By Taryn Pearce
As a first-time entrant to the VISION Design & Workroom Competition Awards last year, Keely Hersh, owner of Right at Home Interiors in Placerville, CA, submitted her designs into three categories—and won in all three. She took home first place in the Decorative Hardware & Trims category and second place in both Curtains & Draperies and Top Treatments.
There were many beautiful entries to the competition, so what helped set Hersh apart? Her answer: The submission process itself.
Keely took a detailed approach to her submissions, ensuring that her final applications in each category showed her designs in the best possible light. Here, Hersh shares her best tips to help first-time and returning VISION Design & Workroom Competition Awards entrants create stunning applications that can help their designs stand out.
Get professional photos
“The professional photos were really what gave me the freedom to enter this year,” says Hersh. “I had thought about entering in different years but whenever I’d think about it, I’d say, ‘I don’t have professional photos. I can’t do this without professional photos—it says it right in the rules.’
“In 2019, however, I started getting professional photos done in order to put better pictures on my website. So then I had the photos I needed to enter the competition. My photographer even helped me submit the photos as digital images in the right sizes according to Window Fashion VISION’s specifications.”
Match each project to the right category
Even if a project fits in multiple categories, chances are there’s one thing about it that really stands out. Hersh read the individual descriptions for each category very closely so she could do the best job of matching projects to the correct category.
Read the guidelines carefully
“The guidelines talk a lot about how to prepare your stories. They had words like inspiration, client needs, details and fabrics,” says Hersh. “I highlighted them all so as I was working on the written portion of the application, I could look back to see if I was answering the questions for each room description.”
She also reviewed the section called “How the Judges Judge” so she could emphasize things she knew the judges would pay close attention to.
Use a professional writer
“I asked my regular content writer to help me put together and polish the pieces for the application,” Hersh says. “We worked together to make sure we had all the components that the judges would be looking for in each written piece. Having my writer there to work with me on the applications helped me to tell a better story about my designs.”
Keep good records
The application requests that entrants include source information for each project. Hersh didn’t keep all the names of suppliers, colors, patterns and other details in each client’s project folder, so that took some extra work. She recommends keeping source information in a client’s file, or making sure you leave enough time to do that research before you submit your application.
A final piece of advice
Hersh encourages every designer to enter the competition and give it their best shot. “Just go for it,” she says. “Remember that what you put together for your submission will also become marketing materials that you can use on your blog, website, Instagram and all kinds of other places. I’m still using mine over and over again and will continue to do so. Whether or not you win, if you create a truly beautiful submission, it’s still useful, and you should be proud of it.”
View a list of last year’s winners of the VISION Design and Workroom Competition Awards here.