Today on our journey, we reveal how four IDG Showrooms across the country have embraced and supported Design For A Difference by integrating cause marketing into their business model and corporate culture. And while each showroom has experienced makeover projects unique to their demographic, there is a common bond that unites them all: Their approach is broadening the canvas of this first-ever design movement as well as changing the way they are connecting with industry partners and clients alike.
By unanimous consent, each showroom and its team took ownership of our motto, “It All Starts With You,” knowing that they had the resources, means and genuine altruistic desire to give back through design. By supporting non-profit organizations that contribute to their local communities, they have given way to making a real difference in the lives of people, including themselves.
Join us, as we take a closer look at how these showrooms are showcasing the art of giving back, and discover how a cause marketing mindset can have a positive impact in any community.
Madden-McFarland Interiors: Overland Park, Kansas
Madden-McFarland dropped into the Design For A Difference movement as the Grand Prize winner of an initial makeover contest, which brought designers and brands from around the country together to transform Operation Breakthrough. An inner city non-profit for women and children located in an old JC Penney building, the lower level project marked the beginning of what would become annual makeovers for this IDG Showroom and their team.
“The ability to tap the creative energy in our design community coupled with local artisans and talented craftsmen was an exciting and invigorating experience. I quickly realized that there are generous and passionate partners in each of our communities who are ready and willing to make a difference,” says owner Patrick Madden.
The ease of bringing industry partners together for the common goal of making a positive social impact in one’s city became quickly apparent, and the Design For A Difference way of thinking quickly influenced the Madden-McFarland’s energy. While their makeovers have been featured on local news broadcasts and in print, daily conversations within the team now include questions like, “What can we do?” “Who can we do it for?” and “Where do we start?”
Patrick continues, “The important thing is not to get caught up with measuring the size of the difference. Just make the difference. Be the instrument of change and everything else will fall into place.”
Interiors & Textiles: Mountain View, California
Next, we head west to the home of Googletown. Just as many are achieving momentous accomplishments in business innovation, there are a great number of residents left out of this circle and sorely in need of a helping hand.
Enter Fred Wee, owner of Interiors & Textiles and IDG member, always looking for a meaningful way to give back. After very successful makeovers at CSA (The Community Services Agency) and CHAC (Community Health Awareness Council), Fred has found that Design For A Difference really resonates with the younger demographic, in particular, the millennial generation.
“It’s very apparent that if they are investing in higher-end goods, they not only care about the quality but also the company with whom they are supporting. So, while our involvement with Design For A Difference happened very organically, as it was just a concept we embraced through IDG, it has really helped to create an amazing sense of community with our clients as well as our sponsors, which has always been a challenge in the large metropolitan area of Mountain View,” says Fred.
As Fred and his team have started their third makeover project, Interiors & Textiles has incorporated Design For A Difference into their marketing outreach via website updates, in-store collateral and direct mail pieces. It has become ingrained in their culture and probably will continue to be a part of how they do business in the long term.
Select Surfaces: Vail, Colorado
One of our favorite IDG showroom locations, arguably, is that of Select Surfaces. Nestled in gorgeous Vail, home to perhaps the most celebrated ski resort communities in the US, co-owners Rob and Deb Davis and Becky Maddux are the newest team to join Design For A Difference.
Last year, the trio successfully pulled together a team of designers and industry partners to turn an overly spacious building into a welcoming and logical workspace to serve their beloved non-profit, SOS Outreach. The group has a long-standing reputation within the community for their inspiring programs that ‘help kids gear up for life’. Grounded in outdoor experiences, their program ignites a passion for adventure, inspires the courage to try something new, and instills lifelong lessons and skills in kids and teens.
For this team, stepping into the Design For A Difference mindset gave them a new spin on the way they thought about giving back. For almost twenty years, it had always been something they did ‘quietly in the background’. But with the success of their SOS makeover, they are now enjoying the buzz created by a grand reveal: Local news coverage and professional videos of their project that have been shared on social media. They now feel empowered to be more vocal about all the good they are doing.
“Design For A Difference has enlightened us to the fact that by getting the word out, our community can help us help more,” says Rob.
FLOOR360: Madison, Wisconsin
And last, but certainly not least, is our amazing Midwest leader, Bob Tobe, owner of FLOOR360. Bob was one of the first IDG showroom members to jump on board and he did so with full gusto. By partnering with his local NBC network and Brava Magazine, FLOOR360 has managed to bring an awareness and excitement of charity makeovers to his entire metropolitan area.
Entering their fifth year, Bob’s design team alone is made up of over 40 designers, and the support he receives from both local and national partners is extraordinary. So what’s changed about his marketing plan and business culture?
“Pretty much everything. Our entire marketing plan includes Design For A Difference. From the use of makeover videos to social media and all of our printed materials, we have become known for our cause, which is that we Design For A Difference”, explains Bob.
He continues by describing that even their copy brings the concept home by using such phrases as “We are a company with a heart,” or “Cool Tiles, Warm Hearts,” and even, “Hardwoods, Soft Hearts.”
What we love so much about Bob and his example is that by embracing cause marketing to such a full extent, he shares that it’s not just amazing for business, but it is also attracting good talent as they grow. And as for his makeovers, they are in high demand, and actually require applications from local non-profits from which the FLOOR360 design team takes careful pride in determining who will be the next recipient of the makeover.
So as you can see, when it comes to charity makeovers, the transformation doesn’t stop at the job site. It has the power to change a business from the inside out. And while today we’ve highlighted these four IDG showrooms, there are many others who have taken on Design For A Difference projects and this new mindset, making the movement a way of life for designers and industry partners around the country.