Window Fashion VISION Magazine: May/June 2024 | Volume 46 Issue 3

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Get smart now

The new CM-03-E

Introducing the new CM-03-E smart motor for roller shades from Eve Motionblinds. Integrated with built-in Matter-over-Thread technology, this motor seamlessly connects with major smart home platforms including Apple Home, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, and Samsung SmartThings.

A sub-brand of Coulisse


President/Publisher | Grace McNamara

Associate Publisher | Ania Munzer

Contributing Editor | Blake Williams

Art Director | Cat Kahnle

Copy Editor | Maude Campbell

Event Manager | Shannon Flaherty

Marketing Coordinator | Tracy Herold

Accounting | Heather Bradley

Photographer | Sara Tucker


Contributors: Sam Blair, Kathy Cragg Pace, Kim Boynton, Jennifer Holaday, Tommy Long, John MacKenzie, Marissa Massey, Oliver Schrieber, James Stryker, Shaun Turner


651-330-0574 •


Photography: Justin Terveen

Project: Palomar Oasis

Workroom: Lucy Interiors Custom Workroom

Designer: Teresa Williams

Fabricator: Universal Motor Screens

Installer: KJ Custom Screens & Outdoor Living

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 Grace Media, LLC, 4707 Hwy 61 N #255, St Paul, MN 55110, Tel 651-330-0574. Visit our website at Periodicals postage paid at St Paul, MN. 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 © 2024 by AIM Communications, LLC. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission prohibited. Canadian Publications Agreement Number: #40036514. Canadian Return Address: 4707 Hwy 61 N #255, St Paul, MN 55110 MAY + JUNE 2024, VOLUME 46, ISSUE 3.

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MASTHEAD May + June 2024
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Many SheerWeave® fabrics, incuding SheerWeave Privacy, are excellent for use in exterior shading applications.

SheerWeave® Privacy with DOW ECOLIBRIUMTM is a new woven fabric that still allows some light and illumination during the day while providing good privacy coverage.

® SheerWeave is a registered trademark of PHIFER INCORPORATED. TM ECOLIBRIUM and the DOW Diamond are trademarks of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow Photos courtesy of DRAPER INC., Spiceland, Indiana, USA. and Blind Designs, SA.


There is no better feeling than hearing positive words from customers about their experience with your products and services. That’s how Ania and I felt after the International Window Coverings Expo (IWCE) this year following a year of research and planning. We sincerely try to make the show better every year and we must admit that this year in Grapevine, Texas, felt especially rewarding.

Thank you to all of you who attended! And a personal invitation to those who couldn’t join us to visit us next in fabulous West Palm Beach, Florida, on April 14-16, 2025. It’s a beautiful destination and convention center. We promise to have exciting new programs and events for you to enjoy!

This issue is our annual outdoor-themed publication, and it is just in time to inspire you for summer projects. We have seen the outdoor living trend grow, so we are expanding our coverage of this critical movement to be your resource for everything at the window—interior and exterior. As a testament to the growth of outdoor living, our Outdoor Oasis concept debuted at IWCE and it was a considerable attraction complete with a motorized pergola by Azenco, an awning by Corradi and a state-of-the-art umbrella by Umbrosa, plus a motorized projector screen by Universal Screens.

Of course, I’m pleased to share one of my favorite summer treats with you! Enjoy my Refreshing Summer Watermelon Salad with a chilled glass of rosé and your favorite grilled protein in your Outdoor Oasis!

Refreshing Summer Watermelon Salad

• One whole watermelon cut up into chunks

• Juice of 1-2 fresh limes

• Good bunch of chopped mint

• Good feta cheese crumbled (optional, but you’ll love the salty contrast it adds to the mix—trust me!)

Mix it all up about an hour before serving and chill it in the fridge.

GRACE NOTE From the Publisher
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ROLLER SHADES | INTERIOR | EXTERIOR | CUSTOM | COMMERCIAL | HOME Draper® FlexShade® Tension ZIP exterio r motorized shades with Phifer® fabric. Draper products are designed, engineered, and assembled in the USA. © 2024 All Rights Reserved.

window covering industry shares a profound dedication to the environment and has been actively reducing its carbon footprint while also assisting consumers in doing the

International Window Coverings Expo’s (IWCE) debut in Texas this April surpassed expectations, featuring a dynamic exhibition space teeming with participants keen to explore cuttingedge products and suppliers.

Design Sales from Traditional to Modern By Kathy Cragg Pace

to Sophistication: The Cafe Curtain Is Having a Renaissance By Jennifer Holaday

Forward with Artificial Intelligence in Recruitment By James Stryker


26 MARKETING Standing Out
Blair 56 SOLD! Nature, the Ultimate Selling Partner By Oliver Schreiber From High Point Market to Milan Design Week, the month of April found many design and retail professionals on the road in search of the latest trends in home furnishings and accessories. 4 6 10 12 18 20 22 24 62 64 68 72 38 4 Making an Environmental Impact at the Window The
IWCE 2024 Sets New Record with Largest Event in 20 Years
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That’s Interesting
and Perks of Motorization By
to Cinema
Tommy Long and Kim Boynton
in a Saturated Market
Marissa Massey and Shaun
to Crafting
Perfect Go-To Market Strategy: Part 1 By Sam

From Mosquito Menace to Patio Paradise

In the heart of Dallas, Texas, an residential homeowner was driven by the ambition to merge the indoors with the outdoors, aiming for full visibility and immunity from insect disturbances. The prevalent mosquito menace in Texas spurred Teresa Williams of KJ Custom Screens & Outdoor Living in Frisco into action, with the objective of encasing the patio area. This move was intended to foster an environment conducive to enjoying the outdoors without the nuisances associated with bugs. The solution involved the deployment of nine bespoke motorized screens, which were discreetly integrated into the architectural elements such as columns and specially made custom wood box cavities, delivering a refined and unobtrusive look.

The project’s success hinged on the selection of Phifer Tuff Screen, renowned for its optimal visibility and insect protection capabilities. The stunningly successful outcome of this project was made possible through a collaborative effort with Ellen Grasso & Sons Custom Homes, which was pivotal in realizing the client’s vision. The initiative featured the use of elite products like Universal Motion Screens, Phifer Tuff Screen and Somfy Motors. The investment for this state-of-the-art screening solution surpassed $50,000 for the screens alone, underscoring its value in enhancing the quality of outdoor living spaces.

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Huntington Wicker Swivel Papasan Outdoor Lounge Chair

Huntington is like the fancy, bougie cousin of backyard hangouts. It boasts a stylish weave that pays homage to traditional wicker skills and can withstand Mother Nature’s tantrums. Take your outdoor shenanigans up a notch with this swanky piece inspired by high-end vacation vibes—it’ll elevate your chill game in no time (and require minimal effort on cleanup duty).

Umbrosa Icarus UX Umbrella

Icarus UX umbrella: a one-of-a-kind parasol that combines style, strength and unbeatable wind resistance. With its unique leaf-shaped design and 360-degree rotating mechanism, this innovative parasol gives you full control over shading wherever you go. Whether facing gusty winds or seeking shelter from the sun’s rays, simply adjust the height to your liking for ultimate protection. And with sustainability in mind every step of the way—including locally sourced parts—installation is a breeze!


R-BLADE™ Motorized Louvered Pergola

Say goodbye to ordinary and hello to customizable luxury at your fingertips! Azenco introduces the R-BLADE™ motorized louvered pergola: an innovative solution for your outdoor oasis. Why settle for a static setup when you can have dynamic and flexible control? With just one touch, the advanced motorized system lets you adjust the louvers to create the perfect amount of shade or shelter based on Mother Nature’s mood.

& Noteworthy
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(03/24) 24-548500 Motorized lift options offer effortless light control and privacy. Ready to ditch cords? Call (800) 858-2352 or email to learn about designing with motorized lift! Classic Styles You Know, Modern Innovation You Love

& Noteworthy


A New Outdoor Lifestyle Collection

Thibaut introduces a new trilogy of performance fabric, wide-width sheers and trim that are fade-proof and bleach cleanable. Plus, the introduction of locale wide width, the first collection of solution-dyed acrylic fabrics that are 110" to 128" with more than 50 styles.

Chunk Rectangle Roman Stone Coffee Table

Behold the Chunk Rectangle Roman Stone Coffee Table by Phillips Collection. Crafted from a blend of resin and crushed stone, this bad boy is tough as nails and can withstand any weather conditions, making it the ultimate focal point for both your backyard oasis and cozy interior spaces.


Matterport’s Pro3 Camera

Say goodbye to snail-paced scanning and hello to warp speed with Matterport’s latest 3D camera. Pro3 guarantees precision scans of every nook and cranny, inside and outside your property. And don’t be stingy with those models, share them online through a fancy Matterport subscription for ultimate productivity and teamwork.

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Pursuing Your Own Destiny

Arthur James Jr., founder and president of Progressive Screens, has forged a successful career building on his entrepreneurial roots, passion for innovation and unwavering resilience

Arthur James Jr.’s lessons in entrepreneurship happened close to home at an early age. At 20, he was already running the production operation of his father’s screen door business, learning every aspect of the organization— from sandblasting and fabrication to painting and shipping. “My father was my mentor and best friend growing up in the business and he instilled in me that failure is never an option,” James shared.

With a self-made entrepreneur as his guide, it was only natural that he’d start a few businesses of his own. “I began in the exterior screen business as a distributor in 1995, only the third U.S. company in this market,” James said. He attempted to buy the company he was distributing for but was outbid. So, he ended the distribution contract and founded Progressive Screens, offering high-quality motorized screening solutions. Father and son then went on an entrepreneurial spree—purchasing Arthur Sr.’s previous outdoor furniture company together; merging the screening solutions, furniture and screen door businesses under a 110,000-square-foot facility; and acquiring a corrugated box company.

I encourage and empower our employees to be innovative, confront conflict with curiosity, and do what’s best for the betterment of the company!
– Arthur James Jr.

Triumph from Adversity

When the Great Recession hit, James’ businesses felt the repercussions as acutely as most other companies. “Once the economy took a turn for the worse in 2008, it was rough times,” he said. The death of his father in 2009 proved devastating, but he kept moving forward. In 2010, he started Sentry Protection, offering an Australian stainless steel mesh security and storm protection product for doors and windows. But with the economy still floundering, in 2013, he made the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy and sell every business except Progressive. “I had to find a new vision,” he said.

That quest led him into the hospitality sector, where he recognized an untapped market for exterior screening. As he made inroads in this channel, James was simultaneously working on a new product he hoped would take Progressive Screens to the next level: MagnaTrack. MagnaTrack is a patented, self-correcting system that uses opposite polarity magnets to allow the inner track to free float within the housing for a constant, secure hold, compensating for out-of-square or unlevel surfaces and keeping the fabric taut.

“We launched MagnaTrack in July 2017, and that marked the rebirth of Progressive Screens,” James said. The product’s growth has been phenomenal, with sales increasing by a factor of 15 since the introduction.

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A New Era

In late 2020, Hunter Douglas purchased Progressive Screens, building up an outdoor business that now encompasses leading brands like Universal Screens, SunPro and Azenco (known for its motorized pergolas). The acquisition came at a perfect time, according to James. “With the rapid growth we were experiencing, and working on limited cash flow, Hunter Douglas provided the capital to sustain our growth, expand our facility, invest in manufacturing equipment and hire the right people for the right seats,” he noted.

MagnaTrack is thriving as a Hunter Douglas brand and is now sold in North America, South America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. “We’ve been categorized as the disruptor of the industry, setting the bar for innovation and design,” James commented. “Our product is in a league of its own.”

As one would expect, this driven leader isn’t satisfied to rest on his laurels. “Our plan is to continue to innovate, dominate and provide world-class products with world-class support through all factories under the Hunter Douglas brand,” he said. Leveraging a strong leadership team and talent base, he envisions a time when clients won’t need to look anywhere else to fill their exterior screening requirements at their desired price point.

The Recipe for Success

James credits an amazing team as critical to his success in driving the business forward. “They allow me to be a visionary,” he said. “And I find it especially rewarding to see my vision come to reality.” As a leader, he focuses on tapping the right

talent for each role, and then ensuring they have the capacity and support to succeed. Rather than micromanage, he leads by example. “I encourage and empower our employees to be innovative, confront conflict with curiosity, and do what’s best for the betterment of the company!” —Arthur James Jr.

He’s also a big believer in the power of relationships, which he constantly builds by remaining accessible, responsive and visible with employees and clients. “Our clients are our family, and our team is the means to produce and support our product for the end consumer,” James explained.

Though he’s led businesses through tough times, James truly enjoys his life’s work. “I love what I do, and I’m so passionate about our products that work is fun for me!” he said. But he also lives by the “work hard, play hard” philosophy, pursuing high-adrenaline hobbies like skydiving, flying and speed boating. Though he’s traveled across the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Australia, as a husband and a father of two young children, he now prefers to spend time with family at home in Sarasota, Florida.

Throughout a journey fraught with twists and turns, James has remained fearless and optimistic. “I’ve learned not to be scared of change because beautiful things can blossom out of the darkest circumstances,” he said. “Developing a product that was a game-changer for the industry, and creating the following we have with our dealer base, was a monumental and amazing task. And we’ve just begun to scratch the surface of where Hunter Douglas and our multiple product offerings will take us!”. V


The Power and Perks of Motorization

Smart shade solutions present untapped benefits for dealers, designers and more

In 2010, I held a position at ESI, serving as a sales representative and technical trainer. My role involved conducting two-day training sessions on our products and the overall concept of motorization every few months. During this time, the rate of motorization in the U.S. was still relatively low and there were always individuals in each class who felt apprehensive or doubtful about it. I distinctly recall hearing the president of a significant company question why they should even be concerned with motorization.

Fourteen years have passed, and the landscape of motorized window treatments has undergone significant changes, particularly in terms of technology, acceptance and perspective. I recently had a conversation with an experienced individual in the industry who expressed that if you are not selling motorized shades as an option, it is pointless to stay in business. While this statement may be overstated, I share the belief that automated window treatments will heavily impact our industry’s future forever.

Smart Shades on Demand

The question of whether to sell motorized window treatments can be quickly answered by considering consumer demand. This industry sector has experienced consistent growth in recent times, and there is no indication that this trend will slow down anytime soon. Multiple factors contribute to the increasing popularity of motorization, including the widespread use of smartphones and tablets and the mainstream acceptance of smart home technologies over the past two decades.

A decade ago, setting up smart lighting in a home would typically involve hiring a home automation business. However, major retailers nowadays have numerous do-it-yourself options for intelligent lighting systems and other interconnected devices like video doorbells and smart thermostats. There is an increasing demand to incorporate motorized window coverings into one’s expanding smart home setup.

FULL FRAME Smart Shades MAY + JUNE 2024 | 18

The decrease in motorization prices and the expansion of features have been noticeable, particularly with the integration of rechargeable battery motors. This sector has experienced significant growth, making it a great starting point for those new to motorized window treatments. These motors are user-friendly and do not require complex installation or wiring. This market is projected to continue to thrive, with some dealers anticipating a 50% increase by 2024, according to a study conducted in 2023 by CE Pro magazine.

“There has been a significant increase in sales of motorized exterior shades, awnings and pergolas compared to previous years’ numbers.”

Rev Up Revenue

Battery-powered motors present a great chance to generate additional sales by converting manually operated shades into motorized ones. Many companies now provide easy solutions for replacing the clutch with a motor, making it simpler to upgrade existing manual shades. As expected, once customers try out motorized shades, they often want them in more areas of their home or office. This initial investment in one or two automated shades can lead to future purchases as other manual ones are converted over time. Additionally, given the new regulations on cords that will be implemented this summer, it’s likely that some individuals will choose motorization rather than settle for subpar manual systems.

Effectively promoting motorized window treatments requires understanding their advantages, the greatest being convenience. A surprising study from the Department of Energy in 2013 revealed that a significant number (71%) of individuals do not bother moving their shades at all. This may be surprising to some, but it is understandable when considering the effort involved in manually adjusting multiple shades throughout various rooms several times a day. In another study conducted by Olibra, the makers of Bond Bridge, in 2023, specifically on automated shades, it was found that 90% of respondents were primarily interested in these products for their convenience factor. Unlike manual options, automatic window treatments allow you to control individual or groups of shades with just one touch or even operate them throughout your entire house seamlessly— an important selling point to highlight during presentations. Additionally, integrating automation through a budget friendly SmartHub system with app accessibility also offers added benefits.

Several research studies have demonstrated the advantages of exposure to natural sunlight, such as increased efficiency in offices, quicker recovery time in medical facilities and improved

academic performance in schools. However, an excess of light can also have adverse effects due to glare and excessive heat. To address this issue, basic schedules that automatically control window shades can allow us to benefit from sunlight when necessary but block it out when it becomes overwhelming without effort.

Not only does this have potential benefits for health and wellness, but automation can also significantly reduce utility costs, which would appeal to any potential customer. In addition to being able to schedule shade automation, adding a SmartHub with app control offers customers the option of controlling their shades in their preferred manner. According to Olibra’s research, 94% of users prefer using an app on their smartphones or tablets over traditional keypads and remotes when operating shades. Many hubs and motors can even be controlled by voice commands, such as asking Siri to close your shades at bedtime— providing ultimate convenience. Knowing where and when it is appropriate to bring up motorization is essential too. According to CE Pro’s study, the master bedroom ranks highest for spaces that benefit from motorized shades. Large or hard-toreach windows are also ideal candidates for motorization.

Expanding Beyond Interior

It’s important to note that the use of motors isn’t limited to just interior shades. The outdoor market is experiencing rapid growth within our industry. There has been a significant increase in sales of motorized exterior shades, awnings and pergolas compared to previous years’ numbers. These particular products are typically equipped with advanced features such as obstacle-detecting motors and wind sensors to avoid potential damage during strong winds. While they may require more technical knowledge than interior shades, a reputable manufacturer can offer training programs for these items, which can become highly profitable assets likely to see continuous expansion.

Motorization is headed toward a promising future. There will likely be advancements in control and integration choices, which, paired with the ongoing development of smart home technologies, will make setting up and managing motors more effortless. Therefore, if you have been hesitant or overwhelmed by motorization, now would be an ideal time to try it. Motorization has never been as uncomplicated, diverse and cost-effective as it currently is. V

John MacKenzie is the CEO and co-founder of Cronopower, a Colorado-based startup that has developed an intelligent charging system for rechargeable battery motors. He began as an installer nearly 20 years ago and went on to work in both the residential and commercial sides of the industry. His true passion lies in product design and innovation.



The versatile outdoor movie theater experience

Motorized shades: the ultimate solution for sun, privacy, wind and rain protection. Oh, and did we mention they double as an outdoor movie screen? Talk about multitasking! Exterior patio shades have a hood and housing—unlike interior shades that only have a fascia or valance—making them versatile. Now you can chill in the pool or kick back on the patio while enjoying your favorite movie, sports game or TV show. No need to compromise relaxation for entertainment.

Shades that are white in color with a high density of at least 97% up to 100% (completely opaque) project the best image. Features include sidetracks to hold the shade steady, a heavy bottom bar to assist in deployment and aluminum housing to protect the shade when not in use. Shade widths can span up to about 30', taking movie night to a whole new level, and can be mounted to almost any solid stationary structure, including pool cages and screen walls.

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Projector/Shade Screen Installation Steps:

This solution requires a rectangular structure or surface for mounting and a power source nearby to plug in the motor. Exterior patio shades need to have a flat surface to mount everything to make for a bug-free and climate-controlled patio.

Mount the housing first, making sure it’s level. The hood and housing need to be hung straight and level; this helps with the fabric rolling up correctly during the up-and-down motion. All weights of the shade systems are on either end of the roller tube, therefore ensuring that the ends of the housing are securely installed with good screws is a must.

1. This solution requires a rectangular structure or surface for mounting and a power source nearby to plug in the motor. Exterior patio shades need to have a flat surface to mount everything to make for a bug-free and climate-controlled patio.

2. Mount the housing first, making sure it’s level. The hood and housing need to be hung straight and level; this helps with the fabric rolling up correctly during the up-and-down motion. All weights of the shade systems are on either end of the roller tube, therefore ensuring that the ends of the housing are securely installed with good screws is a must.

4. Proceed to measure for tracks and cut them to size. Each system has a unique way of installing the side tracks and the fabric then goes into the side tracks. Now, each manufacturer has a different side retention system. Some manufacturer's side tracks must be installed in certain ways.

5. Wake up the motor, slide on the bottom bar and set the tracks in place, making sure they are plumb and square.

6. Run your shade down and up a couple of times to ensure proper operation, set your top and bottom limits, program your motor and you’re done!

This is why exterior patio shades are uniquely different from interior shades: The side tracks hold the fabrics in place when the shade is being operated. In addition, motorization adds to the ease of operation of the shades and can be controlled through a remote, app or voice activation. Designers and installers need to communicate the needs the homeowner is looking for and the expectations of what can be done with the products that are offered. See the full installation featured on page 46 V

Tommy Long has been in the exterior window covering industry for 23-plus years. He has in-depth knowledge and experience of the installation process and products. He has been a Somfy expert programmer for more than 18 years and has a wealth of knowledge in many different aspects of construction. In 2023, he became the national training director at Universal Screens and created the MotionScreen University Program.

Kim Boynton is the owner of 3/8 and Co. and the designer of IWCE 2024’s Outdoor Oasis. She specializes in motorization of screens, solar shading, awnings, hurricane protection and louvered roof pergolas. She is also state licensed and an insured Florida Specialty Structure contractor and has been in the motorization industry since 2003.

3. Next, the roller tube that houses the motor needs to be installed in the housing with the fabric.

Transforming Design Sales from Traditional to Modern

The pandemic is over and our business landscape demands a new approach to selling

The days of overflowing projects and desperate clients are gone. Leads are scarce and expensive. Even with window treatment projects still on the table, customers no longer rush to make purchases. Instead, they say, “Let me think about it.” Can we fix this? It’s time for an overhaul of our sales tactics if we want to keep growing. Let’s be real, most businesses nowadays are stuck in a rut. The pandemic forced us into some speedy routines like rushed interactions and straight-to-the-point appointments for safety purposes. But let’s not forget that quality connections and trustbuilding take time, especially when it comes to selling high-end custom products. So, before we keep rushing ahead, let’s consider the cost of sacrificing these crucial elements.

What’s Trending: Modern Sales

Traditional transactional sales? So last season. Customers have spoken and they’re done with it. In today’s world, buyers want to work with trustworthy professionals, not pushy salespeople. Maybe we rethink our methods because in trying to be efficient, we may be reinforcing outdated habits that customers are running from. Salespeople have gotten a bad rap, but it’s time to change that.

Let’s play a little game. I say “salesman” and you tell me what comes to mind. You’re probably thinking of some outdated stereotypes: the sleazy, pushy guy in an ill-fitting suit who talks too fast and tries to swindle you. But let’s not dwell on those tired cliches; most sales professionals these days are legit and work hard at their jobs. Sick of being stereotyped as a salesperson? Join the club. It’s practically ingrained in our culture to view sellers with suspicion and skepticism. And, let’s face it, every business needs sales to survive. So, stop feeling sorry for yourself and take a hard look at your own attitudes and actions before blaming external factors for your struggles.

Your business thrives on sales, but consumers are more guarded than ever. Good news: The slick-suited reps responsible for this mess have retired. Today’s sellers are professional and respectable, so why is the stigma of pushy tactics still sticking around?

Traditional Salesman on the Move

He’s a master of quick assessments, persuasive product presentations and quoting prices. He knows how to crush

FULL FRAME Transformations
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objections using killer tactics learned in the trenches. And with a resounding “SOLD!” he moves on to his next victim. But let’s face it: We’re not all about arm-twisting and hard sells anymore. In this fastpaced world, we take pride in finding hacks and shortcuts for saving time. But our obsession with efficiency may be hindering us when clients say things like, “Thanks, but I need some time to think.” So, what do you do? You text, email leave messages … but still nothing but crickets chirping back at you.

Sales Savior, Modern Style

Successful salespeople understand that initial interactions with clients can be distant and reserved. However, by fostering a friendly relationship throughout the sales process, their chances of closing the deal significantly increase. That’s where ReCEPT comes in—it reminds you to take your time and provide your client with an experience that is Relaxed, Connected, Engaging, Personalized and Transformational. Now, let’s dive into how modern sales have evolved from old-fashioned transactional methods and why adopting these new techniques will benefit you greatly. The sales transformation customers expect in today’s businesses include:

● The one-sided sales pitch has developed into a two-sided dialogue.

● “Me” oriented is now “we” oriented.

● Persuasion has advanced to exceptional communication.

● What was a win/lose contest has become a win/win service.

● Selling is done for someone rather than to them.

● Canned scripts have transitioned to a more flexible approach.

● The hunter instinct has evolved into a helping instinct.

● ABC (Always Be Closing) has morphed into ABH (Always Be Helping).

● The CON artist is now the PROfessional.

Buyers Flock to Modern Sales Experts

Awesome news for you! But only if you ditch transactional sales and level up your skills. Clients these days crave a partnership, not a lecture. They want clarity, not chaos, when making choices. Give them just enough info to make the perfect decision without any pushy sales tactics or time constraints.

Unlock your inner “Yes Magnet” potential by slowing down. Don’t just make acquaintances, create ReCEPTive friends who will keep coming back for more of the elevated experience you provide. Cut down on appointments and boost client satisfaction with this modern approach to business growth that focuses on selling transformations rather than products. Remember: A haven is not just an object, it’s a feeling.

Forget the old image of aggressive, smooth-talking salespeople. Today’s modern sales pros are all about empathy and putting others first. They prioritize building genuine connections instead of just making a quick buck. By constantly learning and adapting, they create sales encounters that spark real change—leading to even more success in an everchanging market. V

Kathy Cragg Pace empowers design sales professionals to provide an irresistible selling experience. Her specialty is elevated design sales for individuals and teams. Kathy helps businesses look at their existing sales process and, without starting over, incorporate Modern Sales methods to increase sales without ever being "salesy." Throughout her extensive career, she led her own award-winning design franchise, real-estate and custom home-building companies, a North American network of large and small independent window-covering business owners, and a nationwide retail team of in-home design professionals. She offers Modern Sales Mastery courses, tools, and coaching with guaranteed results »


Nostalgia to Sophistication:

The Cafe Curtain Is Having a Renaissance

Cafe curtains have been gracing our kitchens and bathrooms for generations. But, let’s be honest, for decades, they’ve been predictable and over the top—think rod pockets, frilly valances, maybe even a swag if you’re feeling fancy.

Personally, I flashback to the 1980s, where ruffles reigned supreme. For those seasoned in the realm of window treatments, you understand that trends have a way of circling back. And, lo and behold, in recent years, these little window dressings have been staging a triumphant return. This time, however, they’ve matured.

Forget everything you knew about cafe curtains: The modern twist is all about simplicity and sophistication. These petite window treatments make a big impact, providing both privacy and the cherished natural light our clients crave.

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Additionally, they’re not picky about where they hang out anymore. In the past, kitchens and bathrooms were their mainstay, but now they’re breaking out into breakfast nooks, mcooms, laundry rooms and home offices. You will also see them used in pantries as cabinet doors. They’re versatile, they’re chic and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

So, how do we keep these cafes fresh without triggering nostalgia for grandma’s house? First, keep it simple and ditch the valance. And while we’re at it, leave those ruffles and tiebacks in the past too. Lastly, let’s keep it contemporary with no more tension utility rods either.

Fabric choice is crucial. It might seem obvious, but if you want a more modern-looking window treatment, choose a modern fabric. Stay away from small checks or tiny calico prints that read quaint or country. Fabrics should not be heavy, as they may read bulky, so opt for lightweight cotton and linen. Polyester blends can also work. Just be careful when using 100% polyester for a cafe curtain, as it may evoke memories of the old Sears catalog.

Solids are perfect for those with more modern aesthetics as they’re simple and clean. For those cozy, more traditionalleaning homes, matching your fabric with your wallpaper is an updated look that makes a big impact.

When crafting curtains for kitchens and bathrooms, performance fabrics can be an absolute game changer! Perennials Fabrics has a great selection of textured sheers and lightweight fabrics that can withstand stains and are mold-resistant.

If you want to add a little punch to your simple treatments, trims and tapes are still a secret weapon. A simple grosgrain ribbon along the leading edge or bottom is an elevated touch. Your trims are where you can get a little more creative, but be careful not to overdo it or you’ll conjure up thoughts of fussy and old-fashioned.

For the updated cafe, we’re talking about using proper rods with rings for the hardware, absolutely no clips. A simple black finish is still a popular choice, but a sleek brass or gold finish will add a touch of sophistication.

In addition to small windows, cafe curtains can stretch across multiple window widths and the hardware plays a crucial role in keeping them up to date. For a standard window, whether installing inside or outside, a ½-inch rod will do. When cafes span multiple window lengths, a ¾-inch rod might be more fitting. Go any bigger and you risk overpowering or chopping up the space.

When there’s sufficient window depth, an inside-mount installation is ideal for a cafe style. Tension rods are outdated, so stick with inside-mount brackets. For a touch of elegance, French return rods are still a favored style for outside installation. Some people mount the French return directly on the trim. However, if you mount the returns on the wall about ½ inch from the window trim, your rod will protrude less into the room. A smaller projection, such as 2½ inches, will also produce a sleeker finish. If you don’t like the French return look, stick with small inconspicuous finials. End caps in matte black will keep the space clean and modern.

Fabrication is where the magic happens, so let’s dive into the details! Workrooms and designers all have their preferences when it comes to the details of making cafe curtains. But take note: Nothing will take you back in time like a tightly shirred rod pocket panel. If your client insists on this look and plans to keep them closed all the time, sewing a larger rod pocket header will help to keep it casual and fresh.

Classic pinch pleats still do the trick for those traditional and transitional homes, but you could mix it up a little and go for a three-prong Euro pleat. For a simpler vibe, two-prong pleats are what most modern clients prefer whether they be tacked at the top or the bottom. Flat headers may work for contemporary spaces, but a small single pleat or back tack really adds that touch of custom flair.

Cafe curtains call for smaller headers and hem sizes, so aim for a 2- to 3-inch header and hem. Opt for a leading edge of 1½- to 2-inch and skip the leading edge rings for that clean finish. If the cafe is being installed on the front of the house where it will be seen from the outside, consider sewing on your rings versus using drapery pins for a truly custom element.

Every workroom knows that you can make the most beautiful window treatment, but if it’s not hung correctly, it's all for naught. Finished lengths should either hover over the windowsill or gracefully hang just past the bottom trim. Visually, it’s nice if the rod lines up with one of the window muntins, but, most importantly, the top of the drapery should cover any locks or other window mechanisms. If you’re uncertain of your finished length, here’s a tip: Instead of chopping your window in half, divide your window into thirds to help you settle on that perfect length.

Cafe curtains have come a long way. Once relegated to kitchens and bathrooms, they have now evolved into versatile and chic window treatments that can enhance any room in your home. The modern twist on cafe curtains emphasizes simplicity and sophistication. Say goodbye to the granny of window treatments—cafe curtains have officially joined the cool crowd! V

Jennifer Holaday is the creative force behind Brave Maggie Designs’ custom window treatments and soft furnishings. What began as a solo endeavor operating from her home workroom has evolved into an award-winning bespoke soft furnishings enterprise serving discerning interior designers across Nashville, TN. Jennifer oversees every aspect of the process, from initial consultation and measurement to fabrication and installation, ensuring each project surpasses expectations. Committed to impeccable craftsmanship and individualized attention, her bespoke creations blend timeless elegance with modern flair.


From Unexpected Beginnings to Stylish Endings

A passion for crafting solutions propels a designer’s adventurous journey

Life has a way of guiding you to the very place you belong, just ask Shradha (Sonia) Soni, owner and lead design consultant at Life Shades Limited. Her journey to the window covering industry didn’t take a traditional route, but it brought her to the helm of a fast-growing business.

The Path Less Chosen

Her family relocated from India to Canada with the expectation that their 12-year-old daughter Sonia would pursue a science degree (as she did) and become a doctor (which ultimately was not the case). After completing her studies, Sonia got married and embarked on a career in financial brokerage. While furnishing their first home together, they discovered limited options for personalized window treatments among local businesses.

Sonia recognized a great opportunity and declared, “Let’s seize it!” Initial projects providing window coverings for family and friends led to rapid growth through word of mouth. Once they completed the design of a model home for a local builder, the business skyrocketed. After two years of balancing her regular job, Sonia finally dedicated

herself entirely to the company in 2019. While her husband, Amar, still works as a pharmacist, he is equally involved in the venture. He was actually the one who persuaded them to fully commit to window coverings after attending an influential trade show that highlighted the industry’s huge potential. Despite facing challenges with supply chain disruptions due to COVID-19, which delayed machinery delivery by one year, it ultimately had little impact on their overall success story.

It Takes Two

Life Shades continues to thrive and conquer new heights with a growth rate of 35% to 40%. But Sonia has her sights set even higher: She envisions an incredible surge of 75% by expanding their offerings and conquering uncharted territories. As it stands, the company already commands a whopping 6,000-square-foot space that serves as both a retail paradise and workshop where Sonia’s skilled team brings ideas to life, perfects designs and produces opulent bespoke draperies

Despite not having a specific plan for becoming an entrepreneur, she believes that fate had its hand in her journey. With determination and grit instilled by her father, who balanced his mechanical engineering

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career with running a business, the idea of owning her own enterprise was always on her mind. And, to top it off, finding a partner likeminded in their pursuit of entrepreneurship made for the ultimate power couple—just what was needed to conquer the world of window coverings.

This dynamic duo of right- and left-brained geniuses combines the two essential ingredients Sonia believes are crucial for Life Shades to thrive. Their unique combination of design prowess and technical mastery is their secret weapon, allowing them to effortlessly conjure up an atmosphere using vibrant hues and rich textures while simultaneously engineering flawless functionality. Together, they conquer any challenge thrown their way with fearless drive—she paints the picture, and he brings it to life!

Their latest endeavor proved to be a daring showcase of their competitive edge. As they boldly strode into a potential client’s abode, an alluring circular bedroom caught their attention and beckoned for window treatments. Undaunted by this challenge, Sonia was consumed with perfecting the aesthetic elements, while Amar fearlessly tackled the technical aspect of mounting tracks.

Selling Solutions, Not Products

Sonia describes Life Shades as a solutions company. As windows become more complicated—whether larger, taller or oddly shaped— they find ways to solve the problem, both practically and aesthetically. “We never shy away from an obstacle,” she declared. “In fact, we embrace it wholeheartedly and eagerly push boundaries.” This fearless attitude continuously attracts new clients to their doorstep.

“Designers and builders are so confident in us that whenever they have a need, they assume we can meet it. We’ve found a niche that we’ve mastered.”

Sonia’s strong desire to acquire knowledge has played a crucial role in the company’s emphasis on finding solutions. According to her, trade shows are one of their most valuable sources of learning. They make it a point to attend all significant events annually, regardless of size or location—both domestic and international. Since the beginning of their business venture, they have never missed attending any International Window Coverings Expo and always manage to discover excellent suppliers there. Sonia also participates in vendor training to learn about new products and new ways to solve tricky window challenges, and she even earned an interior design degree to advance her skills.

“I wanted to add value to the client’s experience: To be able to talk about colors, undertones, and textures and help them make an informed decision,” she explained. Though cost is often a consideration, even for affluent clients, Sonia’s consultative approach helps every client achieve the look they want. “My philosophy is to splurge in some areas and save in others, so you can achieve the desired ambience within the budget,” she said.

Sonia also credits strong relationships with suppliers as integral to the company’s success. “First, we have to believe in their product,” she said. “Then, we take time to ensure they’re innovative, willing to work with us and committed to quality.” As a result of being selective in their choices, Life Shades rarely receives service requests from customers.

Up Next: The Great Outdoors

Sonia is embarking on the next stage of her journey: exterior window treatments. Once again, their motivation stemmed from a need to discover superior options for their personal residence. Sonia and her husband were excited to safeguard their deck with outdoor screens after relocating to their second home, but they struggled to find many nearby vendors who could assist them. However, after a dedicated year of investigating and strategic preparation, Life Shades quietly introduced an outdoor product collection in 2023 and is now making significant progress this current year. As she often does with a new offering, Sonia teased the outdoor concept on Instagram to generate interest during the early research phase.

“Word spreads, inquiries come in and that tells us there’s a market for our product. There are so many clients, designers and builders on our platform who are excited about our company, they keep pushing us to do something new,” said Sonia. When a window supplier asked if they offered outdoor zipper screens, of course the answer was “Not yet—but we’ll look into it!”

Besides using Instagram to test the waters on new product ideas, Sonia turns to the social media channel as her go-to marketing platform—one that generates lots of leads and makes a major contribution to her company’s growth.

“We use Instagram to showcase our most beautiful projects and our solutions to the most complicated window problems,” she said.

Sonia also r eaches out to builders and designers directly on the social platform to see if they’re interested in Life Shades’ product offerings and would like to work together.

Despite facing numerous obstacles along the way, Sonia has discovered her true calling and is fulfilled by witnessing the growth of both herself and the company. “Being a part of the pivotal moments in a project or constructing a brand-new home, observing as we adorn each window with care and precision, it brings me immense joy,” she exclaimed. V



From bland to grand, backyards aren’t what they used to be


The late and great Frank Lloyd Wright held strong opinions on outdoor living, as he stated in the conclusion of his work “Wellness by Design”: “Learn from nature, love nature, stay close to nature, it will never fail you.” In light of the recent shift in priorities for homeowners, with outdoor living ranking highest on their wish lists, architects and design professionals specializing in residential design must make it a critical focus. The trend toward embracing nature while enjoying the benefits of outdoor living has resulted in a renewed significance placed on outdoor spaces of all dimensions in our domestic lives. With homeowners increasingly aware of the mental and physical advantages of the natural world, designers have crafted remarkable backyards, covered porches, gardens, terraces, and patios that can enhance the well-being of those who enjoy them.


A recent survey conducted by the New Home Trends Institute in partnership with Pro Builder highlighted the key factors driving outdoor living trends. According to “The Future of Home Design,” people’s connection to nature and outdoor entertaining ranked high on the top 10 list. The survey revealed that 58% of respondents considered it essential to stay connected to the outdoors and nature in their future design choices, while 45% expressed an increased interest in outdoor entertainment. The survey predicts that connection to nature will be the most influential driver of home design choices in the next three years, following value and cost considerations.


Looking ahead to the year 2024, the concept of the “eclectic yard” has emerged as a prominent prediction for outdoor living. Instead of focusing on strict modernist or formalist design, this trend emphasizes a more free-flowing approach. The yards feature winding paths, gentle angles and natural-looking plant arrangements that appear to have grown spontaneously. Sustainability is also a major focus, with an emphasis on using

native plants and creating edible gardens that require minimal maintenance. These eclectic yards create a connection between homeowners and the natural rhythms of the environment by incorporating both annual and perennial plants, while also serving as a habitat for beneficial insects, according to Yardzen.



Yardzen’s designers are adept at blending practicality with aesthetic appeal, thereby elevating both the functional and visual aspects of outdoor spaces. They anticipate a significant expansion in outdoor decor that prioritizes wellness and well-being. From saunas and heated furniture to elevated gardening beds, we expect to witness a surge in designs that prioritize physical and mental health.

In 2024, customers are increasingly seeking outdoor investment products such as sustainable materials for modular raised beds and at-home spas that include a two-person sauna. Undoubtedly, the upcoming trends of outdoor living will deviate from the conventional backyard setup owing to various new obstacles. However, the significance of being in touch with nature continues to be a pivotal aspect of designing for both creators and customers.


Meeting the rising demand for multifunctional outdoor spaces by designing higher-density projects calls for innovative problem-solving. The pandemic brought about an increase in our requirements for both outdoor and indoor spaces that are functional and versatile, such as a dedicated workspace for remote work. Although outdoor spaces are now given greater priority, according to Pro Builder, statistical analysis suggests that we should not anticipate a substantial shift of square footage from indoor areas to outdoor ones in the future. “I love that it changes the customer’s living experience. No two projects are the same. Each solution requires a unique solution, and that challenge is exciting!” said Kim Boyton, owner of 3/8 & Co.


The outdoor living industry is a hub of innovation that benefits everyone involved, from designers to manufacturers. Not only does it offer energy-saving benefits, but it also keeps customers satisfied. Industry professionals are enjoying the positive outcome, no matter how complex the exterior may be. “Sol-Lux is passionate about outdoor living and prioritizes quality and design in our products. Seeing the positive feedback from dealers regarding ease of installation and effectiveness in providing sun shading protection is incredibly motivating,” said national sales manager Steve Brous V

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Education is key for dealers looking to boost custom exterior solution

Nature holds a crucial position in modern life and has made its way into our homes. The trend of expanding living areas to the great outdoors has surged during the pandemic as people channeled their holiday savings to sprucing up their outdoor spaces. This trend is still on the rise and creates an optimistic opening for professionals in the trade and design industry to seize. Among the most popular trends in exterior window coverings, exterior shades have caught the eye of fabricators, designers, and even workrooms as they aim to widen their product selection and boost profits.

Oliver Schreiber, the owner of Beltway Blinds, has astutely identified the potential for growth in the exterior solutions sector and seamlessly integrated it into his business model. His


company’s revenue stream receives a noteworthy boost of 15% from exterior shades, which is particularly impressive, given that the market for such products in the upper East Coast region is typically seasonal. Notably, the interest in exterior shades extends beyond the designers and retailers, with manufacturers and fabricators investing heavily in the sector and reaping significant returns. For instance, Texton has reported that the production of exterior shades accounts for approximately 30% of its annual revenue and continues to show a marked increase. With an innovative and practical approach, outdoor spaces in areas with challenging climates can now be enjoyed year-round. The nascent outdoor living market holds enormous potential for growth, and our research provides valuable insights into current trends and sales in the realm of exterior design.

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As per VISION’s most recent survey, a majority of industry experts—approximately 65% of those who took part— asserted that their sales consist of a combination of both interior and exterior solutions. Of these participants, 10% reported that they exclusively deal in interiors only but plan on expanding to include outdoor solutions in the next 24 months.

Exterior shades and screens reign supreme among the products being offered by participants, with 64% of them reporting them as the top-selling item. Following closely behind are retractable insect screens, comprising 32% of sales, and retractable awnings at 23%. In addition to their primary products, sellers are also offering rolling shutters and louvered pergolas, with a growing demand for these ancillary offerings evident from their 10% sales volume. Fifty percent of the annual revenue for surveyors was generated from a mere 5% to 10% of their annual sales, while 30% of surveyors observed an increase in revenue up to 20%, and 40% had an average sale per outdoor project between $5,000 to $10,000. Decorative hardware, draperies and soft furnishings for exterior use continue to gain popularity among customers too and aound 15% of sellers are now offering a range of furniture, lighting, appliances and other outdoor items.

Survey results discovered the primary feature sought by clients in exterior products is glare control, followed by heat reduction, weather protection and then privacy. A low 4% of the respondents stated that their clients considered blackouts an essential factor. Seventy-five percent are selling both manual and motorized, but 67% do not provide electrical connections.


Proficiency in installing interior shades alone does not guarantee success in exterior installations. Neglecting training in exterior installations could result in a loss of sales to competitors who are better prepared. It is important for dealers to recognize that the sale of just one exterior shade can be as profitable as five motorized interior shades. As a result, adding an outdoor offering to their product line provides a seamless expansion of their business. This diversification not only adds value for customers but also opens up new revenue streams and opportunities for business growth. According to Steve Brous, national sales manager of Sol-Lux Awnings, this strategic move can be a natural extension to what dealers are already selling and installing to their built-in customer base in the shading business.

Documentation outlining the technical specifications of fabrics and components is necessary to comply with local flame requirements for commercial buyers. On the other hand, residential homeowner’s associations have their own set of requirements and may request documentation before purchase. Selling exterior shades requires a unique skill set and an understanding of proper installation techniques. Due to their large and robust nature, equipment and hardware are also crucial for their successful implementation. Knowing what to expect and possessing this knowledge is crucial for the function and long-term success of the product.

To deliver exceptional exterior solutions to residential and commercial customers, a variety of considerations must be made, including dimensions, extensions and angles, as well as electrical requirements, design integration and technological options. However, the most prominent factor that sets interiors and exteriors apart is the cost. Our survey showed that the biggest hurdle for those in the exteriors business is the price point. In a fiercely competitive market with pricey products, it is important to educate customers on the added value and superior quality of professionalgrade items over do-it-yourself alternatives.


For those with a keen interest in the outdoor sector, manufacturer training programs are essential. Keeping up to date with the latest shading trends can also be helpful and can be achieved by following relevant social media channels, subscribing to industry newsletters, and reading publications. Having a comprehensive understanding of the various features of shading systems—including shade protection benefits, energy efficiency and UV protection— enables sellers to offer tailored solutions to their customers. It is also crucial to have knowledge of installation processes and product warranties, as this ensures a hasslefree experience for customers, which ultimately leads to increased satisfaction and peace of mind. “It is important to have all these skills and knowledge to deliver the best solutions and services to customers!” offered Brous.

For exterior shades to be successfully sold, Jeff Miller, Texton, emphasized the importance of having a knowledgeable installation team with expertise in building practices and structures. Dealers should possess extensive knowledge to confidently address any inquiries or concerns about the shade solution. They must have the ability to skillfully respond to objections with truthful and informed responses while providing the best solution for the client’s needs.

Education is key to keeping up with the growing trend of outdoor living. To achieve this, fabricators and manufacturers worldwide are providing dealer training programs. For example, Texton offers a variety of exterior shading systems to cater to different needs, such as ZipScreen, Cable-Guide, Straight Drop and the Pivot Arm System. “By providing such a diverse range of options, dealers can provide suitable shading solutions for their customers’ unique requirements,” expressed Miller.


Interest in enhancing outdoor living areas is leading to increased demand for shades, awnings and louvered roofs. Draper, Inc.’s Clint Childress highlights the role of technology in developing better products. Sales success hinges on offering imaginative outdoor solutions, despite facing issues such as pricing and installation. Professionals aiming for the outdoor living market must focus on innovation and detailed planning. A survey by VISION offers trends and guidance for those in the industry, request a copy at To learn more about the benefits of selling exterior, please turn to page 56 V

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AFlorida homeowner encountered a challenge in addressing the problematic windows of their residential home. Their priority was to reduce the amount of light that entered the house through soft drapes and simultaneously create a covered outdoor area that could withstand inclement weather. To fulfill these requirements, they approached Shades By Design, an award-winning provider of custom window treatments and shading solutions for residential, commercial, industrial and marine spaces in Florida, New York and select Caribbean Islands.

The objective was to devise personalized solutions that would fuse functionality with aesthetics, remedying the window issues while elevating the indoor ambience. Additionally, they sought to build a sheltered outdoor space that could adapt to varying weather patterns and be enjoyed by the occupants during sunny days.

Over the course of six months, this project entailed implementing indoor motorized shades, drapes and outdoor pergolas. Its cost surpassing $250,000, it stood as a substantial investment, reflecting the magnitude and intricacy of the endeavor. Shades By Design’s primary goal for the interior design and installation was to provide exceptional privacy and light blockage solutions for the bedrooms, as well as additional privacy measures for the living room. Achieving this required attention to detail, particularly in concealing the hardware. Working closely with the general contractor, they seamlessly integrated all components into the ceiling or drapery coves for a flawless finish.

To guarantee both optimal light control and the desired aesthetic for the space, Somfy roller motors and drapery tracks were paired with Magitex drapery fabric for both the curtains and roman shades. This carefully selected combination allowed for seamless operation and a sophisticated finish. To create a comprehensive outdoor entertainment space, Shades By Design used Renson’s louvered pergolas for the patio’s exterior design and installation. These pergolas flawlessly merge with the interior living space, ensuring full protection from weather elements and providing nighttime illumination. Ensuring

that every surface was leveled, all windows had proper electrical wiring.

Meeting the client’s expectations through seamless collaboration with the general contractor proved to be the most challenging aspect of the project. This necessitated meticulous planning, communication and coordination to guarantee that the project met the desired standards and specifications. “The most rewarding moment was when

the client acknowledged the outdoor pergolas as the best investment she had made for her house! Hearing the feedback that our window treatments had transformed the space provided us with a sense of fulfillment, knowing that our work had greatly improved the functionality and aesthetics of the home, and, ultimately, the client’s satisfaction,” expressed Shades By Design CEO and Founder Gil Breef. V

Design, fabrication and installation by Shades By Design, Miami, Florida



From eco-friendly performance fabrics to shading solutions that reduce energy use, window coverings are helping protect our planet

This spring, global brands prioritized sustainability as they commemorated Earth Day on April 22 with a focus on the theme of “planet versus plastics.” The window covering industry shares a profound dedication to the environment and has been actively reducing its carbon footprint while also assisting consumers in doing the same. This is an exciting expedition that persists in delivering creative solutions to the market.

Performance Fabrics Take a Big Leap Performance fabrics have long been favored by homeowners seeking durability and low maintenance, particularly for outdoor furnishings and weather-exposed draperies. However, creating fabrics that resist stains, water and fading has typically required materials and processes that are not environmentally friendly. That’s all changing!

Today, a wide range of manufacturers offer performance fabrics designed with sustainability in mind, using environmentally conscious raw materials, production processes and supply chain practices. One of the biggest changes is the move to eliminate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), also called forever chemicals

Some states began banning intentionally added PFAS in textiles in 2023—and more are likely to follow suit—but it didn’t take an act of legislation to spur leading manufacturers to eliminate these chemicals from their performance fabrics. According to Crypton, their fabrics made since October 1, 2022, have been 100% PFASfree, and Nassimi introduced Supreen® liquid-barrier textiles with a PFAS-free, silicone-based stain repellent a few years ago. Many more manufacturers have altered their processes to avoid forever chemicals without sacrificing the performance features customers have come to expect.

Recycling is also playing a big role in performance manufacturers’ sustainability efforts. While these fabrics typically include synthetic fibers made from fossil fuels, some companies are introducing eco-friendly recycled polyester blends. Others, like Sunbrella®, are giving fabric waste new life by reclaiming materials left over from production. Sunbrella Renaissance yarns are made of up to 50% post-industrial recycled Sunbrella fiber, enabling consumers

to choose high-performance fabrics that also match their environmental values.

Efforts like these are just the start, as performance fabric manufacturers are leaving virtually no stone unturned in the quest to improve sustainability. That can mean sourcing materials from local suppliers to reduce transportation, adapting fabric coloring and other processes to use less water and yield less wastewater, using solar power at their plants and changing packaging and shipping practices to reduce material use and carbon emissions.

The sustainability commitment is even evident in the certifications these manufacturers are obtaining and the standards they’re meeting. FibreGuard is among the many performance fabric makers that have received the OEKO-TEX® STANDARD 100 certification, which tests for harmful substances in compliance with global regulations. Countless fabric manufacturers also meet the GREENGUARD Gold Certification Standard, which limits the emission of hundreds of volatile organic chemicals.

In the realm of sustainable design, performance fabrics with enhanced durability are an ideal choice. By enduring for extended periods of time, these textiles empower homeowners to retain top-notch furnishings and drapes for a lengthier duration, thereby mitigating material consumption and production.

Conserving Energy at the Window

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that about 30% of a home’s heating energy escapes through windows. Solar heat gain is a big problem, especially in the summer, with much of the sunlight that comes through windows turning into heat. So, it’s no wonder that design professionals and retailers are looking to the window for improved sustainability.

Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) reported the nation’s first smart shade pilot program by selecting 15 residential participants in BGE’s territory to install Rollease Acmeda and Hunter Douglas automated shades in their homes, which varied in size and style. Using automated shades operated on AERC’s recommended schedule, the participating homeowners saved an average of 13.5% on electricity and 3.4% on gas during the one-year smart shade pilot program.

Solar shading fabrics are another great option for the ecoconscious consumer. Manufacturers like Phifer offer shades made from materials that reduce solar heat gain, cutting air conditioning use and reducing emissions. With average temperatures rising everywhere, solar shading fabrics can make a major difference in any region of the country.

As climate change continues to persist, sustainability is poised to maintain its significance within the realm of home design. In response, fabric and window covering manufacturers have pledged their dedication to the environment, offering an expanding range of options that satisfy the desires of modern homeowners for style, performance and convenience, all while delivering the sustainability they demand. V

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WCMA 32nd Annual Product Award Winners

The Window Covering Manufacturers Association (WCMA) announced the winners of the 32nd Annual Product Awards, which recognize the best of the window covering industry’s new products, educational and merchandising programs that were launched in 2023.


Aura™ Illuminated Shades

Best New Style Concept and Technical Innovation

Hunter Douglas


Matter-over-Thread Motors

Best New Style Concept Coulisse


Cellular & Pleated Shades

Best New Style Concept Duette® Duolite® with ClearView® Sheer

Hunter Douglas

Best New Technical Innovation

Honeycomb TDBU Motorized Coulisse

Drapery Hardware

Smart Curtain Track

Best New Technical Innovation

Smart Curtain Track Coulisse

Energy Efficiency & Sustainability

Best New Style Concept

Honeycomb New Fabric Innovation Architella® Thea and Artichtella® Alexa

Best New Technical Innovation

Sonesse® 30 24V DC Zigbee

Somfy Systems, Inc.

Best New Technical Innovation Somfy Systems, Inc.

Honeycomb New Fabric Innovation Architella® Thea and Architella® Alexa

Horizontal Blinds (All Finishes)

Best New Style Concept

Ultimate Normandy Wood Blinds Regal Collection

Norman USA


Best New Style Concept

AutoWand Motorization

Norman USA

Best New Technical Innovation

Sonesse® 30 PoE

Somfy Systems, Inc.

Best New Technical Innovation Somfy Systems, Inc.

AutoWand Motorization


Best New Style Concept

Matter-over-Thread Motors


Roman & Roller Shades

Best New Style Concept

New Provenance™ Woven Wood Fabrics and the New Recessed Roman

Shade Style

Hunter Douglas

Honorable Mention Best New Style Concept

Designer Roller & Skyline Panels – New Fabrics

Hunter Douglas

Best New Technical Innovation Triathlon Roman Fabrication Kit

Lutron Electronics

Best New Technical Innovation Panel Track with Window Cleaning Magnet Coulisse

Best New Technical Innovation Coulisse

Specialty Applications & Miscellaneous

Best New Style Concept and Best New Technical Innovation

Aura™ Illuminated Shades

Hunter Douglas

Honorable Mention Best New Style Concept Elements® Shade Collection Decorative Textile Film Rowley



Trade Advertising, Education & Training Program

Certified Installer

Hunter Douglas

Best Point of Sale Merchandising

Draper At Home Sales Kit Draper, Inc.

Honorable Mention

Sunbrella® Custom Window Merchandising Display

Glen Raven

Best Point of Sale Merchandising Draper, Inc.

The Window Covering Manufacturers Association represents the interests of the window covering industry manufacturers, fabricators and assemblers. WCMA has three membership categories: Manufacturer, Fabricator and Associate.

Winners in 12 Categories

Once again, IWCE offered attendees the opportunity to vote for their preferred companies in a dozen categories. Using the complimentary IWCE event app, visitors could vote for the friendliest booth staff, the most innovative products and the best booth designs. With enthusiasm and eagerness, the attendees recognized the most outstanding and top-notch companies within the industry.

Best Booth Experience Mermet USA

Most Outstanding Booth Design Forest Drapery Hardware

Best NEW Product Cronopower

Best Safety Solution Rollease Acmeda

Best Motorization Gaposa Motors

Most Friendly Booth Staff Texton

Best Energy Efficiency Phifer Inc.

Most Captivating Products(s) Sol-Lux Awnings

Products I Want in My Home Rowley Company

Best Dressed Alpha Motors

Outdoor Products I Want in my Home Corradi USA

The Best in Show went to Mermet USA for the second year in a row.

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2024 People’s Choice Awards!


IWCE 2024 Sets New Record with Largest Event in 20 Years

A new standard for the premier event for the window covering industry

The International Window Coverings Expo’s (IWCE) debut in Texas this April surpassed expectations, featuring a dynamic exhibition space teeming with participants keen to explore cutting-edge products and suppliers. The showcase witnessed a 30% increase in exhibitors, displaying a wide variety of window covering solutions and services, thereby generating a charged atmosphere for attendees. Numerous exhibitors unveiled newly designed stands, elevating the event’s overall atmosphere.

The exterior product market experienced a significant boost, especially in relation to IWCE’s novel pavilion concept—the Outdoor Oasis. Covering 900 square feet, the interactive trend pavilion showcased state-of-the-art outdoor products with Bond Bridge connectivity. Ania Munzer, the show’s producer, remarked that there was a significant uptick in the demand for outdoor living and products. Thus, it was imperative that IWCE incorporated this segment in a major way. This trend is expected to grow substantially in the USA and IWCE is committed to representing it in future shows. The next expo will be held in West Palm Beach, Florida, which is the perfect location to expand on this concept. “This is not only a learning experience; it gives us more enthusiasm and energy to move forward. We anticipate significantly growing our business by this year and will be back in 2025,” shared Bernard Robin of Gotcha Covered of Clear Lake.

One of the show floor’s notable attractions was the Artisan Atelier, previously called Workroom Central. The team, led by Sandra VanSickle, managed to impress designers and workrooms with an impressive collection of 25 advanced fabrication methods and essential business workshops. IWCE remains the only place where attendees can receive this highquality education at no charge.

The event brought an extensive range of educational opportunities, with more than 40 seminars that covered topics ranging from design trends to critical business essentials. “We carefully vet our speakers and topics based on what we’re hearing from our customers. Every year we strive to present the latest topics affecting our industry to help businesses be successful,” stated Grace McNamara, show producer alongside Munzer.

In Grapevine, recognition was duly bestowed upon innovation and excellence, as evidenced by the Window Covering Manufacturers Association (WCMA) Product Innovation Awards, the Grace Design and Artisan Awards Gala, and the festivities surrounding the 20 Under 40 class of 2023. Linda H. Bassert, the design principal at Masterworks Window Fashion & Design, LLC, in Fairfax, Virginia, was honored with the highly esteemed Designer of the Year award. Also, Sheri Stouffer of Finishing Touches in Castle Pines, Colorado, was given the Artisan of the Year accolade. Such events serve to highlight the best and brightest in their respective fields, further cementing the notion that greatness doesn’t go unnoticed in this industry.

Our editors wasted no time hitting the show floor, immediately seeking out exhibitors and attendees to uncover the latest in product innovation and news. Let’s delve into their insightful discoveries.

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Rollease Acmeda, the presenting sponsor of the 2024 Grace Awards and the winner of the People’s Choice award for Best Safety Device, captivated attendees with their impressive booth featuring an array of new product introductions. Texstyle’s team showcased their diverse fabric offerings and trending colors and textures on a stunning fabric wall. The Kleenscreen Blackout, their latest product release, stood out as a crowd favorite for its exceptional features and benefits, such as the Sanitized® anti-microbial material protection that effectively combats the growth of mold, mildew and bacterial odors. Rollease Acmeda also presented several new products at the event, including the Roller Roman RR-10 and RR-20 Systems, the Automate Basics Magnetic Wand Motor patent pending), an improved version of their Automate solar panel with a 50% efficiency upgrade and the Easy Spring Air and Easy Spring Wand. These innovative solutions were on display for dealers and designers to view firsthand.

Senbesta’s latest fabric collection is raising the bar for window covering elegance and functionality, offering fabricators and designers an innovative take on textile design. Included in their Hospitality Sheer Collection are Athens, Bianco, Serene and Vita fabrics, each one designed to impress. In addition, the enhanced Meridian Supreme+ Collection, an upgraded version of the popular Meridian line, is now available. With its GREENGUARD Gold certification and blackout backing, Meridian Supreme+ is the epitome of safety and sophistication for commercial applications, making it a wise choice for those seeking energy efficiency.

Guests expressed their admiration with a combination of oohs and ahhs in the Coulisse booth, which featured the unveiling of the smart track for motorized drapes in the Americas for the very first time. With its ease of fabrication, shipping, installation and operation, it represents the cutting edge of smart home technology. The minimalistic and modular design of the smart track makes it suitable for both waved and pleated drapes,

ensuring easy transportation. The smart drapes concept includes wired and battery Eve Motionblinds motors that support the latest technologies Matter and Thread. Additionally, Coulisse displayed their latest product, the Eve Motionblinds smart motors, which provide seamless functionality in modern smart buildings through their plug-and-play interoperability. These motors, powered by Eve technology and equipped with Matterover-Thread compatibility, offer an effortless user experience with guaranteed 100% data privacy and cross-platform interoperability. Compatible with smart home platforms such as Apple Home, Google Home, Samsung SmartThings and Amazon Alexa, the Eve Motionblinds range caters to the diverse needs of smart homes.

For those in search of a flawless solution for their window blinds, Louvolite’s Smart Rail was all the buzz among designers and fabricators. With its cutting-edge technology, this advanced solution keeps your blinds perfectly flat, ensuring your windows are the highlight of your decor. In addition to its functional advantages, Smart Rail also boasts a sleek, modern design that effortlessly complements your personal style, keeping your chosen window blind fabrics at the forefront and without any hardware distractions. Thanks to its innovative technology, Smart Rail also reduces labor time during the fabrication process by up to 50%.

We also discovered another remarkable invention on display: the Perfect Fit Shutter Lite. These unique shutters feature a revolutionary “click to fit” system, which eliminates the need for drilling and protects the pristine state of your walls during installation. With a combination of style, durability and convenience in one sleek package, the Perfect Fit shutters are a welcome solution that eradicates drills and chaos with their simple “click to fit” mechanism. Crafted to endure moisture and humidity, these shutters are suitable for every room in your home, including the kitchen and bathroom. And with minimized framework and louvers that sit closer to the glass, you’ll relish the natural light and unobstructed views they offer.

In addition to other product updates, Sol-Lux, a subsidiary of Carefree of Colorado, was awarded the People’s Choice award for Most Captivating Product and presented their Mirage and Freedom patio awnings, a pioneering addition to the window


awnings category, and a preview of their forthcoming drop screen shade solution. But what truly stole the show was the relaunch of their automated EOS window awning, displayed in vibrant hues that caught the attention of attendees at IWCE. Sol-Lux proved to be a major player in the RV awning industry, as evidenced by their expanded product line. We certainly want one of these in our home!


The IWCE event was invigorated by a 30% wave of fresh exhibitors. These newcomers left a lasting impression on attendees, who were particularly impressed by Solé Shades’ offerings. High Country Drapery owner Jill Ballew praised Solé Shades’ linen fabric with wool stripe detailing, calling it an

“absolute beauty.” This was the first time Solé Shades exhibited at the event, showcasing their globally sourced textiles, natural wall coverings and artisan hardware. Pegah Grossi, creative director and co-founder of the company, grew up in cotton textile mills and launched the high-end drapery company with her mother, Ferdos, nearly 20 years ago. Their meticulous craftsmanship and attention to detail

garnered acclaim, and Pegah has since added more than 200 materials to her collection, ranging from jute to linens, velvets and various wools. Solé Shades has collaborated with renowned designers to offer the finest fabrics from around the world.

The Bradley Collection’s unique hardware, Float, which includes a drapery track accompanied by magnetic rings, has attracted many designers due to its ease of use and elegant touch. Float is a contemporary interpretation of the traditional pole and ring, featuring floating and uniformly moving rings, disappearing brackets and fused ends that offer a seamless aesthetic. Decorative detail can be added with subtle geometric finial shapes. The brackets are fixed to a channel at the rear, keeping the front face of the pole clear of visible parts. Additionally, the Bradley Collection showcased a line of decorative drapery hardware products—including the Glide, Float and Drive collections—as a new exhibitor.

Activity buzzed at the Rightlook booth as they introduced their Assembly Partner Program, enabling on-site production and saving retailers up to 40% on costs. This innovative strategy requires only a small space, boosting business profitability significantly.


Dastex Habillage de Fenetre enjoyed their interaction with Alendel Fabrics during the event, highlighting their superb service and variety of fabrics. Alendel, known for its comprehensive range of decorative fabrics and accessories, received positive feedback at IWCE, which translated into new partnerships and a high demand for sample books from attendees across Canada and the U.S.


The team from Somfy North America proudly presented their Zigbee ecosystem and PoE tech, winning an award. Highlights included the Somfy Passport, showcased at various booths including Horizons Window Fashions, offering a chance to win an Echo Show 8. On day two, a Zigbee training session was conducted by Somfy’s experts, attracting more than 50 participants. Daniel Niemirka was awarded twice at the WCMA 2023 Awards. Of course, we couldn’t miss Somfy’s annual happy hour, which didn’t disappoint!

Alpha Motors, the leading motorization supplier and the winner of the Best Dressed People’s Choice award, recently added four new revolutionary motors to their product lineup. In addition

to this, they also introduced two stylish remote controls: a single-channel and a 16-channel model, both of which offer the ability to delete channels and come at a competitive price point. Their product range now also includes an LED awning motor with an integrated receiver and transformer, allowing users to control LED lights from their folding arm retractable awnings. This product also features a dimmer option. Alpha Motors’ Extendable Curtain Track is another unique introduction that revolutionizes the hospitality industry with its telescopic technology in a single line. The innovative design of the Extendable Curtain Track allows for easy transportation and setup, accommodating tracks up to 40 feet. Impressive!

Gaposa Motors announced the debut of their revolutionary AUTONOMO Solar Powered System. “The product’s autonomous operation, innovative features and effortless installation offer manufacturers, dealers and installers in the window covering industry an unparalleled solution that can change the game,” said Leandro Rapetta, the president of Gaposa Motors’ U.S. division. This innovative system is equipped with robust 40 Nm and 50 Nm motors, which are specifically designed for exterior screens. Notably, Gaposa was honored with the esteemed Best Motor Solution People’s Choice award. Dendo Systems, a prominent supplier of innovative motor solutions, is all set to display its pioneering Smart Control Module (SCM), which is designed to propel the industry forward. The SCM facilitates the addition of Matter smart home features to motors either pre-, post- or during installation, and with its Matter compatibility, it promises enhanced convenience, effortless integration with top smart home platforms and improved privacy, unlike cloud-based alternatives. The future of motor technology appears to be exceedingly promising.



The workroom, cherished for its intricate nature, stands as the cornerstone of the industry. Without it, our foundation would crumble. There’s no place in the world where you can experience a live workroom setting like IWCE’s Artisan Atelier, formerly known as Workroom Central. This is truly where the magic happens! Sandra VanSickle, the director of the 2,000-square-foot space, led a rebranding effort and launched a four-part educational series called “The Artisan Meets the Apprentice,” in addition to four two-hour seminars and more than 15 traditional educational sessions. The Artisan Atelier showcased an impressive display of creativity this year, with three captivating vignettes and a diverse lineup of five talented artisans.

In this captivating vignette, two “Artisan Meets the Apprentice” series speakers showcased their innovative approaches to creating a masterpiece. The first speaker, Terri Booser, and Rachel Lusk from Sugar & Spice Draperies and Shades, LLC, demonstrated their no-bulk, notopstitch method to create stunning ripplefold drapes that flow gracefully, free from unsightly topstitching. This artisan technique elevates any space with elegance and ease, whether as stand-alone drapes on a decorative track or beneath a top treatment. The second speaker, Linda Tully from Tully Drapery Shop, skillfully crafted an exquisite banded cornice adorned with nailheads using the skeleton frame method. This unique construction method maintains the cornice’s shape and structural integrity while reducing its weight. Consequently, the handling becomes simpler while the cornice retains its flawless silhouette. As the apprentice and onlookers witnessed these artisan techniques, they gained profound insights into the art of creating these refined window treatments. The event’s sponsors— Unique Fabric, Angel’s Lining, Rowley nailheads and Rollease Acmeda Drapery Track—helped make this captivating vignette possible.

The “Artisan Meets the Apprentice” series featured a second session called “Mastering French Blackout Panels with Hand-Stitched Pleats and Contrast Lining.” VanSickle is the creative mind behind the panels, utilizing the low-bulk French blackout technique that replaces traditional blackout lining with black lining to

eliminate any pinholes of light. VanSickle’s special touch is the addition of a contrast lining along the lead edge, which creates a natural band that adds visual interest. The technique becomes even more alluring with the art of creating hand-sewn fivefinger Euro pleats. These delicate flowerlike motifs grace the top of each pleat, which then falls gracefully into soft, rounded folds. True artisans appreciate the satisfaction that comes from shaping such a delicate masterpiece, even if the pleats are discreetly nestled at the top. To complete the look, a roller shade with a trending band of 3/8' black ribbon is added for a striking visual effect. The session’s sponsors included RM COCO Fabric, Fabric Designer Credit by Kelli Vitari, Angel’s Lining, Forest Drapery Hardware and Rollease Acmeda.

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The Bold and Colorful Vignette, the fourth session of the “Artisan Meets the Apprentice” series, is the perfect way to wrap up your experience. Artisan Karly Dickson of Style My Interiors is at the forefront, displaying a variety of ottomans adorned with meticulously crafted slipcovers that match different decor styles, reflecting your unique personality and taste. Dickson enhances the vignette by adding window treatments and pillows to demonstrate how incorporating a mix of textures and fabrics can elevate your space. With Dickson’s expert guidance, the apprentice is taught every step of the process, from precise measurements and fabric cutting to expert sewing and finishing touches. The look is complete with a roller shade that features a trending band of 3/8' black ribbon for a visually striking effect. Our sponsors—RM COCO Fabric, Kelli Vitari, Angel’s Lining, Forest Drapery Hardware and Rollease Acmeda—have contributed to making this event a success V

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The Debut of Outdoor Oasis Illuminates the Art of Alfresco Living

A revolutionary concept in the realm of custom window treatments, seamlessly bridging the gap between indoor and outdoor living, IWCE debuted the Outdoor Oasis pavilion. Created by expert designers who specialize in outdoor spaces, this cutting-edge pavilion emphasized the joys of outdoor living.

Attendees were impressed by the latest trends in exterior treatments, including shades, pergolas and awnings, and an extensive collection of furnishings, fabrics, lighting and accessories. Positioned strategically in a high-traffic area, the 900-square-foot Outdoor Oasis became a star attraction, drawing in visitors who were eager to admire its exquisite beauty and exceptional functionality. The four distinct sections of the Outdoor Oasis demonstrated the limitless potential of transforming residential areas into idyllic retreats, perfectly designed to provide entertainment, dining, relaxation, comfort, privacy and sheer happiness in equal measure. Every detail of the space was thoughtfully crafted to create a truly unforgettable outdoor experience.

Power Up Your Portfolio

A highlight of the showcase was the R-BLADE™ motorized louvered pergola, an exceptional addition to any outdoor retreat that was designed with flexibility in mind. The cutting-edge pergola features a remarkable motorized system that effortlessly adjusts with the touch of a button, allowing you to create your desired level of shade and shelter regardless of the weather conditions. Collaborating with Azenco Outdoor provides limitless possibilities for designers and dealers, with their vast selection of customization options, including size, color and material choices. They offer innovative accessories like integrated lighting or heating systems to enhance outdoor living spaces, while side screens offer extra privacy. The R-BLADE seamlessly complements various architectural styles, adding sophistication to both traditional and contemporary settings. By incorporating this product into your portfolio, you can offer clients exclusive features such as automated weather-response capabilities and energy-efficiency benefits, ensuring immediate satisfaction and long-term advantages. Moreover, the R-BLADE is made of advanced materials engineered for durability, and it promises low-maintenance requirements, giving it an edge over competitors and guaranteeing utmost customer satisfaction.

To create a softer atmosphere, RM COCO Sheer Tempo Outdoor Fabric by Tommy Bahama® Sunbrella® in sand was used. This collection features a variety of patterns and designs in vibrant colors, all woven with Sunbrella yarns, for a timeless yet contemporary look. Selecting from a diverse range of designs and finishes, Forest Drapery Hardware’s Tavira Outdoor Pole Sets and Traversing were used to hang the beautiful fabric. The collection’s hardware is named after the country of origin for each piece, offering a perfect opportunity to unleash your outdoor creativity.

Crafted onto a bespoke wooden structure, the Shan Retractable Awning is a remarkable Italian design that is exclusively offered by

Corradi USA. With its innovative square shape, the fully enclosed cassette awning seamlessly merges with modern and traditional architecture. The Shan is equipped with precise pitch adjustment that allows it to deliver optimal sun protection, while providing an alluring aesthetic appeal. The motorized feature of the Shan makes it effortless to use, and it can extend up to 23' in width and 13'6" in projection. The awning is affixed to a wooden structure that is custom-made and painted in-house, using imported Scandinavian pinewood, chosen for its high quality and renowned plumbness. When paired with high-quality fabrics, the Shan Retractable Awning transforms an ordinary patio into a charming outdoor haven.


Bid Farewell to Mundane

The Icarus UX umbrella by Umbrosa stands out for its elegance and leafshaped design that resists wind effectively. Its built-in rotator enables shading in any direction, and its vertical capability shields against wind. The design prioritizes sustainability and userfriendliness, using local materials and simplifying installation. Umbrosa’s range promises to enhance projects with style and practicality, offering fast shipping across the USA. Umbrosa proved to be a hit with the crowd!

Outdoor rugs brought all the space together! The oasis had four stunning rug masterpieces from the renowned Jill Zarin Outdoor collection, along with a diverse selection of magnificent pieces from the Sabrina Soto Outdoor and Outdoor Trellis collections by Unique Loom. Created with unparalleled dedication and precision, these exceptional products boast a composition of 100% polypropylene, including the backing, ensuring protection against moisture, mold and mildew, unlike cotton or jute. Additionally, their rugs are fortified with UV protection, ensuring long-lasting color retention even in harsh outdoor conditions. Can you say cute?

Screen Versatility Elevated

The innovative projector screen presented at the Outdoor Oasis displayed the boundless potential of Universal Screens’ motorized screens. This design provides a versatile solution that can be enjoyed by families year-round, offering entertainment and relaxation opportunities for all seasons. Commercial establishments can also benefit from this design, as the expansive screen is perfect for showcasing advertisements and events. During the day, the screen provides seclusion and protection from the sun’s rays, while at night it transforms into an open-air theater for a magical outdoor experience. Universal Screens utilizes advanced technologies to create shading solutions that enhance the aesthetic appeal of any outdoor space and provide comfort and protection from the elements. Their motorized screens are customized to meet the unique needs and preferences of each customer, whether it be for a private patio or a commercial exterior area. The Outdoor Oasis featured the Phifer Equilibrium White 99.998% blackout fabric and the Somfy 525 Maestria motor with obstacle detection, adding yet another layer to the versatile applications of our motorized screens and leaving visitors with something to keep talking about!

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Bridging It All Together

Olibra, the company behind Bond Bridge, brought the world of outdoor applications together by seamlessly integrating a variety of products under one device. The newly launched Bond Bridge Pro product line features the impressive Breeze Pro weather sensor and Firefly One Dimmer, both of which were fully functional for visitors to test. This innovative device can control an array of outdoor living space elements, including motorized awnings, pergola louvers, heaters and low-voltage lighting. As a result, the Bond Bridge Pro is an indispensable addition to any outdoor area. With the help of the Breeze Pro sensor, which works in conjunction with the Bond Bridge Pro, users can access real-time weather data, signal strength and battery status, allowing them to trigger motorized screens, pergola louvers and shutters based on user-defined thresholds. Additionally, the sensor is solar-powered, although it can also be powered by batteries or a 12VDC power supply. The Bond Home app simplifies the setup process for the Bond Bridge Pro, making it accessible for users of all skill levels. The Firefly One Dimmer, a remarkable feature of the Bond Bridge Pro, provides wireless control of low-voltage outdoor lighting, enabling users to adjust brightness, set schedules and view the status of different zones via the Bond app. The dimmer’s Wi-Fi chip integrates with 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi home systems, providing an unobstructed range of 200-plus feet and a 150' range when obstructed. With all of these features, it is no wonder that the Bond Bridge Pro is quickly becoming the go-to choice for those seeking high-quality, integrated outdoor technology. V

Uncover the Open-Air Architects

Amy Wolff, an experienced interior designer from Scottsdale, Arizona, played an integral role in the team that designed the overall layout of a space with the aim of maximizing the product offerings and presenting new options for outdoor living. Additionally, she was involved in selecting fabrics and furnishings, and coordinating drapery and other installations. In Wolff’s opinion, expanding business operations to include outdoor furnishings benefits both clients and the business. Regardless of the type of business—whether it’s window coverings, interior design, furniture or outdoor shading—there are excellent ideas and products that can be utilized to broaden business offerings.

Facebook: @amywolffinteriors


For Marco Morales-Rivera, the director of design and estimating at Shades By Design in Miami, the industry offers an opportunity to fuse creativity and functionality while immersing in nature. Being a part of the designers’ team, he played a key role in selecting the pergola and the Icarus umbrella for the layout design. He advocates for outdoor solutions, particularly umbrellas, as they are a cost-effective way to enhance outdoor spaces for both residential and commercial purposes. Morales-Rivera believes that the Icarus umbrella can add a striking and unique touch to any space.

Instagram: @shadesbydesign


Dubbed the “screen queen,” Kim Boynton’s innovative contributions to the projector screen and game quadrant reflect her fervent interest in exterior solutions. Custom design possibilities are virtually limitless, with an extensive range of products and services enabling sun, rain, storm or insect protection. Such designs can also seamlessly integrate with homes, appearing as an extension of them whether enclosed or fully open. As an avid outdoor enthusiast, Boynton and her family cherish time spent in the open air. Her privacy projector screen concept is a standout idea that would be an excellent addition to any backyard.

Instagram: @screenqueen13


Sara Chiodo is a self-taught designer with a particular focus on virtual interior design. As the founder of Functional for You Designs, an innovative online design service, Chiodo leverages her expertise to provide clients with stunning photo-realistic renderings that enable them to visualize the endless possibilities for their homes. With an impressive portfolio, she has gained recognition from prominent platforms like Apartment Therapy and “The Drew Barrymore Show.” She played an instrumental part in product placement, staging and booth design.

Instagram: @functionalforyou



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glimpse into what’s new and noteworthy from the spring 2024 design shows

From High Point Market to Milan Design Week, the month of April found many design and retail professionals on the road in search of the latest trends in home furnishings and accessories. As always, these premier exhibitions offered lots of inspiration for infusing something new and exciting into that next home design project.

Color Takes a Deep Dive

If you’re wondering what happened to neutrals, exhibitors at the spring design shows made it abundantly clear that they’re moving away from this palette in favor of deeper, earthier hues.

“I saw warmer browns paired with tan or cream for a less-stark look,” noted Jill Ballew, whose company, High Country Drapery Designs, doubles as a workroom and design/installation shop serving clients across the southeastern U.S.

“This shift in color is a nice change—and tastefully done!”

At Milan Week’s Salone del Mobile, a profusion of burgundies and deep reds was evident across furniture, accessories and lighting. AD Pro called out a particularly redinspired installation by Gucci, using the designer’s Rosso Ancora hue on furnishings that simply popped atop a sea of bright green carpeting.


Even the bathroom is getting an infusion of color, as evidenced in the wide-ranging and often playful hues of the KOHLER installation in Milan. From a bright, bold line of sinks and toilets in Aspen green, fresh green and teal to elegant fittings in rose gold, to a dramatic, contemporary line all based in black, KOHLER offered no shortage of ideas for making color the star of your next bathroom design.

Not Your Grandmother’s Florals

Upholstery and wallcoverings were awash in patterns this spring, including florals with a decidedly modern bent. As Ballew described it, “The large-scale floral pattern is still in play, but we’re seeing a lot less density: think large scale with lots of space between the patterns.” She also found an abundance of smaller-scale florals, geometric patterns and stripes that eschew rigid lines for a softer look.

If you were seeking a bit of nostalgia, you could easily find it in the chintz, moiré and other fabrics reminiscent of the 1990s. And for an even bigger throwback, ginghams and plaids were on hand, too, transporting visitors to the ’50s and ’60s. (So, maybe your grandmother was at the design shows after all!)

Statement-making details were definitely turning heads, with upholstered pieces sporting decorative ruffles,

pleated skirts and contrasting piping. “Brush fringe is making a comeback,” Ballew noted, pointing out a unique Highland House wall application that featured upholstered walls embellished with fringed tape trim. It’s details like these that are beginning to shift home design from the minimalism that was once all the rage to a more luxurious feel.

Pattern and texture continue to dominate at the window, as a Hartmann&Forbes collaboration with the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture underscored. The renowned manufacturer displayed a new sustainable window covering line inspired by four pieces from the museum’s textile, pottery and basketry collections. Imagine adorning your clients’ windows with fabrics from the Sky Ladder series, made from handloomed ramie in shades of tan, ochre, silver and sage, designed to reflect the same ladder motif of a 1940s Navajo saddle blanket. Or perhaps the Waterlines series, inspired by a 1977 Pueblo pottery jar with a circular pattern that mimics the flow of swirling water.

Texture showed up in lots of other displays, too, like the Metamorphosis installation by Allegra Hicks in Milan. The designer’s crochet work served as the mold for a collection of bronze lighting fixtures and tables, giving a soft feel to the traditional hard look of metalwork.

Taking the Edge Off

Whether it’s a reflection of the trend toward all things organic or our post-pandemic craving for comfort, there’s no doubt that softer, more rounded shapes are dominating the home. If you strolled the exhibits at High Point or Milan, you surely agree!

Both shows featured round-edge sofas, armchairs, ottomans, side tables and dining tables, creating a serene feel and a welcoming environment. By replacing hard, rigid lines with soft, organically flowing shapes, these pieces beckon the homeowner to kick back and relax.

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One particular standout was the debut of the Squash Collection by British designer Faye Toogood in collaboration with Poltrona Frau. As the name implies, it’s a fun line of supple, relaxed, curvy furnishings that epitomize comfort.

Lighting with a Twist

Lighting is one of those elements that can turn your client’s room from drab to fab, so it’s a perennial mainstay at the leading design shows.

U.K. brand Pooky Lighting exhibited at High Point Market for the first time, in conjunction with launching a new website targeting the U.S. market with products that are both unique and affordable (and wired to meet UL standards). One of Pooky’s big claims to fame is the option to mix and match lampshade and base styles and colors, creating a dazzling array of choices. With many rechargeable lamp options, Pooky also offers lots of flexibility when designing a space.

shaping the products that make their way into today’s homes.

Of course, many Milan Week exhibitors displayed their commitment to sustainability with installations that featured home furnishings and accessories made from recycled or reused materials. But one of the most dramatic sustainability-focused installations was “Under the Surface,” a collaboration of Accurat, Design Group Italia and Emiliano Ponzi. Part of the International Bathroom Exhibition, the installation used a submerged island concept to convey the critical nature of water conservation in a room that has historically been a major consumer of water.

Partnerships Keep Spurring Innovation

As the folks at U-Fab Interiors highlighted, collaborations between leading designers and manufacturers remain a hallmark of the spring design shows. At High Point Market, Wesley Hall Furniture celebrated its 35th anniversary with the launch of Bunny Williams for Wesley Hall, described by AD Pro as the first official collaboration between the acclaimed designer and the well-known furnishings brand.

French lighting company Saint-Louis chose Milan to showcase its new Torsade collection, which pays homage to the age-old traditions of crystal- and glassmaking. Whereas the lowly chandelier arm usually takes a back seat in the aesthetics of lighting, Torsade places it front and center—taking the rope shape that’s a hallmark of traditional glass hot twisting and transforming it into a series of fun loops. This thoroughly modern look was artistically displayed in the cloister of the Santa Maria del Camine church.

For a forward-looking take on lighting, the Foscarini showroom featured HABITUS, an experimental project it describes as the “interaction between light, textile, and embroidery.” Several HABITUS displays married the high-tech feature of LED with the old-world craftsmanship of artisan-made glass beads.

Sustainability Still Tops the List

As Milan Week’s “Materia Natura” theme reflected, the quest for sustainability remains a powerful driving force for designers and manufacturers. Eco-friendly materials and production processes continue to evolve as the industry embraces the goal of reducing its carbon footprint, with new innovations constantly emerging and

Another standout collaboration at High Point paired designer Bria Hammel with CR Laine, resulting in a line of stunning upholstered pieces which the furniture maker describes as “reflecting Bria’s distinctive style of timeless design with real-life comfortability.”

There’s simply no way to touch on every exciting idea or innovative approach featured at these sprawling design shows, which spanned many days and many thousands of square feet of space. Just a sampling of these thought-provoking exhibitions is more than enough to inspire many projects to come! V

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Explore the Possibilities!

Exterior shading represents a new way to add value to projects and increase your company’s profitability. It might seem a daunting task to take on a new type of shading business, but with the right preparation and approach, the rewards will be worth it.

To find opportunities, think and talk differently.

How do you currently sell clients on the value of interior shading? You probably talk about heat and glare control and aesthetic enhancement, among other things. And while those are advantages of outdoor shading, the real selling point is the value of creating additional comfortable living space. Present outdoor shading as an opportunity to add a room or rooms to the home’s living area.

In addition to glare and temperature control, outdoor shades provide protection from wind and bugs. Controls for integration allow the homeowner to use shades to make their outdoor living space suit the moment, whether entertaining family and friends, relaxing and enjoying the outdoors in comfort or even creating a private outdoor workspace.


Some of the best opportunities for outdoor shading are:

• Covered patios/porches

• Pergola structures

• Gazebos

• Attaching to the main structure of the house

• Passive cooling foar homes

Seeing and selling the value of providing comfort to outdoor spaces will be your road to success.

Addressing Misconaceptions

Prospective Clients Might Hold.

There are some common misconceptions about exterior shading. However, those misconceptions are easy to overcome with the right information and approach.

• Only for moderate or warm climates: Exterior shades are very useful in many different climates. During cold weather, they keep out snow and, with the help of heaters, people can often enjoy their outdoor spaces year-round. And even in moderate climates they can keep rain from interfering with outdoor activities and

provide privacy while still allowing a view through to nature.

• Short selling season: While the big installation season for exterior shades runs from spring through autumn, because they provide year-round benefits you can always be talking about and selling outdoor shading solutions.

• The climate is too harsh: In circumstances where certain parts of the year present harsh conditions, quality exterior shading systems are built to handle elements and play an important role in adding functional, comfortable living space. With outdoor shading systems, people can extend the use of outdoor spaces well beyond the time frame they could previously.

• Won’t last long: Quality exterior shading systems are built to last. Metal parts, durable construction and wind tunnel testing are evidence of a system’s ability to last.


Risks and considerations for exterior shades.

As with any home improvement, there are a number of risks and details to consider when selling the appropriate product and planning for installation.

• Getting the product to the site: Do you have an appropriate mode of transport to deal with long boxes, skids, ladders and other equipment needed for the project?

• Labor: Exterior shades typically require two or three people for installation, with one to four hours needed per shade.

• Quality of structure: Is the structure strong enough to support the shading system? You’ll also need to ensure

installers are provided with the appropriate mounting screws for the supporting beams and structure.

• Firring: Have firring strips been used to level surfaces? Make sure the mounting hardware can get solid support.

• Aftermarket versus new construction: New construction requires planning and coordination with the builder to ensure proper support and space for the shade hardware. Installing an existing structure may require creative workarounds to create a perfect installation.

• Face/Inside/Built-ins: In most applications, face mount applications are the easiest, followed by inside mount and built-in, unless well-planned with a builder.

MAY + JUNE 2024 | 58

Quality training is the best tool for success.

Training is extremely important. Work with manufacturers who offer hands-on training experience. Proper training can make the difference between a quality installation, a happy customer, and a profitable project and a problematic project where nobody is happy and you lose margin through correcting errors and trying to please the client with price reductions.

Here are some areas of training you will need:

• Site evaluation

• Measuring

• Power/electrical

• Dealing with out-of-square structures

• Installation space

• Installation time

You should also be sure to have people with certain skills to make installation as smooth as possible:

• Making solid exterior attachments to deal with issues like wind

• Shimming/firring

• Carpentry

• Ability to make field adjustments

• Creativity

But training, knowledge and skills aren’t just for installers. Salespeople should also have a good knowledge base. Again, work with a quality manufacturer who can help you attain this knowledge:

• Product options: operators, hardware types, colors, fabric choices

• Sample kit: Make sure a sample kit is available and that you are trained in how to use it.

• Videos: Your manufacturer partner should have videos available on topics from using the sales kit to installing different applications.

• Talk with product specialists: The manufacturer’s product specialists are your secret weapon. They are there to help and make your job as easy as possible.

• Be prepared: Just as when selling interior shading, make sure you have the knowledge necessary to field questions and address concerns. Your manufacturing partner can help with selling tools and other support to make sure you are as ready as possible.

Consider the sales impact.

The bottom line from a window covering retailer is: Will it be worth my time? Will it have an impact on my business sales?

Here are some general numbers to consider:

• Average residential exterior shade project: $10,000

• Two projects per crew per day

• Better margin than interior products

• Seasonal considerations: Although climate change is becoming less of a factor, it is still the case that you can ramp up for a certain period of the year, so your overall cost of business doesn’t increase when you aren’t focused on exterior products.

One consideration here is product quality. Quality matters and is a big selling point. Does the manufacturer have quality materials, including fabric (fiberglass and polyester), motors, hardware and finishes? Have they sought wind tunnel testing for their product? Do they have the proper support staff to help you succeed?

It is tempting to look for the cheapest solution, but that is not a viable option in exterior shading. When you step down in product quality, you create more problems that can lead to a loss of margin.

In addition to the product sale and installation, exterior shading can have other impacts on your bottom line through recurring revenue:

• Maintenance: brief annual inspection

• Cleaning: annual wipe down and clean outside guides

• Word of mouth: When people see these products showcased in action, they will want to have them too.

Selling and installing exterior shading may not be for everybody. But with the right manufacturer, training, skills and support, they can be a real boost to your business’ value and growth potential.

E F F O R T L E S S . E L E G A N T . Awnings. U p g r a d e y o u r o u t d o o r l i v i n g V i s i t S o l - L u x . c o m S c a n Q R C o d e t o B e c o m e a D e a l e r Donate to our sponsored organization, SEE International, to help provide free sight-restoring surgeries to underserved communities worldwide! MAY + JUNE 2024 | 60

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Driving Forward with Artificial Intelligence in Recruitment

How to leverage AI in talent acquisition without losing the human touch

Imagine the thrill and trepidation of stepping into a self-driving car for the first time. There's an awe for innovation, a dash of skepticism and an eagerness to see where the journey leads. This mirrors the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI) in the recruitment landscape. Like trusting Waymo, one of the leading self-driving car technologies, to navigate city streets, integrating AI into hiring practices opens new avenues—delivering recruitment strategies that are innovative, efficient and surprisingly human.


In exploring AI, the unique flair of human intelligence and the razor-sharp efficiency of AI is not a duel but a duet. Let’s break down this partnership:

STORYTELLERS VS. DATA CRUNCHERS: Humans excel in narrative art, gathering life’s lessons and passing on wisdom like ancient storytellers. AI is a champ at chewing through data and spitting out patterns faster than you can say “hired.”

1. ABSTRACT DREAMERS VS. LOGICAL EXECUTORS: Where humans paint with broad strokes of imagination and can connect dots where lines don’t exist, AI thrives in zeros and ones, executing tasks with the precision of a well-oiled machine.


POWERHOUSES: The human touch brings experience, nuance and intuition to problem-solving, while AI relies on algorithms to forecast the future like a crystal ball (minus the mystical vibes).


DIPLOMATS: True emotional connection remains beyond AI’s reach despite its programmed politeness. AI sends a robot to do a human’s job in the empathy department.

Understanding the limitations and synergy between the human touch and the digital mind is crucial. Like a self-driving car equipped for the road but reliant on human oversight for the unforeseen, the true potential of AI in recruitment is as a tool not to replace humanity but to amplify it.

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MAY + JUNE 2024 | 62


AI is the Swiss Army knife in the recruitment toolkit—versatile, always ready and sharper with every update. Here are just a few examples:

1. DRAFTING MAESTRO: With tools like ChatGPT juiced up to snag the latest, crafting a job ad can feel like VIP access to recruitment insights. Not only can it generate first drafts, but it can also pull in the newest data to ensure you’re on point with the market.

1. COMMUNICATION VIRTUOSO: Using AI tools like Grammarly means every word to candidates is pitch perfect. Whether getting the scoop on trends or navigating pay scale nuances, AI can be your go-to partner for brainstorming.

1. TALENT SCOUT: When it comes to the mountain of résumés, the challenge becomes manageable with AI. In addition to warp-speed data analysis through ChatGPT, recruitment platforms like Indeed leverage AI to filter candidates, ensuring your shortlist is nothing but the best.

AI is fantastic at heavy lifting, leaving the grunt work in its digital dust. Yet, handing over the steering wheel isn’t just impractical—it’s like expecting our trusty Waymo to understand a spontaneous road trip. AI lacks the capacity for nuanced judgment and the instinctual understanding that guides us through unforeseen twists and turns—not just navigating roads but the complex terrain of ethical and legal considerations in recruitment.


Imagine the precision of Waymo’s lidar sensors. This groundbreaking technology uses laser light to map surroundings with incredible detail, capable of seeing across three football fields in every direction. It promises a future free from traffic violations and pedestrian dangers. But what if an impromptu baseball game or a swarm of children from a Chuck E. Cheese party unexpectedly fills the street? Such scenarios bring self-driving cars to a standstill, resulting in gridlock caused by their programmed adherence to extreme caution in the face of unpredictability.

How does this translate to recruitment? Like autonomous vehicles, AI operates within fixed parameters and can inadvertently introduce biases from its vast data pool into recruitment. This is particularly apparent in AI-generated job ads, which may unwittingly deter diverse applicant groups through subtle language cues, such as seeking an “energetic individual with the drive and agility to chase leads” or candidates who “uphold our traditional values and community standards.”

Phrases like these may result in missed opportunities for diverse perspectives and have significant legal implications. For instance, should a job ad hinting at age preference wind up at the center of an age discrimination lawsuit, the employer must prove it didn’t unfairly impact certain age groups. And if your applicant pool for that job looks more like a college dorm than a broad professional network, you’re in a tight spot. Trying to dodge blame with a “the AI did it” excuse? That’s as effective as Bart Simpson quipping, “I didn’t do it,” when caught in the act. Businesses are obligated to monitor and adjust their recruitment practices to prevent disparate impacts. Outsourcing your recruitment doesn’t shield you from potential lawsuits either.

Legal experts emphasize keeping a human in the loop— especially someone savvy in employment law—to apply thoughtful scrutiny to AI-generated materials. The goal is to ensure that pursuing innovation doesn’t lead to gridlocks of legal consequences or overlook the values that enhance our workplaces.


In the fast lane of talent acquisition, AI is our high-tech dashboard—offering navigation and even parallel parking help. Handy? Absolutely. Ready to take the keys entirely? Not quite, and we may never be.

As our copilot, AI enhances our capabilities and allows us to focus on what truly matters. The heart of recruitment beats to a human rhythm. Its essence is a journey sparked with connections, intuitive decisions and the celebration of diversity. A driver must guide the process with insight, empathy and a deep understanding of the ethical and legal terrain.

So, let’s gear up, stay engaged and use AI as the incredible tool it is, all while keeping our hands firmly on the wheel. Together, we’re cruising toward a future of talent acquisition that is efficient but also uniquely human. V

James Stryker, director of human resources at Galaxy Draperies, has over 15 years in management and human resources, combining extensive academic knowledge, including a master’s in industrial/organizational psychology and a doctorate in educational leadership, with practical industry experience. As an SHRM SeniorCertified Professional, he has honed his expertise through tenure at Springs Window Fashions and now leads strategic HR and training strategies at Galaxy Draperies. His specialty is applying theoretical HR principles to real-world, industry-specific challenges, driving effective strategies and leadership.


Standing Out in a Saturated Market

Market differentiation is crucial for your business success

With numerous competitors like other window treatment sellers, home services and general merchandise outlets, the market is challenging. Businesses must stand out by answering the vital question for consumers: Why choose us over the competition?

To find the answer, it’s crucial to consider how your business portrays itself in the market, which is commonly referred to as differentiation. This entails the identification, branding and communication of the distinct characteristics that your business possesses, providing a competitive edge and setting it apart from others. Differentiation should include a variety of your business’ signifying features, including your list of product offerings, services, pricing strategy, stellar customer service and any other feature that your target audiences may deem valuable.

Differentiating your brand may come from a values-based approach rather than just the tangible offerings. Fostering loyalty and a unique brand identity can be achieved through outstanding service, sustainable practices and marketing that reflects your values.


Investing thoughtful time and effort in distinguishing your business from your competitors can make all the difference between a potential customer choosing your business or your

competitor. Keeping your uniqueness in mind can determine what separates you from the pack. Here are a few tactics to consider.

Know Your Brand

Most window treatment dealers tend to use the same language to describe their brand. Common descriptors include:

• Locally Owned

• Family-Owned

• High-Quality

• Custom

• Experienced

• Knowledgeable

All of these are wonderful descriptors, but–let’s face it–everybody is local. From a customer’s perspective, these terms do little to distinguish your business from another. While using these terms is a great place to begin your branding journey, it should not be where the story ends.

Instead, emphasize your brand and its unique niche. Do you have unique product offerings or relationships to vendors that you could highlight or ways that you customize and personalize your service? Now is the time to let your clients know!

Other opportunities to expand your branding include:

• Exceptional Customer Education

FULL FRAME Marketng MAY + JUNE 2024 | 64

• Partnerships with the Community

• Supporting Causes Close to You

• Creating Interactive Content

• Telling Client Stories

• Offering Rewards for Loyalty

Remember, differentiating your brand is about showcasing what makes you uniquely equipped to meet and exceed customer expectations in ways competitors haven’t considered. Offering clients a cup of coffee as they browse your store or providing them with before-and-after shots for their social media can be small touches that make a significant impact.

Every Interaction Matters

When building your brand, every time your business faces a potential client–whether digitally on social media or in person when visiting your showroom–this serves as an opportunity to express your brand values. One bad experience can potentially ruin the opportunity for a sale–and potentially any sales from that customer’s network as well.

Don’t Underestimate Reviews

Customer reviews are part of how your business’ brand is expressed online. Online reviews are the new word-of-mouth referral and affect your brand’s perception among potential clients. We all know that seeing positive feedback builds trust and credibility with those who are considering your products or services for the first time. Customer reviews can also improve your search engine optimization (SEO), making your business more visible on search engine results pages (SERPs)

Acknowledging and addressing reviews demonstrates your business’ regard for customer opinions and dedication to meeting their needs. Despite the discomfort some entrepreneurs may feel in soliciting and answering reviews, these significant remarks can be accessed by almost anyone on various platforms such as Google, Yelp and Facebook.

While we have no sway over other’s reactions, our response is in our control. A business’ handling of reviews can change customer perceptions, potentially turning bad reviews into good for the brand. Here’s how you can proactively manage reviews:

• Thank Customers

• Address Concerns

• Keep Your Brand Voice

• Monitor Regularly

• Encourage Reviews

Update Your Website

Your website acts as a digital representation of your brand, combining the functions of a business card and a storefront. Highlight how your brand differs from competitors and ensure easy access to your products, services and contact details for informed customer decisions. Upgrade your site by enriching content, narrate your brand’s journey and incorporate multimedia and feedback to draw in customers.

Engaging with Your Community

To build a loyal customer base in today’s market, it’s essential to create meaningful relationships beyond high-quality offerings. Engaging the community both online and offline is key. Utilize social media for content sharing, feedback and discussions. Actively responding in your brand’s voice demonstrates attentiveness, attracting target audience engagement.

Strengthening your local presence through event participation and supporting local teams and charities, alongside offering webinars and workshops, boosts brand sentiment. Highlighting customer successes on social media and blogs showcases the real-life impact of your brand, giving recognition to customers and demonstrating your brand’s value.


• What do you (the owner/founder) love about helping your customers?

• What kind of experience do you want your customers to have?

• How do you want customers to feel after they’ve left your store?

• What are the core values that guide your business decisions and customer interactions?

• In what ways does your business give back to the community?

• How do you follow up with customers after a purchase or service is rendered?


In today’s competitive digital marketplace, standing out is more challenging than ever, especially in the window treatment industry where choices abound for customers. Emphasizing your unique brand story through your website, social media and customer testimonials can differentiate your offerings and build customer trust.

Effective online visibility through SEO and pay-per-click advertising strategies is essential, ensuring potential clients easily find your products. Partnering with a digital marketer can elevate your presence in search rankings and across digital platforms. Leveraging expertise in SEO, web design and various digital marketing services frees you to concentrate on running your business while effectively expanding your digital footprint. V

Marissa Massey is the head of SEO and content at Creekmore Marketing and uses her writing, editing and SEO knowledge to lead her team and support Creekmore’s clients. Marissa loves the outdoors, cooking for people and reading.

Shaun Turner is from southeastern Kentucky and is a senior SEO and content specialist at Creekmore Marketing. He is also the recipient of the Denny C. Plattner Award in Fiction from the Appalachian Review and won a Kentucky Emerging Artist Award.


NEW Safety Standards Are Here: Are You Ready?

Some significant changes have been made since last year’s child safety update. Competing standards and governmental challenges have only increased the window covering industry’s resolve to bring safer solutions to the marketplace to protect children.

Industry organizations strive to continually drive child safetyrelated incidents to zero, but they have disagreed on the exact measures that should be taken to do so.

The Window Covering Manufacturers Association (WCMA), which represents the interests of the window covering industry manufacturers, fabricators and assemblers, has been focused on product safety from the onset. The WCMA has evolved our industry’s standard for the safety of window covering products over time and will continue to do so. The new standard (ANSI/ WCMA A100.1-2022) will go into effect on June 1, 2024, and it includes major changes from the 2018 version.


The WCMA’s newly accepted 2022 standard addresses custom window coverings being manufactured for both commercial and residential applications. The new standard, which focuses primarily on limiting the use of free-hanging cords, provides for:

• Elimination of free-hanging cords longer than 8" (or a 16" loop)

• Elimination of cord lock and tilt cord operating systems

• Elimination of continuous loop systems for horizontal slatted products

• Enhanced tension device requirements for cord or chain-operated systems

• 36" stroke limit and applicable testing on retractable cords

• Updated label requirements

• Addition of remote-control battery accessibility to align with ANSI/UL 4200A

Modern technology affords us the ability to greatly improve the safety and accessibility of our products. We’re proud to be a part of an industry that takes child safety seriously.”
— Derick Marsh, CEO, Rollease Acmeda
MAY + JUNE 2024 | 66



Consumers should be aware that many products on the market do not yet meet the new safety standard. To be compliant, a manual system with a cord or chain must:

• Have a compliant tension device attached to the chain/cord by the manufacturer via a permanent assembly method, which includes having permanently attached connectors for plastic and metal chains

• Prevent operation if the tension device is not properly installed

• Be under tension when installed

• Pass applicable testing (performed before consumer receipt of the product)

• Be supplied with appropriate warning labels

• Be supplied with compliant fasteners and instructions to attach to various substrates


Leading manufacturers have been preparing for the rollout of ANSI/WCMA A100.1-2022 and Rollease Acmeda is the leading innovator for child-safe products. The company has a line of market-ready, manual and motorized, compliant solutions.

The Chainhold Tension Device is one of the industry’s first, independent lab-certified, compliant devices under the new ANSI/WCMA standard. With 3.5 million units shipped since 2017, the Chainhold has a proven performance and safety history. Sample kits are currently available.

Rollease Acmeda also offers a suite of spring and motorized solutions, including:

• Easy Spring Air, a cordless and chainless roller operating system with balanced spring technology that allows optimal shade positioning by simply placing the bottom rail in the desired location

• Easy Spring Ultra, a chain-free system using the bottom rail to operate the shade and featuring an engineered design for a smooth auto-rise ascent and improved functionality

• Easy Spring Wand, a patented retractable system offering user-friendly controls and slim-line aesthetics, eliminating the need for free-hanging cords or chains. The easy-to-use wand provides a safe and ideal operation for high window shades, making it a more accessible solution.

• Automate Basics, an entry-level motorization system controlled by either a wand or remote that eliminates the need for chains or cords and makes retrofitting simple

Rollease Acmeda’s engineers are working hard to future-proof the existing product line while also offering new solutions to the evolving market. For more information on Rollease Acmeda’s child-safe products, visit


Automate Basics Magnetic Wand Motor

A cost-effective, childsafe, entry-level motor with a removable 36" wand for local control of basic up, down and stop functionality. The magnetic wand is compatible with Skyline and R-Series brackets.

Chainhold Tension Device

Easy Spring Air

Designed to provide a child-safe tension mechanism for a chainoperated roller shade system, the Chainhold is compliant with the AWSI/WCMA A100.12022 standard and comes in clear, white, black or gray.

A cordless roller spring system that allows optimal shade positioning by simply placing the bottom rail in the desired location and cuts down fabrication time and effort, this system uses a Skyline bracketing system, is simple to manufacture and tension can easily be adjusted on the brackets for optimal performance.

Chain Shield

Designed to create a simple solution for any existing manual shading system, the Shield encases the chain, leaving 8” exposed to easily control the shade. The shield is UV resistant, WCMA-compliant and does not require installers to drill new holes for installation of a tension device.

Content Sponsored by Rollease Acmeda VISION 67

Crafting the Perfect Go-To Market Strategy: Part 1

A strategy that includes detailed research, creativity and agility is essential in winning

The success of window coverings is determined by both product quality and go-to market strategy. An effective strategy can greatly impact brand recognition, market reach and sales. Despite meticulous planning, adjustments may still be necessary. This article will explore the development of a strong go-to market strategy for window coverings and provide insight into pivoting if initial efforts prove ineffective.

Understanding the Market

Prior to embarking on the development of any strategy, conduct comprehensive market research. Gain a comprehensive understanding of your target audience, meaning take note of their inclinations, challenges and purchasing tendencies. Identify your competitors and scrutinize their approaches to determine areas for improvement and potential prospects. Moreover, keeping yourself up to date with current industry trends and regulatory mandates is critical to guiding your product development and marketing efforts. Leverage industry-specific resources like Window Fashion VISION, attend webinars hosted by major manufacturers or participate in trade shows to stay abreast of developments.

Define Your Unique Selling Proposition

In a crowded market, a compelling unique selling proposition (USP) sets your brand apart. Whether it’s eco-friendly materials,

innovative designs or unbeatable prices, clearly articulate what makes your window coverings stand out. Your USP should resonate with your target audience and address their needs or desires better than competitors’ offerings. One way to generate a rock-solid USP is to dive deep into the new automated and motorized technologies and become the go-to expert on all things motorization to make you stand out from in a crowded space.

Choose the Right Distribution Channels

Selecting the most effective distribution channels is critical for reaching your target customers. Consider both traditional and digital avenues such as retail stores, online marketplaces, e-commerce platforms and social media. Each channel has its advantages and challenges, so evaluate which ones align best with your target audience and budget.

Craft a Multichannel Marketing Strategy

A successful go-to market strategy leverages multiple marketing channels to maximize reach and engagement. Invest in a mix of online and offline tactics, including:

1. Website Optimization: Ensure your website is user-friendly, visually appealing and optimized for search engines (SEO).

2. Content Marketing: Create high-quality content such as blog posts, videos and infographics to educate and engage your audience.

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MAY + JUNE 2024 | 68

3. Social Media Marketing: Utilize platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to showcase your products, interact with customers and drive traffic to your website.

4. Email Marketing: Build an email list and send targeted campaigns to nurture leads, promote new products and encourage repeat purchases.

5. Influencer Partnerships: Collaborate with influencers and bloggers in the home decor niche to expand your brand’s reach and credibility.

Measure and Iterate

Once your go-to market strategy is in motion, monitor key performance indicators to gauge its effectiveness. Track metrics such as website traffic, conversion rates, sales revenue and customer feedback. Identify areas of improvement and be prepared to iterate your strategy accordingly. This may involve tweaking messaging, adjusting pricing or reallocating resources to underperforming channels.

Pivoting a Go-To Market Strategy

Despite careful planning, not all strategies yield the desired results. If your initial approach falls short, don’t panic. Instead, view it as an opportunity to learn and adapt. Here’s how to pivot effectively:

• Diagnose the Issue: Analyze data and feedback to pinpoint the root cause(s) of underperformance. Is it a lack of brand awareness, ineffective messaging or product-market fit? Understanding the problem is crucial for devising an appropriate solution.

• Refine Your Value Proposition: Based on insights gathered, refine your USP to better resonate with your target audience. Highlight benefits that address their pain points and differentiate your brand from competitors.

• Experiment with New Channels: If certain marketing channels aren’t delivering results, explore alternative options. Test new platforms, tactics or partnerships to reach untapped audiences and diversify your customer acquisition strategy.

• Adjust Pricing and Positioning: Reassess your pricing strategy and product positioning to better align with market demand and consumer preferences. Consider offering discounts, bundling products or introducing premium options to appeal to different segments.

• Enhance Customer Experience: Invest in improving the overall customer experience, from website navigation to post-purchase support. Positive interactions can drive loyalty and word-of-mouth referrals, helping to boost sales over time.

In conclusion, building a successful go-to market strategy for window coverings requires a combination of research, creativity and agility. By understanding your target audience, crafting a compelling value proposition and leveraging a mix of marketing channels, you can maximize your brand’s visibility and competitiveness. However, remain flexible and prepared to pivot if initial efforts don’t yield the desired outcomes. Adaptation is key to long-term success in the ever-evolving landscape of the window covering industry. Part 2 will be published in the July/ August 2024 issue of VISION V

Since 2005, Sam Blair has combined his passion for business growth and window covering innovations to create impactful solutions. His comprehensive experience allows him to generate revenue and enhance team dynamics, all while focusing on mentoring in leadership and window covering advancements.

Build a Better Business LUANN'S TIPS 3 Tips to Boost Repeat & Referral Business: 1. Use Highly-Personalized Emails 2. Add a Phone Call Follow-Up 3. Host Customer Appreciation Events Wondering HOW to get these things done? For access to the ultimate network of resources, visit: 888-593-0076



The 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 also 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. For a free catalog, please call 800-231-4025 or visit


Surewin has quality components at competitive prices from its Florida warehouse, with custom sourcing available. Plastic bead chain-in-rolls or continuous loops; numerous colors in all lengths, nickel-plated and stainless chain- in-rolls and continuous loops in all lengths, stop balls, connectors, safety devices, c-clips, alligator clips, tassels, lift cord, vertical components, cord locks and the easy-to-fabricate, low-profile Sure-Lift® Roman Headrail System for shades up to 50 pounds. Learn more at or call 239-362-3342


Transform your living space with the Sol-Lux EOS window awning, which effortlessly elevates your home’s aesthetic while also managing sunlight and heat to provide unparalleled comfort and ambience. This innovative product not only protects your interior furnishings from harmful UV rays but also saves you money on energy costs and keeps you cool and comfortable. The awning’s intelligent design features automatic operation, which requires zero user interaction and is trickle charged by an integrated solar panel for eco-friendly functionality. The EOS awning is tailormade to fit windows up to 120" wide, ensuring a perfect fit for any space. With built-in weather and temperature monitoring, enjoy year-round comfort and convenience, no matter the conditions outside. Experience the ultimate in luxury living with the Sol-Lux EOS window awning, where style meets innovation. Learn more at

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Stay ahead of customer demands with Coulisse’s innovative smart solution powered by Eve Motionblinds technology. Designed for easy fabrication, shipping, installation and operation, the new Smart Track for Motorized Drapes is the future of smart home living. Experience the cutting edge of window coverings with Coulisse’s revolutionary smart drapes concept. Featuring a new track for drapes and two smart motors, this solution offers seamless and silent control to open and close drapes from anywhere. With built-in Bluetooth, Thread and Matter compatibility, it’s the smartest drape solution on the market. Be at the forefront of innovation and cater to the evolving needs of your customers today. Learn more at


Upgrade your home with Texton’s Basix roller shades, offering affordable elegance in screen, light-filtering and blackout options, all motorized for convenience. The screen fabric is renowned for its simple design and effective solar control, available in colors that ensure the right amount of light. Texton also provides privacy shades in timeless colors, allowing you to control natural light or ensure privacy, all without breaking the bank. Try it out with a sample kit for just $10 plus shipping. Learn more at


Promise is a wide-width fabric suitable for various applications, including drapery, bedding, accessories and upholstery. Showcased at the Interntaional Window Coverings Expo, it is composed of 100% polyester and has a generous width of 120". The fabric meets fire safety standards, passing NFPA 701, NFPA 260, FMVSS302 and CAL117/SE. It comes in 19 available colors and features an impressive abrasion count of 110,000 and care options for both washing and dry cleaning. Learn more at


Nature, the Ultimate Selling Partner

Exterior shades and retractable awnings are now among the hottest items in the window covering industry, fueled by a big shift toward outdoor living. Once COVID restrictions forced consumers to spend much more time at home, they started pouring a lot of money into home upgrades—with patios, decks, porches and other outdoor living spaces topping the list of must-haves. Many homeowners turned their backyards into a sanctuary: a place where they could enjoy a daily vacation paradise, entertain family and friends or simply recharge and relax.

With the outdoor living craze still going strong—and showing no signs of stopping—here are three tips to help you become the exterior sun shading company of choice.

1. Promote your exterior products at every chance. Make sure you’re taking every opportunity to market a variety of exterior shading solutions. Add a page to your website devoted to exterior products. Use beautiful photos and compelling videos that highlight convenience features like motorization. Spotlight exterior in your next social media, email, and postcard campaign.

Always work the client’s outdoor shading needs into the conversation, organically. Visiting their home, look at their backyard. Is there a patio or deck? Do they have a covered living space that isn’t enclosed? Ask if they use their patio or deck less often than they’d like because they’re chased inside by bugs, rain or intense sun. Show them photos that illustrate how other

homeowners are gaining better use of their exterior living spaces with the right shading products. Don’t just sell the product; sell the dream of spending more quality time outdoors with family and friends.

2. Don’t overlook the front of the home.

The backyard isn’t the only place a homeowner might seek protection from the sun, rain, wind or other elements. As consumers yearn to spend more time outdoors, many are thinking about how to better use their space out front.

A porch is a prime spot to enclose, but those projects have been traditionally left to construction companies. Why give them all the work? Exterior zipper shades are a perfect porch solution! Beyond providing protection from the elements, they offer much-needed privacy for a living space that’s often visible from the road. Or if a client is thinking about turning their garage into a comfortable living area (yes, this is really a trend), a screen shade can offer the sun and weather protection they need while allowing them to enjoy the outdoors … from inside! Emphasize that the right shading solution allows them to enjoy those front-ofthe-home living spaces for a longer stretch of the year in many parts of the country, starting earlier in the spring and extending well into the fall.

3. Become an exterior shading solution expert.

Although exterior shading products have been around for some time, they’re still relatively new to the window treatment world. If you attended IWCE in Dallas

this April, you might have noticed more companies showcasing exterior shades. Major manufacturers are buying up smaller companies like these to expand their product offerings and get a stronger foothold in the outdoor living space.

Find a manufacturer with a product selection you really like and learn all you can about their exterior solutions, including their pros and cons. Assess what those products could do for your clients and for your business. Could it increase your average sales and your profitability by offering more exterior shading solutions? As you beef up your product knowledge, remember consumers buy from people they trust. The more you know about the exterior shading products you’re recommending, the more confident you’ll be when you talk to your clients and the more trust they’ll place in you as the expert.

Outdoor living is clearly here to stay. And that means there’s a big market for exterior shades and awnings. If you offer your clients exterior shading solutions that are attractive, practical and convenient, you’re sure to see more sales—and potentially larger sales—in the Sold column. V

Oliver Schreiber began his sales career over 30 years ago and is CEO of Beltway Blinds in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. He leads a team that generated more than $11 million in sales last year. He has been a speaker at IWCE, has received awards for being the largest-volume dealer with Alta Window Fashions and sits on the National Advisory Committee for a window covering group, Exciting Windows!.

MAY + JUNE 2024 | 72
ROLLER SHADES | EXTERIOR SHADES | ROMAN SHADES | WOVEN SHADES 3 Reasons Why TEXTON’s Dealers are More Successful With Exterior Shades: • • Complimentary in-field training • WWW.TEXTON.COM SINCE 1941 ROLLER SHADES | EXTERIOR SHADES | ROMAN SHADES | WOVEN SHADES 3 Reasons Why TEXTON’s Dealers are More Successful With Exterior Shades:
Industry-renowned customer service • Complimentary in-field training • Lead times of 10 business days or less Scan to get started: WWW.TEXTON.COM

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