What We Learned From The Design Influencer Conference

What We Learned From The Design Influencer Conference | construction2style

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Jordan and I just got back from The Design Influencers Conference in sunny San Francisco, California. 

Last year was the first time I went to this show and before we even left, I was counting down the days to go back the following year, and here we are. This was Jordan’s first year, so we thought we’d write this blog post together instead of doing two different recaps with different perspectives so that you can get all of the info in one place.

This isn’t all of what we learned because we couldn’t jot notes down fast enough for all, but most of it. I hope you can take a tip or two and incorporate it into your own marketing. 

What We Learned From The Design Influencer Conference | construction2style

Increasing Brand Credibility + Visibility: Press, Paid Speaking + Partnerships

Rachael Bozsik was the first speaker we heard and she coaches people on how to pitch and gave us a lot of valuable information in her 30 minutes. Our main takeaways from her were how to pitch and why pitching is so important. 

When pitching you should have the following:

  1. Editorial Calendar – Know the calendar of the publications you’re trying to pitch and create content around that.
  2. Correct Contact – When pitching, reach out to the right person. You can find them on LinkedIn or Clear Bit Connect.
  3. Story Hook – Have a story hook and email the contact during the week and not on the weekend.
  4. Have a highly Converting Pitch – Know what you’re trying to pitch and how it can convert.
  5. Follow Up + Interviews – Follow up after two weeks and then one week later if you haven’t heard back. If you still don’t get a response, circle back with a new story hook in a couple of months.

It’s up to you to use the publicity you can to lead to profits and to take that exposure, leverage it, and market it. 

  • You are now seen as a credible expert, so what do you want to pitch with your publicity backing you to make money? 
  • Once you have the press, make sure to use that as an intro within your media kit, bio on social, when presenting, on your website, when pitching other brands and publications, etc.

Then when the demand starts, it’s time to bump up your prices and work with the people you want to work with! And always remember to pause and reevaluate.

You’ll always want to make sure you have a Brand Tool Box. Which is a digital folder with all of your files, a toolbox for the design side of the business. Which for us at construction2style is our media kit.

What We Learned From The Design Influencer Conference | construction2style

Using HENRY Clients and Influencer Marketing – Achieve Success Through Creative Freedom

The next speaker was Garrison Hullinger, who owns his own interior design firm. He spoke all about the “HENRY” client which stands for “high earning, not rich yet.” Here are some of the characteristics that define this client:

  • Double income, no kids
  • Looking for unusual pieces
  • They are watching you
  • Appreciate quality & materials crafted by makers
  • Like a touch of exuberance
  • Will spend more on items that are used daily

These clients are looking for high-end kitchens, their dream bathrooms, home addition & expansion, and want to transform unused space. With their projects, there is a hint of splurging, but the materials and project also need to add value.

This reminded us that no matter what, we are always being watched. Our next big potential client could be years out and whether we realize it or not, we are building a relationship with this next client online and we want the HENRY client to be our next client. 

Creating for Pinterest

One of our favorite DIY bloggers, Kyla Herbes from House of Hipsters, spoke all about Pinterest. I’ve heard her speak on this topic before and yet again, I learned so many new things. 

In a nutshell, here were the takeaways:

  • Boards should have 25 pins
  • 30-40 pins per board before you push live
  • Have a popular board 
  • Publish a holiday board at least 2-3 months before the actual holiday
  • Add location
  • Name your photos for SEO with keywords, so they don’t appear “Jpeg_5671” 
  • Use common phrases
  • It takes 7-9 days for a pin to appear on other’s feed (MIND BLOWN) 
  • Post new content, not just power pins. Pinterest favors new content
  • VIDEO!! DO, DO, DO quick 5 second videos. Instead of a photo of tile. Pan the wall of tile and upload video.
  • Use “Secret – Name Here” when titling secret boards so you know which ones are secret
  • Provide value and helpfulness
  • Do group boards
  • Use Tailwinds
  • Pin Daily 
  • Do vertical pins with text overlay

What We Learned From The Design Influencer Conference | construction2style

Keynote: Nate Berkus

Nate Berkus, one of our favorite and most inspired by designers also spoke, and we got to meet him in person! He was so down to earth and nice. We like to think it’s because he was born and raised in Minnesota. Hehe. 

What We Learned From The Design Influencer Conference | construction2style

He started off his presentation with, “As designers, we are really only as great as our references.” 

I loved this and have been thinking about it nonstop since! He wasn’t meaning references as in our client references, but our design references. Everything we design out or style with should be referenced from something that either moved or inspired you or is a reference from something in your life. If you chose something that doesn’t have a reference back to something, why are you using it within a design concept? 

He talked through how he takes references and very intentionally brings them into TV, his designs, client work, and furniture lines.

He then talked through and showed a handful of his favorite styles and the different elements that play into this style. Through each of these styles, he showed products that were created out of his love for these styles. He showed how photos he’s taken during his travels were the inspiration for many of his product lines.

  • Bauhaus Textiles 
    • Broken lines, not looking perfect
  • French 40s
    • Massive obsessions since day one. Lived in Paris, inspired from. 
  • Modern + Abstract
    • Nate designs every design in house. 
    • Anytime he sees a painting or a pattern that he likes he always takes a picture because he never knows where that might lead.
  • Architectural Elements
    • Brutalist Facets
    • Columns 
    • Antique gates … metalwork and ironwork 
    • Conservatory Design 
  • The Natural World 
    • Earthy and natural tones
    • The Sea
    • Colors, textiles
  • Fashion
    • Grew up with a mom who cared very much about clothing. 
    • Fashion and design have always been brother, sister, twins if you will… his clothes lead to interiors. He decorates with patterns and textures that he also likes to wear. 
  • Jewelry
    • Loves searching, buying and collecting women’s jewelry from the 50s and 60s. How does it work as a chandelier in a  dining room or wall art, etc? 
    • Jewelry helps with the details…hardware, mixing metals. Again…you’re only as good as your references because if you’re pitching a product and you pull out your necklaces… 
    • The first thing he notices is what a client is wearing. What do they wear out, what do they wear on a Sunday at home… 
  • Travel
    • If you can’t afford…pick a place and go online.
    • Greece is where he goes for stone, plants, green, the sea 
    • Peru…where Jeremiah and Nate got engaged. Where color and craftsmanship and things made my hand really smash into you. 
    • Mexico is his favorite country in the world. Love chips and loves craft. High-end design made my hand… 
    • Morocco – more for shapes. The architecture…made a headboard he created from shapes of tops of building. Outdoor lanterns he created, the shapes from the buildings. 

He also couldn’t praise this book enough, Travel Home: Design with a Global Spirit, by Caitlin Flemming + Julie Goebel, and brought her on stage to chat. (I also ordered the book and can’t wait to read and share).

One of the first questions she asks her client is: Where do you like to travel and what hotels do you like to stay in?
I loved this!! Such a simple question that will tell you so much about a person’s style. 

In closing…Nate reminded us all just to slow down. Take in the beauty around you.

Remember that influence and authority is built on your very best work. Even when you’re exhausted, it’s always putting your best work forward. And your best work is still from references to your work. It’s your job to know the best references out there and bring those references to your projects, to life. 

He has been fortunate that his references have developed into product lines that live within millions of people’s homes that now inspire them and their guests. And he ended by urging us to continue to learn, explore, innovate, and watch.

Christian Daw

Christian Daw from Christian Daw Design is a former attorney with a passion for home design. With an Instagram account of over 250K followers, he talked us through all of the tips and tricks and lessons learned on how he was able to grow his business and following in such a short amount of time. What a nice guy and super fun online too!

What We Learned From The Design Influencer Conference | construction2style

In a nutshell here are of a few of the dos and don’ts that we took away:


  • Over-filter
  • Be exclusive
  • Stray away
  • Buy followers
  • Give up
  • Take it personally 


  • Engage already
  • Develop a brand
  • Work together
  • Pay your dues
  • Be consistent
  • Edit, edit, edit

Taylor Loren

Taylor Loren is the Head of Content Marketing for @LaterMedia, and it’s an Instagram app we use and love so we were really excited to hear her speak! She went over four major takeaways throughout her presentation and we couldn’t write them down fast enough. 

Instagram Trend #1: Make conversions and commissions on Instagram in 2020! This is the year. You can pretty much tag any product. 

  • Shopping from creators
  • Tag brands within images for readers to buy right away 
  • What: Creators can tag other brands’ products in their posts
  • Users can purchase from creators account
  • Brands see the conversion from creators
  • Who: Rolling out to influencers who work with IG checkout brands
  • Instagram’s new influencer marketplace – Facebook brand collabs now includes Instagram. Matches brands with influencers.

Instagram Trend #2: Likes are going away! 

Why? The biggest reason is for mental health. 

2020 will see a shift in the visual content, moving away from carefully curated imagery towards more relatable and less produced content.

Good news for video – Out: highly produced, long-form videos. In: Short, organic videos. Why? Videos take up 2x the space in the explore page, which will get you in front of new followers.

Tip: post a short video instead of a static image.

Best apps for editing videos: 

  • Filters: Tezza, Filmm, VSCO
  • Edits: InShot
  • Stop Motion: LifeLapse
  • GIFS: Boomerang, Momento 

Other insights into the likes going away:

  • Instagram Hypothesis: by removing likes, people will post more.
  • Facebook has their big conference in May… so pay attention then. 
  • When people care less about likes, we will see a shift in visual content.
  • @designlovefest does a really good job at this. Relatable…messy couch, you can visualize yourself there. 
  • Tip: Apply the same filter/editing process to all your photos for a cohesive look.
  • Takeaway: what is “cool” on IG is changing – get creative and be authentic to YOU

Trend #3: IGTV Series

  • Updates on IGTV: Vertical OR landscape video. IGTV “preview” in the feed & on the profile. Catalyst for IGTV “cool” factor & growth.
  • IGTV is NOT just for big brands with big budgets. 
  • @hotpinkpineapples – check out her IGTV stories 
  • Create a “series” with designated episodes. 
  • Followers can get notified when new episodes are posted (like YouTube) and the next episode auto-plays.
  • Creating content specifically for IGTV.
  • Brand Affinity: Creating binge-able content that develops a deeper connection with followers. 

How to create an IGTV Series

  1. Concept
  2. Schedule
  3. Film/Edit 
  4. Share to feed
  5. Promote on Stories
  6. Add CTA to watch in your Bio
  7. Ask for feedback 

Takeaway: Create deeper relationships & provide value 

#4: Use your voice

  • Caption lengths are getting longer – 60-70 words is the sweet spot
  • #1: write long captions, all at once in one day in under 30 minutes and on your desktop
  • #2: use captions as micro-blogs
  • #3: add call to actions that inspire “saves” and “shares”
  • With likes going away, engagement methods are changing…they like saves and comments 

What We Learned From The Design Influencer Conference | construction2style

Integrating Successful Shoppable Commerce Into Your Websites and Social Channels For 24/7 Income

Leslie Carothers, Founder, The Kaleidoscope Partnership and Savour Partnership, talked about creating ways to incorporate 24/7 income into your blog and website. She has a private Facebook Group for interior designers called Design Wealth, where she shares tips and tricks. 

Here were some of the key takeaways from her:

  1. Invest in a beautiful website
  2. Create a compelling email opt-in
  3. Create digital product(s)
  4. Layer links to #doubleyourdollars
  5. Blog and podcast for the traffic, SEO, $$$
  6. Pinterest + GMB + Paid Ads = Traffic
  7. Join an ad network at 35K uniques
  8. Analyze data for better conversions

I want to dive into tip #4 where she addressed layering links, because it’s such a cool and simple way to double your dollars. This means before or after a project take that project and use affiliate links for all of the products. Then make it into a package and sell that project on your website. This means you now used shoppable links to sell to your client, plus the markup of them buying. Then you repurposed and are selling the project in a package for a certain amount and again, will be getting a cutback from the links. You could also reference this same project and links throughout different blog posts, social swipe ups, etc. So in a nutshell layering links means using one link for multiple purposes to make money! 

iPhonography: Composition & Lighting for Striking Imagery 

We loved this presentation by Linda Holt, who is a professional photographer turned interior designer. She talked about how the “best camera you will ever own is the one you have with you” and how our phones are always with us and we need to take advantage of that. Her main points focused on composition and lighting.

Composition – the way you frame your photo

  • Get your lines straight – use the grid on your phone by going to settings –> camera –> turn on grid
  • Use the rule of thirds for having your subject on one side of the photo
  • Fill the frame with your subject, never zoom in with your fingers – move closer to keep the quality up
  • Check your background – don’t cut off arms at wrist or feet at ankles

Lighting – the most important element of a good photo

  • Natural lighting: daylight, sun, clouds, shade
    • Golden hour – 2 hours after sunrise and 2 hours before sunset, warm and soft
    • Overcast days: colors are more saturated, producing soft even lighting
    • Mid-day: between 10 am and 2 pm on a sunny day, hard shadows
  • Artificial lighting: everything else, lamps, flash, overhead
    • Rooms or things in the room, flat-lays, foot, people, selfies
    • Use natural light from a window, time of day when light is even & bright
    • TURN OFF LIGHTS – it will ruin the photo
    • Flat-lays: white card or reflector, no shadows

What We Learned From The Design Influencer Conference | construction2style


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14 thoughts on “What We Learned From The Design Influencer Conference

  1. It was SO good. Tried to recap as much as I could for you all. πŸ™‚ Hopefully see you next year!

  2. Thank you so much!! You’ll have to go next year, it’s a great conference.

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