12/19/09

Time For a Change


Change is a very scary word to most builders, especially when there is a cost associated with it. One of the objections I hear many times when looking at existing models and communities that aren't doing well is that because it's been slow they don't want to invest any more money into a community.

@home Builders is doing well in this economy because they understand marketing and their buyers. When sales slowed down to three in a year at The Preserve they realized it was time for a change. The Home Idea Factory did the first two models and as a Lifestylist I had done my homework on what these buyers were looking for. Entertaining at home, taking advantage of the four seasons living that took place around the beautiful pond, river, and forests in the community and families were definitely the focus.

The new model and sales center have been a huge success! Last month they sold 8 homes and now they are taking reservations in the next phase instead of having to offer incentives. If your sales have stalled, the right course of action might be to see if your model, plans, and lifestyle you are displaying are still on trend or if it might be time for a change. The Home Idea Factory can come in and help you with this evaluation to see what is the best approach at the right cost.

11/6/09

Getting Blind Sided by the USA Film Festival

One of the great benefits of being a member of the USA Film Festival is the incredible screenings that you are invited to all year long. Most of the films haven't opened at the theaters yet and many have people from the film in attendance. I was able to go and see Julie and Julia a few months ago and absolutely loved it, so when I got an invitation for The Blind Side I thought it looked like a great evening.

It's so easy to have a pity party these days - unemployment everywhere, businesses and clients going out of business, foreclosures... just when you think you have it bad there's a great film like this to snap you out of it and remind you what life is all about. It is a true story that takes place in Memphis and some of it is about a part of Memphis that I've driven through on my way to doing home shows in Tunica. Poverty is everywhere, it's just many of us chose to ignore it.

Sandra Bullock plays the mother in this film and she was absolutely incredible! This film will change any perception that you have of her, and I really believe her performance is Oscar-worthy. Director and Texas native John Lee Hancock was in attendance and delightful.What's so cool about USA Film Festival screenings is that after the film the guests typically hold Q&A sessions and you get to hear inside stories about the actors and what was involved in making the film. Really great stories about Sandra Bullock and it was wonderful to know what a true professional she is and how much she made sure to stay true to the real person she was playing.

The film opens on November 20th, and is from Warner Brothers. If nothing else, make this the film your family goes and sees Thanksgiving evening - it will change the way you look at the holidays.

10/12/09

I almost met Oprah at the Texas State Fair

Oprah at Fair 6Oprah at Fair 10Fair Ribbons 11Fair Ribbons 5Today was a very exciting day. One of the ways as a Lifestylist I search out trends and try to understand what today's buyer is looking for is by being a part of the Great State Fair of Texas. Some years I enter the Creative Arts contests - especially cooking. You'd be amazed how much you can learn about people and their lifestyles by sitting with them and chatting while we wait for the judging to be over and those coveted ribbons to be handed out. This was a great day - my second red ribbon and a blue! I love giving back and sharing, so when my competitions are over I share my remaining goodies with the parking lot attendants, ticket takers and fair workers. Ribbon or not, they are always very appreciative of what I make.

This year has been more exciting than most because Oprah is taping at the State Fair and they have been doing a lot of taping in the Creative Arts Building which is where we hang out. We saw a lot of people walking around with crew passes today and I asked someone if I could take a photo of theirs - they actually let me hold it! Why was that important to me? I have so much respect and admiration for Oprah - I can't think of anyone who gives back as much as she does, and we have the connection of rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Katrina - I worked on over 2,500 Katrina Cottages and she made a huge personal investment of getting people back into homes after the storms. If you have spent any time there you know how important that work still is.

So as we were walking out of the building getting ready to pass out my remaining entries who should be in front of us but Oprah and Company! It was so exciting, and I ran up to her car to try to get a better look - she looks AMAZING in person by the way - I saw someone in her car so asked if I could give her my blue ribbon. They said that was very sweet but I should keep it, but I gave them some of my caramels. I believe in sharing with everyone. I was honored that they were so excited about my goodies, and now can't wait to see the show after they tape it. I didn't get to meet her, but you just never know what tomorrow might bring.

7/25/09

Social Networking


Every day I'm realizing how important the new ways of communicating are becoming. Think about how much "snail" mail you get each day and how it's changed from letters and handwritten envelopes to junk mail and catalogs. My handwriting has become awful because I'm always on the computer! That's what being a Lifestylist® is all about - zeroing in on how people's lifestyles are changing and how that effects that way they live, work and play.

As part of these changes , Twitter, Facebook, and my blogs are the first thing I do (besides pour a huge cup of Tim Horton coffee) in the morning. Then I read all of the emails that came in overnight and check my favorite blogs and online publications to see what's new in the world.

To address these changes I have a new Facebook page that anyone can become a fan of and I would love to have you join us! Some of the great features of this page will be the discussions and my Inspiration photos - you can see what I'm seeing visually as trends and changes.

I'm really looking forward to a new way to interact with my peers and clients and friends- I hope that you'll become an active part of the network.

7/23/09

Referrals are Priceless

Nothing can hurt or help more than words and they are something that's truly priceless.

I was checking my LinkedIn page today and saw that a few people had given me recommendations including Sam Weidner Jr who was the VP of Patriot Homes and who had written the following:

"I have had the honor and the privilege to see a true artist at work. I hired Suzanne Felber to help Patriot Homes take a new, innovative, and aggressive role in helping redefine manufactured homes as people knew them. Without question she tackled that task with enthusiasm, and a creative vigor unlike anyone had seen in our industry at the time. Suzanne has a brilliant mind for knowing design trends and how to present her designs in a way that attracts buyers from all walks of life. With her help Patriot was able to win over 9 housing design awards including an award for best marketing campaign awarded by the NAHB. If you want your products to look the best the hire the best, Suzanne Felber."
Service Category: Professional Lifestylist
Year first hired: 2002
Top Qualities: Great Results, Good Value, Creative

It's one thing when you think that you have given a job your all, but when you receive something like this out of the blue it makes you want to go out and work that much harder, and give that client a big hug!

I'm honored to have worked with Sam and his company, and I'm looking forward to working with him even more in the future!

7/16/09



Whirlpool has made a huge commitment to building green and the sustainable energy movement. As part of their Green Touch Program they recently awarded Centex Homes an Excellence in Sustainability Award.

"The method in which homes are built makes a major impact on the community and the world. While many builders are just learning sustainable building practices, Centex is acting as an excellent role model, representing the future of residential building," said Tom Halford, general manager of contract sales and marketing at Whirlpool Corporation.

Centex Energy Advantage homes include a suite of energy-efficient features installed as standard nationwide, including Whirlpool and KitchenAid brand appliances in the kitchen and laundry room. According to a study commissioned with the NAHB Research Center, these homes are up to 22 percent more efficient than comparable new homes built to the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code, the most widely used energy efficiency code. When compared to a typical 10-year-old home, as defined by the U.S. Department of Energy's Building America Program, the Centex Energy Advantage homes in the study were shown to be up to 40 percent more energy-efficient.*

Congratulations Centex!

As a Green Lifestylist® I'm in love with Whirlpool's Energy Star products and their exhibit at the IBS Show motivated me to start planning my own sustainable kitchen here in the Home Idea Factory.



Whirlpool Corporation Commends Centex as 'Excellence in Sustainability' Award-Winning Builder

7/5/09

Homearama is Back in Rochester



Where did the year go? It’s hard to believe that once again it’s time for Homearama in Rochester, NY. We had so much fun last year, and the best part was that @home Builders was able to raise a lot of money for the local Ronald McDonald House.

The Home Idea Factory was honored to be the Lifestylist® for the first Ronald McDonald / Homearama House and as always David Riedman and @home Builders was the first builder to step up to the plate. This year @home Builders will be building a “Barkitecture” home that will also be shown and sold at Homearama. As someone that runs a sanctuary for animals I applaud the Rochester Home Builders Association and @home Builders for making people aware of how many animals need homes.

Lollypop Farm is a wonderful organization that helps put loving pets and families together – congratulations to the Rochester Home Builders Association for this wonderful partnership.

Make a difference – attend Homearama and purchase some of the incredible items that Ronald McDonald House has for sale or bid on the @home Builders pet mansion. With your help we can make a big difference!

4/21/09

The Green Evolution

So you say you want an evolution... well it looks like the Green Evolution is here, and here to stay. No matter what industry you are in, everyone seems to be getting on “The Green Train”. But what does this really mean to you, and the world you live in?

Defining Green is not an easy task, and the definition seems to be changing every day and mean different things to different people. It can be as simple as putting your trash in the appropriate container or as complex as an off-grid solar home. The important thing is that you do something and incorporate a green lifestyle into the way you live today and in the future.

I heard an excellent example this week at the Manufactured Housing Conference where we were blessed to have Mark LaLiberte as a speaker. He used the example of a green builder in Connecticut who was bragging about the great granite he was able to get inexpensively in China. Being that New Hampshire - the granite state - borders Connecticut Mark asked why he didn’t source the product there. Sometimes we have to look at issues besides price - think about all of the energy that was wasted getting the product from China as well as the jobs locally he might have saved - and those employees that might have become customers - and to me it puts a different spin on how we forgo value for price many times.

I see the greening of America as being an evolution instead of a revolution because it’s not going to happen overnight, but if everyone starts asking the question about what their choices are going to mean for ours and our families quality of life in the future hopefully we can start turning things around.

3/6/09

The Ultimate Fan

I have a favor to ask of all of you that really doesn't have anything to do with this blog but it does - my 10 year old nephew is learning an important lesson about marketing and the power of the internet.

Sam lives in Oklahoma City and is the ultimate sports fan - he is crazy about the OKC Thunders and goes dressed to show his support to almost every game. His parents have always been wise enough to let Sam find his own calling, so his enthusiasm (and his outfits) are all his idea. Because of this, Sam was nominated to be part of the Ultimate Fan Finale.

He is also a great well rounded child (and I am a proud aunt!),does very well in school and loves to cook with me - we entered the State Fair of Texas Cooking contests this year and Sam won two 2nd place ribbons!

If Sam wins this contest he gets to go to Boston and see his team play there as well as learn some valuable history lessons when he gets to tour the city.

Please help me encourage Sam to follow his dreams. The link for where to vote on the NBA site is here, and you can vote was many times as you would like. Most of the others that are up for this honor are adults so I'm even more proud of what he's accomplished. Please vote for Sam Davis and vote often!

2/14/09

Savor Dallas

I'm so excited that it's almost time for Savor Dallas! This is the 5th year for the event, and I'm proud to say that I've attended every one and wouldn't miss it this year for anything.

This two day event features the best in food and wine, and it's the perfect opportunity to sample those wines that you've always wanted to try. As a Lifestylist® I always view this as a great opportunity to find out what the latest trends are in food, wine and beverages as well. Last year there was a grapefruit infused vodka that they mixed with grapefruit juice that was fantastic - not too sweet, and the perfect option for a unique spin on a Mimosa.

wp-boxes1tartsPhotographer Lisa Stewart is responsible for the photography of this event - be sure to take a look at her images from previous year and I promise you you'll wish Savor started tomorrow!

Alas, the event won't be held until March 6th and 7th in the Victory area, Arts District and downtown Dallas. If you can't wait until then to sample what will be offered this year be sure to take a look at th elist on the Savor Dallas site of who will be attending. There are also "Tasting Notes" by some of the wines that will be offered that will give you a preview of what to expect. Tickets can be purchased on the website for all of the events.