Thursday, June 08, 2006

"Slipcover Career Professional"

I just looked at the featured business, Big Improvement - the website has a seal that says Slipcover Career Professional. What's that all about?
As far as I know there is no longer a seal for certified upholsterers, and I'm not a drapery person. This intrigues me, looks classy!
By the way - I delivered a slipcover yesterday for a chaise lounge. The lady was so happy she hugged me. I love those kind of customers! (also the kind that run out to the backyard and pick a pint of raspberries for you to take home! is it the midwest, or are people that nice all over?)


Dede in Mass said...

Kim, $1124 and six days of your life is all it takes to become A Slipcover Career Professional! Check out:

Seriously, anyone can establish a set of standards and grant certification based on completion (or maintenance) of those standards. Design a nice looking seal and... ta-da!

Does look good, though. *sigh*

Shirley Hendry Walsh said...

I think there's no profit in making a negative comment about the value. It does raise questions in my mind. I think most of us who learned alone used what amounts to science. We tested. I don't think you can hand off that mindset. The package per se implies they are done or ready. I don't doubt they leave feeling confident, they should. I wouldn't want them to avoid further learning as if it would of course only be redundant. I have been told that new learners cannot use what I teach, I think that may or may not be true. It all comes back to the learning persons predisposition to be scientific. I personally could never hear enough, the learning is never complete.

Shirley Hendry Walsh said...

I sound a little like I am saying I walked six miles everyday to school up hill in both directions in the snow and milked the cows first. We do have to start somewhere and I applaud that they start. Why should it be hard or lonely ? On the other hand, when you make a mistake, you are alone, and you must employ a problem solving approach. We can all learn from one anothers problems and solutions, every year.

Dede in Mass said...

I'm not dismissing the value of CHF certification; I apologize for giving that impression (which, on preview, I clearly did).

What I'm trying to say is, any entity can declare itself a certification body simply by establishing a set of guidelines and requirements. Some entities have strict guidelines and narrow requirements for achieving certification; others don't. Some certifications have limited (if any) value; others are immensely important.

Cheryl Strickland saw a need, and established a school to meet those needs. I don't know at what point she developed certification criteria for Slipcover Professional, but she is to be commended for, again, seeing a need and meeting it. Is this education valuable? Absolutely. Is the CHF Slipcover Certification valuable? To some extent, because it indicates you have completed a given set of relevant courses. (Yes, I realize this is Margie Nance's operation now, but Cheryl established it.)

If we, as a group, wished to do the same, we could do it TOMMOROW - establish, say, a Certificate of Advanced Slipcovering. Or, develop criteria for Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master level Slipcover Professionals. I notice Scot Robbins has no problem refering to himself as "Master Artisan" although no such title exists in the home decorating industry.

Titles have value, if only in the mind of a potential customer. Or as a way of discerning your personal level of professional comfort. These things are important and relevant, and have a definite place in the field. But, they are not necessary. Education and training are not the issues here; a strong, solid foundation is important REGARDLESS of where you obtained it, and REGARDLESS of any piece of paper you might be given. The CHF Slipcover Professional program appears to be an excellent learning experience, possibly the best comprehensive program available - CHF certification simply indicates you showed up for classes. THAT'S what I meant by "anyone can establish a set of standards and grant certification based on completion... of those standards."

Should the slipcover industry have defined and rigid standards? That's a discussion for another day.

Shirley Hendry Walsh said...

sorry, I meant I'd hoped I didn't sound negative. Anyone can invest a lot of money and do this (lol) >

I always confuse everyone anyway.

I am with you on the last question. Who said they are alike anyway ? I don't LIKE uniformity..

Dede in Mass said...

Oh, no Shirely - I was apologizing for coming off like I thought CHF certification was worthless. I DON'T think that at all; it just took me six paragraphs to explain.

Man, am I long-winded...

Shirley Hendry Walsh said...

okay, let's say what we are saying: that a somewhat mildly rival organization has a package. Packaging is essential PR, it's also illusion. Just like ( for instance ) college nursing doesn't teach you real world nursing ( personal experience ) there's nothing like getting slapped around by unruly furniture and misbehaving fabric. At the Summit we swap stories and real strategies about how to bring this unruly real world under control.

Dede in Mass said...

" okay, let's say what we are saying: that a somewhat mildly rival organization has a package."

Comparing CHF to the Slipcover Summit is, well... apples to oranges. CHF is a six-day, comprehensive slipcover program; the Summit does have introductory classes but is primarily concerned with continuing education.

WE LOVE CHF GRADUATES! Without them, we are incomplete as an industry. Learn the basics at CHF - it's a great way to start! Then, come to the Summit and expand your real world knowledge. :)

Kim said...

Well, it's a cool seal, and the completion of the program certainly shows a desire to be a professional and a commitment of sorts. There are plenty of professional organizations who offer their "seal" of approval upon payment..."member of blah blah..." Membership granted upon verification of certain training or other standards of the profession.
I COULD be a master artisan :)
Shirley, I wasn't exactly a beginner but you were the first "professional" to teach me (in St. Louis) and boy did I learn a lot!! The most important thing? You validated that any road you travel is correct if it gets you to your destination!
Dede have loads of fun at the summit, take notes and report back!!! :)

Angie said...

I took the basic class at CHF when Karen was teaching and I must say it did give me a great deal of confidence that I could do this. BUT! I knew that there was way more to learn. My next learning experience was with Shirley and my head is still swimming from that.

My DH also took the installer and cornice/headboard career professional and was impressed with both. That being said, no one so far has been impressed with the seal.

I do feel that there is a place for all educational opportunities and would never pass up any that came my way.

Dede in Mass said...

Shirley, Kim, and Angie - I just have to say...

You kind ladies are among the most tactful and articulate I've ever met.

Shirley Hendry Walsh said...

this is not PC but over the years when students get hard to find to fill slots, strategies change, and on occaison some ideas have been put down. I continue to embrace all the ideas, I think the ideas are not at fault. Cooperation is certainly nicer, and I see hope here that cooperation is the new strategy. It is apples and oranges after all.

Karen said...

Hi all I am late to this posting. I have been away traveling for the last 3 weeks to and from Arizona.

As far as a seal of professional, there is no way one can learn what it takes to be a slipcover pro in 1 week...

There needs to be on going education and learning just as in any trade. Day in and day out. Pat Reese has the right idea and on going training program.

Shirley I beg to differ about folks not needing to learn what you know. If someone is going to be in this businesses they need to know many methods and many approaches to slipcovering.

1)Different methods works best for different furniture..

2)They need to know the different types of furniture and how to approach each type..

3)They need to understand fabric, and what to expect from it, and what works best for what type of furniture.

4)Did you know architects earn a 4 year degree, and then intern for 3 years? Total of 7 years before going out into the real world. I am not saying that slipcovering is studying architecture, but folks need to have history, methods, understand furniture to be real professionals.

A Slipcover Professional Certificate really cannot be done in one week no matter how much money one pays.

My thoughts..

Dede in Mass said...

"A Slipcover Professional Certificate really cannot be done in one week no matter how much money one pays."

That's the point, though. CHF developed and owns the term therefore they get to decide what it means, which is: you took a six-day course at the CHF Academy.

The Slipcover Network could develop such a certificate tomorrow (if we really wanted to). Let's face it - that CHF seal looks really classy. If our members want the perceived legitimacy of a professional seal, we need to develop our own seal and decide what it actually means and who has the right to display it. Cheryl Strickland figured this out a long time ago.

Shirley Hendry Walsh said...

if you are good at what you do, people will be hounding you, tapping on your bathroom window when you refuse to answer the phone ( when they find your unlisted number ). I do agree there needs to be a portal, through which dearly paid for advertising draws a large potential slipcovering crowd and gets them into the funnel. WE are the funnel. This is too much fun, I have WORK to do !

Angie said...

It has been my experience that while a nice looking seal may generate some interest in the buying public, what really counts is what can you do for them. If you can't solve their problem or meet their needs, then the seal is useless.

I agree that CHF has developed a nice marketing move with the career professional, but that is only the beginning.

I certaintly want to learn all there is to know about slipcovering and want it NOW!


Dede in Mass said...

I personally think the Summit approach is a more effective way of offering continuing education than coursework leading to, say, an advanced certificate.

I'm in favor of developing a seal (for anyone who wants one for websites, business cards, etc.) for people who participated in a Summit. Something classy, of course! (I don't know what it might look like, but the tacit meaning might be, "I actively seek out educational opportunities that enhance and increase my skills.")

I don't know if I'd use it, but I'd be willing to chip in for a graphic artist to work on it. Is anyone else remotely interested?

Anonymous said...

Hi all!
I'm late in joining this discussion, and I don't even know if I have a login. So, this is Agnes Smith in Florida :).

While I agree that having a seal/certificate/title/piece of paper of some sort is not the ultimate goal, I would really like our industry to have such a program. Not just 6 days, not just 6 weeks. But classes with tests, testing our knowledge in the multitude of skills we need would be a great thing.
It would also be good for the consumers, as right now, it is daunting for them. How do they know that they can trust us to do a great job? Someone mentioned architects... that is a profession that is very regulated, and I think it is a good thing. Just like in most states, an interior designer has to have certain credentials. It does not mean that they are better than others, that they're most honest, but it does give the public a starting point.

Looking forward to meeting everyone in AZ!