Creative Genius Podcast

Season 7 Episode 10

How to Fail at Business and Other Tips for Success (David Farris)

How to Fail at Business and Other Tips for Success (David Farris)

Highly successful entrepreneurs frequently comment on how many failures they suffered and recovered from along the path to making it big. No one wants to fail. Yet, many businesspeople will say they learned more from failure than from success. Rebounding from failure also gave them the courage to keep trying new things, which eventually led to discovery, innovation and making their mark.

In this podcast, Erin talks with David Farris, president and CEO of Ted Scott Designs, a custom upholstery design firm in High Point, North Carolina. David came to the upholstery business almost accidentally after having pursued several other previous careers. That diverse background helped him to bring a fresh perspective to the business and how he manages the factory.

David began by explaining that Ted Scott Designs is a direct-to-designer-only business, offering true custom services, including build-to-order pieces according to a designer’s specifications. The majority of their clients, he said, are small, independent designers who may buy only one piece at a time.

David talked about the process involved in creating custom pieces and why there often are long lead times involved. He encouraged designers to tour a factory so they can see for themselves all the steps and craftsmanship that go into producing the final product.

Although clients sometimes may balk at how long they have to wait to get a custom item, David emphasized that for interior designers, “custom is where you can make a lot of money.” The designer’s creativity and style results in a unique piece that can command a substantial mark-up.

David explained that he has created a firm culture that puts his people first. The heart and soul of the business, they are both artists and craftspeople who must learn how to perform many different tasks involved in creating each type of furniture. Rather than making employees conform to a manufacturing routine, he chose to find a way to make production work around them to give them more autonomy and flexibility in their work schedules. While he cannot afford to provide employees with many costly benefits, he has created a workplace environment that few would give up for higher compensation.

Erin asked David what advice he had for listeners. He said to learn to get over your fear of failure. Instead, contemplate failure. Make a plan for how you will get past or recover from failure, and then take risks and try new things. Fear of failure, he said, leads people to make bad decisions that they falsely think will help them avoid failure. It also stifles creativity.

To hear what other advice David had for business and personal success, what designers need to know in order to properly order custom furniture, and how a career as a flight attendant prepared him to lead a custom upholstery company, listen to the entire podcast.

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Mentioned in This Podcast

To learn more about Ted Scott Designs, view their product lines, and how to order, visit the company’s website at

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