This week we sit down with Little Rock, Arkansas Designer, Tobi Fairley and discuss, how it all began, how she runs a successful business, what inspires her and of course, blogging.
Tobi was selected by Traditional Home Magazine as one of the Top 20 Young Designers in America for 2009 and was recently featured on House Beautiful's March '10, cover showcasing her Blue Room.
photography by Francesco Lagnese
Pull up a chair, grab your beverage of choice, and listen to Tobi share with us her story ( in which she makes it all sound so easy ).
This brings two things to mind from my own experience. First: Job one for the pros was gaining our confidence. They were so good at their profession, so good at selling their ideas, and so good at relating to us. They put it this way: "The jumping is hard, the falling is easy." Once we jumped, it was fun.
Second Ms. Fairley reminds me of folks who can "remember every golf shot they ever made." If she plays golf, she probably remembers every shot.
"$250K just doesn't go as far as you think it will."
I'm personally touched by Ms. Fairley's comments about avoiding jealousy of wealthy clients. I grew up in a smallish southern community where everybody kind of knew everybody else. We all knew the rich folks and what they did. In general these were the brightest, hardest working, usually the nicest folks in the community. Their money and skills ran the hospital, the Salvation Army, the YMCA, the churches, the school boards et al. They supported talented, hard working folks wherever they came from. And they know who needed help.
Fantastic interview with Tobi, if all of us could be like her our lives I'm sure would be fantastic.
You know that most designers and artists usually don't like to have to deal with the financial side of the business, but Tobi has achieved this perfectly.
Are all American women like this?
Just so you all know, I love listening to the three of you talk, it's my little link from Australia to you girls in the U.S. Each interview gets better and better.
xx Coty Farquhar
I could feel the yearning from the three of you when she talked about budgets. I love how honest and direct she is. My goal is to incorporate (maybe in baby steps) her strategy into my presentations. She is eliminating so much frustration that goes with our profession on the front end.
Congratulations on a great interview,
Mona Thompson Providence Ltd.
Thank you ladies for continuing to bring us the best listening ever!
Thank you so much for this wonderful interview with Tobi Fairley. Your questions were wonderful and she was so honest with her answers and shared her business savy openly. I really enjoyed the interview and it inspired me to revamp how I approach client presentations.
Jacqueline Corea (a Canadian fan)
Thank you so much for conducting another great interview!
Thanks girls for the SRT, a great way to learn and be entertained.
Thanks to you and your readers for their great comments. I am so humbled by the amazing compliments of me and my work! I love reading ALL the opinions, even the ones that question my design approach. It is so great to question things,as I believe this is when we learn the most. I wanted to give a bit of insight to some of the questions so far. Though I do LOVE using reproductions, I also often use antiques. Sometimes, they are not recognized as much because I give them new life, like a coat of brightly colored lacquer paint and some shiny new hardware. But I do agree it is things like antiques and original artwork that makes a home unique and personal. The home on the cover of House Beautiful has an amazing collection of original artwork from around the globe. My approach there was to let the artwork speak volumes and the design support the art. And believe me, it perfectly represents the clients' personalities!! They are some of the most neat and organized people I know. I am a pretty organized person and they make me look like Pigpen from Charlie Brown!! Isn't it interesting how one person's least favorite is another person's dream?? Thank God for the diversity of talent and opinions in our industry. Keep the comments coming, I love reading them. And thanks again for the opportunity to be on the SRT. It was a true honor! Tobi
Thank you for bringing another great interview. I throughly enjoyed hearing about Tobi's design processes. It was so interesting to hear about price points,they are seldom discussed. I would love to be able to consult with a design studio on one aspect of a room; say draperies. So I hope her idea to work with smaller budgets works out. It was also a great plug for getting an education; to back up all of that talent.
Looking forward to the next Skirted Round Table.
His premise--that design has been hit by a wave of meanness--is just trumped up to get people talking.
Internet meanness has nothing to do with design. Every blog, no matter what it focuses on--politics, sports, sexuality, pop culture, celebrities--is going to be full of angry commenters. It's the nature of the Internet, and the nature of the times.
If you must have him on, please challenge him on the premise that this is a DESIGN-specific problem. (And please challenge his claim that meanness in design "started on TV." Huh?)
It's so incredibly enlightening to hear her design process. Lately, I've hit a "slump", I guess you could say. Maybe "burnout" is a better way to put it. But perhaps it's because I'm approaching the process with my clients all wrong. I'm ALLOWING them to micromanage, and frankly, that takes all of the fun out of it for me, to the point that it's almost become drudgery lately to do my work.
I'm going to take this weekend and develop a new plan...a new approach for working with clients based on the information I've learned here. Wow...I'm feeling a renewed excitement! This is great!!
What a wonderful honest conversation! Tobi, thanks for being so willing to share your business sense with us all. Best wishes and continued success!
i listened to this entire roundtable and it was fabulous! thank you for the "sneak peek" inside the life of an upscale designer....and the reasoning of how a project can cost so much.
i found it very interesting and intriguing :) it is fun to hear all your voices!
And she loves New Dawn roses - how can you not love her? Thanks for a great interview!