HR-082816-Cathy-1If one of these photos looks familiar, you’re right — it’s from my last column about the funky-cool John Fluevog shoe store in Vancouver. I’m using it here today because seen at a glance, the whole space indirectly conveys a message that, when you look closely, tiny little details spell out clearly for you.

Today’s column is about what your space says — and I mean literally.

Walk into this shop and you’ll immediately pick up on the unspoken message. From the converted alleyway locale to the black painted brick wall to the baker’s rack shoe display, the space screams out, “We are unlike any other shoe store!”

That message needs no words. But that’s not where communication with the customer ends. The store makes it personal — and not just about the brand. Try on a pair of shoes, walk over to a mirror and what do you see looking back at you? The message: “You look great!”


Now look at the stairway to the design studio.

Each step carries the name of a city with a John Fluevog store, in the order they opened. It’s proud and inspirational. “Look at how we’ve grown,” the stairs say. “This is our story.”
On the opposite wall, propped on an easel, is a message telling customers about the team behind the shoes. Each line starts with “We are …” from “We are passionate,” to “We are short and tall,” “We are unique soles,” and “We walk in thankfulness.”

The overall effect (aside from putting a smile on your face) is that you feel like you know who this brand is. You’re not buying just anybody’s shoes.

That’s a message many of us in business can take inspiration from. Keep this in mind as you share your message through design with your clients and customers.

Cathy Lee is a home style expert, speaker, president and designer of Cathy Lee Style. Her redesigns of residential and business spaces have been featured in local and national publications and on HGTV. For more info and inspiring photos of design projects, visit And keep up with Cathy’s dream home makeover at her photo blog, Homefront.