Retail Profile: Leggy Bird Designs, Libertyville, Illinois
Susan Dickenson -- Home Accents Today, December 12, 2012
Vicki Lidstrom and Carol Carani opened their award-winning interior design studio and retail store, Leggy Bird Designs, three years ago at the height of the recession. Since then, their business has grown "like gangbusters," and the two have never looked back - except, perhaps, when people ask how they came to make such a dramatic career change.
Carol Carani and Vicki Lidstrom take a break at the October High Point Market. At the height of the recession, the two decided to pursue a different career path. Their design partnership led to the opening of a studio and retail store, an award-winning first project, a national magazine cover and two rooms in a nationally renowned show house.
The two first met in 2004 at the International Stationery Show, where Lidstrom, a builder and architectural designer, was shepherding a quickly growing greeting card company she had founded with a friend, and Carani, an emergency room doctor, was tossing her creative hat into the stationery arena.
They bumped into each other again, four years later, at an Independence Day Parade in Lake Bluff, Ill. It was then that they discovered a shared passion for architectural design, building and interior design. A shared vision and life philosophy quickly led to a design partnership, a store, an award-winning first project, a national magazine cover and two rooms in a nationally renowned show house.
"We are both inspired architectural designers, and interior designers. We love to design whole houses, parts of houses, extraordinarily functional and entirely beautiful spaces inside and out," Lidstrom said. "This is what makes our interior design so easy - we flourish as we design together. It's quite serendipitous."
"Our style portrays a sense of heart," Carani added. "And this is why people love to linger in our rooms. This sense of peace and beauty in our projects has led to a wonderful word of mouth following."
Describe your business: We offer full architectural design services and interior design for residential and commercial clients. Our design studio is nestled in the back of a storefront we share with three incredibly creative partners. Each partner provides her own inventory, ranging from rare antiques to handmade furnishings and pillows. Our store and displays are ever-changing, and we use a lot of armoires and shelving. We're currently creating some new shelving out of old shipping crates that will hold more pillows and glassware.
We love to repurpose, reuse and re-create. And sharing rent and a space with partners in the center of a charming village has turned out to be a wonderfully gentle and successful way to get into the retail business!
What makes you different from the competition? Our design business differs from the competition because of our extensive construction and architectural design background. For us, the flow of spaces and rooms comes first. Then we bring in the furniture and accessories. This attention to proportion and architectural pattern is why our projects, no matter how varied, always communicate a sense of comfort, warmth and high style.
What product categories do you carry in the store? We carry an eclectic blend of home furnishings and accessories - about 40% furniture and case goods, and 60% accessories. Our store is filled with one-of-a-kind pieces, paintings, antiques, new furniture, repurposed furniture, oodles of glassware, jewelry, lamps, mirrors and garden accessories.
On the retail side, Leggy Bird Designs offers an eclectic mix of furniture and accessories, antiques, one-of-a-kinds and garden decor.
How's business? Our business has grown like gangbusters over the past three years and, since we started during the height of the recession, we don't know anything different. We actually believe this recession was a great time to go into the design business. So many people are living conservatively, taking fewer vacations and spending more time at home. Therefore, making their homes more comfortable and inviting by investing in an experienced designer has become a priority for many.
What kind of design projects are you working on? We have some wonderful projects in process, and that we're looking forward to working on over the next year. An English-modern home we are designing in Lake Forest will break ground in two months - we are doing both architectural and interior design.
A Cotswold Estate manor in Barrington Hills we designed and are currently under roof is under our supervision, from architectural design to building to interior design. We're incorporating all smart home technology - geothermal, heated floors, etc. Even in its state of rough construction, it is already stunning! We have a projected completion of June 2013 and have already purchased much of the furnishings and accessories from vendors like Designer's Guild, Lee, Cisco, Lucky Fish Gallery, Halo, Go Home, Old Hickory Tannery, Sarreid, Currey & Company, and Visual Comfort.
We are completing a shingle-style design in the historic district of Libertyville over the next eight weeks and will be working on the interior decorating one room at a time over the next year as the budget allows.
Plus, we're designing our own outdoor lighting, building a pink beach house we just completed designs on, traveling to New Orleans and Charleston to find product for our projects and the store, and working on some product launches.
Fun. That's our rule. If we are going to do anything, it better be fun!
How do you reach your customers? We love to celebrate and showcase local artists and music talent with events at our store, and we've raised money for several local charities.
Who are some of your key vendors? Currey & Company, Arteriors, Go Home, Design Legacy, Sugarboo Designs, Eddie Lawrence books, Art Addiction, Auskin, Kalalou, Ro Sham Beaux, Halo, Bobo Intriguing Objects, Lee, Cisco, C.R. Laine, Taylor King, Moe's Home Collection.
What's hot right now? We find our top-selling items to be glassware, one-of-a-kind items such as original oil paintings, upholstered settees, lamps and specialty tables.
Tradeshows/markets you shop: High Point, Atlanta, Chicago Merchandise Mart, and estate sales and art shows for the vintage one-of-a-kind pieces that our clients love.