Tag Archives: marilyn sygrove

How My Dog Helped My Business

Pets have always been a big part of my life. My Mom was as crazy about animals (and bugs) as I was! When I was born we had Speckles, a large dog that was half Dalmatian and half…who knows what! He was fearless and his post was right beside my playpen. Yep, my fate as a dog-lover was sealed.

As an adult and parent myself, the legacy continued…so when my kids were little they begged me for a dog, and Hershey came into our lives. She was a wonderful rescued Chocolate Labrador Retriever who came to work with me daily, gracing my offices with her cheery presence. Hershey oversaw the business activities from her perch atop the conference table, where she also took her daily nap, greeted vendors, and welcomed clients. All this while doing her main job: alerting us to messengers and deliveries.

So how did my dog Hershey help my business?

Well, most clients who came to visit would pet and make a fuss over her. They were always so delighted to see a furry friend in a business environment. Sometimes I wondered who they actually came to see…me or my dog!

Hershey become the Sygrove Associates mascot and was featured in my monthly newsletter for years. She was always “dressed” to fit the season. For August she may be pictured preparing culinary delights at the grill, spatula in “paw.”


September features Hershey on her way “back to school” on the bus or busy teaching “biscuit math” in the classroom.


November always featured her presiding over a bountiful Thanksgiving table laden with turkey and the fixings. It has been such fun to come up with creative settings that punctuate the feeling for that month. My clients couldn’t wait to see what Hershey would be up to each month.


Then a wonderful thing happened. At the end of a presentation for a large 75-story cooperative building hallway project, I handed each board member a folder containing the requisite information they would need to make a decision. Inside each folder I had added a surprise: a Hershey’s chocolate bar.

“What’s this for?” they asked.

I went on to explain that Sygrove Associates has a very key staff member who is brown, furry and wags her tail. The treat was is my way of honoring Design Dog Hershey. At this, the entire board perked up and chimed in. One by one they told a story of a rescued Wheaton Terrier, Daschund, and even a Heinz 57. Dog lovers, all of them. Right then and there they told me that we got the job!

Never, in all of my years in business, would I have guessed that my dog would be the determining factor in winning a project!

Hey, You never know….

Sadly, after 15 years of service and loving companionship Hershey was laid to rest. We have photos and videos of her but we have an imprint of her paw for posterity. She is forever part of us. Will I ever replace her? That is unimagineable, but I do peek at dogs being walked near me and I size them up and think to myself “ could I adopt again”? I even check out dog rescue websites occasionally but I am not ready……yet.

16Hershey on Valentine’s Day

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4 Secrets To Preparing To Meet With Your Interior Designer


The hard work is over. You’ve finally found the perfect interior designer and you’re ready to get started on your project. Pretty exciting, right? It is exciting! I am going to share some of the secrets I’ve learned as the lead designer on hundreds of projects over the years. Here’s how to prepare for a meeting with your interior designer that will be productive and enjoyable for both of you.

You’ll want to help your designer get into your “head” right away. She (or he) needs to understand the essence of YOU: how you think, what your goals are, your top priorities, etc. Basically, what it is that gets to the core of the space you are dreaming about.

It all starts with a little bit of homework on your part. Take the time for this and the entire process will run much more efficiently and be fun for you and your interior designer.


interior designer
1. Buy Magazines: Visit a newsstand and browse the magazine rack. Purchase the publications that you feel best represents your tastes.

There are so many choices these days, here a few that I love:

  • Architectural Digest
  • Veranda
  • Elle Décor
  • House and Garden
  • Traditional Home
  • Southern Living

Tear out pages or tag the photographs and ads that appeal to you most. I love it when couples use different colored “stickies” to identify their individual selections. Then I can see who thinks what.

Here’s what to look for in magazines:

  • The overall feeling of the room
  • Colors that appeal to you
  • Patterns you like
  • Fabrics that look wonderful
  • Window treatment styles
  • Furniture shapes and styles


interior design tips
2. Use The Internet: The Internet is full of great ways to get inspiration. Here are some ideas:

  • Pinterest: Create “inspiration boards” on this visual social network (so fun!).
  • Houzz: This interior design “social network” has lots of ideas.
  • Check out the online versions of popular interior design magazines.


interior design tips

3. Make a List of What You Do Not Like: It’s just as important for your designer to know what you hate as what you love. Don’t forget this important step.

    • Colors
    • Styles
    • Design periods
    • Materials
    • A type of furniture
    • Certain kinds of artwork
    • Don’t hold back!


Interior designer meeting

4. Have a List of Questions Ready: Brainstorm and record everything you are wondering about in regards to your project. Here are some important ones to put on the list:

  • What will be the sequence of events?
    – During the design phase?
    – During the construction phase?
    – During the finishing phase?
  • How long will each phase of the design take?
  • How will the design implementation directly affect me?
  • Should I plan to go on a long vacation during this time or will you need me?
  • What more is expected of me?


Some More Tips:

  • Always try meet with your designer in your present home. This will give her lots of insight about things that may be hard for you to verbalize. It’s amazing what amusing tidbits can come up! I’ve heard:
    “I’ve hated this sofa ever since it came into this house”
    “I’ve lived with that china cabinet my in-law’s gave us for 20 years and I’m done!”
  • Share with your designer any “interiors experiences” you’ve enjoyed (I’ve coined that expression!). When I hear a comment like this: “We loved staying at this 5-Star hotel in Italy and we want that same feeling” it helps me greatly.


Follow the above tips and you will inspire your designer in ways you don’t even realize! Just be 150% yourself and you will have a life-changing design experience together!

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