Sheila Bridges and Alexa Hampton on Creating a Lasting Design Business

What do design talents Sheila Bridges and Alexa Hampton have in common? AD100 honoree designations, multifaceted design businesses, and industry staying power are among them. Both women have led their interior and product design firms for more than two decades, and have naturally learned many things when it comes to staying relevant—and staying in business—over the years.

Both decorators joined AD digital director David Kaufman this week for AD PRO’s latest Expert Eye event on the topic of “Creating a Lasting Design Business.” Here’s everything they had to say about how to persevere in this ever-changing industry.

Get savvy with saving

Bridges and Hampton spoke about how they navigated past recessions and the lessons that have served them well in the current economic crisis. For both, it really comes down to budgeting smartly. “I like to save,” Hampton says, noting that those savings have allowed her to make payroll for her staff during the pandemic. “That has been a huge help to me now.”

Bridges’s business was hit hard after September 11, and that experience taught her what not to do. “I used a lot of my own personal savings at that time to pay my employees,” she says. “In

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