Leading up to the International Window Coverings Expo, we asked Window Fashion VISION columnist Kathryn Dillon with Kathryn Dillon Drapery & Design to profile some of our seminar and Workroom Central instructors. She went at it through an interesting lens: How do these people give generously to their students? We think you’ll enjoy their insights.

Ann Johnson

Ann Johnson began her workroom in 1992 and learned through lots of trial and error, and by searching through the “Singer Sewing for the Home” and Merrick & Day books. She wrote two books on swags that, along with the Parkhill Swags & Tails System, are the industry standard for swag fabrication techniques. Ann began teaching in 2004 and is known for her workroom efficiency class. Her goal is to help workroom owners become profitable quickly by teaching them the skills and processes that allow them to let go of inefficient habits and encourage them to think creatively. She aims to teach everything she knows about a topic and then stay in touch by email so she can continue to help students overcome their project challenges.

LuAnn Nigara, Window Works

LuAnn Nigara learned the window treatment business through being a Window Works franchise owner with her husband and cousin, along with on-the-job training. In February 2016, LuAnn began the wildly popular “A Well-Designed Business” podcast because she saw the need for education for the business side of our industry. Through this podcast, she and her guests have helped listeners be better business owners. She believes that being a generous instructor is giving her absolute best, which includes knowing when it is time to connect the person with another coach when they are ready for another level or another type of business coaching. LuAnn’s love for teaching sales and helping business owners rewrite the money stories in their heads is evident when you experience one of her classes or listen to her podcast. luannnigara.com

Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith’s dad had a car upholstery business and most of the women in her family did some type of needlework, so when she began her second career as a workroom owner, she felt right at home. When she and Rose Mary LeBlanc released the Seamless Workroom series, they realized that many people needed basic workroom education and instruction. She believes it’s very important to learn the marketing and financial sides of business along with how to handle employees if you want your business to grow and be successful. For Amanda, who also has a business called Sew Unordinary, being a generous instructor involves being “willing to explain in detail and then continue to explain as many times as necessary until the skill is obtained.”

Sandra Van Sickle

After a career in the corporate world as a trainer, Sandra Van Sickle had the opportunity to work in a workroom. She was fortunate to receive on-the-job training from her colleagues during a time when people were very possessive about their knowledge and did not readily share information. Sandra has a passion for technology as well as teaching business owners that they can make a living doing what they love. She was able to marry these passions through a monthly webinar for the WCAA Virtual Chapter with Marge Nance, and her own show, Live with Sandra V. For Sandra, being a generous instructor means she will thoroughly research a topic and then teach everything she knows. She likes to teach a variety of methods and then let students choose which they prefer.


Michele Williams

Michele Williams with Scarlet Thread Consulting has an enthusiasm about the interior design and home furnishings industry that is contagious. She has a heart to teach and empower business owners, especially around the financial aspects of business. In her courses, “Pricing Without Emotion: Understanding Your Financials and Master Your Profit,” she breaks down the financials into bite-size pieces. Michele believes that “if we do great work but are not financially sound (able to pay ourselves and employees, pay taxes, have a profit), we will be miserable.” When she can relieve that stress by teaching good pricing methods, how to understand financials and manage the money, she is in heaven. For Michele, to be a generous instructor is incorporated in her value statement: “To give more than they can ask or imagine they needed. To have an abundance mindset.”