We’re honored to welcome Lisa Kahn, AKA @LisaLKahn, to SocialNorth. Lisa is an ASID luxury interior design expert, product designer, trend-spotter, writer, unabashed optimist and pixie dust spreader.
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Lisa Kahn: I grew up in a family-owned business that offered interior design out of the back of a retail store location — my mom is an interior designer. My dad schooled me in business and entrepreneurship and my mom showed me the ropes in design. All that being said, I resisted my fate and went to college intending a business major but ended up coming back to what I know best and a clear way to express the creativity that lives inside me – INTERIOR DESIGN. I’ve never regretted it.
DD: Was there an ah-ha moment that defined your path?
LK: My second job out of college was for a small, residential designer — within a year I was running her business and realized I was destined to own my own firm and revolutionize the world of design, one project at a time.
DD: What do you love most about what you do?
I love that my work and passion result in the creation of beauty, every single day. And the spaces I create serve as sanctuaries to my clients — back drops to their busy lives, against which they make memories. It improves their quality of life — it makes me feel good to know that. It makes me feel that what I do matter.
DD: What’s the proudest moment of your career? Is there a project that you think of as your absolute best?
LK: Within 3 months of opening of my studio, I landed the largest residential project ever to be built in Naples, Florida – 60,000 square feet. I was the new kid on the block at the time and everyone in my town was asking, “Who is this Lisa Kahn?” When I found out that the designer I replaced on the job was one of my heroes, the oh-so-talented David Easton, then I knew I had arrived.
DD: Who/What inspires you?
LK: This is not an easy question to answer…so many things inspire me. My Mom and Dad inspire me. My children inspire me. The love of my husband inspires me. Travel inspires me. The markets I attend inspire me. Mother Nature inspires me. I could go on all day but in truth, what glues me together when I am at my busiest is a morning run in my beautiful neighborhood before the sun comes up.
DD: Has social media changed how you do business? For the better or worse?
LK: Social media has changed my business enormously. The contacts I’ve made and the networking that has occurred online has resulted in new opportunities, new friends, new colleagues and even a new revenue stream for my company. The other significant change has been that I now collaborate and interact with other interior designers – this was not part of my past. Designers are funny – exclusionary, oddly estranged from each other and often mistrustful. Not as much these days. And I am enjoying my career more than ever. It took interacting with my peers to see my business from a new perspective and to realize that I have a WONDERFUL, AMAZING and very desirable business model. Quite fabulous really.
DD: What advice do you have for others struggling with social media?
LK: Relax into it and find your voice. Be transparent and authentic. The benefits far outweigh any perceived risks. And remember to “pay it forward” – therein lies the true secret of life, love and happiness. Social Media is about giving and when you remember that, incredible things will come to you.
DD: Can you tell us about what frustrates you about your career or the industry you’re in?
LK: The lack of understanding on the part of clients as to what designers actually do, what is the value that we bring, how much work and expertise and knowledge we bring to the process of designing a space. But in this frustration is also an opportunity to educate clients and revolutionize the way we do business.
DD: Tell us about the private Lisa – what do you love most about your home/life/family?
LK: I am incredibly blessed with an adoring husband, two great kids, two hilarious pups and a cat. I wouldn’t change a thing. The peace and fulfillment I have in my personal life shows in my professional life. I start every day with so much love backing up everything I do. Did I mention that I am blessed?
DD: Tell us what’s on tap for Lisa in 2013.
LK: I’m participating in a show house that is scheduled to be featured in Traditional Home magazine, launching new product designs for my line with Chelsea House, Inc., being featured on the cover of a prestigious Florida interior design magazine, continuing my expanded role with creative direction at Chelsea House, taking my first trip to the product manufacturing facilities in China and designing a record number of luxury interiors in Naples. Adding all of that to a busy home life with 2 teenagers makes life anything but boring!
But the best thing slated for 2013 is that I get to continue working with people I love, doing a job I adore, spreading beauty wherever I go.
DD: What’s the best advice you can give to someone following your career path?
LK: Pay your dues, start at the bottom, find a mentor and soak up all the knowledge you can find. Work for an established designer – it’s the best way to learn how to juggle the many priorities of a business owner, see how to actually do design work in the REAL world and if you are equipped to take the leap and open your own studio. It’s not for the faint of heart!
DD: If you could have one super power what would it be?
LK: ONE SUPER POWER? Well as boring as it might sound, I would definitely be able to transport myself from one spot to another instantly. With my schedule and business in NC as well as FL, it would eliminate a lot of travel time and hassle, even if it was only once a month!
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Thank you, Lisa. We appreciate your taking time out of your busy market prep to dish with me about your business, life and social media. Recently in the news Lisa has joined Chelsea House as the company design consultant after the launch of her line in the fall inspired by her travels. I first met the fabulous Lisa at the 2012 WithIt Educational conference in Raleigh NC. She was sitting a few tables away with Lisa Ferguson (DécorMentor) tweeting about coffee. We were instant Starbucks Sisters.
Connect with Lisa online:
About 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.