Building Your Business: Becoming Trade Savvy

For design professionals, especially for those just starting out or with small practices, the time spent completing vendor applications can quickly add up. That certainly was Harrison Bailey’s experience, a product of Parsons who had teamed with his mother in an Asheville, North Carolina–based firm. “I was going through a magazine and found a new vendor,” he recalls. “I went to the computer and realized I must have done at least 100 a year at the beginning. They’re not that difficult, but you spend 10 to 15 minutes filling them out. At the moment, I realized you should be able to upload one and send it to whomever. You shouldn’t have to do it over and over.” Out of that light bulb moment, TradeSavvy was born.

Bailey floated the idea to his stepfather, a computer industry veteran, who saw its potential. From there, they spent months doing market research and exploring the needs of the designers and vendors. Beyond the challenges of handling dozens of vendor applications, it became clear that a digital service, partiularly one with mobile capabilities, could connect designers to companies out of their home bases. “You have a client with a second home, and you’re not familiar with those local stores. It helps you set up a business relationship and source products,” Bailey explains. On the vendor side, he discovered that plenty of independent small business owners, such as those in his Asheville stomping ground, were interested in developing a trade program but didn’t have the manpower or other wherewithal to facilitate and grow a successful one. “This helps get their products in front of designers in a meaningful way,” he says.

A general availability version of the program just launched a few weeks ago, and the TradeSavvy crew is refining and adding more features in rapid succession. Bailey has his sights set high, he says: “We’re setting out to build a business-to-business scenario that’s as easy as friending someone on Facebook.”

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