Mother’s Day has a special significance for several home furnishings and interior design professionals who are part of Decorating Den Interiors, North America’s leading in-home decorating service. “Many of our franchise partners have grown their businesses to a size that requires a team, and we’re seeing more and more of those team members being sons or daughters, whose mother started the franchise as a home-based business,” says company CEO and president, Jim Bugg, Jr.
“Nothing expresses confidence in a business more than when the next generation wants to become involved,” Bugg added.
Last year’s top franchise owner, Lisa Landry, of Arlington, Texas, started in her home in 1997. Soon she was in an outside location and her then husband joined her in the business. Today, The Landry Team, comprises 16 people. Among them, her son Tanner handles tech support, and his wife Emily is responsible for marketing and social media. To add to family ties, Lisa’s sister Dawn Taylor is one of the top sales producers/designers worldwide, who is not a franchise owner. Even Lisa’s grandbaby Piper has participated as the beneficiary of an award-winning room design for her nursery.
Nola Shivers, of Nixa, Mo., is another design mother/mentor. She started as decorator with a friend, but took on ownership in 1998 when her friend passed away. Over time, Shivers grew her business to incorporate her husband Pat and then, more recently, their daughter, Jennifer Green, joined the team.
When Patrice Hawkins, of Raleigh, NC, purchased her business in 2004, after retiring from the tax planning division of Bank of America, son Edward was a junior in college and daughter Elizabeth was a senior in high school. After her first year in college, Elizabeth joined her mother working summers and holidays. While in college, she also worked for another Decorating Den Interiors franchise. . This inspired her to change her major to interior design and has been full time in the business since her graduation in 2010. Edward joined the business in 2007 and does installations, marketing, accounting, and handles other customer service.
Sisters Barbara Elliott and Jennifer Ward Woods, of Stone Mountain, Ga., joined forces after Jennifer moved closer to Barbara bringing along decorating experience from working with another Decorating Den Interiors franchise. Today, their team of eight includes Barbara’s daughter, Hope Hall, who is social marketing and brand communication specialist, and niece Trevilla Johnson, administrative assistant.
All of the women above also serve as mentors to other franchise owners in their regions.
Taking over from Mom
Additionally, there are a number of daughters who have followed in their mother’s steps, taking over mom’s business and growing it.
Lisa Delorenzo, of Fredon, NJ, made that leap 22 years ago. Her parents, Gary and Linda Pezzuti, became franchise owners in 1984 and then became regional directors for New Jersey that same year. Lisa started with them in 1987 working in franchise development and helping her mom in the franchse. After Lisa acquired the business in 1994, she and her mom reversed roles for ten years.
In Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Katie Rioux, left a human resources position to join her mother, Connie O’Dwyer, who had owned her franchise since 1992. Katie now runs the business and is consistently one of the top owners in Canada.
Julie Cochran, of Centerville, Ohio, started working with her mom, Mary Zimmerman, helping with office work in 1989, the year Zimmerman opened her business. In 2001, after Julie’s husband passed away, she went full time with her mom and started to also do decorating. When Julie’s brother became ill, their mom became a full-time caregiver and Julie assumed full responsibility for the business. In 2009, Julie purchased the business from her mom.
Another who assumed the baton from mom is Deanna Kovach, of Dover, Del., who followed her mom, Janice Hinzman, into her business. Kovach had left a job with MBNA and was working in a business with her husband when her mom was contemplating selling her franchise in 2005, after operating it for nearly 15 years. Kovach was offered the franchise first and took the offer. She says she continues to rely on her mom’s experience and wisdom and her dad’s help with the books.
And, a daughter-in-law who followed the dream has been Ashley Zerbe, of Palm Harbor, Fla. Her mother-in-law Ruth started her franchise in 1993 and 20 years later signed it over to Ashley.
Debbie Demboski, of the Tampa Bay area of Florida, opened her franchise in 1990 and has involved two generations. Her mother Phyllis has assisted her with administrative activities for the past 20 years and has even assisted another nearby franchise. Demboski’s daughter Sarah began working with her a year ago as a design assistant and will soon be taking on appointments on her own.
It starts at the top
The tone for such family involvement has been set from the top. The late Jim Bugg, Sr. (d.2015) and his wife Carol became active in Decorating Den Interiors in 1984 and soon thereafter became sole owners. Son Jim Bugg, Jr. became involved in franchise development and today serves as CEO and president. Daughter Darlene is events manager and responsible for myriad administrative duties. Daughter Karen and her son Jim Kirlin own and operate a Decorating Den Interiors studio franchise in Kensington, Md. And, a cousin, Vicky Johnson, owns a franchise in the Detroit area.
Daughter Whitney and son Ken have been involved periodically. The youngest participating Bugg, teenage granddaughter Mckenzie, who, inspired by her grandfather’s painting hobby, produced original art for the company birthday card sent to its franchise partners. The front of the cards formerly were a copy of a painting by Jim Bugg, Sr.
Following her husband’s death, Carol continues to serve as vice president and director of design and oversees other aspects of the company. She is currently working on her sixth book on interior decorating, which will feature room designs from Decorating Den Interiors design professionals