I go through a laundry list of my clients and ask myself, what can I do for my business today? What can I make better? Every day is a new day and a new opportunity.
Beverly Ferguson is the owner, partner, and designer of The Reflective Designer in Stow, Massachusetts. The Reflective Designer is a premier company that initially specialized in window treatments only, but has expanded into the world of full interior design service. The beautiful showroom features lighting, upholstered furnishings, elegant area rugs, and carpeting, decorative accessories. The Reflective Designer serves Boston Metro West, New Hampshire, and The Cape and Islands.
Beverly graduated from Chamberlayne College in Boston in 1982. She earned her Associate degree in the Applied Science of Interior Design. The chair of the Interior Design department, under whom she studied, was a graduate of the prestigious École des Beaux Arts in Paris. Her focus was on residential design. Immediately after graduation, Beverly managed the showroom for a manufacturer’s representative of commercial furnishings. The showroom featured furniture, upholstery, fabrics, panel systems, and signage. She gained experience while interfacing with architects, designers, and salespeople.
After college, Beverly started a family and took some time off to raise the children. She resumed her career in 2000 when she took a job at a local paint and decorating center. It was her jump-start back to her career. There, she was extremely successful in the sales of window treatments. She requested a commission percentage for the enormous amount of sales she was bringing in to the business. When she and her employers could not come to a mutually beneficial agreement, Beverly left the decorating center and struck out on her own.
While attending a business seminar to learn sales techniques pertinent to the interior design trade, she met a gentleman who would eventually become her business partner at The Reflective Designer. He had a long history in the window treatment business and offered Beverly an alternative to work independently but under his umbrella. They worked very well together, and it was a good fit for both partners.
An opportunity came up to purchase an existing store that had been in business for over 20 years. The store was a well-established Hunter Douglas Gallery which also offered decorating services. It was not long before the partners seized the opportunity and made the purchase. They completely retrofitted the entire store to accommodate upholstery, case goods, lighting, accessories, carpeting, flooring, and wall coverings. The Reflective Designer has been thriving since 1980 and in the showroom at Stow, MA for the past eight years.
Where did the idea for The Reflective Designer come from?
The name The Reflective Designer came from my partner. He is very customer service-oriented. I am sure he knew that all of his designers would be reflective of the projects they were designing.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I am up between 5:30 and 6 every morning. I feed the cats and have a big cup of coffee. It is my best time of the day. I read emails, write if I need to. I then have a very long day with customers at the store, The Reflective Designer. It used to be just me at the showroom, but now I have help. I have a great administrator. I initially hired her for sales, but her true strength is her high level of organizational skills. She performs some design functions, but the structured system she has developed allows me to do what I do best, which is design. I am in the field or in and out of the showroom all day. I have Wednesdays and Saturdays dedicated to my time in the store.
How do you bring ideas to life?
When I have an idea, I see the whole thing at once. It is just the way I naturally think. I have to get it down on paper quickly because ideas can fade rapidly and details are important. I never know when or where I am going to get my inspiration.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Trends start from the top down, fads start from the bottom up. People are choosing grey, but I see an uptick in more color interest. I am excited that more people are embracing color for their homes because I believe it is an indicator of optimism.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I put on makeup every day. It sounds like a little thing, but when I do, I feel ready to take on the world.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t listen too seriously to others because everyone has their own filter. Listen to yourself. The advice of others may be well meaning, but not necessarily pertinent to your life. Be strong, be smart, but not rash. Listen carefully, but follow your own heart.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I think that is the definition of crazy right? What they don’t know is that I am a genius, they just don’t know it!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I go through a laundry list of my clients and ask myself what I can do for each individual client today? On a grander scale, what can I do for my business today? What can I make better? Every day is a new day and a new opportunity.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I would say keeping my eyes and ears open. My business partner grew up in Boston, I grew up in New York. Boston is steeped in tradition. We are all products of our environment and this dichotomy between my business partner and myself is a dynamic factor in keeping The Reflective Designer relevant. I have to be progressive if I want to continue to grow. I am not afraid of change. Everything is about change and keeping things fresh and relatable.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There has been the occasional customer that I have not been able to satisfy. Sometimes it is a simple personality clash. I have to learn when to walk away. Not all business is good business.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Find your passion. Find whatever you do better than anyone else, then find a way to turn it into an online business. Being online is essential.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I took my team to New York to a trade show. At the end the day we went downtown to Eataly. We had some food and some wine, and everyone had a great time.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use Canva. I find it really easy to use on social media.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
My favorite book is “Great Heart”. It is a historical novel. It is a testimony to the human spirit.
What is your favorite quote?
Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.