The first-ever Designer Showhouse on the Green, benefiting St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and Operation Hope, opened in Fairfield, Connecticut, on September 19. Ellie Cullman of ...
Wecora, an interative tool that allows professional designers to create and share electronic room plans with clients, contractors and vendors, launched in beta last December and is now in full swing. The tool enables clients to comment directly on the board while generating shopping lists, a categorized image library and budget sheets. The boards can be accessed anywhere and anytime with all the project information accessible online as well as via smartphones, allowing designers to discuss every aspect of the project in real-time.
This aspect of the tool was key for interior designer and co-founder Stephanie Dixon, who was hired by Josh Lippiner (the other co-founder) for a design project. The pair decided to embark on a journey to make the design process more flexible and accessible.
Stephanie Dixon and Josh Lippiner
This reporter chatted with Dixon, who runs the site alongside Lippiner, to get the full scoop on Wecora.
What was the inspiration behind creating this tool?
Josh, being the entrepreneurial businessman that he is, felt that there just HAD to be a better way of connecting with designers, collaborating on projects, etc. While I still loved designing, I was overwhelmed with the hours taken from my day (and now my daughter) doing the “business side of design.” We quickly learned that most designers in the industry, just like myself, were desperate to make their days go further, seeking a “better” way to work, and even more importantly, a “better” way to communicate with those whom they were working with.
Josh and I began focusing 100% of our efforts into creating an online, collaborative tool that would enable designers to do what they love doing (actually being creative and designing!) and stop wasting time doing everything else that seemed to suck the time from their days (searching through endless client emails, trying to remember how many yards of a fabric they needed, spending hours making presentation boards to show to clients, etc.) After years of having my own business, I knew all to well these frustrations and was beyond excited to be a part of developing a solution.
Why the name Wecora?
Josh dreamt it up. Wecora = collaborative design/décor. Design is SUCH a WE type of process, it takes a village to pull off designs from conception to completion. We + DÉCOR + the A just to sound fancy.
What was missing from the market that you think this site now fills?
Two things—the professional tool for designers and the bridge between the professionals and the consumers.
For the professional tool, it truly felt as though designers were often “chiseling stones with pencils”… we were getting there, but in a way that if we just had the sufficient tools, would get there a heck of a lot faster. Even though other systems existed out there for putting together project concepts, there wasn’t anything that then took those concepts, allowed for collaboration on them, and them even let the designer execute them in a fluid manner. Other tools weren’t built exclusively for the designer in mind, so clients and designers could both be operating out of the same platform—designer had nothing unique to bring to the table in regards to working platform. Every decision we make is with the designer in mind, from protecting their product and pricing info to giving them settings that can be set according to how their business operates.
As far as the bridge between designers and clients, prior to designers being able to offer the experience of working through Wecora to their clients, the whole design process seemed to have this intimidating and mysterious stigma attached to it. Clients were at the mercy of the designer being able to carefully articulate the visions that existed only in their heads instead of having a place to get excited and confident and to confirm those visions in a visual representation. The clients now don’t have to wonder where they’re at in the process of projects, if the contractors doing their jobs are in alignment with what the designer is presenting, etc. The documented collaboration approach puts everyone’s minds at ease greatly. Clients are excited, engaged, and along for the ride!
Who are your competitors?
While there are other sites that initially seem almost “competitors” to Wecora, we realize more and more that we have created a product that is in a category of its own. There are several other systems out there that do allow designers to put together design boards, but those sites are not built exclusively for the design professional. We felt that if clients had access to the very same system that our designers did, this diluted the power of this tool that only the designer can bring to the table. Also, with our system, the designer has full control. They decide what pricing and product details are visible and even who can view the boards.
Our system also pairs creativity with collaboration. Most of our designers never feel the need to email with their clients or contractors again. All communication is done in a secure place of documentation directly on their boards.
Designers can sign up on Wecora.com at the single designer price of $25 per month or the firm price of $50 per month.