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Monday, March 11, 2013

Irregular Referrals - A Story!


Most of my incoming SK Designs business is based on referrals from existing or past clients.  I do very little in terms of print advertising for SK Designs, although I do market my business in many other ways. 


(If you are a designer or workroom who will be attending IWCE in New Orleans next month - come and take my marketing class and you will take away lots of my successful ideas as well as all of my resources and printables for events that I use for marketing my window treatment business!)  http://www.wf-vision.com




While most of my new client referrals are from SK Designs clients, I have been fortunate to have established relationships with several other design/fabricator vendors whose work I value and trust.  When my Houston clients ask for a referral for a wallpaper installer or upholsterer, I am happy to know that they will be in good hands with Julie Young (wallpaper installer) or Jack Johnson Upholstery (reupholstery and custom upholstery). 

Here is today's Irregular Referral story!  

Generally, I work with my clients on their window treatments from the beginning phase of meeting them, measuring their windows, discussing and deciding on window treatment styles and fabrics, and then moving on to fabricating the treatments and installing them.  At the very least, this involves two client appointments:  the initial meeting in which we discuss the project, decide on everything and measure; and the installation.  Sometimes this process takes several meetings in order to finalize and select everything (design, fabric, trim, hardware, placement of the treatment, etc.)

Therefore, it was an unusual experience recently when I installed some drapery panels for a new client, Pam.  We had never met in person until I attended the installation!  I had been referred to Pam by Julie Young, The Wallpaper Lady (all contact info is at the end of this post)....whom I have never met face-to-face either!  

Here is the whole story....

For over 15 years, I had been involved in my neighborhood's Home Tour, which is our major fundraiser for the neighborhood.  It is a great way to meet people in my neighborhood and to help raise money for improvement projects for the area.  I love to see all of the homes, their updates, new construction, etc. (and perhaps the featured homes will want new window treatments) :).

Last year, one of our featured homes had had some beautiful wallpaper installed by Julie Young.  I always contact the vendors or suppliers of the featured homes to see if they would like their work highlighted and promoted by being a Sponsor (donor) for the home tour.  I contacted Julie about a sponsorship opportunity, and we began a continuing online discussion of each of our businesses and we each reviewed the other's work online via websites and blogs.  

Speaking of blogs - Julie's is fantastic!  She posts nearly every day and showcases the fine details, care and preparation that are involved in a successful wallpaper project.  She helps clients source high quality wallpaper that will ensure a great finished project, and is a master at matching patterns (a quality I love in my business as well!), preventing future issues, correcting past installation errors and securing another happy client!  Her blog showed me the high standards that she has for her clients and projects, and I became an immediate fan.

A gorgeous blue and brown grasscloth wallpaper
(this is not Pam's, but is an
example of a similar wallpaper with great
depth and texture)



We began to happily refer clients to each other, knowing that each of our own clients would be in good hands with the service that the other provided.

Pam began emailing me last fall, after Julie had installed her beautiful new grasscloth wallpaper.













Pam requested pricing and estimated yardage requirements for one pair of drapery panels.  I asked her many questions (what is the pattern repeat, what are the window measurements, what is the spacing above and around and below the windows, does she have her own hardware, where does she want it mounted, what type of linings and/or interlinings does she prefer or need).  There are a great many components which go into even the most simple of window treatment designs!  As stated above, these are items that I typically discuss during a client appointment.  However, Pam's brother is a designer in the LA area, and he had already provided her with information about hardware selection (she bought her own) and where and how the drapery panels should be mounted, lined and pleated.
This photo does not do the fabric justice!  The background is a
linen color and the motifs are embroidered - beautiful!
Working with that information, I was able to provide her with pricing and yardage.  She was awaiting fabric swatch approval from her brother, so the project was on hold for a little while.  He and she did come to an agreement on a fabric, which was a beautiful embroidered Lee Jofa fabric that was ordered and had shipped directly to me.  Receiving the fabric was a bit like experiencing Christmas morning, since it was my first time to see the fabric and it was exciting to see how pretty it was and I knew that her panels would be beautiful!  Remember, I still had not seen the room/colors/furnishings/new wallpaper or anything!  But the fabric was lovely and I was looking forward to fabricating her panels.

Pam and I met for the first time at the installation and laughed about how this process had come about.  The panels looked lovely on her dark blue grasscloth wallpaper, her drapery hardware was a great complement to the project and the job was finished!


After 18 years in business, this is the first time I have had a project transpire in this way, and it was a fun experience and a great way to showcase that networking and referrals work well (and often in mysterious and surprising ways!)

Here is Julie Young's (The Wallpaper Lady) contact information:
Email:  wallpaperlady@att.net
Phone:  713-528-5614

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