Interior Design Trends at NeoCon

Among the benefits of an Interior Design degree at Siba is an opportunity every year to join students, alumni, and instructors on a trip to NeoConthe premierMidwestern Interior Design tradeshow featuring far more than just industry developments. Participants interact with vendors, get introduced to the latest top-of-the-line materials and cutting-edge technology, and network with peers and potential employers.

We talked to Siba Department Head, Janelle Schrumpf, and some Siba interior design students to get their feedback on this year’s event. Here are some of their observations:

Integrated Technology is Everywhere!
Demand for high-tech integrated design in both residential and commercial spaces continues to grow in the industry. One of the Neocon highlights for Siba students this year was an off-site visit to DIRRT, a global leader in industrialized construction for interior spaces, where they were treated to a presentation of brand-new technology using VR (Virtual Reality). DIRRT specializes in adaptable, innovative design using VR and augmented reality space planning that allows clients to explore multiple options with the ability to visualize how each one aligns with their design preferences and functional requirements.

Technology is used seamlessly not just in presentation techniques, but in DIRRT designs as well. It’s frequently integrated in the build itself; think smart sensors, lighting that automatically adjusts when someone enters a room, and climate controls that prioritize energy efficiency, comfort, and convenience.

Schrumpf emphasized to her students the importance of understanding these innovations in their client consults, “Designers today need to be able to offer a number of technological solutions for the home, office, healthcare, and hospitality settings. Consumers may not even be aware of the full breadth of integrations available, so visits like this are critical for student designers to stay competitive in the industry.”

Trending Color: Shades of Terracotta
Strolling through Merchandise Mart where NeoCon is hosted each year, students couldn’t ignore the ubiquitous use of a very trendy color: terracotta. According to Schrumpf, this rich, earthy, reddish-brown hue evokes a sense of timelessness and authenticity, while also being a very current choice for contemporary designs seeking to embrace natural elements.  The color’s versatility allows it to effortlessly complement a wide range of interior styles, from rustic and bohemian to modern and minimalist.

Students also noticed that vibrant colors are replacing the “millennial grays” and neutral palettes that dominated the last decade. Second-year student Brittany Dirnberger observed, “Color is making its way back in and we are starting to see bright, fun shades instead of all neutrals.”

Top Material: Metal

Schrumpf notes that metal is also having a moment. Vendors and designers are using a variety of elements including copper, brass, gold, silver, and iron. Whether it's through statement light fixtures, furniture, or intricate decorative elements, metals provide interesting texture and contrast. And their versatility allows them to be effortlessly incorporated into a variety of design styles. Students at NeoCon noted the way the use of metals contrasted with other materials such as wood, marble, and other natural elements – which brings us to another trend: “biophilic” design, a concept used within the building industry to increase occupant connectivity to the natural environment

Plant Popularity

Greenery-infused living walls are increasingly in demand – particularly in office designs. According to Schrumpf, “Biophilic design continues to be a popular way for architects and designers to create harmonious environments that foster well-being for their occupants.” NeoCon attendees saw it used in lush indoor gardens, as well as strategically placed potted plants and hanging vines. Their aesthetic appeal aside, plants offer numerous health benefits, purifying the air and reducing stress levels. With employers looking to make workspaces more enjoyable and environmentally-stimulating in this post-Covid era, plants showcase a celebration of nature and an appreciation for sustainable, mindful living.

Craftsmanship is King

Central this year to NeoCon, as well as to this latest generation of designers, are responsibly sourced products and high-end craftsmanship. Students visited Haworth Design Lab, where they watched as members of the collaborative created custom furniture pieces. The Design Lab kicked off at Art Basel 2022 with a collection of artists that bring new ideas, design diversity and desirability through partnerships to advance the industry. Students watched as these artisans used woven materials and tufted chairs in live, interactive exhibits. Schrumpf says this trend speaks to clients of all backgrounds, “Consumers are demanding that manufacturers responsibly source their materials. This isn’t just a trend—it’s a public awareness that isn’t going away anytime soon. People want their goods to be ethically, thoughtfully, sustainably and artistically made.”


Curves and Circles Dominate

Curves are having their moment. According to student attendee Ella Mendenhall, “There are so many trends that I saw repeated throughout different showrooms. There were lots of curved lines and rounded edges, whether that was in furniture, lighting, or casework.” Schrumpf credits this trend with creating a sense of softness and visual flow within spaces. In office showrooms, it created a sense of inclusivity, particularly in meeting and co-working spaces.

Students also saw this trend during a visit to Knoll – a highlight of their trip to Chicago. Knoll, an icon among modern furniture designers, has played an historic role in the use of curves with the Saarinen Tulip Collection. This collection, introduced in the 1950’s, features dining tables, side tables, and chairs with graceful, sculptural curves that eliminate the need for four legs, creating an elegant and visually light appearance. The use of curves continues today in Knoll's modern designs, which students were able to soak in during their trip.

While the annual trip to NeoCon is popular among students in Siba’s Interior Design program for all its many sources of inspiration, students are able to make valuable connections with their peers and industry professionals. Mendenhall summarizes it this way, “This trip made me excited for my future in this field and it made me feel a sense of belonging. It was the moment I realized I was right where I was supposed to be and that I was on my way to becoming a designer. It was truly a special trip.”

We’re so happy students were able to see so much during their visit this year, and for the relationships they were able to develop!

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Love and Coloring Books: Life after Graduation from Siba

A lot has happened in the five years since Graphic Design alumna Ellyn Cox-Hoff completed her Bachelor’s degree at Siba!  Professional opportunities, personal milestones, a worldwide pandemic, and publishing a coloring book are just some of the things that have impacted Ellyn’s life since her commencement in 2018. We recently had a chance to catch up with her and get more details about these big events, and for all of the romantics out there, this particular “Graduate Spotlight” starts with a love story that began at Siba….

Siba: We heard that you married a fellow Siba student, which (due to our small size) is not a common occurrence. Congratulations!

Ellyn: Aaron Hoff (also an alum of the Graphic Design program) and I went on our first date about a month after I graduated. We’d formed an excellent friendship as classmates, hung out a lot, and I graduated first, but just by a few months. I found out later that he had decided to wait to ask me out until after I graduated in case I turned him down! I guess that could have been pretty awkward due to how small our campus and classes were. We had spent so much time together at school that when he asked me to dinner I didn’t even realize it was a date until the check came and he nervously paid for it. I asked if it was a date…and he asked if I wanted it to be. I did. 

We got engaged in October of 2020 and didn’t wait for the pandemic to be over to have our wedding. We bought a house that November and married in December with a small ceremony on his great-great-great grandparents’ farm. In January we got a dog named Stan that we adore!

Siba: Switching to your professional accomplishments, we know that right after graduation you did some work for the Surge – St. Louis’ professional women’s basketball team. What were some big takeaways from your time there?

Ellyn: Working for the Surge was a fantastic experience. Observing a woman in leadership like Surge owner, Khalia Collier, was quite inspiring. I learned so much about the details of event-planning, from creative to logistics. It was such a wonderful opportunity for me to attend a number of professional events and creative meetings with various agencies and other organizations.

Siba: Where did you go after your time with the Surge? 

Ellyn: About a year after graduation I started working at STL Shirt Co as a Graphic Designer. I worked there for almost 5 years and was promoted to “Lead Graphic Designer.” I’ve since moved on and am on the lookout for new opportunities.  Aaron is working as a Graphic Designer at Soccer Master in Manchester, MO.

Siba: How would you describe your professional path since leaving Siba?

Ellyn: Networking is essential as you are struggling to find the right job. I also think it’s so important to stay connected with your classmates. My continued relationship with other Siba Graphic Design graduates has been so beneficial.

Siba: What were your favorite or most impactful classes at Siba?

Ellyn: The courses I appreciated the most were the Portfolio classes where we presented our work to local industry leaders and heard candid feedback from panels of professionals in addition to our instructors.  Those honest critiques were invaluable.  

Siba: Your peers and instructors know you to have a strong work ethic and creative drive. What other attributes do you think are helpful in the industry?

Ellyn: You have to be determined and willing to compete for a job you love and can be proud of. It takes work but it’s worth it!

Siba: What advice would you offer to current Siba Graphic Design students who are getting ready to graduate?

Ellyn: Fine-tune your portfolio and put yourself out there in the graphic design community. I reached out to contacts I made by attending various events, and continued networking. I asked for feedback and tours of agencies. Those interactions helped me build confidence and make connections—you need to find ways to make yourself stand out and be memorable. 

Siba: Any other accomplishments you would like to share?

Ellyn: During the pandemic I was laid off for a short time and I did a lot of puzzles and coloring, but soon ran out of materials that were inspiring, so I created my own coloring book entitled Inspiring Quotes by Powerful Women and had it published through Amazon. You can buy it here.

Siba: What brings you joy at the end of the day?

Ellyn: I honestly love my job. I don’t dread Mondays but I do love to come home to my little house that I get to share with my best friend and best dog.

Siba: Sounds like the perfect work/life balance to us. We wish Ellyn, Aaron, and Stan all the best and we can’t wait to see what the next chapter holds for this dynamic Graphic Design duo!

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Enrolling for Fall!

Fall calling at Siba

Answer the call for Fall! Siba is enrolling for the Fall season with two starts so that you don't miss out on an opportunity to change your life. Wherever you are in your college search - our Admissions representatives are ready to help you reach your educational goals. With programs in Business Administration, Fashion Development & Merchandising, Graphic Design, and Interior Design; Siba is where the art of business meets the business of art.

What sets Siba apart?

Don't miss out on this opportunity to learn in a supportive, hands-on environment in pursuit of a meaningful career. Call, text, or book your appointment online today and answer the call!

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Students Explore the role of color in fashion and beauty.

Color is complicated and fascinating. It’s a huge factor in fashion design, product development, merchandising, and marketing.  If you are of a certain age, you may remember Carole Jackson’s “Color Me Beautiful,” a system developed in the 1980’s that helped consumers find a color palette that best suited their unique combination of skin tone (warm or cool) eye color and hair color. Using those factors, clients were assigned a color palette that represented one of the four seasons (Spring, Summer, Winter and Fall) as a guide for what colors they should wear to optimize and complement their natural coloring.

Several updated more detailed color analysis systems have become wildly popular on sites like TikTok and YouTube.  Developing the skill to do color analysis is important to fashion students pursuing careers in design, styling, product development, merchandising and retail.

Siba Fashion Development & Merchandising students recently participated in a color analysis exercise presented by guest speaker Alice Sydow of “Style Your Glow.” Sydow is a certified Color Analyst, Stylist, and image consultant.

Sydow instantly connected with Siba students and what followed was an extremely informative, fun session on the most current and detailed color analysis method. The demonstration started with a brief explanation about color science and color psychology, and then one lucky fashion student volunteered for a personalized color analysis performed by Sydow, with input from the rest of the class.

Sydow’s analysis uses a 12 tonal system that provides more of a spectrum than the 1980’s four seasons approach. For example, one might be a Light Summer, True Summer, or Bright Summer rather than a just a Summer of the original Color Me Beautiful 4 tonal system.  An example of the 12 tonal system pictured below.

A simple starting point for color analysis is to determine whether the skin tone is warm or cool by comparing white and off-white fabric around the face, and then doing the same with gold and silver fabric.  Chances are, if gold and off-white look better on you, you are warm. If white and silver look better, you are cool. Sydow and the other students agreed that our volunteer’s skin tone was cool. Below are various color palettes in the 12 tonal system that were each draped around the volunteer’s face.

The students immediately noticed dramatic differences in the volunteer’s skin, hair, and eyes, depending upon the color palette placed around her face.  Below is a photo of a palette that was not the volunteer’s best, because the colors are too strong and deep for her coloring.

A much more flattering color palette is pictured below. All agreed that “Soft Summer” brought out the volunteer’s complexion, eye, lip, and hair color the best.  She seemed to sparkle!

Students learned a valuable new skill from the relatable, knowledgeable, engaging Ms. Sydow and had a blast in the process!  If you are interested in more information, check out Alice Sydow at @styleyourglow369 on Instagram and styleyourglow369 on TikTok.

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Business Student Association Hosts Speaker

The Siba Business Students Association is pleased to welcome Ashley Timmons, Regional Manager at Drury Hotels, in their speaker series. Ms. Timmons will discuss career paths in her presentation Wednesday, May 17th from 5:30pm-6:30pm. All students are welcome!

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The Best Places to Find Inspiration for your Home

Need Inspiration for your Interior Design Project? Siba’s Interior Design Department Chair Shares Her Favorite Resources:

Deciding that your space isn’t meeting your aesthetic expectations and/or functioning the way it should is the first step, but where are the best places to get ideas for the redo? Siba Interior Design Department Chair, Janelle Schrumpf, shares the sources she uses to find inspiration for her clients and students in the St. Louis Metro area.

Interior Design Magazines

Both online and old-fashioned print versions of design and décor magazines top Schrumpf’s list of inspirational resources. Some of her favorites include local publications like St. Louis Homes Magazine. The magazine’s publisher and owner, Suzie Osterloh, has also been a great contact for Interior Design students in St. Louis looking to network and learn more about their new profession.  Because they are published regularly, magazines are a great source of the most current and emerging trends in technology, color palettes, materials, finishes, floorplans, furnishings, organizational systems, etc.  Schrumpf also recommends checking out Architectural Digest, Interior Design Magazine, The Business of Homes, Environments for Aging, Veranda, Elle Décor, and House Beautiful for examples of stunning homes, expert advice, and beautiful photography.

Museum Exhibits

It might be unexpected, but local museums and tourist attractions can be a great source of inspiration. Schrumpf points to the Global Threads—The Art & Fashion of Indian Chintz Exhibit and Art in Bloom event at the St. Louis Art Museum as two recent examples. Schrumpf also takes her students on field trips to the Frank Lloyd Wright museum in Ebsworth Park in Kirkwood, and to the Campbell House in downtown St. Louis for historic examples of design that still resonate today. We love a field trip at Siba!

Social Media & Blogs

Social media sites like Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube offer an almost infinite supply of images and videos related to interior design. With search functions that make finding categories of interest (both broad and very specific) easily accessible, Siba students frequently get their inspirations for mood boards and new projects by using these platforms to jumpstart their creativity.

Additionally, home décor Blogs offer both insightful articles and personalized experiences in design. Our Interior Design department loves sites like Apartment Therapy and Cassandra Lavalle.

Brick & Mortar Shops and Stores

Schrumpf recommends that her clients visit retail stores and showrooms in their community to fine-tune their personal style and get an idea for the look and feel of the results they are seeking in a newly designed (or redesigned) room/space. Stores like West Elm, Crate & Barrel and Pottery Barn, home décor specialty shops like Cool Stuff and Urban Matter, resale and consignment shops like Green Goose, or even big box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot can be a source of inspiration.

During their studies, Siba students frequently go on field trips to showrooms like KDR in St. Louis, which offers both retail services to the public and wholesale services to professional designers.

Online/Web-Based Home Furnishing Retailers

For clients who like to look for ideas on the web, Schrumpf recommends online home furnishing and décor retailers such as Houzz and Wayfair. These sites offer thousands of products in a wide range of prices, which can be very useful when trying to make smart design choices that fit the budget.  

Nature and Outdoor Spaces

With recent trends borrowing inspiration from nature and green spaces, another place to find your design muse is outside. Schrumpf suggests taking a walk through your favorite park, a nature reserve like the August A. Busch Memorial Conservation Area or St. Louis treasure, the Missouri Botanical Garden, and consider the colors and textures you’re drawn to for a color schemes and/or material choices.

Professional Resources

Schrumpf will tell you that the best part about being an interior designer (or a student of interior design) is the access she has to great professional resources. Her favorite spot to see and learn about the latest developments and trends in design is a visit to the annual tradeshow NeoCon in Chicago. Siba students also have the opportunity of accompanying Schrumpf every June to this one-of-a-kind design-centric event, which continues to be a favorite experience of many students in the interior design program.

Students and staff in the Interior Design program also stay active in the St. Louis Chapter as well as the Siba student chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). ASID offers opportunities for collaboration and idea-sharing between professional designers and students, opportunities for students to network with potential employers, and another source of information to learn about new trends to inspire their designs.

Wherever you are in your design journey, hopefully this list gave you some helpful places to find the look you’ve been searching for. And if you want that access to professional trends, perhaps the next step on your path is a degree in Interior Design. You can learn more about our program and all the resources it offers at

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Graphic Design Skills that Make a Difference

Many think that being a successful graphic designer simply requires a solid understanding of the Adobe Creative Cloud. While this is a very important component to a career in graphic design, today’s graphic designer needs a unique blend of creativity and technical expertise to be competitive in the field. Siba’s Graphic Design Department Chair, Susan Stuart, emphasizes to her students that designers need to bring a dynamic approach to their work, from crafting visually stunning designs to communicating with clients and team members. Here are her insights and tips for building the skills needed to succeed as a graphic designer:

Mastering the Principles of Graphic Design.

Knowledge that sets formally-trained graphic designers apart is a thorough understanding of the basic principles of graphic design: contrast, balance, emphasis, hierarchy, repetition, rhythm, white space, movement, and unity. These principles guide the arrangement and structure of design elements. The way these principles are used affects the overall message and feel of a particular design. A good design is one that is functional and makes the end design useful and organized.

  • Contrast refers to the use of different elements in a design to create visual interest and hierarchy. By using contrasting colors, shapes, and textures, designers can draw attention to specific areas of a design.
  • Balance refers to the distribution of visual weight within a design. A balanced design feels stable and harmonious, while an imbalanced design feels unstable and jarring.
  • Emphasis is the focal point of a design; it's the element that catches the viewer's eye first. It's used to draw attention to the most important information in a design.
  • Hierarchy is the organization of elements in a design that establishes a visual order and guides the viewer's eye through the design. It's used to communicate the relative importance of different elements in a design.
  • Repetition refers to the use of similar elements throughout a design. It creates a sense of unity and consistency, making a design feels cohesive and organized.
  • Rhythm refers to the movement and flow of a design. It's created by repeating elements, such as shapes, colors, and patterns, in a consistent and organized way.
  • White space/negative space is the area around and between the elements in a design. This essential element in graphic design helps to create a sense of balance, hierarchy, and emphasis.
  • Movement refers to the way that the viewer's eye moves through a design with the use of lines, shapes, and color to guide the eye through the design.
  • Unity refers to the sense of togetherness and harmony in a design. It's achieved by using the principles above in a cohesive way.

By understanding and applying these principles, graphic designers can create designs that are visually pleasing, effective, and impactful.


According to Stuart, graphic designers need to produce, defend, and adjust their ideas for clients in both a visual and verbal way. The ability to listen carefully to the client’s needs, ask lots of questions to fine-tune and clarify ideas, and provide feedback by explaining design elements—without getting technical—will give any designer a huge advantage.

Further, good communication between the client and designer establishes trust and helps build a positive working relationship so that revisions and changes are clearly understood and the final product meets the client's expectations. It is also important for designers to be able to communicate the reasoning behind their design choices, as this helps clients to understand the thought process and strategy behind the concept.


Stuart also explains why a strong understanding of typography is an essential skill in the graphic design field: “While fonts are downloadable everywhere, being able to use the appropriate font to communicate the client’s particular message while being visually appealing (and readable) is an important element of any design.”

The successful use of typography can have a significant impact on the overall look and feel of a design, and it can be used to convey a specific message or emotion. Good typography can help to make text easy to read and understand, and it can also be used to create a hierarchy of information, making it clear to the viewer which elements are most important. Additionally, typography can be used to create visual interest and add a unique and personal touch to a design. It can also be used to make a design stand out and to make it memorable.

Interactive Media.

Stuart advises her students to learn about as many different types of media as possible. “Design is much more than print media. It is also understanding and being able to work with interactive media or motion graphics using text, animation, video and audio messages.”

By understanding how these different mediums work and how users interact with them, designers can create more effective and user-centered designs. Interactive media can provide new opportunities for designers to showcase their skills and creativity in ways that traditional print media cannot. It is an essential skill for staying competitive and relevant in the graphic design industry.

Web Design and a “working knowledge” of coding.

While aspiring graphic designers should know the fundamentals of web design and web flow, they don’t necessarily need to be an expert at coding. Designers with a basic understanding of HTML, styles, and/ or JavaScript will have the tools they need to make it in the field.

Knowing how to code allows designers to create and manipulate website designs, build responsive and interactive layouts, and optimize websites for search engines. It also enables designers to communicate effectively with developers and other team members, so that the final product meets the client's expectations.

Siba’s graphic design curriculum aims to give students ample opportunity to learn about all of these distinct skill areas as they progress through the  A.A.S. and B.A. Graphic Design programs. Well before they complete their degree, Siba students start building their portfolios and have ample opportunities to interact with professionals in the industry. These experiences help them polish their skill sets, fine-tune their individual career goals, and give them the confidence to enter the world of professional graphic design.

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Pro Tips to Get Your Business Idea Off the Ground

At Siba, we know and value the spirit of entrepreneurship that lives in so many of our students and alumni here in St. Louis. But while the dream and the drive may be there, the “how” can often put the brakes on pursuing even the most promising business concept.

Recently, Siba hosted Missouri Small Business Development Center Regional Director Lynette Watson, who shared her expertise with students enrolled in Siba’s Business Administration program. In addition to running her own event planning business, “NcreDaBle Kreations,” Ms. Watson provides training and counseling to budding entrepreneurs, and assists with the revitalization efforts of the Cherokee Business District. Included in her campus presentation was a list of practical tips for getting any small business off the ground and running.

Pursue your Passions

It may seem obvious, but when pursuing your own business, make sure it’s doing something you really enjoy. No entrepreneur works a simple 40-hour work week, so if you are going to eat, sleep and breathe your business in order to get it up and running, it’s essential that you enjoy the tasks and activities required. Regardless of setbacks and challenges you might face (and you will face some), when you are truly passionate about your work and mission, you are more likely to stay committed and motivated.

Do your Research

Once you have a concept you’re passionate about, it’s time to do your research! First, make sure your product or service is something that enough people are willing to buy at a price point that will work for you. To answer that question, you will need to identify exactly who your potential customers are and conduct market research. It is critical that you design a business/research plan that outlines the methodology, timeline, and resources required. This might include surveys, interviews, focus groups, and/or data analysis. Make sure your research methods are appropriate for reaching your target market. Collect and analyze your data, looking for patterns, trends, and insights that can assist with your decision-making. Finally, use your findings to make informed decisions, and continue to monitor the market to stay on top of changing trends and consumer behaviors. There is a wealth of guides, templates, strategies, and data banks online that you can use. The Federal SBA is another great resource.

Create your Business Plan

Once you believe you have a viable idea and that there are customers out there who will purchase your product or service, it’s time to develop an actual business plan. Start by writing a detailed description of your business, including your business structure (e.g. sole proprietorship, partnership, etc.), target market (e.g. ages, genders, income, location, etc. of your customers), marketing strategies (what means/media will you use to inform your target market about your business and what will those cost?), and financial projections (e.g. how much money will you need to start up and where will those funds come from, what is your budget for year one, year two, etc.?).

It's also important to identify and analyze your competition and potential challenges, as well as how you plan to overcome those challenges. Your business plan should include a description of your team and their roles, and provide a clear overview of the product or service you will be offering. Once created, be prepared to change it so that it remains relevant and aligned with your ongoing goals. (Forbes has a free template you can download.) Watson advises that you also consider where you want to operate your business—for example, if you want a home-based business, make sure that you are able to legally operate there. If you plan to rent space, be sure the lease does not restrict your operations in a way that would be detrimental.

Make it Legit

You’ve laid a lot of groundwork with your research and business plan development. Now, it’s time to make it official. Watson advises that before you sell anything, establish a Limited Liability Company (LLC) in your home state. An LLC provides some protection from personal liability in most cases from legal actions or debts against your business (always consult a licensed attorney for the specifics). Additionally, there are tax benefits to establishing an LLC rather than a corporation that you may want to take advantage of. Finally, an LLC provides a more formal business structure, which can help your business establish credibility with potential customers, partners, and lenders. While cost varies by state, in Missouri they are relatively affordable. While you’re at it, you should also set up an EIN number with the IRS (it’s free!).

Get your Books in Order

Another important step: make sure you have a strong financial infrastructure. Quickbooks is a good, industry-standard software that offers a variety of features that can help streamline financial management and save time. The software allows small business owners to track income and expenses, generate invoices, manage inventory, and even run payroll. With its user-friendly interface, it is easy to use and can help businesses maintain accurate records that can be used for tax purposes and financial analysis. The software also offers a range of customization options to suit the specific needs of a business. As you grow, you may consider hiring a CPA and/or outsourcing your payroll to a third-party vendor.

Jump on the Feedback Train

Watson also recommends finding professional connections to help grow your business. She’s a proponent of an unbiased advisory board, as well as a mentor to discuss ideas/challenges with as your business grows and changes. A diverse advisory board can offer objective advice and feedback on various aspects of the business, including strategies, operations, finance, and marketing. The board should be made up of individuals who are not directly involved in the day-to-day running of the business, and who can provide an independent perspective and constructive criticism.

In addition to an advisory board, having a mentor can also be extremely beneficial. They can offer advice on a range of issues, from creating a business plan and setting goals, to managing employees and dealing with challenges that arise. Mentors also provide emotional support and encouragement, helping you to stay motivated and focused on their goals.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Many successful professionals are happy to lend their expertise to the next generation of entrepreneurs, so don’t be shy about approaching people you admire to fill these roles for you. More often than not, you will find they are flattered you asked them and willing to share what they’ve learned.

Hopefully some of Ms. Watson’s valuable advice can gives you the motivation to get your business idea off the ground. We appreciate her time presenting and meeting with Siba students this month. If you’re looking for more knowledge in marketing, accounting, management, finance, software programs, and/or human resources before you launch your new business, pursuing an Associate of Applied Science or a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration may be the right path for you. A Business Administration degree at Siba’s St. Louis campus has been a springboard for many of our entrepreneurial alumni!

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Interior Design Tips from a Professional

4 Easy (and Affordable!) Ways to Update your Space

Updating the look of a much-used space, whether it’s your bedroom, office, kitchen or laundry room can be overwhelming. But just a few smart updates can completely change the feeling of a room. Siba Interior Design Department Chair, Janelle Schrumpf, explains that with a little elbow grease and some small, thoughtful additions, you can transform a tired space in your home in just an afternoon. So why wait? You don’t have to be an interior designer in St. Louis to get started today!


“Perhaps one of the most transformative, but least expensive changes you can make is de-cluttering the space,” explains Schrumpf. “Start by sorting your items into four categories:

  1. items to keep that you use often;
  2.  items to keep that are less-frequently used;
  3.  items to donate; and
  4. items to throw away.”

Damaged items and/or things you have not used in a year should be tossed or donated. Once you determine what you’re keeping and whether it is a frequent-use, or non-frequent-use article, consider storage solutions. Things you use often should be kept within easy reach, but items you use infrequently can be tucked away in storage. Many storage solution stores, such as The Container Store, offer free design services.

Update your Lighting

Lighting has the power to completely change the vibe of a room. Start by considering the purpose of the space you're updating. For example, a bright overhead light may be great for a kitchen or work space, but a warm and soft light will likely be more appropriate for a bedroom or living room. When choosing a new fixture, think about the overall style you're going for. If you're looking for a statement piece, maybe a chandelier or a large pendant light is a good solution. For a more understated look, opt for a sleek and modern table lamp or wall sconce (keeping in mind that new wiring may be needed for sconces). Finally, consider the practical aspects of lighting. For example, if you frequently use a room for reading or working, you may want to invest in a task lamp that provides direct and focused light.

Break out the Paint Brush

“Painting is one of the quickest and most impactful ways to update a room. A new color on the walls can completely transform the look and feel of the space,” says Schrumpf.  When choosing a color, reflect on the other elements in the room, such as your furniture or existing artwork. If you're working with a neutral palette, consider adding a pop of color with a bold accent wall or a brightly colored piece of furniture. If you're starting from scratch, consider choosing a neutral color for the walls and using bold colors for your accessories. If you’re still unsure where to start, a color palette generator, can get the inspiration flowing. This one even lets you upload pictures!

Switch of your Accessories

Updating your accessories and décor is a quick and easy way to change a room. New pillows, artwork, curtains, and rugs can add texture, pattern, and color. Choose accessories that complement each other, such as a set of matching throw pillows or curtains in the same fabric. If you're more adventurous, a modern, curated look calls for a mix and match of different styles. This update doesn’t have to break the bank, either. Thrift stores are a great place to find treasures that bring a breath of fresh air to your space. Speaking of fresh air – adding some oxygenating greenery is a great way to update a room. Potted plants and indoor trees can really enhance the look of your room.

With these quick and easy updates, you can revitalize your space and bring a new energy to your home. And if you really love transforming spaces, maybe you should turn that passion into a career, like the students in Siba’s Interior Design program are doing, by enrolling in either the Associate of Applied Science or Bachelor’s degree program. Siba’s interior design alumnae have used their training and eye for great design to craft careers as successful interior designers in highly respected firms as well as starting their own firms.  Whether you’re interested in pursuing a degree or just trying to get your office in better shape, have fun and don't be afraid to experiment with different styles and colors to find what works best for you!

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Five Trending Career Paths for Graphic Designers

With so many job choices available in the field of Graphic Design, how do students and recent graduates choose a direction? Many are inspired by well-known creators within the industry such as award-winning modern artist, Paula Scher, and legendary designer Massimo Vignelli. These superstars of the Graphic Design world have made a distinctive mark on the industry, in many ways redefined what it is to be a Graphic Designer, and they both got their start with a degree in higher education.

For many students of Graphic Design in St. Louis, the decision on how best to use their degree can be daunting. But the field is rich with opportunities to hone creative skills, advance into leadership, and maybe even make a lasting mark on the industry like Scher and Vignelli. Siba’s Graphic Design Department Chair, Susan Stuart, shares five jobs that are in-demand right now.

Front End Web Developer

With a near-endless need for well-designed and conceived websites, a talented graphic artist can easily apply his/her/their skills as a front end web designer. Professionals in this role are often described as the “interior designers of a home built by back-end development.” They’re responsible for the layout of a site as well as how the user engages with it. Functionality is a key component of this position. Professionals need to have a thorough understanding of web-based languages including HTML, CSS, and Javascript. They should also be familiar frameworks like Bootstrap, Foundation, and EmberJS.

UX/UI Designer

UX is short for “user experience,” and UI refers to “user interface.” While these roles are not exclusive to web design, in cases relating to website development they often work alongside front end web developers on the product development team. UX/UI Designers conduct research, build wireframes, develop flow for users, design mock-ups, and create visuals. This is done within the company’s branding and style guide to ensure a cohesive, user-friendly, visually appealing end product. UX/UI designers are considered user advocates who continuously ensure that the end product meets the needs of consumers.

Art Director Prepare to be in the driver’s seat! This role usually comes after extensive experience working in the world of design. Art directors (in the field of Graphic Design) are responsible for leading a team of designers and overseeing the visual direction of a project or campaign. They work on a variety of projects such as branding, packaging, advertising, and digital designs. They collaborate with clients and stakeholders to understand their needs and goals, and develop a concept and visual style that aligns with their brand and target audience. Art directors in graphic design have a strong understanding of design principles, typography, layout, and color theory, and are skilled in using software such as Adobe Creative Suite. They are responsible for guiding the design process from concept to final production, ensuring that the design meets the client's objectives, and is visually appealing, effective and innovative.

Motion Designer/Interactive Media Designer
Motion designers and interactive media designers are professionals who create digital animations, graphics and interactive media for a wide range of industries including film, television, advertising, video games, and web design. Motion designers use software such as Adobe After Effects and Cinema 4D to create 2D and 3D animations, while interactive media designers use tools such as Unity and Unreal Engine to create interactive experiences. They often work closely with creative directors and other designers to develop storyboards and visual concepts, and may be involved in the entire production process from pre-production to post-production. They are responsible for bringing a brand’s message to life in a dynamic and engaging way by creating engaging digital experiences that are interactive and visually compelling.

Graphic Designer

Of course we can’t forget our program’s namesake! Graphic designers are professionals who use visual elements such as typography, imagery, and color to communicate ideas and create effective designs for various media including print, digital and web. They are responsible for creating designs for a wide range of materials such as brochures, billboards, packaging, websites, and social media posts. They work closely with clients and other members of a creative team to understand the goals and objectives of a project, and then use their skills in design software such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop to create visually appealing and on-brand designs that resonate with the target audience. Graphic designers play a crucial role in helping businesses and organizations to stand out and communicate their messages effectively, which is why they are often considered an essential part of a company's marketing strategy.

While these Graphic Design careers are in-demand, we at Siba have seen alumni use their degrees to find jobs which are as diverse as the unique skillsets of the individual. Siba’s Portfolio classes, which help students polish their body of work and meet with employers in the St. Louis area, have a significant impact on their career trajectories. We hope to see our graduates continue to make their mark on the Graphic Design world – and maybe join the ranks of Scher and Vignelli one day!

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Reflection at the St. Louis Holocaust Museum

A field trip to the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum provided an opportunity for reflection by Siba students recently. The college’s Diversity Studies class made a visit to the newly expanded campus where they gained a deeper understanding of one of the most devastating events of the modern era.

The museum is dedicated to preserving the legacy and tragedy of the deliberate genocide of Jews during World War II. Students learned that many of the prejudices that fed into the persecution of Jews decades ago still exist today. To fight those biases, the institution’s mission is to “Use the history and lessons of the Holocaust to reject hatred, promote understanding, and inspire change.”

The museum accomplishes this mission by telling the stories of survivors who settled in the St. Louis region. While difficult to single out any one account, the story of museum ambassador Ben Fainer holds a special place in our hearts at Siba. Fainer hosted and led tours for countless numbers of visiting Siba Diversity students over the past 2-3 decades before his passing in 2016. Below, he is pictured with Dr. Emilee Schnefke during a visit to the museum back in 2011.

Fainer was originally from Poland. He was forced to work at a number of Nazi labor camps including Buchenwald. He lost his mother, three siblings, and numerous extended family members to the Holocaust. He was liberated by American soldiers while on a final death-march in the spring of 1945. Fainer went on to immigrate to Canada, and eventually settle in St. Louis where he worked at Barad & Co. here in the Downtown St. Louis Garment District where our Siba campus is located. You can read his poignant account in his memoir published in 2012.

The museum further explores ways for visitors to connect to the Holocaust and its survivors through the displays of artifacts and an interactive main exhibit. Siba students began their tour with Hitler’s rise to power, then learned about the escalation of persecution and the culmination of government-led programs into systematic genocide called the “Final Solution.” Despite the devastating content, the exhibit ends on a hopeful, uplifting note with the wisdom and hope of its survivors with living remembrances that serve as a powerful reminder of the consequences of the Holocaust.

A special thank you to our guide, Diane Peach, who we learned during our visit, had taught Siba’s Academic Dean, Dr. Schnefke, back her grade school days!

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Siba | 75 Years | Alumni Stories

Stevens – The Institute of Business & Arts is proud to be celebrating 75 years of serving the St. Louis Metropolitan Area this year. We got our start in 1947 as Patricia Stevens College – a modeling and finishing school for women. Over the years, we’ve evolved; adding degree programs, transitioning to a co-educational student body, and updating our course catalog to remain competitive with the needs of employers in the region. To commemorate this milestone, we’re looking back and sharing the stories of some of the alumni who have made us who we are today.

Our latest installment in this series is written by 2012 Interior Design B.A. graduate, Shannon Gonzalez:

I attended Siba from 2009 to 2012. When I first started the Interior Design degree program, the name of the school was Patricia Stevens College (PSC). My grandmother actually attended Patricia Stevens College when the school was an all-girls finishing school. When I started attending classes it didn't exactly look like the campus we know it to be today--PSC was undergoing a period of transition. My mother and I saw the potential in Cindy and the staff's vision of what they wanted the college to be. With a new location and new name, they made it happen! 

What's truly amazing about Siba is the amount of hands-on experience students get while attending classes. The best hands-on experience I had during college was being a part of designing the school’s new location on Washington Avenue. As final projects, Interior Design students designed the classrooms, offices, breakrooms, and restrooms. The staff and students also got to vote for what we thought the new name of the school should be, which is now known as Stevens-The Institute of Business & Arts (Siba).  

One thing I remember about the classes I took is that they were all taught by instructors who had years of experience working in their field before teaching at PSC/Siba. The instructors always encouraged us to do our absolute best at whatever we were working on. I remember a few times rushing to get a project finished so I could be done early, then hearing "It's good, but is that the best you're capable of?" All the instructors I had when I was attending classes were incredibly talented and knowledgeable and I learned so much from them all. From the bottom of my heart thank you for giving me knowledge, wise advice, encouragement so I could follow my dreams!

Since graduation, I've worked for some great companies and clients. My first job out of college was actually working as a recruiter for Siba where I acquired some great marketing skills. Then I went on to work for Global Granite & Marble, where I got the amazing opportunity to move to Chicago to be a part of designing their 4th location. After Chicago I moved to Evansville, Indiana, and started doing more photography and graphic design work for clients. I wouldn't be doing photography or graphic design work if I hadn't learned Photoshop at Siba. I started my business “Deeshay” in 2020. I offer Interior Design, Photography, and Graphic Design services. My website is if you would like to see some of my work or read my bio. 

The best advice I can offer Siba students is: don't procrastinate when you’re working on a project. In college sometimes I would wait until last minute to get projects done, and I didn’t realize then that it wouldn't be an easy habit to break. I have learned that procrastinating only brings unnecessary stress to your life and could potentially cause you to lose clients. Also try not to work for free for your family and friends! (This is something I'm pretty sure every Instructor told me before I graduated.) However, me being me and wanting to design any and everything for everyone possible ended up with me getting burned out before I even started making money in my field. You are going to school to further develop your amazing talents and your time is very valuable. Don't ever forget that! 

I'll finish with saying I will forever cherish the friendships and memories I made during my time at Siba. I wish all the alumni, current students and future students nothing but the best of luck in life!

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Whether you know it or not, you already possess the talents to make a contribution to the world. If you’re passionate about interior design, fashion, graphic design, or business, Siba can help you develop your interests into a career.
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