Welcome to The Student Lounge! On our very first episode, Trish sits down with The Chaise Lounge founder Nick May to talk about why he co-founded this podcast and why it will be so useful for students. Spoiler alert: we want students to understand the industry and what it has to offer and also connect people with designers and brands.
Nick is from the west side suburbs of Chicago and studied marketing at the University of South Carolina, where he learned corporate-style marketing. Now, he’s mostly marketing for small businesses and in fact successfully markets his own, a painting contracting company called Walls By Design.
WBD still gets a lot of business through word of mouth referrals, but Nick has utilized digital marketing tools like SEO/SEM and social media and is currently flooded with customers! Needless to say, he’s not an interior designer, but he always wanted to connect in the industry and basically just started The Chaise Lounge three years ago. Now, he’s hosted over 220 episodes and forged incredible connections in the industry, while hosting panels and roundtables with the biggest and brightest designers.
Markets and Connections
Nick is friends with Bobby Burke, Stacy Garcia, and Amy Flurry, and so many more folks he met at the first market he went to, who have introduced him to so many more great designers. That first market was High Point, which he still loves, but he says that every market has a new feel. But for the amount of vendors and showrooms, High Point is probably the best bang for your buck. In fact, it’s nigh on impossible to even see of all of what it has to offer! Over all, though, he says that markets are for meeting people and brands, not sight-seeing.
Trish also chats with Ashleigh from Breneau College in Gainesville, GA. Ashleigh connected with The Student Lounge early to help her advance her career in the commercial and hospitality design worlds. Originally, she studied film but found a vocation in design! Trish is also back in school, having first studied psychology, and she figures that it will eventually help her work with clients. Since earning her Bachelor’s, Trish has spent a ton of time in the hospitality industry as a bartender and hostess and now notices design flaws in restaurants and clubs.
Getting Out There
Both know that being a go-getter is really important in the industry. Ashleigh has built a great relationship with LuAnn Nigara and actually worked on her podcast A Well-Designed Business. She says that designers are often really helpful and interested in helping students, so getting out at markets and meeting folks in general is really important.
“Just talking to people, you will not believe the relationships that you can build with designers and students,” Ashleigh says. “Putting myself out there has helped me a lot!”
Here’s a round up of more great advice:
- Don’t go to every networking event. Some are far away and empty, and you just end up leaving empty-handed. Before going to events, comment on a designer’s social media and interact with them. Then, go to events that this designer will be at. Afterward, follow-up and offer to buy them coffee or lunch. Ashleigh calls this approach “networking with intention.”
- That said, you won’t get anywhere by not showing up once in a while.
- Dress business casual at networking events.
- Stay inspired and connected to why you are doing what you do.
That’s it for The Student Lounge! Click here to listen to episodes two and three! And, as always, reach out to connect with us!
To learn more about the business of interior design and life as a designer after school, visit The Chaise Lounge Podcast.