Relationship Secrets Of The Pros

Find out how retailers and designers work together to build each other’s businesses

Retailers can earn a steady stream of revenue from designers who rely on them for unique and readily available products. Designers need to know a few select retailers who can deliver just the right products for their clients’ homes. How do you forge these important relationships? Our panel of successful retailers and designers is here to let you in on their secrets.

“We’ve worked to build strong relationships with designers all around the country,” says Courtney Garrigan, co-owner of Coco & Dash and Ciao, Coco! in Dallas. “While they know we can help them incorporate the distinct aesthetic unique to Coco & Dash, they also rely on us for follow through. Plus, our to-the-trade discount and service options help them add to their bottom line.”

Claire Bell

Susan Dickenson

Courtney and Teddie Garrigan

Jamie Merida

Natalie Reddell

“Our goal is to make it easy for the designer to do business with us.”

However, this kind of relationship is not always one that comes easily – to merchants or designers. It usually involves both a learning curve and adherence to solid business ethics.

Easton, MD, based Jamie Merida, an interior designer and owner of Bountiful Interiors, believes good communication is essential to building successful retailer – designer relationships. “We make sure we have a clear understanding of how a designer wants us to communicate pricing as it relates to their client,” he says. “We want them to know they can walk into our store and feel comfortable that we understand how they work.”

For interior designer Claire Bell, owner of Claire Bell Home in Chamblee, GA, commitment to the design project is the key to ensuring a long-lasting relationship of trust and collaboration. “As a retailer,” she says, “I want my designers to know that the top priority for me is making the best design decision for them. That doesn't change even when it means sourcing a piece elsewhere.”

“As long as the driver in making purchasing decisions is mutual enthusiasm for the project, you cannot go wrong.”

Unique, readily available products, follow through, to-the-trade discounts, understanding the other party’s business works, making the project your first priority, these are the basic building blocks of strong retailer – designer relationships.