Retail education: Bold and fabulous

Home Columns Retail education: Bold and fabulous

by Kelly Kramer

I’m going to start with a little bragging because in my floor covering past, I’ve done some pretty high quality high- end flooring design work. I’ve worked for a high-end Karastan dealer in Southern California where I designed flooring for some of the richest people in America. I’ve designed some very detailed and intricate area rugs from scratch for homes and commercial areas. And, as of recently, I’ve designed some very wild tile flooring and wall tile areas.

As you know selling flooring can be some pretty drab day-in-and-day-out work. But designing gives me the most excitement and the greatest satisfaction of anything I do. When I get a customer that wants some “pop” and something out of the norm, I light up and dedicate my time with passion. So, it should come as no surprise to you that the tiger carpet in the photo was a job that was just plain fun for me to do.

Design aptitude

In order to create bolder, more adventurous floor designs, you first have to have a knack for it as a sales advisor. If you don’t have it, you should probably study and develop it before you take a chance on selling any idea. Next, you need a client that expresses a want for something bold and interesting with a good design background herself.

At this point your job is simply to assist in her ideas and make sure you interview her strongly, to make sure you are on the same page.

Designer interview

A very nice, classy lady entered my store and we started a casual conversation. When I inquired what she was trying to achieve, she asked if I’d seen any photos of the animal prints in some of the designer magazines and if I had, what I thought of them. I explained I had done several animal print area rugs but had not had a customer looking for wall to wall. I gently told her she had to have a good sense of design and know how to tie the carpet in with other strong colors in the room. So, she explained her background of doing just that.

She had some very nice, quality, leather furniture with colors that would tie in and wall colors in yellows and orange/ rust tones, along with some beautiful decorative accent pieces from overseas that really tied in with the idea. We were off to the samples.

At first she was interested in seeing Shaw’s Philadelphia Commercial Wildabeest in the color Leopard, but from the colors she explained to me, we looked at the Tiger color as well. When the samples were checked in the house, it was obvious the Tiger was right on.

I finally met her husband, Jim, who explained Kay has had some pretty bold ideas in the past and they always had worked wonderfully. The deal was that she did the designing and he did the golfing, which seemed a fair trade to me. After seeing the home’s color and motif with the backing from Jim, I had the confidence to put my name on the job as well.

So, I helped Kay design a black border on the steps, upper hall and landing, and designed a rug for the dinning room to tie the rooms together. “You, your husband and I are perhaps the only people that know we can pull this off,” I told her.

And that we did. With Kay’s eye, Jim’s confidence and a little of my advice, we created rooms that became bold and fabulous. Never fear bright, bold or different if you’ve learned to understand your client. If your client wants a magazine-quality space, you need to make it happen.

Thanks for reading.

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