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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Bay Area – Window Coverings CATEGORY

James Hislop is a 29-year veteran of the door and window screen industry and owner of Wesco Screen Company Inc., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (415) 854-4985 or by email.

James Hislop

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

James Hislop: An Exceptional Ambition

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN RAFAEL – While few teenagers expect their summer jobs to turn into lifelong careers, even fewer aspire to one day own the businesses for which they work. For James Hislop, however, it was just such an exceptional ambition that led him to where he is today. “I started working at Wesco Screen Company as a production assistant during the busy summer season,” he remembers. “As I learned the craft and became more involved with the business, I realized I could make a pretty good living if I was able to buy the company. It was an ambitious goal for a guy in my position, but after a decade of putting my nose to the grindstone, I was able to purchase Wesco in 2001.”

After 25 years with the company, James says his favorite part of the job continues to be interacting with customers. “I’ve always enjoyed getting to know people in the local community. When I started it was actually more appealing to me than the work itself, and it’s still the most inspiring aspect of running my business.”

Born and raised in Northern Vermont, James moved to the West Coast as a child and eventually settled in Marin, where he lives today with his girlfriend, Kim, and their two-year old son, Kai. As a Bay Area resident, James says he enjoys both the natural beauty and cultural diversity of the local setting. “You might say we live in paradise. Not only are we close to the mountains and ocean, we also have one of the major cultural centers of the world in San Francisco. A lot of wonderful people are drawn to this area, and I’ve had the good fortune of meeting many of them.”

Outside of work, James enjoys spending time outdoors, whether up in the mountains or out on the water. “I’m a nature-oriented person, so I like to take advantage of everything the Bay Area has to offer in that regard,” he says. “You’ll often find me up in the Headlands or hiking on Mount Tam. I also like to take my sailboat out on the Bay to do some fishing when I get a chance.”

In his life and career, James espouses the importance of aligning one’s passion with one’s occupation. “If you’re looking for true happiness and contentment, the best advice I could give is to love your job,” he says. While this certainly applies to his current career, when asked what he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, James says he’d pursue a job he’s often dreamed of. “I’ve always wanted to be a freelance journalist so I could travel the world, meet people, write stories and take pictures. One of my interests is religious studies, so that would be a great opportunity to immerse myself in other cultures.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite animal?
A: I like birds because they have a lot of freedom.

Q: What’s your favorite movie genre?
A: Science fiction.

Q: If you could immediately master a musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: The guitar.

Q: What do you like on your pizza?
A: Olives, pepperoni and mushrooms.

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?
A: Blocks.

Q: If you could transport yourself to any fictional world, what would you choose?
A: As a sci-fi fan, I would have to say a galaxy far, far away.

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Know Your Door and Window Screen Options

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SAN RAFAEL — Most people assume door and window screens are one-size-fits-all, but there are actually a variety of styles and options from which to choose. Whether you’re looking for increased UV protection or a clearer view, you can find a… Read more

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Video: Types of Window Screens

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SAN RAFAEL — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you're planning on purchasing or replacing your screens, you'll first want to know your options. Today, we're in San… Read more

Amanda Lafferty is a design associate at National Blinds & Flooring Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2013. She can be reached at (415) 690-7945 or by email.

Amanda Lafferty

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Amanda Lafferty: Born to Design

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

SAN FRANCISCO — For Amanda Lafferty, a career in interior design was a natural progression of her inherited flair for home decorating. “I’ve always been interested in creating beautiful spaces,” she says. “I think I got it from my mom, who is really design-oriented. I would see her rearranging and redecorating our house from an early age, so I guess I caught the bug.”

After she graduated high school, Amanda followed her passion for home décor in college, earning her B.S. in interior design at San Francisco State University. It was during this time that she made a connection which quickly led to an occupational opportunity. “I contacted National Blinds looking for information for a school project,” she remembers. “I came in and spoke with Israel, the owner, and we just clicked. As it happened, he was looking to hire someone in his showroom. In the end, I not only got a good grade on my project, I got a job, too!”

Today, as a design associate at National Blinds & Flooring Inc., Amanda says her favorite part of her job is improving the beauty and functionality of her customers’ homes. “Before working here, I never realized that window coverings could make such a big difference in the aesthetics of a space. Now that I understand it, I enjoy passing on that knowledge to our customers. It’s a very rewarding job.”

A resident of San Mateo, Amanda expresses her appreciation for the diversity of Bay Area life. “There’s no shortage of events and activities here, which makes it a really fun place to live,” she says. “I also think it’s neat living in an area that’s world-renowned for iconic features like the Golden Gate Bridge—it makes me feel pretty fortunate to have grown up around here.”

Outside of work, Amanda engages in a variety of activities, from walking her dog, Oliver, to keeping up with the latest design and fashion trends. “I enjoy staying up-to-date with the design industry, so I spend a lot of time reading blogs and magazines,” she says. “I also like taking advantage of everything the Bay Area has to offer, from exploring around San Francisco to going wine tasting in the Napa Valley.”

In her life and career, Amanda espouses the importance of pursuing passions. “I think it’s important to love what you do,” she explains. “Personally, I’ve always known that I wanted to do something in the interior design field, so I’m thrilled to be doing what I’m doing. When you’re passionate about your career, it’s hard not to enjoy it—plus, I think you’re more likely to be successful.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Reality TV or documentaries?
A: I enjoy both, so it depends on my mood.

Q: What’s your favorite season?
A: Fall—I like the nice weather and leaves changing color.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Clothes.

Q: What’s one website you visit on a daily basis?
A: Pinterest.

Q: Who makes you laugh?
A: John Mulaney and Aziz Ansari.

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Considerations for Choosing Draperies

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SAN FRANCISCO — One of the best ways to enhance the aesthetics of your home is with custom draperies. However, in order to make the right selection, you’ll need to consider a lot more than just the color of the fabric. One… Read more

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Video: Considerations for Choosing Draperies

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SAN FRANCISCO — Host, Sarah Rutan: When picking out new window draperies, you’ll want to consider more than just their color. Today we’re in San Francisco with Diamond… Read more

Duane Vos is CEO of Creative Window Fashions, Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2011. He can be reached at (415) 935-0986 or by email.

Duane Vos

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Duane Vos: Blind Ambition

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

ROHNERT PARK — When Duane Vos started installing window blinds as a young man, he had no idea it would lead to a full-fledged career. “My dad owned a flooring and decorating store in Parker, Arizona, where they sold window coverings but didn’t install them,” he remembers. “He was also into cars and was paying me to restore a ’59 El Camino in the shop behind the store. One night, his manager told me he’d been installing blinds after work for the last 15 years and asked if I was interested in taking over for him. At $15 per blind, it was way more money than I was making restoring my dad’s car, so I agreed to take the gig when I was finished. After installing blinds for a couple of years, I made a deal with a distributor to start selling them as well. On January 1, 1998, I moved back to Phoenix, where I was raised, and started Creative Window Fashions.”

Four years later, Duane relocated from Phoenix to the Bay Area, where he planned to try his hand at a new livelihood. However, as if by fate, he found himself right back where he left off with window coverings. “While my wife and I were looking at houses, I became friends with a builder who asked if I would install shutters in his house,” he recounts. “Within a month, I had three more window covering jobs, and things just took off from there. I figured it was meant to be, so I stuck with it and opened a new Creative Window Fashions in California.”

Today, Duane says his favorite part of his job is interacting with customers. “I love people, so dealing with customers is something I’ve always enjoyed. Customer service has always been and continues to be the focal point of my business.”

Outside of work, Duane stays busy with an active lifestyle. “My wife, Maria, and I enjoy going for walks, swimming, and most of all traveling—that brings us the most joy. In the past year alone, we’ve traveled to Israel, Mexico and Peru. We also love spending time in Hawaii and going swimming with dolphins.”

In regard to his professional career, Duane cites a correlation between spirituality and window coverings. “I’m a very spiritual person, so I consider the spiritual side of everything I do,” he explains. “In the metaphysical world, we work a lot with light, and that’s also a big part of what we do in the window covering industry. When I’m in a house doing a consultation, a lot of the questions have to do with light. How much light does the customer want? What type of light do they want? What color? A lot of people don’t think about this aspect of window covering design. In the end, I want to make sure I’m on the right spiritual path, and just by the amount of lives I’ve touched in this business, I know I am.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What was your first job?

A: I worked at the local Dairy Queen when I was 15.

Q: What’s your favorite book?

A: “Way of the Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

A: Scotland.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?

A: Apples with almond butter.

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?

A: I would go to the future so I could bring back information and tell people that we’re going to make it—we’re going to be alright.

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The Value of Window Shutters

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ROHNERT PARK – When it comes to selecting new window treatments, today’s homeowners have numerous options. However, out of the many choices available, only one will substantially add to the value of a home: shutters. Once they’re installed, shutters are… Read more

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Video: The Value of Plantation Shutters

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ROHNERT PARK — Host, Sarah Rutan: When shopping for window treatments, there are several styles to choose from, but only one can actually add to your home’s resale… Read more

Miguel Vega is owner of Magna Shutters, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (408) 758-5660 or by email.

Miguel Vega

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Miguel Vega: A Passion for Craftsmanship

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SANTA CLARA — After 30 years of creating custom window treatments, Miguel Vega still has a passion for the craftsmanship he was taught as a young man. “I attended a Mexican-Italian trade school where I learned about all sorts of trades, from plumbing and electrical to welding and carpentry,” he recounts. “It was quite an experience—six years of intensive training under Italian craftspeople with extremely high expectations. The field that intrigued me most was fine carpentry, especially designing and fabricating plantation shutters, which requires a lot of skill and precision.”

After graduating from trade school in 1991, Miguel continued to design and manufacture plantation shutters and other window treatments. Eventually, he decided to take his skills to a new locale. “In 1999, I moved from Mexico to the United States,” he says. “I was already a citizen—I was born in the U.S.—but until then I’d spent most of my time in Mexico. I took a job manufacturing and installing shutters for Home Depot. It was a good job and I did well, but I also longed for a chance to do more customized, artisan-style work. Eventually, I started my own business, which enabled me to do that.”

Today, as owner of Magna Shutters, Miguel says his favorite part of his job is creating unique and occasionally challenging designs. “I love to design and create amazing results for my clients. Every project is different, so there’s a lot of room for creativity and innovation. A lot of companies will walk away from a project that seems too difficult, but I always welcome a challenge.”

A resident of Santa Clara (where he lives with his wife and business partner, Sandra), Miguel likes to spend his free time staying active. “The only time I really relax is when I’m sleeping,” he laughs. “I do a lot of road biking and jogging. I also enjoy traveling. Sandra and I both love history, so we usually plan our trips around visiting historical sites.” Miguel also likes tinkering and creating in his shop. “Building is my passion, so when I’m not making shutters, I’m usually working on some other project. Just give me some tools—I’ll build anything!” Additionally, Miguel likes keeping up with his four grown children, all of whom are pursuing their own professional goals.

In regard to a professional philosophy, Miguel embraces the ethos of old world craftsmanship. “As the older generations pass away, the art of making shutters by hand is dying and being replaced by machine manufacturing,” he says. “While there’s nothing wrong with manufactured shutters, you miss out on the care and detail that comes with a human touch. That’s why I’m committed to preserving that old-world, craftsman approach, and I’ve built my business by serving customers who have high standards for quality and service.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Miguel says he would ensure his business is left in good hands. “I have so many things I still want to do, including more traveling and building my dream house. But my business is very important to me, so if I retired, I’d make certain it would continue to run with the same philosophy and practices I founded it upon.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?

A: The ones at the end of the year because they bring the whole family together.

Q: Do you collect anything?

A: Souvenirs from traveling.

Q: If you could travel to any country you haven’t yet visited, where would you go?

A: Scotland.

Q: Music or talk radio?

A: Music.

Q: Do you play any musical instruments?

A: I play the guitar.

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Benefits of Plantation Shutters

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SANTA CLARA — If you’re planning to replace the window treatments in your home, one option worth considering is plantation shutters. Plantation shutters provide many benefits, including: Durability Plantation shutters are designed to last more than 20 years, which is three or… Read more

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Video: Benefits of Plantation Shutters

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SANTA CLARA — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re looking for a window treatment that will provide a good value for your investment, consider the benefits of plantation shutters.… Read more

Peyman Sadigh is a 32-year veteran of the interior design industry and general manager of PKS Interiors, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (408) 212-0393 or by email.

Peyman Sadigh

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Peyman Sadigh: Best Laid Designs

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SUNNYVALE — Having established a career as a high-tech designer, the last thing Peyman Sadigh expected was to end up designing home interiors. “I got into this business kind of by accident,” he says. “At the time, I was working for a high-tech firm doing mechanical and equipment design. One day, I came in to help my father at his interior design store, and I found that I really enjoyed it. I liked the creativity that went into it, as well as the opportunity to interact with a variety of people. So, I decided to stick around. Thirty years later, I’m still doing this.”

Today, as general manager of PKS Interiors, Peyman says he continues to enjoy the attributes that initially attracted him to the field. “I still really like doing design, even down to the little details like choosing carpet and drapery colors. I also enjoy seeing how excited and grateful people are when it all comes together.”

Peyman was born in Iran and spent most of his childhood living in Germany and England before coming to the United States in 1978. Today, as a resident of Sunnyvale (where he lives with his wife and daughter), he expresses his appreciation for the Bay Area’s characteristic diversity. “It’s neat to see all the variety we have here, with so many different people, cultures and foods.”

Outside of work, Peyman engages in a variety of active pastimes, most notably soccer. “Soccer is actually what brought me to the U.S. in the first place—I was recruited to play for college,” he explains. “I still love it, and I continue to play in the Silicon Valley Soccer League.” Peyman also enjoys spending time with friends and family. “We have a lot of friends with kids the same age as our daughter, so we enjoy getting together with them at local parks and going swimming.”

In his life and career, Peyman espouses the time-tested tenet known as the Golden Rule. “I try to treat people the way I’d like to be treated, and that’s really the basis of our customer service philosophy at PKS Interiors,” he affirms. “We strive to treat everyone with kindness and communicate with them in a straightforward manner, and our customers really appreciate that kind of genuine interaction.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Peyman says he’d do some traveling. “When we were young, my siblings and I used to travel with our dad quite often, so it’s something I’ve always enjoyed. I’d like to travel back to Europe, as well as throughout parts of the Middle East and Latin America—mainly areas with a lot of history and culture.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: Manchester United.

Q: What’s your favorite type of food?
Q: Persian. There’s a really good Persian restaurant in Sunnyvale called Chelokababi that we go to quite often.

Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: My daughter, especially since I’m a late bloomer in life.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
A: Bacon and eggs.

Q: What’s your favorite style of music?
A: Easy listening. However, my musical tastes tend to be pretty eclectic—I also really like AC/DC.

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How to Replace a Broken Curtain Rod Carrier

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SUNNYVALE — If one of your curtain rods isn’t working correctly, you might assume it needs to be repaired by a professional. However, if the problem is being caused by one or more broken carriers, this is something you can easily fix… Read more

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Video: How to Replace a Curtain Rod Carrier

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SUNNYVALE — Host, Sarah Rutan: If a carrier on your curtain rod gets broken, you’ll be happy to know this is something you can easily remedy yourself. Today… Read more

Alan Robinette is a veteran of the window covering industry and president of Window-ology, a Diamond Certified company since 2009. He can be reached at (925) 331-0343 or by email.

Alan Robinette

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Alan Robinette: An Interpersonal Opportunity

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

PLEASANTON — Years ago, Alan Robinette was looking for a career change—preferably one that involved more interpersonal interaction. As it turned out, the window covering industry gave him a perfect opportunity to do just that. “Prior to my current career, I was a service division manager for Huffy, where most of my interactions were with corporate buyers in an office setting,” he recounts. “As time went on, I became interested in finding a career that would allow me to interact with people on a more personal level. I figured a good avenue for this would be to get involved in some aspect of home interiors, which is why I ultimately chose to get into the window covering industry.”

Today, as president of Window-ology, Alan continues to enjoy the rewarding work entailed by his second career. “I still really like interacting and forming relationships with customers, as well as beautifying their home interiors. Besides enabling me to work with people on a personal level, my job allows me to have a direct impact on their lives by enhancing the beauty and functionality of their homes.”

A resident of Pleasanton (where he lives with his wife, Chris), Alan likes to spend his free time on active pastimes like working on his house. “I own a historic home that I’ve enjoyed restoring and maintaining, and I continue to do little projects here and there,” he affirms. “It’s neat to know I’m putting work into something that will transcend my lifetime.” Alan says he also likes to travel regularly. “Often, I’ll combine vacations with my business-related travels, whether by arriving at the location early or staying a week after. My favorite city to visit is definitely Paris—I’d love to just stay and hang out there for a month.” Additionally, Alan enjoys spending time with his and Chris’ two grown daughters, Ashley and Lauren, and granddaughter, Naomi.

In regard to his professional career, Alan has taken to heart the phrase, “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” “One thing that sets Window-ology apart is we don’t just install window coverings; we make our own,” he explains. “We have a facility where we manufacture our own shell shades, roller shades and other products. We take a lot of pride in making our own high-quality window coverings, and it also enables us to give our customers more options in terms of customization.”

When asked what his life might look like if he were to retire tomorrow, Alan says he’d probably take that month-long Paris trip he’s been daydreaming of. “I would definitely continue to travel. Of course, in between, I’d need to find something to keep me busy, so I’d probably do some more home projects. One thing I’d like to do is build a two-story playhouse for my granddaughter.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Coffee or tea?
A: Actually, I prefer espresso.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: I have two, both of which are in Pleasanton: Forno Vecchio and Eddie Papa’s American Hangout.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?
A: I had a pickup truck, and I’d give a ride to anybody who wanted to jump in the back.

Q: If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future?
A: Probably the past, just to learn more about my family history and get to know some of my ancestors.

Q: What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
A: For my 40th birthday, my family threw me a surprise party and invited pretty much everyone who’s been a part of my life from high school onward. That was really special.

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The Benefits of Cellular Shades

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PLEASANTON — When it comes to choosing window coverings for your home, one option to consider is cellular shades. Also known as “honeycomb” shades, this versatile window covering product offers a variety of functional and aesthetic benefits. One advantage of cellular… Read more

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Video: Benefits of Cellular Shades

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PLEASANTON — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re planning to install new window coverings in your home, one product worth considering is cellular shades. Today we’re in Pleasanton… Read more

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