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WithIt Gives Visionary Award to Kimberly Ward and Announces 2020 WOW Award Nominees

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Kimberly Ward, founder of the Black Interior Designers Network.

WithIt, the women’s leadership development network for the home and furnishings industry, recently announced the nominees for the 2020 WOW Awards. Due to the pandemic and uncertainty about safe gatherings, the board of directors has postponed the gala celebrating the WOW Awards until Friday, April 16, 2021. Finalists and recipients will be celebrated during a small gathering. The 2021 WOW Awards gala will return to celebrate 2020 and 2021 recipients Friday, October 15, 2021.

The annual awards recognize business leaders nominated by their peers who have contributed to the success of the home and furnishings industry and have demonstrated significant impact on their companies and the industry.

WithIt announced a new category to the WOW awards this year: the Visionary Award. It is the highest recognition level bestowed by WithIt, honoring a woman of achievement whose insight and actions have significantly impacted the home and furnishings industries. WithIt presents this award posthumously to Kimberly Ward, founder of the Black Interior Designers Network. Keia McSwaim, current president of the BIDN, will accept the award in her honor.

Kimberly Ward exemplified all the qualities of a visionary. She founded an award-winning interior design blog, Pink Eggshell, while building her successful design firm, Kimberly and Cameron Interiors. As she gained notoriety and exposure, participating in panels and appearing in media, Ward was often asked “Where are all the black interior designers?” In 2011 in response to this repeated question, she published a list of the Top 20 African American Interior Designers. In doing so she planted the seed that created a much-needed resource for an often-unseen segment of the interior design community. The list became the Black Interior Designers Network (BIDN), an organization that helped to connect those looking to work with or for black interior designers, to homeowners and clients. The Black Interior Designers Network’s mission is to promote diversity and inclusion within the interior design industry by highlighting designers of color and supporting black designers with business development opportunities. 

"Kim's legacy is the BluePrint to any organization fighting for visibility. She was a pioneer and legend, totally aware of her colleagues' monumental attributes to the community," says Keia McSwaim, president of the BIDN.

Kimberly Ward’s vision helped to shine the spotlight on all black interior designers and created a platform for designers to network, mentor and support each other’s business aspirations. WithIt recognizes Kimberly’s work to bring inclusion to black designers in the industry with their inaugural Visionary Award.

In addition to honoring Ward, WithIt will present WOW Awards in five additional categories: Education, Mentoring, Leadership, Future Leader and Sales Excellence.

A new for 2020 is the Sales Excellence Award created to recognize a woman who is extraordinary in sales, demonstrates excellence in education and relationships with her customers, and exceptional commitment to the manufacturers she represents.  The nominees are Tami Capriotti, Trusted Advisors Marketing; Janna Grant, Lakeside Furniture Sales; and Michelle Grant, Dardenne Designs.

The Leadership Award to recognize the contributions of a woman who has demonstrated successful leadership in her company, WithIt and the home furnishings industry. Leadership Award nominees are Carrie Dillon, International Textiles Alliance; Stefanie Lucas, American Leather; and Meganne Wecker, Skyline Furniture.

The Future Leader Award honors a young woman in the industry who has demonstrated outstanding achievement and the potential to become an industry leader. The 2020 nominees for this award are Madeline Brown, Sherrill Furniture; Sydney Harris, Furnitureland South; and Jessica Phillips, The Phillips Collection.

The Mentoring Award honors a company or individual for their efforts to foster advocacy, development and promotion of women in their company and the industry.  This year’s Mentoring Award nominees are Gail Doby, Gail Doby Coaching and Consulting; Cindy Hall, Sherrill Furniture; and Deborah Klein, DK Inside Designer.

The Education Award recognizes an individual who has put forth significant effort to educate associates, retailers and consumers about home and furnishings. This year’s nominees are Kim Ballweske, La-Z-Boy; Nancy Fire, Design Works International; and Sydney Vigotov, Crypton.

“What an outstanding and exceptional group of women!” says Lorri Kelley, 2020 President of WithIt. “We couldn’t be more excited to have the opportunity to recognize each of them and their accomplishments and contributions to our industry.  Each of them collectively makes all of us better at what we do now, and will do in the future.  While we won’t have the chance to gather together and celebrate them in 2020, we will look forward to doing that safely and with great excitement in 2021.” 

All nominees have submitted packages supporting their nomination which will be judged by a panel of industry leaders. Recipients will be announced in November.


About WIthIt: WithIt was formed in 1997 for women in the home and furnishings industries in order to support their multi-dimensional career paths. The non-profit network is based in North Carolina and supported by leading companies across the industry including their Vision and Platinum sponsors: International Market Centers and Ekornes. WithIt’s purpose is to encourage and develop leadership, mentoring, education and networking opportunities for professional women in the home and furnishings industries.

 

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