Posted in Giving Back, The Education of a Kitchen Designer

I’m with Coco!

2010 is looking like a very good year. There I said it. Recession, so what? Last year was probably the toughest of my entire career with jobs downsized, coming to a halt or put on hold indefinitely.  There were so many of us in my industry here in Southern California that never saw it so bad. It felt like a depression. 

So where am I now? I will sum it up by saying I’m with Coco! Yes, I took the lemons life handed me and made lemonade. If Coco can do it, why not me I thought to myself.  

What’s that you ask? If you haven’t been following television media news about The Tonight Show and The Late Show, let’s just say Conan O’Brien relationship with NBC ended abruptly.  In Facebook terms, Conan O’Brien’s relationship with NBC just went from “it’s complicated” to “is single.” ( The Scoop). The same theory that applies in Conan’s relationship applied to me as well. I am not too proud to say I took my lumps this year with lack of work. I have always enjoyed working in  Kitchen and Bath Design Showrooms, but with showrooms barely surviving, I had to figure out how to reinvent myself, take my job skills and love for all things kitchen and bath related and figure out what I could do with all this experience I have. 

My qualifications and skill set doesn’t translate well into medical or insurance work. Now what? 

I got my degree in something else entirely, attended design school soon after that and then learned everything I know about my industry from on the job training and additional courses and studying. I love what I do, but where do I go from here when everything is at a standstill?  I can keep showing up everyday as an independent salesperson but that ain’t paying the bills. 

O’Brien’s public statement goes on to say ” For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky.” 

I too considered myself fortunate for 14 years getting paid to do what I love most, in a world with real problems, I too have been absurdly lucky to have had the opportunities that have come my way. I have learned the business inside and out, from selling plumbing fixtures to helping out in the custom shop learning how to sand, stain and glaze doors. (Thanks L. Landsman! You are the best!), to designing and managing a design showroom. I have done it all and I love it! 

Someone (who does not understand the nature of our business) once asked me why I was concerned about what the plumber was doing. It is because what you do not know puts you in a position for getting in trouble. It’s not that I want to do the contractor’s or plumber’s job, but you have to know the language of the business to communicate with your trades. It’s that simple.  

Although I would like to say I came away with the same $32 million dollar golden parachute that Conan did, I came out of this recession stronger for it and with my sense of humor intact! I scrambled when I saw the market drop out. With the Expo stores closing, thousands out of work and even Home Depot maintaining hiring freeze’s it didn’t look good. I felt like Rose in the movie Titanic holding on to the railing for dear life before the ship went under.  I am proud to say I have worked hard to stay off of unemployment and have taken several temporary part time jobs to keep my self going when times where toughest. 

Despite the hard times of this past year, I have been fortunate to have met many wonderful designers throughout the country, no- strike that, through out the world, and have been fortunate to form lasting friendships. One of the great experiences I had this past winter was being invited as a guest of Brizo to attend the Jason Wu Fashion Show in New York City sponsored by Brizo. I wrote about it here. I am grateful for the experience and I owe Paul Anater of Kitchen and Residential Design a great deal of thanks for being part of that brain storm session that resulted in bringing so many of designers from around the country together for the Brizo event. Paul has the right idea, what you put out there in the world comes back to you. I wish the best success for Paul and for all my Blogger19 pals. It’s really great to be able to share in each others joys and success stories. This is the right type of thinking and has kept me positive during the harder days.

My New Life as a Cabinet Sales Rep. 
First let me say I have nothing but respect for outside sales reps. This is one of the hardest jobs ever. There is a lot of rejection and a lot of competition. But that’s OK because I am in it for the long haul.  I now understand why sales reps just show up unannounced. Otherwise you would never be able to book an appointment with some people. So I am still in the biz., still loving what I do, still passionate about good cabinet design, and excited about meeting so many more great designers to come. My new motto: My goal is to make you look good! I will do what it takes to provide the best service to you as your sales rep. Return your calls and get back to you in a timely manner and make sure you are well represented.

So more news on this blog to come, still on kitchen and bath design, and more news from me but this time from the sales rep’s perspective.

Here’s to Coco!

This blog post is dedicated to a great salesman who just passed away. Lee Lubkin, it was an honor to know you. You touched a lot of lives and you will be missed!  




Laurie Burke, connected to the design and construction industry since 1996. A seasoned residential kitchen and bath design specialist , Laurie has designed thousands of kitchens & baths as well as other cabinetry projects requiring technical precision in design drafting utilizing state of the art 2020 software for creating accurate plans and elevations. Through on- going product knowledge training and a desire to always stay current with an evolving marketplace, Laurie Burke maintains a strong command of knowing the appropriate Fit & Finish materials required for a residential remodel to meet the budget, the timeline of a project and a client's need for a finished product that meets their satisfaction. Kitchen Designer by trade, foodie, techie, weekend traveler for fun. For more information contact me at

3 thoughts on “I’m with Coco!

  1. I am with Coco too! 🙂 It has been hard on all of us. Last year was a rough one and many people have suffered greatly, but I am confident that we will all look back on this time and be grateful in some way for all the changes that occurred.Like the formation of B19! And getting the chance to meet you! 🙂


  2. I think so too, we have seen the worst and I have seen a spike in new jobs coming through the pipeline. Right back at ya, it's a pleasure knowing you too!


  3. Hey, you never know. My wife has been in management in human resources for over twenty years. She was laid off a year-and-a-half ago and is still looking for work because nobody can get a job in this economy. So, it’s been a pretty depressing time. In some regards. On the other hand we have found that we can get by on considerably less income, and we very much enjoy our time together. And now I am in the process of reinventing myself, working on a new business venture, custom picture framing. We have a lot of fantasies about where we would like to go with it, but if you just get through life with your values and your relationships and your sense of humor intact, you end up so much stronger than you ever thought you would be. I don’t know who first said, “Do what you love, the money will follow,” but it is beginning to ring very true for us.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s