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Monday, February 14, 2011

Designing A Business


Designing a Business
By Debi Ward Kennedy
Retail Consultant . Designer . Writer . Speaker

Since the tender age of two, Debi Ward Kennedy has been an artist.
Blessed with innate artistic talent, she has studied art all of her life and won a citywide art contest at age ten. At the age of thirteen, she began creating window displays for her mother’s gift shop across the street from Disneyland. Debi discovered that her natural creative talents combined with her advanced art education and enabled her to create 3-D masterpieces  - using gift items in the place of various art mediums. It was a defining ‘light bulb moment’ for a young girl, and it changed her life focus: that realization led her to look at things around her from a new perspective…

Growing up in ‘the shadow of the Castle’, Debi spent many hours at Disneyland throughout her life.
But unlike the many children and young adults who delighted in the rides, this girl immersed herself in the visual aspects of the Park. She studied the way color, light, scale, sound, and theme were used to create imaginary places and times – surrounding visitors with an experience. She noticed the perfection attained in the displays of products, and how well-stocked and organized the merchandise always appeared. The subtleties of how space was arranged – how it directed both the guests’ viewpoint and path of movement – were noted. (Deb says that she’s learned more about retail from just walking through the Magic Kingdom than from any professor or textbook!) By her senior year in high school, she was creating the window & store product displays for the Jeans West chain of mens’ clothing stores in three major malls. Soon after, she designed a Hickory Farms Holiday store and re-designed the hotel gift shop for her mom. This set her on a path to helping thousands of retailers learn how to design product displays, stores, and brand images.

During her 35+ years in retail, Debi has served as an employee, design team member and consultant to businesses in many industries: wine, food, fashion, tabletop & housewares, home furnishings, fine art, antiques, books & libraries, gift, and garden, and retail trade shows. In all of her award-winning store, trade show exhibitor booth and showroom design projects, her focus has always been on helping her clients reach their ‘Visual Impact Potential’TM. Deb does this by creating a design concept plan that includes the retail environment, merchandise presentation, and brand image of the business, each plan as unique as the business itself.

By providing expertise and resources, Deb guides retailers in choosing the right materials, styles, words, and images to create their own masterpiece. She mentors their creative thinking: “As an artist, I enjoy the act of creation. As a consultant, I enjoy helping clients create their businesses from a visual starting point,” Deb explains.
As a lifelong artist, her perspective guides more than just her design process: One of Deb’s most popular published articles is ‘The Art of Display’, which appeared in Country Business Magazine  in 2005. Likening the methods of display in a retail store to the way art is displayed in museums and galleries, this article led to a seminar presentation with the same content, and met with rave reviews. The concept, Deb says, is about “Knowing how to apply the visual principles of art to retail. It’s a simple way for shop owners to see why it’s important to plan for product presentation. These concepts have existed and worked successfully for decades – why not capitalize on them?”

Throughout her life, Deb has continued to study both the Walt Disney Company and other benchmarks in retail, using their successful methodology to assist retailers in creating the same ‘experiential’ shopping environment. Their influence drives her design philosophy:
“To begin with the process of design is to follow in the footsteps of some very wise and forward-thinking businessmen and women, like CoCo Chanel and Walt Disney,” Deb explains. “Walt drew the visual aspects of Disneyland long before he had a business plan – and I love that order! If you can’t imagine something first, you can’t create it in reality. I help people visualize their stores and the experience customers will have in those stores – and then I give them the tools to make it real.”

Call it creativity, call it ‘Retail-ality’… whatever it is, it works! Debi’s clients see immediate results and increased revenues following integration of her design concepts to their businesses. Now located in Seattle, Deb’s designs for trade show booths have won awards, her articles are published in top retail industry publications, and she’s been an oft-quoted ‘retail expert’ in magazines and web sites. Deb has filled seminar rooms to record-breaking capacity across the country, and in 2008 she produced a six-video series for the Gift & Home Channel. The videos are now hosted on her web site, at DebiWardKennedy.com. The site also links to her blog, which offers hundreds of valuable resources for retailers, links to more of her published articles, and facebook Page.

To contact Debi about writing or speaking engagements, or to inquire about an online consultation, please email her at Debi.WardKennedy@Gmail.com .
For more inspiration visit Deb's Design Blog
Follow Deb on Facebook

Monday, February 7, 2011

Failure or a starting point?

photo:insidesocal.com

In the spirit of yesterday's game, here's a bit of wisdom:

"Success isn't permanent, and failure isn't fatal".
Mike Ditka, Professional football coach

When it comes to starting a business the thought of stepping out for all the world to see can be intimidating and to think that your failures will be public is enough to keep some from pursuing their goals. 
However, if you do not try you will never know what you are capable of.
One week after I launched my line at the L.A.Mart, my husband was in a serious accident.
Needless to say my world was turned upside down. Because of the nature of his injuries I knew our lives would not resemble anything close to normal for quite some time. 

I thought about the loan I had taken to start my business and my first thought was to just give the money back and put the dream on hold. But it was my sweet husband that said to me,"If you don't try you will never know what could have happened". And then he added,"You have the potential to really go somewhere with this."

That was all I needed. I decided to take his advice and stay on course. 
It wasn't easy but what in life that has rewards is? 
About two weeks after he came home from the hospital I received a phone call  from
the J.Johnson Showroom with an offer to represent my line.
And that was the first of many surprises that has pushed me to continually reach for my goals.
There have of course been other obstacles to overcome that are par for the course when producing a product but there are always countless ways to overcome the obstacles.
It is important to keep perspective and surround yourself with quality people that share in your vision. 
Those are two tried and true keys to success.

So I leave you with the cry from the field, "Never surrender"
You may short change yourself of a beautiful dream.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Entrepreneur Succeeds With Wit and Grit

'It's all about being creative,' says Tina Aldatz, who faced her now-or-never moment and landed on her feet.
When Tina Aldatz lost her job at an internet startup in 2001, she gave full rein to her entrepreneurial ambitions. She'd been thinking about creating a designer insole that looked good and felt better than other insoles on the market. "I decided it was now or never," she says. "I gave myself a really strict timeline: I needed to make something happen within six months, or I needed to go get another job."
Aldatz burned her feet as a child, so wearing heels was even more excruciating for her than it was for most young women. And yet, working in the fashion industry, chic heels were an important part of her daily life. She had to do something nobody else was going to do.

To read the rest of Tina's inspirational story click here

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