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Home / Interviews  / Behind the Design: Leanne Yarn of Yarn Design Associates

Behind the Design: Leanne Yarn of Yarn Design Associates

Behind the DesignYarn Design Associates – Boca Raton, FL


Leanne – How did you get where you are today?

Leanne Yarn: I was born and raised in St. Petersburg, Florida and attended college at the University of Florida…go Gators! During my time in college, I interned at a prestigious interior design firm in Manhattan upon which I was offered a job at the end of the summer. I turned it down to move back to Florida (which many people close to me thought was a mistake). If I had taken that New York City path, I don’t believe I would be where I am today. I ended up working in Sarasota, FL for the area’s best luxury Home Builders. A pinnacle career move happened after my time in Sarasota with a relocation to Boca Raton, FL where I currently reside and work.

“Each job opportunity prior to working for myself I treated as a mentorship, soaking up as much information as possible. Not only did my design skills grow over the years, but I absorbed things that you learn only by experience.”

What is Yarn Design Associates’ approach to design and client interaction?

LY: Our approach to design is first evaluating the scope of work and understanding a client’s wants, needs, and personality. Design is the easy part; client interaction can be more of a challenge. We specialize in high-end residential design projects. These projects are people’s personal homes, sometimes even their dream homes. Clients’ emotions are running high and we don’t want to disappoint. Gaining a client’s trust is our most important goal and takes patience. Most of our business is referral-based which makes client interaction an easier segue into developing a strong business and personal relationship in the beginning.

Yarn Design Associates

Photo by Yarn Design Associates

You’re based in South Florida…what’s the design scene like?

LY: The South Florida design scene is all over the map. My place of business is located in Boca Raton, FL which is South of Palm Beach and North of Miami. I would say, for the most part, the overall design esthetic in what we call the “Gold Coast” is very sophisticated. Lots of retired New Yorkers and second property home owners reside here full-time and during the winters. The design scene tends to also be a bit more “flashy” than most.

Who are your favorite local vendors and people of the trade?

LY: My favorite local vendors are hands-down my mill shops. A mill shop can really make or break a final installation for me. I work with some of the most talented and experienced mill shops on the East Coast of Florida. Their lead times are accurate, their installs are clean, and when an issue arises, they come through every time. As far as people of the trade, I only buy from people who make my job easier, not more difficult.

“Continued business is the best kind of relationship to have.”

Yarn Design Associates

Photo by Douglas Elliman

How do you maintain healthy relationships with the vendors and tradespeople you work with?

LY: I truly feel that I work with the best local tradespeople and my reps go that extra mile when I need something done. In return, I continue to give business to those who help me achieve success with my clients. Continued business is the best kind of relationship to have.

Are you a part of any association or community to stay connected to other design professionals?

LY: I stay well-connected with past employers who also served as incredible mentors for me and still do. Part of what makes me who am I as a designer today is what I’ve learned from those who gave me a chance in the beginning. Staying connected with industry leaders who have succeeded in this business for over forty years is more educational to me than any association or design certification could give me at this point in my career.

Yarn Design Associates

Photo by Douglas Elliman

How does designing make you feel? What’s your business mantra?

LY: Design gives me that creative outlet that I need. Richard Branson has a nice quote I saw on Linkedin that I follow in business. He said, “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”

You were selected to be part of the 2nd Annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House Palm Beach…congratulations! We want the details. Tell us about the selection process, how you’re partnering with brands to design the space, how you’re marketing your participation, etc.

LY: Thank you! The submission process is open to any interior design firm that wants to participate in raising money for a great cause and be part of something very special. Designers are required to submit what they feel is their best portfolio image, along with a bio.

The selection process is limited and well…selective. I feel fortunate to be amongst some of the most talented designers in the industry. I like to think that that being a local designer and having history working with some major industry leaders prior to starting my own business supported my submission.

The Annual Kips Bay Decorator Show House Palm Beach has provided all designers with some incredible sponsors this year. On top of the sponsorship, I myself have done a lot of outreach out to my tradesmen and vendors for support in supplying materials and providing additional discounts on top of trade for Show House use. We have a great Public Relations team who has been active in marketing the big event and the designers participating. I’ve also reached out to my network of resources and contacts for additional marketing opportunities.

Yarn Design Associates

Photo by Yarn Design Associates

How do you define professional success? How do you define personal success?

LY: Professional success is different for everyone. For me, starting my own interior design business was always something I had thoughts about. Each job opportunity prior to working for myself I treated as a mentorship, soaking up as much information as possible. Not only did my design skills grow over the years, but I absorbed things that you learn only by experience. I learned how to deal with difficult people, how to handle uncomfortable conversations with clients, and problem solve like never before. Returned business from former clients is probably the best kind of professional success and compliment a designer could ask for.

Personal success right now is coming home after a long day and not talking about business with my husband. That’s personal success for both of us!

Why did you choose Ivy as your software of choice to centralize your billing, purchasing, and administrative tasks?

LY: Prior to opening Yarn Design Associates, I worked for several different design firms where the day-to-day organization of bookkeeping and project management software tools were always causing human errors. Every time someone pulled a file off of the main office server, people weren’t saving the new updates, or worse, saving over files! It was an absolute nightmare. The best way I can explain Ivy is that it’s in “real time”, like Twitter. Ivy can be accessed on my PC and mobile device which is huge when I’m on the road or at a job site needing to look up something immediately.

Yarn Design Associates

Photo by Yarn Design Associates

What’s an Ivy feature you can’t live without?

LY: Getting to add product images to my Purchase Orders from vendors has allowed me to visually see what’s been ordered faster and has created less room for error on my vendor’s end. My vendors are also loving it!

What do you learn from the Ivy Design Community?

LY: Ivy offers some great online webinars. I use the industry webinars as my version of CEU, as I feel the topics are extremely current and on-trend. The webinars also include educational discussions on business, marketing, social media, and client relations.

Yarn Design Associates

Photo by Douglas Elliman

Would you recommend Ivy to a designer friend?

LY: Yes, and I already have! It’s all about getting that ‘older generation’ of interior designers onboard with Ivy. It’s a bit of a learning curve, but long term, Ivy will help you run your business more smoothly and organized.


Ivy is the # 1 business management software for designers. To learn more about Ivy, schedule a demo with an Ivy Guru who can show how Ivy can streamline your sourcing, invoicing, and purchasing tasks so you can make time for what you love most, design.

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