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The People and Stories Behind Design For A Difference

Experience the movement that is transforming spaces and people across the U.S. and Canada. Inspiring and informative, this blog is dedicated to all of those who make a difference with design in our every day lives.

Behind the Makeover Scenes with Design for a Difference Madison Director Angela Skalitzky

Madison, Wisconsin

 

As an early adopter of Design for a Difference, International Design Guild showroom FLOOR360 has generously participated in not one but four makeovers! Each of the four are shining examples of giving back to the community; expecting nothing in return other than altruistic gratification. And this overwhelming generosity has been gratifying indeed– as of 2019, FLOOR360’s DFAD makeovers have exceeded the 7 figure, one million dollar mark.

With each new endeavor, the anticipation of the final result catapults the excitement and design team forward, and the effort is nothing if not contagious.

Each year, FLOOR360 has experienced continual growth and expansion. Today they are proud to hold the largest design team among participants, now numbering some 44 designers and growing.

And running it all is the FLOOR360 Vice President of Retail Flooring Sales, Angela Skalitzky, who also holds the distinction of Design For A Difference Director.

Not surprising to anyone who has observed her achievements, Angela was recently named as one of BRAVA magazine’s 2019 Women to Watch.

Angela has become an inspiration for women in her community as she vibrantly leads the largest charity makeover design team in the nation. Does this come easily?  Of course not, there are inevitable makeover challenges unique to each project; and that’s where her passion and drive kick into high gear.

Join us, as we learn of Angela’s systematic approach to routinely converting these challenges into growth opportunities, and how she helps to lead and motivate to bring all components together.  She dishes a first-hand behind the scenes take on what it’s like to lead a team of almost 50 designers, how they stay inspired and on-task, and what her biggest makeover challenge is every year.

 

The Interview:

 

Tell us about yourself and how you came to FLOOR360:

I began my journey here at FLOOR360 in 2001 after receiving my BA in Interior Architecture from UW Stevens Point. I started as a design assistant, joined the sales and design team, and now, as the VP of Retail Sales & Design, I manage the design team and also enjoy my role as Director of Design For A Difference Madison.

 

Going into your 5th year heading up Design For A Difference, how have things changed from then to now?

I am so proud of the team and how the movement has grown. Year one was terrifying– not knowing what to expect or if anyone would want to volunteer, and how we would manage to keep it all a secret… There is no handbook on how to make Design For A Difference a success, but having an open mind and a positive attitude really goes a long way!

That said, we have learned so much along the way about how great the Madison design community is and how much need there is out there for so many non-profits where design can make a difference! The impact we have been able to make goes far beyond paint and furniture– there is a sense of hope when someone’s world seems hopeless, a feeling of calm when chaos is all around them, a warm welcome when no place feels like home. We have created functional, well-designed, safe spaces for so many and the impact is immeasurable. We are looking forward to giving back to the community year after year and making over Madison’s non-profits one space at a time.

 

What’s remained the same?

The one constant in all of the year’s of Design For A Difference Madison is that it just continues to grow and get better each year!

 

What’s it like to head up the largest design team for a charity makeover in history?

Leading such an impactful movement in my hometown has been an incredible honor! It’s as if I have received a gift that I never even knew I wanted. The opportunity to give back through design has been such a blessing. The talented design team and the generous Madison community have made it all possible by giving selflessly to the movement.

 

What’s your biggest challenge as the design team grows?

The biggest challenge as the design team grows is finding a project that will allow each designer a space to feel as though they made an impact. We may end up with multiple smaller makeovers one of these years as we could run out of large spaces to makeover.

 

How do your designers stay inspired?

The design team stays inspired by those who are helped by the non-profit: the kids, the families, the mission of the non-profit and the leadership that keeps the non-profit going strong. Each year we meet a new group of individuals who will be impacted by the makeover. We interview them, we listen to their ideas, needs and wants and use our design skills to make the space better suit them. We see first-hand how good design can change lives and that a well-designed space can improve how people view the world and how they take on the world!

 

Tell us about the dynamic of your design team- are they competitive? Are they chummy?

The design team is a very talented group of Madison interior designers who come from all areas of design specialty and have become a new circle of friends and colleagues. They compliment and inspire one another, and work very well together.

 

What are some special skills you’d like to highlight from your team?

Some special skills that the design team embodies includes being extremely resourceful; they work wonderfully under pressure and they stay up all night if they have to, to get the job done!

 

What is your biggest makeover challenge as the project manager?

As a project manager, one of the biggest challenges that I have become very comfortable with is simply trusting the design process and knowing that it will all come together in the end.

 

What’s your personal favorite DFAD moment?

My personal favorite DFAD moment is the reveal – every single year – hearing Mark Brunetz say, “Open your eyes,” is when I can take a breath and know that the design is finally revealed to those who use the space. To see the happy tears and smiles from the ones who will use the space to help their community and have a positive impact on the world around them is an amazing experience to be a part of.

 

How has Design For A Difference changed you as a woman in a leadership role?

Design For A Difference has  given me an opportunity to grow in so many ways. I have gained confidence and become so aware of how positivity can help impact those around you.

 

How do you decide who will receive your makeovers each year?

We have a selection committee who helps to decide on the finalists and the recipient each year. Our selection committee is made up of Executive Directors of past DFAD Madison makeovers, FLOOR360 leadership team members, Media sponsor leadership, design team members-  we each have a different perspective but collectively always find the perfect recipient.

 

Can you reveal the 2019 recipient?

The 2019 recipient of the DFAD Madison makeover is the Wil Mar Neighborhood Center.

 

What do you discuss during your first meeting with your team?

At our first design team meeting, we introduce the team to the non-profit by reviewing the space in detail with photos and floor plans and discuss the functions of the space. We then ask the team members to introduce themselves, choose a space to help design and away we go!

 

What’s the energy like in the room?

The energy in the design team meetings is ever changing. The first meeting is exciting, fresh and new as we learn about the space. Then the gears shift to creativity mode with ideas flowing and the design coming together after site visits and interviews with the people who use the space. Then we start trying to source all the needs and wants… and then we all panic at some point. THEN we jump in and help one another out to fill a need, it is an ever-changing flow, and it is so wonderful!

 

What would you like to see happen in this year’s makeover that has never been done before?

I would like to see the community come together even more to help make this makeover happen! I would like to see more help from painting companies, plumbers, electricians, we need all hands on deck to make this happen– even volunteering for a few hours or making a donation of supplies goes a very long way. I would love to have more community events to benefit the space and get feed back about the design from even more people who would like to be involved in the transformation. This is a community driven movement and we could use more community involved in these makeovers.

 

And there we have it.  Showing each and every project contributor that their role is vital to the collective successful outcome of the makeover, and then delegating to each as their skill is called upon.

Level heads prevail, panic gets you nowhere.  And in the end, not only have you contributed immensely to the community, but in turn you have accepted their appreciation and grown by their contribution to your self-assurance.

From being thrust into your terrifying first project, to finding confidence by devising a process to tackle the inevitable unforeseen obstacles through your managerial poise, skill and expertise, and now checking the box at the astonishing $1M mark, the sky’s truly the limit for you and FLOOR360 with Design For A Difference!

Thanks Angela!  All we can say is Wow, Go Girl!