Mentoring the Next Generation

“I had so many people mentor, teach, and guide me when I was in my teens and 20s that I felt like it was important for me to do the same.” - Manny Makkas

According to a report from Global Market Insights, the curtain and blind market exceeded $20B in 2022 and is projected to surpass $30B by 2032. With over 40,000 interior designers in the US, the industry is valued at $25 billion. That means there’s room for growth and success, evident by the continuous stream of new designers entering the market. The current landscape presents a significant opportunity for guiding, mentoring, and shaping processes and approaches to design, especially when it comes to innovative and sustainable workroom practices. 

We are always looking for ways to bestow our decades of workroom and industry knowledge on the next generation of designers and creators. So when long-time design partner Rachel Reider asked us if we would participate in an Endicott College workshop for their first-year Interior Architecture students, we jumped at the opportunity to contribute to their career-focused academic programs.

Working closely with Sarah Bischoff, an Associate Professor of Interior Design at Endicott, we considered what would be valuable for these up-and-coming designers to know about our work and the significant role a workroom plays in today’s world. We were thrilled to discover that her students are now required to understand how window treatments function within an interior design plan and the crucial task of budgeting for them in a client project. 

Exposing students to window treatments while they are still in school and learning the business is incredibly beneficial for them and us!

Interested, engaged, and welcoming (and reportedly amused by Manny’s jokes), this group of future designers came ready to learn.  Manny kicked off the presentation with a look back at our humble beginnings in the basement of Maria and Phil’s home after Maria launched the business in 1979.  From Phil joining when projects became more technical to moving out of the basement to growing into a team of 21 employees (including 5 Installers and 8 Seamstresses) to winning awards like Best of Boston Home and Modern Luxury Interiors Boston Best of Luxury Design, we have come a long way in an incredibly competitive industry. 

To date, Manny has taught three workshops at Endicott College, including one for a Graduate class.  What is Manny’s secret to teaching? “I didn’t give them anything earthshattering through the one-hour class,” states Manny. “It was just an opportunity to give them a few pointers and background information about window treatments.” The presentation included an overview of the basics of window treatments. Kicking off with the question, “What are draperies?” Manny offered a definition and a review of the varying styles typically used by today’s interior designers. 

Manny with Endicott College's Graduate class

We’ve been fortunate to have our first summer intern through this mentoring program. Kirsten, a recent Endicott College graduate, joined us last summer to support our team in the workroom. She took away tons of insight (many of which no one would know without working in an actual workroom) to bring to her first interior design job.  “Kirsten was amazingly hard-working and extremely interested in the work we do. She drove an hour each way to get here and generally wanted to help and learn things,” said Manny. We were excited to hear that Kirsten landed an interview with one of our design partners. Best of luck, Kirsten!

Manny and Kirsten in the old Makkas Workroom.

Mentorship is something very personal to Manny, as it played a significant role in shaping who he is today. “I’ve had a lot of mentors over the years. My parents, of course, were always there. However, someone whom I consider a dear friend of mine, Tim Marken, a professor at Babson and also my Sunday School teacher,  had a strong, positive impact on me. We’ve had many discussions during coffee hour at the back of the church! Whenever I have a problem, he asks, ‘How can I help?’ I’m forever grateful for his support.”

Manny with the class at Endicott College.

Thank you, Manny; we mean “Professor.” Cheers to the incredibly bright future of design!