We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Kristine Vowles. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Kristine below.
Alright, Kristine thanks for taking the time to share your stories and insights with us today. It’s easy to look at a business or industry as an outsider and assume it’s super profitable – but we’ve seen over and over again in our conversation with folks that most industries have factors that make profitability a challenge. What’s biggest challenge to profitability in your industry?
The lack in our supply chain from upholstery, furnishings, lighting, hardware, fabric, parts, appliances, and the list goes on and on has become one of our biggest challenges. All of us designers across multiple sectors, are dealing with the issue of reselecting products due to availability of product. And while breaking the news to a client that they can’t get a sofa for 24++ weeks is not a fun conversation, that’s only part of the problem, when there is a will such as in demand, there may not always be a way in regards supply. The financial implications are stunting growth where demand exists and stressing precious people and resources in the reselection process. There are multiple issues happening in multiple places in the supply chain globally. This issue is multi-folded and includes raw materials, logistics, and labor stress in the system.
I recently, took a trip that included places like Columbia, Costa Rica, Miami, and Panama what stood out to me is that each of these ports all had one thing in common – they were loaded with cargo containers that stretched for miles on end.
That made me more interested in going down the Panama Canal so I could see for myself what the situation really is like, so we booked a guide to take us through. When we got through with our tour, we saw 100’s of ships waiting on the other side to enter the Canal.
It takes approximately 8 hours per ship to go through the canal. I discovered that Singapore recently completed what I call a landing pad inside the Panama Canal for ships to drop their container loads when they didn’t have the ability to deliver their loads. The costs associated with going through the canal are extreme and then to add the storage fee for the containers that contain our purchases for an unimaginable amount of time, plus the cost to finally get it to the destination only to find out that when they arrive there are no employees/workers to unload the ships or enough space to do so or trucks to transport our purchases to their final destinations.
I just started working on a commercial design project and was quoted nearly $8,000 for freight, that amount added to a project could jeopardize it all to together. No one is expecting those kinds of fees in their budgets.
The increased demand emerging from the pandemic combined with supply shortages creates the perfect storm of supply and demand. Manufactures were hit hard by the demands plus rolling blackouts, factories burning to the ground, bad weather damaging factories and issues in ports. Demand has not slowed down, people are very interested in updating their homes, workplaces and creating new spaces.
A shortage of labor on both the logistics and manufacturing sides enhances delays.
Many manufacturers, retailers and designers are also rethinking their suppliers. “This disruption has made us rethink our supply chain. Prior to pandemic, it cost about $2,500 to get a container from China, but now it costs $30,000. It will take some time, but we’re all working hard to find new, qualified suppliers closer to home.”
The bad news is that most predict these issues will perpetuate for at least another six months. This is not going to get significantly better any time soon, so we all need to be thinking as far ahead as possible.
The good news according to a Think Tank and the Interior design industry is that they are all working together to create a new way of ordering, tracking, sourcing products in stock as well as the shipping and transportation companies are working to fill positions and manufactures are focused on bringing workers back to the work force.
As a designer I am extremely grateful for all those that work tirelessly behind the scenes to make things happen and produce the products and to our very patient clients who continue to wait for their design jobs to be completed. “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”. Henry Ford
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
FOUNDER & CEO OF THE LUXURY LOOK Kristine Vowles is the founder and creative designer of the award-winning company The Luxury Look design and home staging firm. She established her firm in 2013, when she decided to return to her creative side where she has truly made her mark and impacted the luxury real estate market on a global scale.
Her extensive background in real estate has garnered awards from production, customer service, marketing and for her many leadership roles in operating and owning a luxury real estate brokerage that was highly profitable and awarded in every category as well as being one of the top brokerages in the country.
She has taken her drive to succeed and shifted her focus in advancing her craft, Kristine believes that space should be experienced from the moment you walk in, every project is designed with intention and her ability to listen to her clients and take their vision and put it into action has become her trademark behind her work at The Luxury Look.
Kristine still to this day gives back and serves in the real estate, design and home staging industries and has won multiple awards for her service and dedication to these industries that she is focused her career on for over 35+ years
Do you sell on your site, or do you use a platform like Amazon, Etsy, Cratejoy, etc?
We recognize that many love to be their own Do-it-yourself designer and decorate and set up their own spaces and investments properties. For that reason we have decided to give those that don’t necessarily want to hire a designer an opportunity to shop at some of our favorite places.
We are working diligently behind the scenes to bring some of our unique and very cool resources from the World Design Market where if you are not a designer you can’t purchase from to you the public on my new personal branded site. https://www.kristinevowles.com/
Here we are offering our unique Rug collection, our own company scented diffuser and soon housewares, decor, furniture and so much more. My marketing team is busy building it and linking us to these unique sites.
We hope that you will find something wonderful there for yourself or as a gift.
Can you tell us about a time you’ve had to pivot?
When I decided to launch my company I felt that it would be easier to have a business partner, so I went against all that I had learn in regards to hiring for real estate brokerages and threw that out the window when I selected my business partner.
After about a year and a half it was becoming very apparent that I not only selected the wrong person for me personally, but also for my clients. This person must have been sensing that things were not going well, because they opened up credit in my name, shut down our company website and ran up an enormous amount of debt and then disappeared.
I had to take control of the situation and took my case to court, I ultimately won complete control and rights to the company, and know that collecting for damages is most likely not going to happen.
So pivoting, starting over and trusting in myself was a huge hill to climb. But with great support from my husband, family, colleagues and my business coach we not only climbed over the hill, we created our own niche and continue to grow, learn, and build lasting relationships.
I am grateful and thankful for the trials I had to go through and for the continued support from our amazing clients and supportive circle.
- Website: https://www.theluxurylook.com/ and https://www.kristinevowles.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theluxurylook_/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheLuxuryLookLLC
- Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kristine-vowles-2802338/
- Other: https://www.tiktok.com/@kristinevowles?lang=en
Shane Baker Photography