Flagstaff Business News reached out to Janet Sweigart, who recently reached a landmark two decades in business as well as being voted “Best of Flagstaff” in Interior Design. The Northern Arizona professional loves being in business for herself and bringing smiles to the faces of clients throughout the region.
1) You’ve been in business in Flagstaff 20 years. How is it you decided to start your company?
It was at a time in my life that my son was still young and I’d been fortunate to be able to have positions in my field that afforded me flexibility for a family life. I was at a point, though, that I wanted to make a change work-wise, yet be able to keep that same flexibility. I remember making a list of the pros and cons of working for someone else again or starting out on my own and felt if I could manage a design showroom, as I’d been doing, I could run my own business and as I’d always pointed out to my son, all these stores and big companies he saw all started out with someone just like him or me having an idea and working to make it succeed. I was fortunate, too, in that I already had clients wanting to work with me independently and at that point just decided to jump in with both feet. I had a supportive family and an amazing child who helped out a lot and it worked.
2) What is your favorite thing about SweigART Designs?
Probably one of my favorite things about SweigART Designs is being the Owner and Principal Designer of it, which allows me to steer the direction of my company and have a professional but close relationship w/my clients. Many of my clients from years ago remain in contact and have me do repeat work for them. It’s been very fulfilling having my own business.
3) In the 20 years you’ve been in business, technology has changed rapidly. How have you stayed ahead of the technological curve and how have the changes helped your clients?
I think one of the main ways technology has helped both my business and clients, is the ability to work w/clients without having to be in the same place at the same time. I can be in showrooms in another city or state and take a photo w/my phone, instantly email it to my clients and talk to them at the same time about it and any decisions that need to be made. That was just unheard of when I first started out in business. When I was designing the remodeling of Wehrenberg Theaters years ago there wasn’t any type of technology w/that rate of speed to have decisions made, etc., and meetings had to be arranged w/managers from their corporate offices flying out to the job sites in Flagstaff much more often than if that same project were being done today.
4) What advice would you give to a person just starting out in business?
Have faith in yourself. Realize that problems or challenges are going to occur and that they do for everyone no matter what path in life or work you choose. It’s how you address and view them that makes the difference. Do your best and give to your work and others the same effort and care you’d expect and want in return.
5) Do you have a favorite project you could describe? What makes it stand out from the others?
I have several favorite projects, with the Wehrenberg theaters being one of them. I designed both the Greentree & Orpheum remodels. I was able to custom design the carpet, selecting every color within it, as well as custom design the lobby’s snack bars and interiors. At the Orpheum, I had the old carpet removed from the entrance and the large sandstone underneath it refinished/restored. It was hard to imagine someone ever wanting to cover that up. And for the grand opening of it, the Monte Vista and Weatherford Hotels both loaned me old historic photos to hang in the lobby, as there wasn’t time or budget to get the same thing done. I think that was a very special project because of the historic significance it holds in our community. In contrast from working on an historic building I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to use an array of design skills when I worked on designing the new building for the law offices of Magnum, Wall, Stoops & Warden. They went from a much smaller building on Birch Ave to the current 12,000 square foot location of which they had built on Birch and Elden. I designed the entire floor plan, lighting/electrical plans, custom furniture, specified the finishes and product and was basically able to work w/a great team, the developer, architect, builder and sub-contractors, from the ground floor on up with that project. It was very fulfilling to see the end result on both of these projects and have clients that were very happy as well.
Anything else you would like to add?
Though I’ve worked on very large projects, I often work on smaller projects as well, both residential & commercial. Kitchen and/or bath designs, or maybe just paint colors, fabrics, window coverings or flooring that needs to be selected. I enjoy all aspects of design and the fulfillment of a completed project big or small and the satisfied, happy client that goes along with it.