Wingnut Social: The Interior Design Business Marketing Podcast
How the Heck Do You Get Featured in Magazines with Vanessa Helmick

How the Heck Do You Get Featured in Magazines with Vanessa Helmick

April 17, 2019

Getting your work published in magazines can really set your interior design career on a steep trajectory. But how do you do it? And what work do you need to put in before submitting? Designer and recent cover girl Vanessa Helmick has you covered.

Vanessa Helmick is the owner and principal designer of Fiore Interiors in Portland, Maine. She was born and raised in California, but moved to the Northeast 10 years ago where she has established her firm as one of the best in the region. Her work has been featured in numerous magazines, and was recently on the cover of Maine Home + Design.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of Wingnut Social

  • [2:15] A great story about Vanessa
  • [5:53] A big slo-mo hug for Vanessa
  • [8:03] A little about Vanessa
  • [9:36] How Vanessa has been featured in magazines
  • [16:03] Vanessa’s magazine debut
  • [18:30] Can you put a project on your website if it’s going in a magazine?
  • [22:52] Restaging an old project
  • [25:54] How Vanessa builds relationships with magazines
  • [29:54] How to style your shots when it’s difficult to photograph
  • [33:28] Whut up, Wingnut?

Connect with Vanessa Helmick

Resources & People Mentioned

Goodbye pay-to-play

Vanessa has had such great success getting features in various publications, most recently in Maine Home + Design, landing the cover. And one of the things she says that has helped her is the fact that design magazines are beginning to transition away from pay-to-play, which means the playing field is levelling.

But one of the key reasons she was able to get on the cover is because she had top-notch photos at the ready. She paid a lot of money to a photographer on a day rate, and got amazing photos of recent projects. And so when it was time to submit to Maine Home + Design’s design issue, she had the photos ready to send. And, it turned out, it wasn’t even the big, major project they selected. So it goes to show that if you want to land in a magazine, you have to have great shots of a diversity of projects.

You have to be just as choosy as a magazine

Vanessa told Darla and Natalie a really illuminating story about one of her first features in a magazine. It did not go as well as she had hoped, because the magazine sent a portrait photographer who didn’t have much experience with shooting interiors, and the photos didn’t come out that great and didn’t show her work in the best light. And so then when the magazine asked her again, she declined.

Declining to be covered by the magazine got the editor’s attention, and Vanessa explained that the last time they featured her the photos were unflattering to her work. So they then sent her an amazing photographer and she’s eagerly awaiting the release of that feature. And what’s interesting about that is that she picked a project from five years ago. So don’t just think about what you’ve done in the past few months. Think about your entire portfolio when it’s time to submit work to a publication.

Connect With Darla & Wingnut Social

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How to Market Your Design Business in These Changing Times With Crispin Butterfield

How to Market Your Design Business in These Changing Times With Crispin Butterfield

April 10, 2019

If there’s one thing that’s a constant in marketing, it’s change. The way interior designers market their firms now, compared to just a few years ago, is worlds apart. Today on the show we have someone who’s done it all, and successfully, Crispin Butterfield.

Crispin Butterfield is the creative force and mastermind behind Urban Theory Design in Kelowna, British Columbia. Even though she’s still a young designer, she’s been in business 15 years, and caters to high-end clients, particularly those who vacation in her beautiful Canadian town. She is a graduate of the Bachelor of Interior Design program at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, and her engaging personality and design-commerce savvy make her a valued and well-respected professional and mentor within her field. She’s able to uniquely see the parameters and vision of each project in ways her clients often cannot, and has honed the process and expertise required to grow incredible client and trade relationships.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of Wingnut Social

  • [3:30] Come out of your shell!
  • [7:21] How Crispin survived the recession
  • [11:21] How to make contact with general contractors
  • [12:48] Don’t approach someone as if you’re asking for a favor
  • [14:44] Getting started with high-end clients
  • [23:39] How Crispin transitioned into social media
  • [29:09] Crispin’s approach to social media
  • [32:07] One marketing tip you need to follow
  • [36:41] One mistake everyone should avoid
  • [39:39] Whut up, Wingnut?

Connect with Crispin Butterfield

Resources & People Mentioned

How to connect with general contractors, etc.

Because Crispin came of age as an interior designer at a time when social media was non-existent, she’s a master networker. Of course you need to have a balance of both old-school networking and online presence, but Crispin really has done the work to establish herself in her community. One of the ways she’s done that is to join boards of local organizations, to support the people and causes she cares about.

And Crispin has the handshake down to a science. She sends her portfolio along ahead of time, so she’s never making a cold call on, say, a general contractor. But also, she never puts herself in the position of asking to work with someone. Instead, she tells them that she likes what they do, and wants to take them out for coffee to see how they could be part of her team. That is some interior design Jedi mind trick!

Crispin’s one marketing tip for all interior designers

Crispin has operated her company for 15 years, but at one point she had to up and move cities. So how did she connect with her new community? She worked hard on making her business as local as possible. She joined a local business council. She joined the board of a local charity. She made sure people knew she was dedicated to her hometown, so when they thought of a local designer, they thought of her.

Connect With Darla & Wingnut Social

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Should You Be Doing E-Design? With Chaney Widmer

Should You Be Doing E-Design? With Chaney Widmer

April 3, 2019

Depending on whom you ask, e-design is either the next evolution for interior design, or a bubble that has already burst. But no one is savvier about online design than the guest on today’s episode, Chaney Widmer.

Chaney Widmer started Mix & Match Design Company in 2015 with the goal of making interior design affordable and accessible to everyone. Her company uses online tools to make interior design services less expensive and less intimidating. Last year, Chaney expanded to start offering online courses for interior designers (and aspiring ones) to teach them how they could grow their online businesses.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of Wingnut Social

  • [3:30] See you at High Point!
  • [6:50] Chaney is a good sport
  • [8:15] Starting out in e-design
  • [9:27] How to get photos of your work
  • [15:32] Can you still be niche in e-design?
  • [17:04] Chaney’s process
  • [20:03] How to get started
  • [26:07] What software do you need?
  • [33:25] What happened with Laurel & Wolf?
  • [38:33] Adding an e-design business to your firm
  • [40:39] Chaney’s courses
  • [42:46] Whut up, Wingnut?

Connect with Chaney Widmer

Resources & People Mentioned

E-design businesses have savvy clients

So what exactly is an e-design business? Chaney tells Darla and Natalie on this week’s episode that she has three separate offerings for her business: full-room packages, space-planning packages and virtual consultations. And what’s fascinating is that her clients, by the time they get to her, have done a lot of the work themselves, and so she’s able to connect with them and get rolling in a way she may not be able to with a more traditional client.

Chaney says the first thing you need to do when starting your e-design business is to figure out what you want to offer. Figure out what you like to do, and what you don’t like to do, and begin breaking those things out into packages.

What do you need for your e-design business?

When it comes to e-design, you’re going to need to invest in some software, and in some training on that software. Chaney says you’re going to have to sharpen those Photoshop skills so you can do realistic renderings for your clients. That doesn’t mean you’re doing full 3D renderings, which can be timely, but you do need to know your way around Adobe. Chaney also uses a software platform called DesignFiles to communicate with clients.

How do you differentiate yourself from other e-designers? Well, just like with any interior design business, your portfolio and aesthetic are going to tell potential clients whether they’d like to work with you. But Chaney also says Instagram is huge for her online marketing, allowing her to connect with potential clients.

Connect With Darla & Wingnut Social

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Are Showrooms Worth It for Interior Designers? with Cheryl Kees Clendenon

Are Showrooms Worth It for Interior Designers? with Cheryl Kees Clendenon

March 27, 2019

Having a showroom can be an amazing calling card and home base for interior designers. But is it worth the overhead and the headaches? On today’s episode, Cheryl Kees Clendenon answers all your questions about showrooms.

Cheryl Kees Clendenon is the owner and lead designer of In Detail Interiors on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Her innovative work has earned her firm more awards than any other firm on the Gulf Coast, and Cheryl is also an accomplished business coach to interior designers. On today’s episode she talks about why she opened a showroom, how it’s benefited her business, and convinces Darla she should open her own (if she can get Natalie to agree).

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of Wingnut Social

  • [1:25] Mel Gibson has nothing on Darla
  • [9:27] The nitty, not the gritty, on showrooms
  • [11:15] The research you need to do
  • [12:42] Getting the best pricing possible
  • [17:22] Striking deals with vendors
  • [19:24] You have to be capitalized
  • [23:45] Why Cheryl does not believe discounts
  • [30:30] How Cheryl communicates pricing with clients
  • [36:14] Will a showroom get you more clients?
  • [40:34] Why are designers afraid to open a showroom?
  • [49:42] You need a good business plan
  • [53:50] Cheryl’s coaching business
  • [40:40] Whut up, Wingnut?

Connect with Cheryl Kees Clendenon

Resources & People Mentioned

Having a showroom means you don’t have to worry about getting shopped

One of the major concerns for interior designers is, of course, getting shopped. A customer asks you how much something might cost, and then they scour the internet looking for a better price. But Cheryl tells Darla and Natalie that part of her showroom’s business model is to partner with vendors to showcase their wares in exchange for discount prices. So, as she says, her firm doesn’t have to worry about getting shopped because “we shop ourselves.”

Cheryl also immediately dispels one of the biggest concerns about having a showroom: Suddenly finding yourself in the retail business. If you’re not interested in having open doors and customers wandering through, you can do what she did it at first: Close the doors. By being by-appointment-only, Cheryl was able to maintain her showroom without having any of the trappings of being a retail store.

Setting up a showroom takes time

Before she opened her showroom, Cheryl said she spent a year and a half researching what lines she would carry. It can take a lot of prep work to find the right vendors, strike deals with them, convince them to take you seriously. Also, as Cheryl said, it can take a long time for your showroom to take off, so you have to be ready and willing to withstand that wait.

And beyond that, doing this takes money. You may be running your interior design business out of a home office, or doing everything you can to lower your overhead. If you want to open a showroom, as Cheryl says, you have to be capitalized. .

Connect With Darla & Wingnut Social

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How to Market Your Home Staging Business with Marianne Cherico

How to Market Your Home Staging Business with Marianne Cherico

March 20, 2019

 

Marianne Cherico has owned and operated a home staging company in New England for more than 20 years. She’s also a professional development coach who has helped countless entrepreneurs level up their businesses. She is also a bona fide ginger, making this week’s episode a little dangerous for Darla as she faces two soulless gingers for the first time.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of Wingnut Social

  • [1:25] There’s a breakout of gingervitis
  • [6:45] Sorry/not sorry about the whole gingervitis thing
  • [7:34] Marianne’s ideal client
  • [9:11] Target market for stagers
  • [14:22] How to connect with potential clients
  • [18:24] Tapping into someone’s emotions without being mushy
  • [25:14] Is consulting a sustainable business model?
  • [26:57] What should you do if you want to sprinkle this into your design business?
  • [33:45] Get coffee!
  • [37:06] How to work with homeowners
  • [40:40] Whut up, Wingnut?

Connect with Marianne Cherico

Resources & People Mentioned

Become a listing agent’s best friend

Marianne tells us that for home stagers, the target market is a little bit different than for interior designers. You want to be marketing yourself to real estate agents, who are the gateway to sellers looking to stage their homes. And even more than that, you want to be front-of-mind for listing agents, who work with the sellers to get their houses ready.

Marianne recommends working with listing agents to be included in their marketing plans. If they include a consult from you in their marketing plans, then you have a direct pipeline to the clients they’re working with. And it’s beneficial to the listing agents, too, who are able to separate themselves from their competitors by including you in their marketing proposals.

Tap into your potential client’s emotions (but don’t get sappy)

When it comes to Marianne’s marketing, she’s very good at tapping into the emotions of her potential clients. Now that doesn’t mean getting all mushy with them, but rather understanding their needs and how you can solve them. So it could be just a matter of understanding that listing agents fear a lack of listings, and so your services can help attract more clients

Another great example of how Marianne uses her marketing to tap into the emotions of her clients is to understand where they are in their career. If they’re agents who have been in the business for more than 10 years, then maybe they’re interested in branding as an authority. You can help with that. Maybe they suffer from a little bit of FOMO (Google it), and if so you can help keep them up to date. Marianne is incredibly savvy with this stuff, and you have to listen to this episode to hear her insights.

Connect With Darla & Wingnut Social

Subscribe to The Wingnut Social Podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or TuneIn

How to Land High-End Clients with Debbe Daley

How to Land High-End Clients with Debbe Daley

March 13, 2019

High-end, luxury clients are the white whales of the interior design business. But like Moby Dick, they’re difficult to land, and you may question your sanity once you get there. On today’s show, industry veteran Debbe Daley gives us a peek behind the bling.

Debbe Daley has been in interior design for 30 years, working with nearly 700 clients, many of them high-end. Debbe has seen it all in the industry over the past few decades, and on today’s show she talks about how she approached networking on and offline, how she works with her high-end clients, and what she puts in her packages so her clients know exactly what they’ll get when they work with her.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of Wingnut Social

  • [1:25] Darla gets a personalized flask but she swears she’s not a big drinker
  • [6:13] How Debbe got started at 10 years old (wink)
  • [8:39] How to get started landing luxury clients
  • [12:03] Debbe didn’t always work with luxury clients
  • [16:20] Marketing to High-End Clients
  • [24:07] Getting started with your online portfolio
  • [26:48] Pricing pushback
  • [31:58] What goes into Debbe’s services packages
  • [39:30] Putting packages on the website
  • [42:16] How to cope with clients shopping you
  • [47:28] Whut up, Wingnut?

Connect with Debbe Daley

Resources & People Mentioned

The more bling the better

Debbe has worked with high-end clients for years, and if there’s one thing she’s learned, it’s that they like a lot of bling. That means that you’re going to have to show them the best products. They may already know when something is middle-of-the-road, so you have to be prepared to demonstrate your knowledge of quality products.

Finding high-end clients can be one of the most challenging aspects of working with them. Debbe recommends you join civic organizations like your local chamber of commerce. Not only will you be around other business owners who may have the money to hire you to work on their high-end projects, but it’s a first step into networking. Debbe stresses the importance of not just having your portfolio online, but networking like crazy.

Curate your online portfolio to land high-end clients

If you want to land a luxury client, you have to show that you know luxury. Debbe says it’s important to ensure your online portfolio shows your best work, especially your work that speaks to that luxury lifestyle. That doesn’t mean that you don’t post your in-progress shots on Instagram or dismiss other work. But when it comes to your online portfolio, it’s gotta have that bling.

Debbe is also very forward-thinking about how to communicate her work to her clients. Just because you’re working with a high-end client doesn’t mean you won’t face the pricing pushback you get from other clients. So Debbe has some creative ways to work with her luxury clients. But you’ll have to listen to find out!

Connect With Darla & Wingnut Social

How to Build Authenticity on Instagram with Shana Heinricy

How to Build Authenticity on Instagram with Shana Heinricy

March 6, 2019

Everyone says it: If you’re going to be successful on social media, you have to be authentic. If you think you know what that means, think again. Today, Shana Heinricy, Social Media Director for Wingnut Social, blows your mind.

Darla and Natalie talk to Shana (on her own free will) about how to achieve authenticity in social media, and why it’s different than what most people think. In addition to being Wingnut Social’s director, Shana has a masters degree in communications, working toward a Ph.D. And she’s worked in public relations and communications all of her professional life. She knows her stuff, and this episode is packed full of useful information for wingnuts.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of Wingnut Social

  • [5:25] Is Shana here on her own free will?
  • [7:43] What does authenticity even mean?
  • [9:59] How brands build loyalty these days
  • [12:59] Authenticity and being yourself are not the same thing
  • [20:00] People hire personalities
  • [23:00] How to put your personality Why Instagram Stories
  • [25:00] Your design social media accounts don’t have to be all about design
  • [26:30] Shana simplifies for Natalie
  • [29:24] Whut up, Wingnut?
  • [38:17] A change of plans!

Connect with Shana Heinricy

Resources & People Mentioned

Authenticity builds trust, but is elusive

Darla and Natalie started out the episode asking Shana what we mean when we talk about authenticity, and Shana discussed how there’s been a breakdown of trust of brands on social media lately. Whether it’s because of reports of data selling or social causes like the #MeToo movement, it’s difficult to build trust. So being “authentic” can sometimes come off as inauthentic.

Shana has a test for whether you are being yourself on social media or not. If you take a look at your post before you post it, and ask yourself, “Could this caption go on another photo? Is there anything about this caption that is unique to me?” If it feels like it could go somewhere else, it’s probably a little too generic.

Building brand loyalty on social media

Brand loyalty may seem like a thing of the past, but as Shana says on this week’s episode, you can still build brand loyalty, but it takes a different form. Consumers feel loyal to brands who share their values. And there is a danger to airing your values, of course. You may alienate those who don’t share those values. But you will find that potential customers feel an alignment with you if they know what you stand for and agree with it.

But that doesn’t mean that you put everything on your social media. Everything should be curated. And as Shana says, “authenticity is manufactured.” You have to be authentic, but you also have to share the authentic parts of you that you want people to see. (Downing a pint of Ben & Jerry’s on the couch may not fit, in other words.)

Connect With Darla & Wingnut Social

Subscribe to The Wingnut Social Podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or TuneIn

Marketing Your Interior Design Business for Vacation Homes with Nicole O’Dwyer

Marketing Your Interior Design Business for Vacation Homes with Nicole O’Dwyer

February 27, 2019

There is a whole untapped market out there for interior designers that you may not even be thinking about: Vacationers. People who buy second homes need someone to help them beautify it. That’s where Nicole O’Dwyer’s expertise comes in.

Nicole O’Dwyer is the owner of NS Interior Designs, and because she lives in Northeastern Pennsylvania, right by the Poconos, she specializes in helping with new home construction and second-home design. Nicole has worked hard to market her company to people who don’t even live where she works. No easy feat. And on today’s episode, she talks with Darla and Natalie about how customers find her.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of Wingnut Social

  • [2:30] Info about the High Point event
  • [6:51] Nicole’s new-home construction business
  • [11:15] Show people their options
  • [15:55] Make sure you have the photography lined up
  • [17:30] How to manage a vacation house project
  • [22:54] Why Instagram Stories
  • [26:00] How Nicole budgets and bills
  • [30:08] The difference between clients
  • [33:09] Why geotagging is so handy and why Wingnut Social rules
  • [36:03] Whut up, Wingnut?
  • [38:17] A change of plans!

Connect with Nicole O’Dwyer

Resources & People Mentioned

Word of Mouth + Social Media

Nicole told Darla and Natalie that word of mouth is hugely important when getting customers who are buying a second home. Knowing realtors and contractors in the area who can refer customers to you is huge. But that doesn’t mean social media isn’t important. Having that online presence amplifies word-of-mouth to help turn prospects into customers.

It’s not easy working with vacationers who often are only coming to their house once a month. On the one hand an absentee client may be a big blessing, but on the other hand, you have to really build trust and be prepared to make things as easy as possible for people when they are in town. Nicole has it down to a science, and walks us through how she has learned what her customers need, and build her customer service around them.

Geotagging for the win

One problem with working with remote customers is: How do they find you? People buying a second home could be coming from anywhere. And Nicole had a really smart answer: geotagging. By geotagging her social media posts correctly, prospective clients searching for designers in her neck of the woods can find her work online.

Nicole has found tremendous success with her Instagram Stories. While many Instagram posts show off the beautiful finished product, doing in-process stories allows customers to see different stages of a project, and inspire ideas for their own homes.

Connect With Darla & Wingnut Social

Subscribe to The Wingnut Social Podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or TuneIn

What It Means to Be a Design Influencer with Adam Japko

What It Means to Be a Design Influencer with Adam Japko

February 20, 2019

The Wingnut Social Podcast has already definitively answered the question “Is Blogging Dead?” with a resounding no. And on today’s episode, Darla and Natalie talk with Adam Japko about how to be a design influencer through your blogging or your social media.

Adam Japko is the founder of Esteem Media, home to leading national and local media brands in the luxury home design, gardening, and fine wine communities. Some of those brands include Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles and New England Home. But he’s on the show today because he is the founder of the Design Influencers Conference, formerly known as the Design Bloggers Conference.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of Wingnut Social

  • [3:23] Adam’s love of wine may make him Natalie’s bestie
  • [5:00] Why Adam changed the name of his conference
  • [7:08] Why the conference started to begin with
  • [11:05] How to foster community rather than competition
  • [20:48] What to expect at the conference
  • [28:38] How much should you blog to become an influencer?
  • [31:59] Blogging at High Point
  • [34:44] Whut up, Wingnut?
  • [38:17] A change of plans!

Connect with Adam Japko

Resources & People Mentioned

What is a design influencer?

For years, Adam Japko ran the Design Bloggers Conference. But what he realized was that many great people whom he would love to have at the conference didn’t attend because they didn’t technically consider themselves a blogger. So he’s changed the name to the Design Influencers Conference, to encompass all of the ways designers and design enthusiasts express themselves these days.

One of the fascinating things that Adam said about become a design influencer is that you don’t have to have thousands upon thousands of followers in order to be an influencer. An influencer could just be someone with a small following who is respected by other influencers, or is in a particular niche. So just because you haven’t hit the “k” mark on Instagram doesn’t mean you can’t be an influencer.

It’s not a pulpit, it’s a platform

When you share your authentic self and your authentic work and opinions online, people are attracted to that. And as Adam Japko says on this week’s episode, blogging and social media can no longer be thought of as a “pulpit,” but rather a platform. So the goal is to share your authentic self, but to do so in a way that is shareable and can be engaged around.

Of course you’re going to be competitive when you start blogging or start growing your social. But as Adam says, when you go to a conference like his Design Influencers Conference, it’s less about competition and more about community. Suddenly you’re meeting people whom you look up to, and you’re not seeing them as competition, you’re seeing them as peers.

Connect With Darla & Wingnut Social

Subscribe to The Wingnut Social Podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or TuneIn

The Importance of Networking at Industry Events with Jane Dagmi

The Importance of Networking at Industry Events with Jane Dagmi

February 13, 2019

Networking can be sort of a dirty word, but don’t let that scare you off. Instead, think of it as building genuine relationships. And there’s no one more genuine, or more connected, than today’s guest, Jane Dagmi.

Jane Dagmi is the editor of Designers Today, a great interior design magazine that all designers should be subscribed to. Jane has been in the magazine industry for more than 20 years, and as editor, her focus is less on the pretty pictures of interior design, and more on the process of design, and how professionals can improve and try new things. She’s also ubiquitous at industry events, and the perfect person to talk to about networking.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode of Wingnut Social

  • [1:10] Intro
  • [6:20] Who would make a better hermit, Darla or Jane?
  • [7:23] All the different shows Jane goes to
  • [9:19] How will networking get you more business?
  • [15:48] The trickle-down effect of networking
  • [17:20] How to plan your trips to events
  • [19:50] Should you still have a 30-second elevator pitch?
  • [22:43] How to put yourself out there early on
  • [30:02] Just go up and say hi
  • [34:40] Make an agenda
  • [39:19] Whut up, Wingnut?

Connect with Jane Dagmi

Resources & People Mentioned

Don’t network, build relationships

The second anyone is told they should be networking more, they freeze up. No one likes the idea of being the schmoozy networker. But if you think of it another way, think of it as building relationships with people in your field, whom either you could help or they could help you down the line, it’s not nearly as skeezy.

On this week’s episode of Wingnut Social, Jane told Darla and Natalie about two designers who met at an industry event, and became friends. And years later, they ended up collaborating with each other on a major project. And Darla and Natalie shared a similar story about their High Point event, which came from making friends with someone at a previous event. So play the long game.

Opportunity not opportunists

Jane says something really smart on this week’s episode of Wingnut Social, which is that you should think of networking as an opportunity, but don’t be an opportunist. In other words it’s a chance to meet and connect with people, but don’t try to take advantage. Often that means having a good sense of what you are looking for when you approach someone, everything from being a fan of that person or looking for a mentor.

It can be difficult to get the energy to network. But as Jane says on this week’s episode, it’s something that can really benefit your interior design business, and there are ways to make it less scary. Schedule your days, identify small events that speak to your interests, and look for communities where you’ll feel comfortable.

Connect With Darla & Wingnut Social

Subscribe to The Wingnut Social Podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or TuneIn