Universal Furniture unveils extensive educational program for High Point

HIGH POINT, N.C., March 2024 – Universal Furniture, creator of stylish yet functional home furnishings for the whole home has announced its schedule of Learning Center events to take place during April Furniture Market. Scheduled from Friday, April 12, through Monday, April 15, the events represent an extensive slate of learning opportunities, from marketing and branding to business operations and finance.

All Universal learning center events take place at the Universal Furniture Showroom located at 101 S. Hamilton Street, which is shuttle stop 15 on the Red Line. All events require an RSVP. See www.universalfurniture.com/marketevents for links to events and to reserve your spot. A full schedule of events is listed below:


April 12-16 

Universal To The Trade Designer’s Lounge

Time: April 12 (noon-6 p.m.), April 13-16, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Description: Relax and recharge in Universal’s 2000 square-foot Designers Only Workspace, available to Universal Furniture To The Trade account holders. (Designers can open an account on the spot.) Device charging and free wifi available. Or book a hair touch-up appointment at the Beauty Bar (Saturday, Sunday, Monday only). This spring will also feature a pottery pop up from a local North Carolina artisan. Work will feature a variety of items that can be drop shipped to the customers home.

April 12, 3 p.m. 

Masters and Mavericks: A Dialogue of Differences Between Generations Managing Successful Design Firms

Moderator: Hadley Keller

Speakers: Noz Nozawa, Noz Designs; Virginia Toledo, Toledo Geller; Byron Risdon, Byron Risdon Interior Design Studio; Peti Lau, Peti Lau Design

Description: Dive into a captivating dialogue between generations in the design world with ‘Masters and Mavericks.’ Join us for a riveting exploration of the contrasts and commonalities between seasoned veterans and innovative young leaders managing successful design firms. 

Delve into the diverse perspectives and approaches shaped by different eras, experiences, and visions for the future. Our masters and mavericks will explore how time and experience have shaped service offerings, pricing strategies, and design processes while delving into the impact of technology on marketing and public relations. Prepare to be inspired and enlightened as we bridge the gap between generations and celebrate the dynamic evolution of the design industry. Presented by DAA.


April 13, 10 a.m.

Rates and Fees to Double your Revenue in Half the Time

Speaker: Melissa Galt, Interior Design Business Coaching

Description: Are you ready to earn more in less time with less stress? Join design business strategist and coach Melissa Galt, for her proven formulas for flat fees that deliver bigger fees without the headaches of hourly invoicing and tracking. She’s also got you protected from scope creep and client surprises. Increase your profitability while falling back in love with your business and finally get paid what you deserve!

April 13, Noon

How Nightmare Projects Test Your Limits – And Help You Grow

Speakers:  Cate Dunning &  Lathem Gordon, Gordon Dunning Interior Design; Hema Persad, Sagrada Studio

Moderator: Kaitlin Petersen, Business of Home

Description: No matter how hard you try, some projects go sideways. Maybe it’s an indecisive client who hems and haws over every selection, or a contractor who blows past the construction budget, jeopardizing the money set aside for furnishings. Products arrive late, or damaged, or not at all. When a nightmare scenario arises, there’s only one thing to do: pivot. Business of Home’s editor in chief Kaitlin Petersen sits down with designers Cate Dunning, Lathem Gordon and Hema Persad to discuss recent jobs that hit a road block—sharing what went wrong, how they found a new path forward, and how they’ve evolved their businesses to protect themselves in the future now that the dust has settled.

April 13, 2 p.m.

Designing Your Business:  Investing In Business Leaders For Your Firm

Moderator: Traci Connell, Traci Connell Interiors

Speakers: Adam Wasserman, Corey Damen Jenkins; Mike Yates, Yates Desygn; Alex Kearney, Lisa & Leroy; Ruth Ann Janson, The Dove Agency

Description: When it comes to growth, having the right team and processes in place is crucial, and that doesn’t just mean your design team. Join our panel of firm experts for an educational discussion about the business side of interior design. From financials, client experience, finding and hiring the right people, to outsourcing back office tasks and more, these business-minded leaders know the ins and outs of the design profession, which has led to their esteemed firms’ overall success.

April 13, 4 p.m.

Do You Want Fries with That? Learn how to upsell every client for more profit

Speaker: John McClain

Description: Selling can be hard, so why make it harder? In this session, John will teach you how to easily upsell to your existing clients simply by adding on services and products they might not even know they need (and you might not have thought about either). You will leave this session armed with the exact framework to add new substantial revenue streams to your business without having to source new clients. Now, would you like fries with that?


April 14, 10 a.m.

Having It All: How to Build Income Now and Create Your Future Financial Freedom

Speaker: Gail Doby, Pearl Collective

Description: Interior designers often seek out passive income opportunities to help support the income and lifestyle they want now. It’s possible to do that and build a sustainable business that creates future financial freedom. How? Premier interior design business coach, Gail Doby, walks you through the steps to develop a business that runs without you day-to-day, allowing you to unleash your creative genius and free up your time. Learn to secure a future that aligns with your personal values and goals, providing income now and prosperity for the next phase of your life. And, build value into your business should you want to sell or exit your company. 

April 14, 2 p.m.

The Role of Media in Shaping Client Expectations

Moderator: Ericka Saurit

Speakers: Tori Sikkema, Tori Sikkema Photography; Kelli Ellis; Courtney Porter, Design News Now

Description: The media’s portrayal of interior design has had a significant impact on how clients perceive the design process, often shaping their expectations in terms of timelines, deliverables, and costs. Uncover the realities behind media-influenced client expectations regarding project timelines, budgets, and the design process, often distorted by the allure of instant transformations and trend-focused narratives. This insightful conversation will equip interior designers with strategies to align client perceptions with the practicalities and nuances of authentic design work, fostering successful and realistic project outcomes.

April 14, 4 p.m.

Purchasing Power: Maximize your Firm’s Potential with the Best Digital Tools

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Moderator: Rachel Wagman, Studio Designer

Speakers: Julia Nikishina, New Age Financial Consulting; Keith Granet, Studio Designer, Granet and Associates; Valerie Lambert, Valia Procurement; Kaitlyn Murphy, Marguerite Rodgers Interior Design

Description: Creating beautiful design is the heart and soul of every design firm, but you need the right business processes to bring your vision to life. With the right systems in place, you get to spend more time doing what you love: designing inspiring one-of-a-kind spaces, working with 

innovative artisans, and creating exquisite spaces for your trusted clients. Learn how the best in the business structure their office operations, source product and place orders with vendors all while remaining efficient and profitable.


April 15, 10 a.m.

Designer Secrets to SEO

Moderator: Jen Smiga, ultraviolet agency

Speakers: Jeanne Chung, Cozy Stylish Chic; Ann Yancy, Ro Sham Beaux; Mickey Schluter, ultraviolet; Jim Thornton, inbound found

Description: Join this panel discussion for SEO insights tailored to interior designers. Our experts explore the balance between SEO and maintaining an authentic online voice to elevate your design business. Actively participate by posing questions to receive personalized insights, guiding you to SEO success.

April 15, 2 p.m.

Furniture Showrooms Reimagined: New Revenue Streams for Designers

Moderator: Laurie Laizure, Interior Design Community

Speakers: Buffy Ferguson, Elizabeth Ferguson Design; Caroline Simmel, Empire Communities;

Eoin Harrington, MINE

Description: Home builders on the cutting edge of a new customer experience are turning their model homes into furniture showrooms enabling physical product discovery and exploration for designers and their clients. The same technology powering this new kind of store is also available to designers to monetize their projects, unlocking a new revenue stream.

April 15, 4 p.m.

Become an IN-DEMAND Designer in 3 Easy Steps

Speaker: Sandra Funk

Description: If your dream client showed up at your doorstep, would you be ready to awe them with not only your talent but also the experience that comes with working with your firm? In this workshop, Sandra Funk will share the essentials to creating an incredible client experience… so much so, that your clients won’t be able to help themselves but refer you to all their (ideal) friends.

About Universal

Retailers and interior designers around the world trust Universal Furniture’s award-winning, smart and stylish designs to create modern, well-appointed living spaces for the whole home. The company’s casegood, upholstery, accent and outdoor designs are developed under the brand names Universal Furniture, Miranda Kerr Home and Coastal Living.

Universal Furniture, founded in 1968 and based in High Point, N.C., is the recipient of 14 Pinnacle awards for design excellence from the International Society of Furniture Designers. It is a brand of Samson Holdings, one of the world’s largest vertically integrated furniture manufacturers. For more information, please visit www.universalfurniture.com, or find us on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest @UniversalFurn.

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