Dishing with Dana ~ Interview with Lisa Ferguson

Décor Mentor – Collaborator extraordinaire!

We’re honored to welcome Lisa Ferguson, interior designer, collaborator and mentor. SocialNorth welcome submissions from everyone. Visit our Writer’s Guidelines and share your expertise with our community.

Finding her oxygen, elevating others and just doing it!

Dana Helms: Can you tell us about how you got started doing what you’re doing now? Was there an ah-ha moment that defined your path?

passion for designLisa Ferguson: When other kids were sitting watching The Young and The Restless, I was in our basement in our wood workshop designing furniture. I’m truly blessed to have found my oxygen so early.  A little bit of a detour in sales, marketing and product design for 13 years ended up being an incredible complement of experience to the last 12 years creating personalized, life changing interiors. Very few designers have manufacturing experience or have designed nearly 200 pieces of furniture.

DD: What do you love most about what you do?

LF: Making spaces beautiful is fun, but what gets me leaping out of bed in the morning is fundamentally changing the way clients function in their spaces. Designing beautiful, functional furniture that increases usable space, infusing sentimental details, providing extra ordinary space planning and solutions to challenges make me fall in love again and again with interior design.

DD: What’s the proudest moment of your career?

Decor MagazineLF: A year after completing a teen client’s bedroom, her mom called me in disbelief. The optometrist was saying the health of Chelsea’s eyes had improved so dramatically there was clearly one explanation – her space must have been completely restructured. How’d we do it? A carefully considered strategy included a new layout to encourage better behaviors. A layered lighting plan created ambience and function while reducing stress. Organization started with a purge, then inventory, followed by a plan with customized storage organized in zones. The design was subtly infused with restful colors and elements of favorite places with great memories.

DD: Who/What inspires you?

LF: I am especially inspired by things that my clients find sentimental. I take these queues and weave them into their space in a way that brings great joy to them. When I asked a recent client if they had anything hidden away they would like incorporated into the new design, she took me into the basement and showed me a very worn Stickley chair from her grandfather. She had little hope for it. We had it restored and refinished and designed a custom embroidered pillow that proudly rests on the chair bringing great memories at every glance!

DD: Has social media changed how you do business? For the better or worse?

inspiring solutionsLF:  Absolutely, social media has changed my business. For the better, it has elevated me as an interior design expert internationally and opened up incredible doors like a meeting with the president of a top book publisher, a partnership with High Point Market and furniture design collaborations with top brands. I received a sizable design project on twitter through an architect I often engage with and a favorite project from Houzz. Mutual peer sharing and encouragement are my favorite benefits. The bad? Yes! We are struggling with the time required to be on social media and then to manage the opportunities that come as a result. It is an ongoing challenge.

DD: What advice do you have for others struggling with social media?

LF: Determine who your ideal client is and determine where they’re likely to be online before you decide where to invest your time.

Engage. This should be a given, but sadly it is not!.

Go deep on one or two channels building relationships. Review and tweak every few months. Track ROI on a spreadsheet.

Know that those reaping rewards are investing 2-3 hours daily on business development. Social media is likely at least 1 hour of this. Find a way to incorporate and manage this commitment.

DD: Great advice Lisa! I love this. Can you tell us about what frustrates you about your career or the industry you’re in?

building a reputationLF:  Interior designers don’t save lives but they can change them. Carefully planned and skillfully executed life changing personalized spaces that are both functional and beautiful require a lot of experience, great proven trade relationships, the ability to anticipate and resolve challenges and extra ordinary problem solving skills. We are art director, therapists, air traffic controller and fire fighter. I’m just getting started.

The frustrating part? Interior designers generally are not celebrated for the value of what they bring to a project and most often the conversation is about how can I get all I want for a cheap price?

As an industry we need link arms to educate potential clients on the value of an interior designer and of furniture craftsmanship.

DD: Tell us about the private Lisa – what do you love most about your home/life/family?

LF:  Quality time with those I care deeply about brings me incredible oxygen. I’m minutes from the lakefront so you will often find me walking for miles and miles with a good friend. I am passionate about skills transfer to those with less and am working on an extended trip to Latin America.

DD: Tell us more about Lisa and what’s on tap for you in 2013.

be creativeLF:  Thanks for asking Dana! Decor Mentor is excited to be offering business elevating content for other designers again this October at the High Point Market with our very special guest Gail Doby of Design Success University. She is going to share a financial business model case study that will be incredibly eye opening and revolutionize the bottom line for interior designers.

Decor Mentor has in the works several innovative collaborations with major furniture brands and associations. More innovative, professional “plug and play” tools to elevate designers and help them do better business, are in the works.

The response to our done-for-you custom digital and print marketing magazine package for designers and architects has been a runaway success with other designers. Our design firm went from page four to page one since embedding on our site and have had 10 publications contact us about publishing our work.

For Lisa Ferguson Interior Design, we’re extremely jazzed to have a luxury magazine shooting a recent penthouse project for its front cover. Its high style, modern and extremely kid-smart.

Oh, I have also been approached to design multi-functional furniture collections by several of my favorite suppliers!

DD: This is amazing stuff Lisa. What’s the best advice you can give to someone following your career path or looking for something like it?

LF: Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath. Just do it. Learn your top strengths. Celebrate them. Share them. Apply them. Use them to collaborate with others for mutual wins. Women especially have a hard time embracing their strengths. This test will give you the permission. I didn’t learn much new as I’m pretty self-aware, however, there was a significant mind shift that is altering the course of my life and my businesses.

I hope to inspire women to discover what gives them oxygen and empower them to spread their wings.

Do you have a social media story to share? We’d love to hear it – on our blog or on social media, of course. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn and let’s continue the conversation.


Dana Helms ~ @themrshelmsAbout Dana Helms

When someone says social butterfly, they’re likely referring to Dana Helms. With her ability to wander through conversations online as if she’s hosting a cocktail party, Dana brings awareness and excitement to the social media party. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.


Catch up with Lisa Ferguson online

6 Responses to “Dishing with Dana ~ Interview with Lisa Ferguson”

  1. Jana says:

    Dana and Lisa,
    Thanks for sharing what moves and elevates YOU!
    I like your point about life changing design, it really is just that. Not so much about the stuff, but rather about the flow and how we utilize our spaces. Great story about the teen room, like a detox.
    You’ve got the job for my next home Lisa! I’ll just supply the trimmings.
    See you both in Raleigh at the conference next month. Jana

  2. Donna Frasca says:

    What a great interview! I just love Q&A with Designers. It’s nice to know you Lisa and what inspires you. Great advice : )

  3. Lisa Kahn says:

    Love this article Dana — so well done. Lisa inspires so many of us. Glad to see you feature her and share her with the world!

  4. Ruth Olbrych says:

    Another great interview Dana. Look forward to seeing both you and Lisa at the WITHIT conference in 2 short weeks.

  5. A great interview. Both of you inspire others so much and have generously given to many. Lisa, loved hearing what truly inspires you. I am striving to use my strengths as you do and leading by example. I can’t wait to hear about Latin America venture a passion we share.

  6. Kathy says:

    What Lisa Ferguson brings to the table goes beyond the design of a space, she works with the soul. I’ve found “Elevate” is not her slogan, it is her mission. Thank you, Dana, for this lovely profile of her!

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