Monday, December 31, 2012

Finding Hope in 2013

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Another year is almost behind us, and I think most of us are looking forward to a fresh start in 2013.

Last year made it clearer than ever that nothing is more important than relationships. I feel so fortunate that I was able to spend time with my cousins I hadn't seen in years, had some great sister time and what was most important, got to spend a lot of quality time with my kids and grandkids.

Being around the grandkids reminded me how wonderful it is to always be looking forward to tomorrow and the opportunities it brings. The amazement of what a fantastic job my kids are doing as parents, and how talented their Jr Lifestylists are keeps reminding me how important it is to spend time with family.

Here's hoping that 2013 is filled with hope for all of us, and we remember what brings us joy.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from The Lifestylist® Brands. Here's hoping that your holidays is shiny and bright!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The New Manufactured Home



Change can be a very scary thing, but when a company like SE Homes of TX - a division of Clayton Homes - can change people's perception of manufacturing housing it's exciting!

The recent home show that they had at their Ft. Worth, TX location shows why SE Homes of TX has emerged as a leader in design and lifestyle. All of the 5 Lifestylist® Designed homes were very well received, but the one that stole the show was definitely The Monarch. I've shared photos of this home with consumers living in very high end site built homes and with custom builders and developers, and none of them can believe that this is a factory built home.

I've never seen this floorplan before. It is perfectly in tune with today's home buyer and the lifestyle they are hoping to achieve. It's open, the master suite is in a separate part of the home and has access to the very cool patio that is enclosed on 3 sides and ships as part of the home.

The "pet parlor" has also been a hit - this space in the utility room featured a pet shower with hand held showerhead, and a feeding drawer that can be closed when not in use.

I'm excited about this positive direction for our industry, and think you will be as well. For more information, visit the SE Homes of TX website or email Ryan Blackburn at: ryan.blackburn@sehomes.com

Friday, September 14, 2012

The History of Factory Built Homes



There's nothing we love more than a positive story about factory built housing, and BobVila.com has a wonderful article about the history of factory built housing.  Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber was honored to be interviewed and quoted in the story, and what is really exciting is that the author of the story - Jane Dagmi - was so intrigued about what this form of housing offers she's continuing to learn more and visit communities on her own. I'm looking forward to more of her stories in the future.
One of the things that has always been a detriment to our industry was the perception the press has, so having writers not only like our homes but also want to know more is a step in the right direction.
Be sure to also take a look at the timeline that Jane did -it's one of the best I've seen.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bob Vila Features History of Manufactured Housing



 

There's nothing we love more than a positive story about factory built housing, and BobVila.com has a wonderful article about the history of factory built housing.  Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber was honored to be interviewed and quoted in the story, and what is really exciting is that the author of the story - Jane Dagmi - was so intrigued about what this form of housing offers she's continuing to learn more and visit communities on her own. I'm looking forward to more of her stories in the future.

One of the things that has always been a detriment to our industry was the perception the press has, so having writers not only like our homes but also want to know more is a step in the right direction.

Be sure to also take a look at the timeline that Jane did -it's one of the best I've seen.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

We Appreciate Your Business



I just got back from working on a great new Lifestylist® Designed model home for SE Homes of Texas. It is at The Oakwood Homes of Channelview store, and I still can't believe all of the features and details this home offers. I really enjoyed going down to Houston to merchandise the home, and one of the biggest things I immediately noticed was how well done the home center was, and how nice the home team was. They went out of their way to help me, and I noticed when they were walking prospective home buyers through the new model the team was very knowledgeable about the building process and really helped the buyers learn about the homes without pressuring them.

When you drove into the center, there was a huge banner that stated "We Appreciate Your Business" and I definitely got the impression that they did. The most valuable thing that all of have right now is our time, and it was great to know that this team wouldn't be wasting mine. The center was beautifully landscaped, the homes were well merchandised and clean, and the minute you walked into their offices you were greeting by a professional that made you immediately feel at home.

Sadly, not everyone seems to appreciate our business, which makes how these Clayton owned sales centers treat their customers even more special. Coming home to missed appointments and being on hold for hours with the cable and internet companies made me appreciate even more the Oakwood Channelview experience.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Image is Everything: SE Homes Helps Retailers Showcase New Homes



This has been such a great Summer! SE Homes of Texas has given me the opportunity to hit the road and visit with some of their top retailers.  Getting to meet these amazing teams and experience first-hand what their retail centers look like and how they work with potential home buyers has been invaluable.

We have provided them with Lifestylist® Designed model home that targets the lifestyle of their buyers, then help with photography, a YouTube video and social media to help promote their businesses.

We just got back from Clayton Homes of Bossier City, LA and there is a reason this retailer has won so many awards and sold so many homes - leadership. General Manager Van Ferguson is a strong team player, and the professionalism and how they present their homes is some of the best I've seen. Take a look for yourself on their video.

We have now worked a few times with Manufactured Housing Consultants in New Braunfels, TX and I can't wait to be invited back again! They do a great job with their retail center, website and social media - they featured the video we did for them on their Facebook page and  introduced a new group of people to their homes.

If you want to experience the SE Homes of Texas difference, contact Ryan Blackburn at: ryan.blackburn@sehomes.com

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sharing Great Design

Modern Homes was such a great publication, and in many ways it was way ahead of it's time. I've always loved this cover that Lisa Stewart Photography shot - it's hard to believe that this home was sitting in a parking lot in Tunica Mississippi!

I just happened to share this photo on my Facebook page and got lots of positive comments as to what a beautiful home this is, and people had no idea that this was a modular home.

As an industry we build a beautiful, well designed home - we just need to get better about letting consumers know about what a great product we have. If you haven't tested the social media waters, now is the time. You'll be amazed at how many potential buyers are starting their home buying searches there.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Is Bigger Better?



This Lifestylist® spends a lot of time trend tracking so I can help my clients decipher what current fads and forecasting really applies to what they do and their customers. Something that seems to be getting a lot of "Buzz" recently is that people are no longer interested in the smaller sized homes that have been so popular in the last couple of years, but they are back to wanting more square footage.

This may sound good in a news article, but in fact what we are seeing is people want more liveable space - in other words, what they want is every square foot of their new home having a function and no wasted space that they have to heat, cool and clean. Living in a Home Idea Factory like I do may sound glamorous, but with all of this square footage comes a mountain of cleaning that needs to be done every day and maintenance that never ends.

Factory built housing has always been a great example of great use of space. Since every home is engineered, I'm always amazed with how large and functional the kitchens are in a small amount of space. Using as little space as possible for hallways can make a huge difference in the footprint of the home, and taking the time to "space plan" - seeing what furniture will work where and the traffic flow that will happen because of that furniture placement - can alleviate a lot of problems after the home is built.

This Champion Home is a great example. It is a model home in Hobbs, NM and I was asked to re-merchandise it so potential customers would get a better feel for the lifestyle that was possible with this home and how they could live and entertain in it.

What we changed was so successful they sold this home the first day! A rancher bought it and loved the mud room, large flowing entertainment areas, and the ranching lifestyle featured in the model.

When you are looking for your next home, have a seat in the model home and really think about the flow of the home and how your family will utilize every square foot of the home. You might be surprised at what you really do and do not need.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

ROC USA Helps to Make Owning Your Own Home Achievable

As a Lifestylist® I spend a lot of time tracking trends and listening to people's dreams and realities. One of the biggest dreams a person often has is a home of their own, and that dream comes in all shapes and sizes.
Land lease communities are a great way to own a home of your own on a budget, but a lot of potential homeowners are afraid of the fact that they don't own the land that their new home is sited on.
When I attended the recent MHI Congress and Expo I was introduced to Paul Bradley and the ROC USA team, and loved having the chance to speak with them and to learn more. ROC stands for Resident Owned Communities, and they help residents of land lease communities buy their communities and own a part of it. I was fascinated to learn that they are a non profit, and loved that the first thing that they do with their homeowners is to choose a new name for their community and start the re-branding process.
NPR and "All Things Considered" recently featured ROC USA on their broadcast, and you can see our interview with the ROC USA team on Lifestylist.com.

Modular Housing On The Rise

It seems like people are finally beginning to realize that factory built housing may be a better way to build - I've had two site builders ask me if the projects that we are working on might be more efficient if we do a modular build instead of the way they traditionally build. What's really great is these are both commercial projects - one is a clubhouse and one is transitional housing for 14 so I'm really proud of my clients for looking at all options. In fact, Champion Homes is doing quite a few commercial builds, including hotels for a major hotel company - I can't wait to see (and stay in) the finished buildings.
Many people have the misconception that using modular construction is very limiting - I'm always surprised with how many people think you can only do 1 story. In fact, all construction has some limitations, but with modular you can build multi story buildings just as you can with site built.
This beautiful home in Montana that was built by the EnergyMate division of Patriot Homes is an example of what can be accomplished using modular construction. It has a 2 story family room and rock fireplace in it -they just completed the fireplace on-site with rocks they found on the ranch.
Before you make a decision on who is going to be building your next home or building, you might contact one of the many fine modular builders that might be the right fit for you.
If you need recommendations on who might be a good fit for you, feel free to contact us at: answers@lifestylist.com and we'll be happy to share our list of qualified builders with you.

Modular Construction is Becoming a More Popular Way To Build

It seems like people are finally beginning to realize that factory built housing may be a better way to build - I've had two site builders ask me if the projects that we are working on might be more efficient if we do a modular build instead of the way they traditionally build. What's really great is these are both commercial projects - one is a clubhouse and one is transitional housing for 14 so I'm really proud of my clients for looking at all options. In fact, Champion Homes is doing quite a few commercial builds, including hotels for a major hotel company - I can't wait to see (and stay in) the finished buildings.

Many people have the misconception that using modular construction is very limiting - I'm always surprised with how many people think you can only do 1 story. In fact, all construction has some limitations, but with modular you can build multi story buildings just as you can with site built.

This beautiful home in Montana that was built by the EnergyMate division of Patriot Homes is an example of what can be accomplished using modular construction. It has a 2 story family room and rock fireplace in it -they just completed the fireplace on-site with rocks they found on the ranch.

Before you make a decision on who is going to be building your next home or building, you might contact one of the many fine modular builders that might be the right fit for you.

If you need recommendations on who might be a good fit for you, feel free to contact us at: answers@lifestylist.com and we'll be happy to share our list of qualified builders with you.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Wall Street Journal Is Optimistic About Factory Built Housing

It seems like the tides are changing - others are beginning to understand the benefits of factory built housing.

The Wall Street Journal printed a great article about how more people are considering this type of construction of their next home.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Lifestylist® Brands



 

 

 

One of the questions I always get asked is exactly what is a Lifestylist®, and what is unique about the Lifestylist® Lifestyle. The second most asked question is what makes me a Trailer Diva!

The Lifestylist philosophy is about "Life Celebrating Style". Our clients life and style is what dictates how a Lifestylist® works with you. My favorite example is I had a client in Phoenix, Arizona that was a major Phoenix Suns fan, and their team colors are orange and purple. The client wanted their entire home done in these colors. What they wanted is what they got, complete with a child’s room with a hardwood floor striped like a basketball court. They wanted to stylishly celebrate their interests and love of their home team and we did!

I just spoke to a friend who’s dog just dug up their entire garden and her daughter slammed the door on the neighbor’s hand - all in about 30 minutes time. Her needs and lifestyle are completely different from my son - no kids, no dogs, and lives in front of his computer. What my style is wouldn’t work well for either of them which is why I need to understand the client and what their “hot buttons” are. It’s takes extra time and sleuthing to achieve this - many times the client has trouble putting into words exactly what they are looking for but they know it when they see it. I take the responsibility very seriously - a person’s environment can truly change their lives in a positive or negative way. If someone is happy in their home their quality of life improves.

Next to being a mother, becoming a Lifestylist® is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’m looking forward to expanding the concept and what it offers in the years to come. - we will be launching a new food line this Spring!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hartford Insurance Penalizes Interior Designers - MetLife Sponsors Them

Just when you think you have heard it all - I received an over 500% increase on my insurance rate with Hartford Insurance even though I have never filed a claim and there was no increase to my benefits! What's next - they provide insurance to the AARP - are they going to consider aging a high risk proposition as well?

They want to increase my rate by over $10,000 for no reason other than they can. This is money that could be used to help the worthwhile non-profits we are involved in like Animal Rescue Corps , HomeAid and Genesis Womens Shelter.

I just spoke with Louise Dunne, Assistant Director of Business Compliance with Hartford. She did not want to go on record or have me use her name, but she said that "my business had performed well with them" and the problem wasn't me, it was that I'm classified as a designer. What she shared was really disappointing as far as how Hartford views the design community, and she made it clear that they don't really understand what our industry is about or what we do.

Unlike Hartford, Met Life has chosen to embrace the design community and has been very supportive of The National Association of Home Builders, The National Sales and Marketing Council, the 50+ Housing Council and has also been a major sponsor of The Nationals - the competition that recognizes design and marketing excellence in the home building industry. Guess who I'll be giving my business to?

Lesson learned? Do business with an agent and an insurance company that you have a relationship with so they will take the time to understand you and your business. Saving a few dollars up front is not worth the headaches and frustration that can come with those savings down the road.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras Greetings

Daisy loves the Lifestylist® philosophy of Life Celebrating Style.  She is also open to any excuse to wear her favorite hats and attract attention.  Mardi Gras Greetings from Daisy the diva dog and the Lifestylist® family!

Friday, February 17, 2012

The International Builders Show Features Factory Built Homes by Palm Harbor

What a great, busy month this has been! This Lifestylist® has show houses to plan, new products to design and great conventions to attend... there just aren't enough hours in the day for all of the great opportunities that are ahead of us!
Last week I attended the International Builders Show in Orlando and after attending this convention for over 20 years I think this year was one of my favorites.
I am so proud to be a part of the National Association of Home Builders and to be involved in the modular side of home building. This was the year when I saw home builders really taking notice of what benefits factory built construction could offer them, and not only did we do a great job of talking about it - we also showed them.
There are meetings that go on before the Builders Show starts that help put in place best practices to promote and grow the housing industry. Councils cover various specialty groups, and I was impressed to see that Kevin Flaherty, Vice President of Marketing for Champion Homes was not only attending these meetings, he is also acting as Vice Chairman for the Building Systems Council. "The New Champion" is really showing their strength and commitment to the factory built housing industry, and not only are they active with NAHB, they are also becoming more active with the Manufactured Housing Institute. Kevin was a presenter in the NAHB News Conference "Industry Study: Characteristics of Modular Homes" and had great facts and figures about why consumers should consider buying a modular home.
Palm Harbor Homes presented three beautiful factory built homes in the Professional Builder Show Village showing a "Net Zero Eco-Home" that was a 399 sq. ft. park model, a modular duplex, and a modular luxury home. Tony Lucas the designer for Palm Harbor always does an outstanding job, but what he did with the Net Zero home really got people's attention. Tony added the architectural details on the exteriors that made you want to know and see more which is a lot of what you want a show home to do. It was interesting because another builder brought a home for the first time and it was in neutral colors and without much exterior interest, and many people (including myself) passed it by. I heard the home was beautiful inside, but only found that out after the show was over.
Builders were fascinated by the fact that the three homes were installed, furnished and decors added in 8 days. This was proof of one of the many benefits that factory built housing offers - time savings which results in cost savings. Will these homes result in sales for Palm Harbor? Ron Powell, President of Manufacturing for Palm Harbor Homes stated that "I haven't seen the statistics, but our internal feeling is that attendance at Show Village was better than last year. There were more attendees with solid projects in the immediate future. In the last few years, there were a lot of attendees trying to flesh-out ideas. This year, they've got land and are ready to go."
Besides having market driven homes at the show, I was also impressed to see Joe Stegmayer - the Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cavco Industries, a director and officer of Fleetwood Homes, Inc.  and Palm Harbor Homes, Inc. ,and a director of Palm Harbor Villages, Inc working the show. How he has time to even attend something like this is amazing, and I said working not attending the show because every time I saw him he was helping a potential customer or answering questions. And in his "spare" time he is serving as the Chairman of the Board for The Manufactured Housing Institute. His hands on approach to the factory built housing industry is one of the reasons it will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.
One of the highlights of this year's show for me was getting to hear Ben Bernanke speak about the state of our economy and what's ahead for housing. More on that later, but to see more images from this year's International Builders Show, visit and "like" our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/lifestylelist. I took over 2,000 photographs and I'm anxious to share my favorites with you.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Nation's Building News

 

Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber was honored this week to be featured in a story on education in the Nation's Building News - a publication that goes out to the over 200,000 members of the National Association of Home Builders.

She has been active in the association for over 25 years, is a member of the Institute of Residential Marketing and is also a national instructor of the IRM III course: Lifestyle Merchandising, Advertising & Promotion Strategies. Felber has also been a a speaker at the MHI Congress and Expo for many years, and this year will be speaking on design trends in Land Lease Communities.

Attending classes and learning what's new as well as teaching classes is a necessary part of how we offer our clients the best in merchandising, trend tracking and marketing. We will be attending the International Builders Show Feb. 8-12 to search out the latest trends in building and design. Join us on Twitter to get our reports directly from the show.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What's Mine is Not Yours - Intellectual Property

Seth Godin is my guru. He is so no nonsense but funny at times, intellectual but down to earth, and what I really love about him is that he can get a point across faster than anyone else I know. His Purple Cow book started me on a new road to being more involved in marketing and social media so I'm forever grateful. When I worked on the Purple Cow House Campaign with Patriot Homes I made sure to get permission from Mr. Godin, and we credited him for the phrase (and gave out his Purple Cow Book).

Today I got a great post from him titled "Simple Thoughts About Fair Use". So timely, and as always so well written. In this new blogging, social world I'm always stunned to see how many people are using other people's photography, ads, brands, and stories without permission. This article is a must read for anyone who is even thinking about posting on Facebook, Twitter, or a blog and using someones text or images.

I'm fortunate enough to have access to a very talented photographer - Lisa Stewart of Lisa Stewart Photography. The images you see in my blogs, on my Lifestylist Design Facebook page and on my website have been shot specifically for my use. I do that so I'm not using other people's work and having copyright infringements.

Lifestylist® is a term that I successfully trademarked in 2002 - my registration number is 2583235. I'm very proud of this because I thought I had a good idea and made the extra effort do "do the right thing" and spend the time, effort, and money to trademark it. You would be amazed at how much time I've had to spend since them protecting my mark because people haven't bothered to do their homework and see that it's trademarked before they use it in their own businesses.

Before you decide that you have discovered the next great phrase, or "borrow" a photo from someone else be sure to read Seth's post. Wondering where to learn more about these topics? The US Patent and Trademark Office has a great site, and it is also where you can search trademark registrations and applications.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Are Your Homes Memorable?

As a Lifestylist®, the biggest compliment I can receive is when people come up to me and tell me they remember a home because of the lifestyle we displayed in the home. My job is to play up the special features included in the home by using artwork, furniture and accessories. I'm thrilled when the homes are remembered and talked about during a show, but what's really gratifying is when someone tells about a home they loved so much they bought it.

That was the case at Rolling Hills Village in Battle Creek, Michigan. Bob Wolfe, president of Wolfe Commercial saw the "dog house" I did for Patriot Homes in 2008.  Even though at the time he wasn't a Patriot customer at that time he knew he had to own that home, and a great partnership was born. Every time I would run into Mr. Wolfe at an event he would tell me how much he loved that home, and he would tell everyone around him what a great job I did as well.

Fast forward to 2012, and in 2 weeks I'll be heading to Michigan to do a new model home and update the community center. I'd say that going the extra mile and LifeStyling a model with character not only helped Rolling Hills sell more homes, it also helped me earn a customer for life.

If you are in the market for model homes that are memorable and help sell homes, let's talk. We can be reached at: answers@lifestylist.com

 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Trend Tracking With Pinterest



As a Lifestylist®, I spend a lot of time researching trends and learning what consumers want - then sharing that information with my clients. There are lots of places I do my research and new sites are popping up every day. I want to share with you one of my new favorites.

Have you discovered Pinterest yet? The site describes itself as "an online pinboard where you can organize and share things you love" but it is truly so much more than that. Words don't do justice to this site - it's definitely a visual experience.

Pinterest lets you do your own digital wish books where you can browse through thousands of images, recipes and inspirations that others have shared and "pin" them onto your own boards. You can also follow people who have a style that you like and share your favorite finds using Facebook or Twitter.

This is a great tool to see what consumers are liking and sharing. I have a huge appreciation for the laws governing intellectual property and don't publish other people's photos or articles on my sites without permission. Pinterest gives you the opportunity to share other people's images without violating copyright rules, and it's also a great way to share what you like and don't like with others.

Our boards can be found at: pinterest.com/lifestylist take a look and let us know what you think. We'd love to see what your boards look like as well. Email us at: answers@lifestylist.com with your Pinterest name and we'll take a look.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Lifestylist® Social Media Guidelines for 2012

Happy New Year from the Lifestylist® family! We are really excited about 2012 and the opportunities that will come with it.

A lot of being a Lifestylist® is about being a trend tracker and doing research. Today I read something that was written by someone else titled "Social Media Lifestylist Guidelines for 2012" - boy does that sound dull! The first thing that comes to mind is a big dusty manual full of rules and regulations, and that is exactly what social media (and being a Lifestylist®) is not about.

The tag line I have always used for my Lifestylist® brand is "It's All About You". I didn't want the brand to be about me telling people what to do - I wanted to listen to people's wants, needs, and dreams, and help them achieve those even when they didn't know that's what they were really searching for. I don't want to dictate, I want to educate. I've learned that listening is so much more important than anything I will ever have to say, because sometimes if you let people express their thoughts they will find their answers.

Social media is such an exciting new frontier because it gives everyone the chance to tell their story to the universe. It's become a great equalizer because almost anyone  on any budget can get access to a computer and a free site and share their thoughts.

There's a down side to this though as well -there's not as much editing as we've seen in the past. We have to learn that even though someone may have written it, there is the possibility it might not be true. Before we share or depend on information we find we have to be sure and check the facts. As the guardian of the Lifestylist® trademark for almost 10 years now I've seen how many people want to tie into my brand but aren't willing to go through the legal process to acquire a brand of their own.

So what are the real Lifestylist's guidelines for 2012? Never call them guidelines, live your life to the fullest, listen to those around you and you can never laugh too much or have too much great food and wine!

Here's to a boisterous 2012!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Social Media Lifestylist® Guidelines for 2012

Happy New Year from the Lifestylist® family! I'm really excited about 2012, and the opportunities that come with it.
A lot of being a Lifestylist® is about being a trend tracker and doing research. Today I read something that was written by someone else titled "Social Media Lifestylist Guidelines for 2012" - boy does that sound dull! The first thing that comes to mind is a big dusty manual full of rules and regulations, and that is exactly what social media (and being a Lifestylist®) is not about.
The tag line I have always used for my Lifestylist® brand is "It's All About You". I didn't want the brand to be about me telling people what to do - I wanted to listen to people's wants, needs, and dreams, and help them achieve those even when they didn't know that's what they were really searching for. I don't want to dictate, I want to educate. I've learned that listening is so much more important than anything I will ever have to say, because sometimes if you let people express their thoughts they will find their answers.
Social media is such an exciting new frontier because it gives everyone the chance to tell their story to the universe. It's become a great equalizer because almost anyone  on any budget can get access to a computer and a free site and share their thoughts.
There's a down side to this though as well -there's not as much editing as we've seen in the past. We have to learn that even though someone may have written it, there is the possibility it might not be true. Before we share or depend on information we find we have to be sure and check the facts. As the guardian of the Lifestylist® trademark for almost 10 years now I've seen how many people want to tie into my brand but aren't willing to go through the legal process to acquire a brand of their own.
So what are the real Lifestylist's guidelines for 2012? Never call them guidelines, live your life to the fullest, listen to those around you and you can never laugh too much or have too much great food and wine!
Here's to a boisterous 2012!