I am connected, on social media, to a large group of Interior Designers. I appreciate the collective experience and wisdom of this group every day-- they are my co-workers, my office mates-- they give me support and guidance and help in finding things. I recently needed an upholsterer for a client in Davis, CA and within an hour had the name of someone who came highly recommended.
But there is one practice that is talked a lot about by designers on social media that I find troubling.
The common practice among Interior Designers is to mark up the products that they recommend (sell) to their clients. This mark-up (and management fees, finder's fees, etc) are a key way that many designers make money. The way it works-- a designer will recommend a sofa from a 'to the trade only' vendor-- a vendor who does not sell to the general public. The vendor will give the client a 'retail' and a 'trade' price-- the trade price 10-40% off the retail price. The designer then charges the client the 'retail' price while paying the vendor the 'trade price' and voila! The designer makes hundreds or thousands of dollars on the sale just by recommending a sofa. And the client never knows the difference.
For many years I have owned a shop and a design studio, too. The two seemed like a potential conflict of interest-- maybe I was recommending something to my client from my shop because I would make more money on that item than if it came from another vendor....? So-- I stopped "selling" to clients. I want my clients to know that I am recommending whatever item I am recommending because I think it is truly the best item for their purpose-- not because I am going to make the most money on it.
It seems like what our world needs is more transparency, more up-front honesty, more clarity about what is happening around us.
In my own small corner I am working on it....