I spent the last week of March in Tampa at the International Window Covering Expo. It was two days packed with intense window coverings overload. Tuesday began early with Jason Oliver Nixon and John Loecke from the MadCap Cottage in High Point, NC as Keynote Speakers.
Their designs encompass prints and bold colors, and their unique style reminds me of legendary interior designer Dorothy Draper and her design of the Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. The gents are powerhouse designers with a wealth of talent and collaborations with Smith & Noble, Calico Corners, and Robert Allen Fabrics. They also have a new book called “Prints Charming.” The two are truly Prints Charming – their work has graced magazines like Traditional Home, House and Garden UK., Architectural Digest, Country Living, and Better Homes and Gardens just to name a few. Their contagious personalities and love for their rescue dog has made me a fan for years. It’s so great to see how they keep evolving year after year.
My next stop at the show was the Construction Zone in the center of the show floor. This area offers all kinds of short classes for workrooms and designers to hone their talents. I happen to walk up as the Trim Queen Jana Platina Phipps who is an embellishment expert to the home furnishings and fashion world. She was setting up to make Passementerie (I just love this word!) which is French for a beautiful knot type embellishments and tassels used to decorate furniture, pillows, window treatments, clothing, or really anything you could imagine. I was very intrigued and had to participate – it looked so simple! Wrong! I struggled to make this simple knot, and bless her heart, she had to help me several times. Finally, though, I accomplished my knot and stuck around to make another one. I decided then and there I loved making and plan to use Passementerie in my own designs.
Tuesday evening was the International Window Covering Expo Awards Banquet where my good friend Brenda Baxter with Custom Drapery Designs in Richardson, TX won First Place with her arched window design. I couldn’t get over the beautiful jaw-dropping window designs featured. I was honored to watch my friend receive her well-deserved trophy. Afterwards we went to dinner at On Swann, which was recommend by the MadCap Gents, to celebrate my friend’s big win that night. Dinner was fabulous and the fellowship was even better.
We will call Wednesday “LuAnn Nigara Day.” LuAnn is an award-winning treatment authority and host of the five star-rated podcast “A Well-Designed Business.” I might also add that it is one of my favorite podcast. LuAnn shared with us the making of her podcast, and let me tell you, this lady has a wealth of business knowledge with 35 years in the window treatment business and now a new book titled “The Making of A Well-Designed Business” that has inspired me to work smarter and more intentional in my business.
Once the conference wrapped up, we decided we needed to go explore. We were near the Waterfront Bay area that offered boat rentals, and my friend Brenda Baxter is not only a talented designer, but she also knows how to drive a boat! We all rented a boat for a sunset cruise of the bay area and boated right past the Davis Island home of Derek Jetter, the New York Yankees former All-Star and now-owner of the Florida Marlins. Watching the sunset aboard a boat was not only breathtaking, but incredibly relaxing.
Then Thursday was our beach day! After two cram-packed days in conference sessions we all required a beach day. After talking to several of the locals my friends and I decided St. Pete was the best beach to check out. After a 45-minute drive, our Uber driver dropped us at one of his favorite beach spots. After our long journey together, he knew we were interior designers, so of course he took us to the Post Card Inn at St. Pete Beach!
Nothing can replace a relaxing day on the beach with good friends. I learned a lot at the International Window Coverings Conference, made new friends and reconnected with old friends. This is my favorite thing about traveling to conferences – connecting with people!