Last week Mr. Beckley and I had the opportunity to travel to Little Rock, Arkansas to be part of a three-day Designer MBA camp hosted by Tobi Fairley. There were 25 interior designers in attendance and we learned SO, SO much. I love learning and making our interior design firm as successful as it can be. I have my Designer MBA now thanks to Tobi.
Mr. Beckley loved being with Tobi in her beautiful office and though I have known Tobi as my mentor and consultant for two years, I learned things about her I didn’t know through our interview.
Mr. B: You are recognized as a successful interior designer and have achieved recognition and even been on the covers of House Beautiful, Traditional Home and many more shelter magazines. How did you come to be a business consultant to interior designers and why are you passionate about other designers?
I have always had a passion for teaching. As a child I thought I wanted to be a teacher. Over the years, I have worked with many amazing business consultants that have helped me achieve my goals, all the while knowing that some day I too would help others grow their firms. I have learned so much about what to do and what NOT to do to have a successful design firm and celebrity brand and I feel an obligation to share it with others so they don’t have to learn all their own lessons the hard way. Yes I am passionate about design, but I am probably more passionate about the business of design and entrepreneurship. As awe-inspiring it is for me to transforming a home for a family and create a gorgeous, functional and well-lived life for them, transforming a person’s business and personal happiness is even more inspiring and fulfilling to me.
Mr. B: As you watch the interior design landscape, what do you predict will be the next big thing on the horizon?
Well if we are talking business, I think we are still going to see MAJOR changes in the design business in the coming months and years. The interior design landscape will never be the same and only those most progressive thinking and flexible designers will still be in business in just a few years. I think the internet and e-commerce will continue to grow and “to the trade” will continue to diminish. I think those designers who understand and value themselves as a Consultant, a player in the process who brings great value to the table through their intellectual property or their “information” and has the ability to show the client their value and the confidence to charge what they are worth, will be the last men and women standing.
Mr. B: I know you love dogs, what is your favorite memory with your dog(s)?
Gosh there are so many. I got my first dog when I was 6. He was born to our neighbor’s chow but was 1/2 lab and an awesome dog named Zach. One year he helped father a litter of pups with a stray in the neighborhood and the stray momma and all 7 pups ended up being raised by my mom, my brother and me. So that was a fun memory for sure. More recently, I had 17 great years with my shih tzu, Sydney, who we lost in February. And we still have our rescue dog, Harley. Harley is part Lhasa Apso and part Cocker, or so the vet thinks. We suspect she’s about 14 as we’ve had her almost 12 years. Talk about the sweetest dog ever (well next to you, Mr. B). She never barks, never is any trouble and prefers when Carter, Ellison and I are all piled in my bed cuddled up to her. She is definitely a lover, not a fighter. But speaking of fighters, we are just about to bring home a brand new puppy that my aunt recently bred named Isabella Fairley. She will be coming to our home on Halloween Day and we can hardly wait. Izzy is a black and white furball (3/4 Shih Tzu and 1/4 Maltese) and according to the videos my aunt keeps sending of her, it looks like she might be a but spunky.
Mr. B: How do you design for your projects and peoples’ lives when there are pets involved?
Well I create all spaces for living and nurturing family and friends. And to me pets, just like your children, are an important part of the family. So my spaces are always intended to be used and enjoyed by all. What fun is having a museum of a home where you can’t relax and enjoy. Maybe it’s my Southern Hospitality coming out, but nothing is off-limits in my home including the furniture and carpets. Bound carpet rugs in the high-traffic areas take a bit of the worry away instead of valuable orientals or custom rugs being used in the most public of spaces. Also durable fabrics can be great for kids and pets including using indoor/outdoor designs in the house. And then there are my friends that Microseal all our furnishings, drapery, and rugs and the minute we have a stain or spill, they come take care of it. So no worries around my place. Life if really too short not to use and enjoy what you have and since Harley is sacked out on the rug right next to my feet as I type this, it’s evident she’s not worried about anything!
Mr. B: I heard you will have a new addition to your family soon? Please introduce us to her and let us know if she will also be a regular fixture at the Tobi Fairley Interior Design offices?
As I mentioned above, my sweet little Izzy is about 40 days old and we can’t wait to bring her home. And YES! For the first time, I am in a place in my life and business that I can actually bring her to work with me. So she will be a regular visitor to our offices, to our Design Camps, and of course on the blog. Mr. B, I can’t wait for you to meet her soon. She is quite the looker and I think you might fancy her. You know how irresistible Southern Women are!?!