Agents of Change
Laura Van Zeyl

If anyone still needed proof that ART - The Creative Home Furnishings Network had graduated to a new level of relevance in the home décor market, last week’s ART Conference in Miami provided plenty of compelling arguments. Held at The Palms Hotel & Spa May 7-10, the event offered some big-name presenters, but more importantly it also put forth some big ideas for growing our businesses individually and collectively.

Speakers included interior design icon Alexa Hampton, marketing legend Roy Spence, Gen Y expert Jason Dorsey, strategic partnership architect Ira Blumenthal and 7-Eleven’s Senior Director of Digital Guest Experience Mike Debnar, who talked about how to create a company culture that encourages innovation.

“Innovation: Taking Your Business From Great to Exceptional” was the overall theme of the conference. Although covering different topics from a variety of angles, several sessions spurred a common call to action: to not just embrace change and respond to it to ensure survival, but to be a catalyst for actually creating our own change and lead the market into exciting and lucrative new territory. Along the way, we may find surprising new allies to complement our strengths and behind it all, we will be most successful if we have a defined higher purpose to improve the lives of the people we serve.

Speaking of a higher purpose, in lieu of a service project during conference this year, ART donated $5,000 to Dwell With Dignity, an organization that partners with agencies assisting families transitioning out of homelessness to furnish and design attractive living spaces. Dwell With Dignity’s Lisa Robison and Kim Turner also spoke at the conference’s opening night dinner about their plans to take their Dallas-based model to more cities — and the funds, facilities, transportation, goods, staff and volunteers necessary to make that a reality.

Many of the “conscious capitalists” in attendance at this year’s conference left with a renewed optimism about what was possible on many fronts, with passions sufficiently stoked to provide both the inspiration and perspiration required to get there. I’ll be eager to see what results from this powerful program. And if you don’t want to be left behind, I encourage you to join ART.

About this author

Laura Van Zeyl

Laura Van Zeyl is the Publisher/Editorial Director of Residential Lighting and Home Fashion Forecast magazines, and has been covering the lighting and home furnishings industries since 1993. In 2014, she was named one of "100 Women of Inspiration" by Today's Chicago Woman magazine.

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