 1,393 feet (width only) of ripplefold draperies/sheers constructed from 1,309 feet of 100 percent polyester flame-retardant Kvadrat fabric hung on 519 feet of traversing track. Unable to find track sturdy or long enough, Gerdes purchased it piecemeal and assembled it herself. Except for the installation, Gerdes worked alone, a total of 529 hours over 86 days.
COMMERCIAL | SECOND PLACE Olga Polyanskaya When Polyanskaya’s client, the owner of a wellness club and spa, fell in love with a sheer Drapery Expressions and Blinds Colorado Springs, CO 2ND PLACE
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patterned fabric (Medusa in Cream from Fabricut), Polyanskaya agreed that it was perfect for the décor. The problem was the large repeat of the pattern didn’t work well with the accordion-fold goblet-pleated panels she had planned. So, Polyanskaya invented a new pleat she named goblet pleat with wings: three pleats in one, with the middle pleat a standard 5½-foot round goblet pleat. Her client was happy with the solution and the sheers are a beautiful addition to the spa.
MOTORIZATION | FIRST PLACE Jill Ballew High Country Drapery Designs Chickamauga, GA 1ST PLACE
This kitchen renovation included the creation of cohesive design elements that tie the breakfast nook to the main kitchen. Because the shade over the kitchen-sink window is difficult to reach and the clients requested smart home capabilities, Ballew chose motorized Vignette shades from Hunter Douglas. The shades are operated by batterypowered PowerView. A Hunter Douglas Pebble Remote allows for individual on-demand control of each shade. The roman shade over the kitchen sink and all cornices are made from Carole Fabrics, pattern Ideal Scenery in Ocean. When fully raised, the cornices hide the shades in the breakfast nook.
MOTORIZATION | SECOND PLACE Marni Sugerman Decorating Den Interiors Mamaroneck, NY
Gorgeous views of the Long Island Sound are framed with ceiling-to-floor draperies made of Mod Herringbone in Moonlight by Fabricut. Motorized roller shades by Comfortex, fabricated with Phifer 5000 solar screen, control heat and light and are operated by Simplicity motors with a 14-channel remote control. Sugerman’s design enhances the high ceilings, built-in fireplace and hardwood floors. Soothing blues and warm golds reflect the colors of the sea and sun. V
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inspiration : we’ve got you (re)covered
u o Y t o G (RE)COVERED hen it comes to upholstery, it seems that the world changes around it, but it remains steady. The hand skills, tools and practices used by upholsterers have remained largely the same for many years and continue to produce stunning pieces that delight clients and designers alike.
However, the upholstery industry currently faces several challenges that threaten its ability to thrive. We will always need furniture, but will we always have the materials and skilled tradespeople to produce it? Recent years have caused a reckoning in the industry with this very question—with surprising results.
FOAM SHORTAGE ROCKS THE INDUSTRY
In early 2021, the South and parts of the Northeast were hit with severe weather that caused serious damage to many major foam factories. The result was a massive foam shortage. While the foam shortage is sure to resolve in time, it has caused a second furniture backlog on top of the pandemicinduced one in 2020.
In response, designers are leveraging alternatives to brand-new upholstered pieces. “I’m more likely to have something re-covered than to wait for something new,” says Keely Hersh, owner and designer of Right at Home Interiors in Placerville, CA. “Maybe my cushion will eventually need new foam, and that can still be replaced, but in the meantime, you still have a whole new look without having to wait.” Franck Seguin, market director for Glen Raven Custom Fabrics in Glen Raven, NC, says he sees furniture coming in for reupholstery or re-covering quite often. “We have a number of workrooms that we work with where that’s all they do. They have upholstery divisions that reupholster even very old, antique furniture.”
BY TARYN PEARCE
JULY + AUGUST 2021 | wf-vision.com
Room design by Right at Home Interiors. Photo by Martin Beebee
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upholstery business and ask why it costs so much because they know.”
GOOD TASTE: ONE THING NOT IN SHORT SUPPLY
Regardless of recent or long-standing shortages in the industry, upholsterers continue to produce gorgeous, on-trend designs. Included in these trends are details such as a striking use of upholstery tacks and, according to Hersh, mid-century modern styles. “It’s still a very popular look,” she says. “A lot of clients want it.” In addition, the movement toward sustainability has not bypassed the upholstery industry. Reusing secondhand furniture means not having to construct a new piece and retains the embodied energy in the original item.
MORE THAN ONE KIND OF SHORTAGE
UPHOLSTERY TRAINING RESOURCES
“It’s a great time to get into the upholstery trade,” according to Rachel Fletcher, president of the National Upholstery Association and founder of Knox Upholstery in Knoxville, TN. But for many people, that means gaining training or refreshing their skills. Here’s a list of resources for doing that. GQ INTERIOR gqinterior.com KIM’S UPHOLSTERY kimsupholstery.com NATIONAL UPHOLSTERY ASSOCIATION nationalupholsteryassociation.org THE FUNKY LITTLE CHAIR thefunkylittlechair.com UPHOLSTERY EDUCATION upholsteryeducation.com
JULY + AUGUST 2021 | wf-vision.com
This hit to the furniture upholstery industry comes in the midst of another shortage: trained professionals. “Upholstery is a little depleted,” says Cynthia Bleskachek, owner and creator of The Funky Little Chair in St. Paul, MN. “(America’s) last upholstery degree program closed in the mid-’90s. For a while, the market was sufficiently populated with experienced craftspeople, but we’ve reached the point where that last generation of graduates is retiring en masse and they are taking businesses with them.” (See sidebar for a list of private training programs and resources.) And where are all those clients going? According to Bleskachek, “The answer in a lot of cases is nowhere.” Bleskachek’s response to the shortage has been to find and educate new professionals by tapping the hobbyist market. The Funky Little Chair is dedicated to education, but, Bleskachek says, the benefits to the upholstery community extend far beyond educating new tradespeople. “Our students—whether they go on to be professional or all they ever do is take one weekend warrior class and never again pick up a staple gun—will now never walk into an
Bleskachek says there’s definitely an emerging interest in more natural and sustainable materials for covering couches and other items. However, “the market has not caught up yet. Modern upholstery is very synthetic, and I think customers are looking for natural fibers, natural pattern options, just more environmentally friendly versions.” Designers looking to serve their clients with sustainable options should investigate the source of their materials. Is the company truly making an environmentally friendly product? Or is it greenwashing it with negligible “sustainable” additions in an attempt to appease consumers without actually engaging in meaningful change?
A THRIVING—NOT A DYING—INDUSTRY
Part of the reason upholsterers have been able to continue to use the same tools and techniques is because they work. It’s not about newness, but about constancy. “It takes years to produce a master tradesperson,” says Bleskachek. The upholstery profession has and will continue to thrive not on its changeability, but on expert professionals who have devoted time to mastering the techniques necessary to create truly spectacular results. V
ABOVE: Cynthia Bleskachek, owner of The Funky Little Chair, guides students and upholstery small business owner Lindsay Orwig working on an upholstery project.
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IWCE-VISION.COM America's largest business networking and educational event for window treatment professionals is back and we've missed you!
JULY + AU GU ST 2021
Product Spotlight One World’s Hybrid Shutters are engineered with the insulation value of solid poly with the diversity and beauty of wood. Any shape, any size, any window. Free hidden tilt and large single panels provides clean sophisticated lines to the home. In addition to create move value, One World’s industry leading Shutter Shield protects the investment by covering accidental damage.
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Serving the trade for 40 years, we manufacture custom curtain hardware to meet the needs of interior designers, decorators, fabrics workrooms, and architects. Choose from a selection of flat or round rods with bent or mitered return. Discover more at:
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Available in gloss white and matte black, the Push15 Remote features precise leveling control, a large LCD screen, and 15 channels with 5 dedicated group channels to easily pair rooms or shade types together. This handheld or wall-mounted controller provides convenient up/down and channel selection operation of Automate motorized shade systems. Learn more at:
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.
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The MotionBlinds app takes blind control to the next level!
Together with the Wi-Fi bridge, the mobile app unlocks endless possibilities to operate blinds by smartphone. Use the MotionBlinds app to program and automate your blinds to perfectly accommodate your life rhythm. Download the MotionBlinds app on your mobile device from the App Store or Play Store.
We’re gushing over our new Clear Vue Collection of acrylic drapery hardware!
The collection includes both 1-3/8” and hollow 2-1/8” diameter poles, finial collars, rings and European style brackets in Chrome or Soft Brass perfectly complemented by 8 of our Bohemia Crystal finials. Think of the possibilities!
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3 Somfy motor systems now available to provide solutions in all applications. Insolroll’s family of quiet, rechargeable shade motors is growing with the launch of 2 new Somfy battery shade motors in June. This follows the May launch of the new BAT-L2-R motor and brings more sizes and finishing options to Insolroll motorized shade offerings.
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In Our Next Issue… The September + October issue of Window Fashion VISION will have our annual look at color trends. What’s hot and what’s not as we head into the last quarter of the year? We’ll let you know. Change is always hard, but when that change involves people—hiring, firing, retiring or something else—it becomes even more fraught and emotional. We’ll have several articles that focus on personnel and HR issues, including a look at the pros and cons of managing relationships in a family business. The results of the annual VISION Design + Workroom Competition Awards are always a reader favorite. Don’t miss our look at the winners of the workroom competition, as well as our “lightning round” interviews with the Designer of the Year and Workroom of the Year recipients.
JULY + AUGUST 2021 | wf-vision.com
Designer: Brianne Goelzer
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