Ivy Designer Spotlight: Lori Dennis – Los Angeles, CA
Lori – how did you get where you are today?
I’ve been in Los Angeles for over 30 years. But, I’ll never loose my New York attitude or roots. I now split my time between our offices in Los Angeles and South Florida.
You’re a multiple award-winning designer, speaker, best-selling author, star of HGTV’s “The Real Designing Women”, and founder of Design Campus. How do maintain a “healthy” work / personal life balance?
I have been a yogi since I was a little girl. It centers me when everything is in full spin. I sleep 8 hours every night and I am very conscious about what I eat – an organic and pescatarian diet. I give compliments to everyone I encounter and try to be positive. And although I never really stop working because I truly love my job, when Friday afternoon comes, I stop taking client calls until Monday 9AM.
You’ve been published in all of the leading industry publications and websites. For the new designers out there looking to land their first feature, what’s your secret sauce to getting published?
It’s the same thing Michael Wollaeger, then Editor of LUXE Magazine told me decades ago, “Keep submitting good work.” I followed his advice, and shortly there after, I landed my first national cover. Make sure your rooms are edited properly and shot professionally. Find Stacy Kunstel’s Design Bloggers Conference presentation on how to stage a room –her advice will elevate your work. Find a platform that resonates with your style and start submitting short sweet words with 1-3 great shots.
What’s the design scene like in Los Angeles?
I am so proud to be an Angeleno. The level of design and art is world class and varied, but none of it is pretentious or stuffy. This is a place where anything goes, but it all has an air of being casual and easy.
Photo by Roy Yerushalmi
Who are your favorite vendors and people of the trade in LA? How do you maintain healthy relationships with the vendors and tradespeople you work with?
When we find a good vendor, we stay with them forever. Years ago, when I was a nobody, Thomas Lavin
treated me like a million bucks. I never forgot that, and as soon as I had a real client, I bought from him. He’s got the best taste. I also love Peninsula
for custom furnishings, Westart Woodwork
for cabinets and millwork, Heritage Drapery
, and Black Label Logistics
for warehousing and white glove. These people have become like family members and we couldn’t have reached the level of success we have without them. We recently became very close with the good people from Monogram
and I am excited about their superior products and want everyone to get to know them!
, Kneedler Fauchere
, and Holly Hunt
have incredible products and make our lives easier! Lesson here, be nice, be accommodating, and when you find a good vendor, treat them like gold, they’ll return the favor.
How does designing make you feel? What’s your business mantra?
I feel simply glorious when I see or do good design. I am safe, happy, and life is worthwhile when I am immersed in the beauty our world offers.
What are some common business dilemmas you face and how do you navigate them?
The most challenging part of design is when a client is unhappy. One thing we do better than anyone else is listen and reflect back an edited version of what they really want. Nothing feels better than when they are happy and grateful for our efforts, nothing feels worse than when they are unsatisfied. My mantra is to be patient and put myself in someone else’s shoes. I work on it and get better each day. But, I also realize sometimes those shoes smell real bad and you need to take them off.
In your opinion, why is it vital for interior designers to prioritize building their online brand presence?
Get a good logo, get a good headshot or team picture, get 10 good interior shots. Label everything with your firm’s name and start posting everywhere you can. Clients and colleagues find you online and by having a consistent and professional online brand presence, you have a free 24/7 advertising campaign.
Based on your knowledge, why is it important to attend the trade markets and conferences in this industry and regularly connect with fellow members of the design community?
You gotta see what’s out there. You gotta be inspired. You gotta have fun. Going to markets and industry events kills three birds with one stone.
At the Design Bloggers Conference this year, the Official Gala Closing Networking Party Bash will be hosted in your home…what can we expect?
I’m all about healthy living and indoor outdoor. My home, an oasis in a concrete jungle, reflects how we live. I’m inspired by the work of the late and great, California designer, Michael Taylor.
You can expect modern infused with lots of nature; heck we’ve even got two chickens running around our yard. We’re a comfortable, casual family who loves to entertain. You can expect to have a great time.
Why did you join Ivy?
You’ve got beautiful Instagram ads (there’s that online brand presence), you’re affiliated with Houzz (who we freaking love), and a designer who looked like me (physically and where she was in her career) couldn’t say enough good things about Ivy. I’ve been wanting to get onto a more streamlined management system for years but was unwilling to take the time to learn it. When I watched the demo, it really did look easy.
How were you managing your business operations before you joined Ivy?
We are very organized. We use all of the same methods as Ivy, but it was never all in one spot. I’m looking forward to things being even easier.
What are your business goals for 2018?
We’ve accomplished the first one already, getting to Google’s page one organically for all of the important keywords. We’re developing our own multi-family property projects, and, we’re partnering with new construction technology firms in AI and 3-D printing spaces.
Here at Ivy, we’re more than just an interior design software. Our mission is to provide interior designers with the community, resources and tools needed to manage your business beautifully. Are you searching for a business management tool to help streamline your workflow as an interior designer?