The Martha Stewart Made in America Competition

Babette

It’s so hard to find companies that only make American Made products these days, but what’s even rarer than that is a woman owned company that is over 20 years old and only sells American Made products.

Babette Holland was making beautiful furniture, vases, mirrors, and accessories in her Tribeca NY studio when the World Trade Center was hit only blocks from her. She has always been an advocate for animals and was a huge influence before and after for getting animals off the streets and into loving homes.

Shortly after that she was diagnosed with MS, but was worried about what the effect would be on her business if her clients and others knew she was struggling with this disease. She shared in her own words on our Lifestylist page what she has been going through, and how she has decided it is time for her to come forward and educate people about MS.

She has been honored by having her company included in the Martha Stewart American Made contest, and is close to winning but needs everyone’s help to help her over the finish line.

Please visit the Martha Stewart page, enroll then you can vote up to 6 times a day until Sept. 22nd.

Someone like Babette never asks for help, so I’m thrilled for a change I can be the one to help her dreams come true!

The Museum Tower in Downtown Dallas is Blinding

One of the best things this Lifestylist® ever did was to buy  The Home Idea Factory. Not only do I have space to try out new ideas and to foster lots of rescue animals, but I’m also only a few miles from the Dallas Arts District. – This wonderful gem is tucked away in downtown Dallas and you can experience the best in the culinary arts, discover new artists or ones that you have always read about, and appreciate what Mother Earth has graced us with in the Nasher Gardens or at the new Klyde Warren Park.

When I was driving to one of my favorite events – ‘Til Midnight at The Nasher – I was literally blinded while I was driving over the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. I’d heard about all of the controversy surrounding the new Museum Tower, but it wasn’t until I seriously couldn’t see while I was driving 45 miles an hour on a highway because of it did I realize how dangerous it is – not only to the Arts District but to motorists driving down the various highways beside it.

Not only is the Museum Tower getting a reputation for being a bad neighbor – it’s going to kill someone.

Let’s hope that The Dallas Police and Fire Pension Fund -owners of this $200 million dollar building do something about this issue before someone gets hurt.

Does Time Warner Cable Appreciate Your Business?

Like a lot of people I’m sure, I get bombarded with junk snail and email from the cable company, Dish Companies, and the telephone company begging me to change my services to them.

Time Warner Cable has been especially aggressive, and after years of saying no and my Dish company wanting to charge me to fix equipment that I rent from them, I thought I’d give Time Warner a try. The sales person couldn’t have been nicer, and we set up an appointment that fit with this Lifestylist’s crazy schedule so I could be there and have them install all of the new goodies.

The day came, but the tech never did. I called after he missed my appointment and was told he was there but no one was home and that he left a note at the door. I was here – no call, no doorbell, no note so one of us was confused. The tech then took it upon himself to change my appointment from 8-10am to 8am – 9pm. Even though I was told more than once I would be his next appointment, no one ever showed up. Keep in mind that this is a company that I’ll be spending thousands of dollars with a year, and before it was over I spent over 10 hours being put on hold (yes, after awhile I started keeping track.).Bottom line – no supervisors ever followed up like I was told they would, the most they were willing to credit me for wasting my time was $15.00, and a week later I got an email rescheduling the appointment.Initially I had canceled all of the services I had with my former providers, but I called them and negotiated better rates (and my equipment being repaired for free) so even though I wasn’t happy with what I had, it seemed like the best of the worst.

Lesson learned? I never want any of my clients feeling like they are settling when I do something for them. Even if it’s just making sure that they know I appreciate their business – they work too hard to not get the best. I like to know that my business is valued, and I’m sure that my clients do as well.

Giving Back: Shared Housing

I had a wonderful opportunity this week – I got to volunteer at Shared Housing.

I’ve been involved in lots of organizations where they just want you to give or raise money, but Shared Housing let’s me work with the people I’m helping and make a difference.

Thursday I got to play with the kids while the Mom’s learned about budgeting and parenting. And they are amazing kids – they all take care of each other and appreciate the smallest things. Shared Housing keeps a “toy room” where new toys are stored and used as incentives to the kids for good deeds or when it’s their birthday. People tend to be very generous at Christmas time, but by July the toy room starts getting pretty sparse. I promised the staff that if they would let the kids get an unexpected trip to the toy room, the Lifestylist® team would get to work and re-stock the room with goodies that would help keep the room open for the rest of the year.

I always keep my promises, and I’m happy to report that I’m going to have a car load full of goodies for the room, and mew sheets blankets, and kitchen utensils for the Moms. And the best part is that they said I can come and play with the kids any time 🙂

Just the smallest things can make such a difference. We visited our local Dollar Store and the clearance aisles at our local stores and were able to make our budget go a long way.

Shared Housing is also getting ready for “School is Cool”. They need to get school supplies and uniforms for 270 children that are active in the program. They believe that no child should have to start school  without the proper clothes or supplies -these kids have already gone through enough.

If you would like to help or to make a donation, visit the Shared Housing website or give them a call at: 214-821-8510

Forbes Article Reveals Why Best Buy Is Going Out of Business Gradually

Who knew a 1″ bulb could become such a great marketing and customer service lesson? After trying to deal with Best Buy for a month about a warranty issue I got so mad I gave up and discovered a wonderful locally owned shop that replaced my projector bulb and had me on my way in under 1/2 hour. You can read the long version of this saga on my Lifestylist® page -it still amazes me how I was treated by a company that should care more about it’s customers than Best Buy seems to.

Then today when I was getting all of my facts checked I went to the Best Buy Facebook page so I could quote other unhappy customers, and one of them had linked to a Forbes article  about “Why Best Buy Is Going Out of Business Gradually“. They linked to a follow-up story that talked about how Best Buy handled different issues “The People Vs Best Buy Round Two” Sadly, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one that feels this way and they have even given lousy customer service to Larry Downes, a professor and best selling author.

I’ll never get back the time I’ve wasted on this, but I’m hoping that by sharing these experiences I can help my readers not make the same purchasing mistakes.

Hartford Insurance Isn’t Listening to It’s Customers

One of the good and bad things about social media is that consumers now have a way to have their voice heard.

When Hartford Insurance decided to raise my rate by over $13,000 without notice or even an increase in benefits I immediately went to their Facebook page to see what other consumers thought of them.  It turns out I’m not alone – the stories of how they have treated other consumers is pretty chilling. The stock answer they post to everyone is “To protect the privacy of individuals, we do not respond to service questions on Facebook. We would like to know about your experience. Could you please contact our Consumer Affairs team at 1-800-451-6944? Thank you.” When I contacted their “consumer affairs” team I found out they didn’t care. I was told this ridiculous increase was because I’m an interior designer – who knew sketching and wielding a glue gun could be so hazardous?

Fortunately for me I found a great insurance company that took the time to understand my company and my needs, and not only did we get much more comprehensive insurance – it was also in line with what we had been paying.

I thought this was the end of story, but today I got my third notice from Hartford threatening to cancel my insurance! I guess the Consumer Affairs “team” didn’t get the message when I said I was done with them.

The moral of this story? Insurance is too important of a decision to take lightly and only shop by price. It’s critical that you find an agent who takes the time to understand your needs and will be there if you ever need them.

The Lifestylist® Brands

 

 

 

One of the questions I always get asked is exactly what is a Lifestylist®, and what is unique about the Lifestylist® Lifestyle. The second most asked question is what makes me a Trailer Diva!

The Lifestylist philosophy is about “Life Celebrating Style”. Our clients life and style is what dictates how a Lifestylist® works with you. My favorite example is I had a client in Phoenix, Arizona that was a major Phoenix Suns fan, and their team colors are orange and purple. The client wanted their entire home done in these colors. What they wanted is what they got, complete with a child’s room with a hardwood floor striped like a basketball court. They wanted to stylishly celebrate their interests and love of their home team and we did!

I just spoke to a friend who’s dog just dug up their entire garden and her daughter slammed the door on the neighbor’s hand – all in about 30 minutes time. Her needs and lifestyle are completely different from my son – no kids, no dogs, and lives in front of his computer. What my style is wouldn’t work well for either of them which is why I need to understand the client and what their “hot buttons” are. It’s takes extra time and sleuthing to achieve this – many times the client has trouble putting into words exactly what they are looking for but they know it when they see it. I take the responsibility very seriously – a person’s environment can truly change their lives in a positive or negative way. If someone is happy in their home their quality of life improves.

Next to being a mother, becoming a Lifestylist® is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’m looking forward to expanding the concept and what it offers in the years to come. – we will be launching a new food line this Spring!

Parading Through West Dallas

There is nothing this Lifestylist® loves more than when a community comes together, and this weekend was a wonderful example of that. Dallas celebrated the opening of The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge – a beautiful example of functional art by having a weekend of activities including art exhibits, car shows, fun runs and parades. It also introduced visitors to some of the newest residents of West Dallas – The Workroom and Trinity Groves.

The Parade of Giants featured 15 giant puppets that were made by local groups and artisans and represented people who played a part in the history of the area. Many of the people who worked on the puppets were related to the people represented by the puppets, and it was really fun to hear stories about how these people had played a part in shaping the community and themselves.

Bridge-O-Rama is an event that I hope will continue – it was well managed and was truly an event for the people.

 

Hartford Insurance Needs to Learn From Met Life

Just when you think you have heard it all – I received an over 500% increase on my insurance rate with Hartford Insurance even though I have never filed a claim and there was no increase to my benefits! What’s next – they provide insurance to the AARP – are they going to consider aging a high risk proposition as well?

They want to increase my rate by over $10,000 for no reason other than they can. This is money that could be used to help the worthwhile non-profits we are involved in like Animal Rescue Corps , HomeAid and Genesis Womens Shelter.

I just spoke with Louise Dunne, Assistant Director of Business Compliance with Hartford. She did not want to go on record or have me use her name, but she said that “my business had performed well with them” and the problem wasn’t me, it was that I’m classified as a designer. What she shared was really disappointing as far as how Hartford views the design community, and she made it clear that they don’t really understand what our industry is about or what we do.

Unlike Hartford, Met Life has chosen to embrace the design community and has been very supportive of The National Association of Home Builders, The National Sales and Marketing Council, the 50+ Housing Council and has also been a major sponsor of The Nationals – the competition that recognizes design and marketing excellence in the home building industry. Guess who I’ll be giving my business to?

Lesson learned? Do business with an agent and an insurance company that you have a relationship with so they will take the time to understand you and your business. Saving a few dollars up front is not worth the headaches and frustration that can come with those savings down the road.