Explore Home Podcast Explore Home Podcast

Welcome to the Explore Home podcast where we navigate design trends with furniture industry insiders, Interior Designers and Influencers who inspire the way we design furniture.

Subscribe and listen to new episodes on iTunes, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcast, Buzzsprout, TuneIn, and Stitcher-Live. Coming soon to iHeartRadio & Pandora!

Latest Episodes


Global style icon,
business woman and mother

Explore Home with Miranda Kerr, Australian-born international supermodel, global style icon, business woman, wife and mother as we discuss the launch of her Miranda Kerr Home collection with Universal Furniture


President and CEO of
Universal Furniture

Explore Home with Jeff Scheffer, President and CEO of Universal Furniture located in High Point, North Carolina. Listen and learn about Jeff’s professional journey in the home furnishings industry.


President of High Point
Market Authority

Explore Home with Tom Conley, President and CEO of High Point Market Authority. Tom discusses the role of High Point Market Authority and his expectations and goals for High Point Furniture Markets.


Internationally Acclaimed CEO + Creative Director of Contour Interior Design

Explore Home with Nina Magon, founder and CEO of Contour Interior Design headquartered in Houston, Texas. With an extensive background in the design industry, Nina continues to make a strong impression with extensive award-winning designs and multiple TV appearances

Dudley Moore

Award Winning Furniture Designer

Explore Home with Dudley Moore, furniture designer, president and CEO of Otto and Moore located in High Point, North Carolina. Dudley discusses growing up in the furniture industry, running a small family business, and how the design process has grown and evolved throughout his career.

Peyton Jenkins

Co-founder of Alton Lane

Explore Home with Peyton Jenkins, co-founder of custom men’s suit company Alton Lane, a retail shop with locations in 12 major metros across the United States. Enjoy Peyton's perspective on the current state of retail and what it is like to quit your day job to focus on launching a start-up company.

Adam Japko

CEO of Esteem Media and founder of the Design Influencers Conference

This week we invite you to Explore Home with Adam Japko, CEO of Esteem Media and founder of the Design Influencers Conference. Home to leading national and local media brands in the luxury home design, gardening and fine wine communities, Esteem Media is focused on connecting professionals to consumers through commonalities in both business and personal passions.
Listen as Neil chats with Adam about his wine blogger background and his active role as a “Dead Head,” plus his thoughts on how social media and influencers have impacted the way brands approach their marketing strategies. Neil and Adam also touch on the very important role of authenticity and how it can directly affect social engagement and influencer partnerships.

Gail Doby

Co-founder and CEO of Gail Doby Coaching and Consulting

Explore Home with Gail Doby. Gail works with interior designers earning a revenue of $250,000 or higher. With Gail’s expert help, her clients aim to take their business to the next level by implementing tasks such as taking control of their business operations and prioritizing their daily responsibilities.

Laura Thurman

Founder and Principal Designer at Laura Thurman Design

Explore Home with Laura Thurman. Laura discusses the challenges and opportunities of launching and running an interior design business, networking, vendor relationships and navigating High Point Market. Laura's inspiring designs have been featured in national and regional publications, including HGTV Magazine, Business of Home, and The Cottage Journal. Additionally, she was named best in Houzz four consecutive years.

Janine Wagers

Director of Visual Merchandising

Explore Home with Janine Wagers. Have you ever wondered how Universal's showroom gets decorated and ready for High Point Market twice a year? Listen as Janine reveals the magic behind designing the showroom, detailing how she leads the charge to design, merchandise, and space-plan to perfection every market. Janine, who began as a pre-med major, talks about her shift into art school, pursuing product design, and eventually working her way up to creative director for Universal.

Anne Sage &
Laiza Cors


Explore Home with Laiza Cors and Anne Sage of Embello, a dedicated online space for social influencers to connect with home and design brands. Listen as Laiza and Anne elaborate on their individual journeys in the influencer marketing space through the years and how it has evolved since its inception. They then touch on influencer marketing as it specifically relates to the home design and interior market, elaborating on the power it has to drive a consumer's purchasing decisions.

Franziska Neumann

FZK Franziska

Explore Home with Franziska Neumann, founder and creative director of FZK Franziska, a creative agency that helps design-oriented clients grow and steward their online presence. Listen as Franziska shares what lead her to start pursuing the interiors industry, and the "a-ha" moment that eventually became the turning point of her professional career.

Jessica Thurston

Special Projects Editor of Coastal Living Magazine

Explore Home with Jessica Thurston as she shares her professional journey in the magazine industry, from being a founding editor of Cottage Living to serving as Southern Living’s executive editor for over 10 years. Jessica discusses how the magazine industry has changed in order to suit our increasingly technology-based world.

Sackett Wood

President and CEO of Moore & Giles

Explore Home with Sackett Wood, president and CEO of Moore and Giles located in Lynchburg, Virginia. Listen as Sackett shares his professional journey starting in the banking business and eventually merging into the world of leather goods. Sackett also speaks about the growth of Moore & Giles through the years, elaborating on the company’s forward-thinking tactics, especially in regards to the upholstery industry.

Jack Eger & Elise Gabrielson

Crypton Home Fabrics

Explore Home with Elise Gabrielson and Jack Eger of Crypton, a leading manufacturer of performance fabric. Listen as Jack and Elise each detail their unique career journeys that ultimately led them both to Crypton. Then, they delve into the importance of performance fabric especially within the furniture industry and how Crypton presents a premium solution, focusing on wear-ability and cleanability.

Jane Dagmi

Editor-In-Chief of Designers Today

Explore Home with Jane Dagmi, Editor-in-Chief of Designers Today. Listen as Jane discusses her vast background in publishing as well as interior design. Jane also shares more on her unique professional journey that ultimately led to her current role at Designers Today.

Sita Montgomery

Sita Montgomery Interiors

Sita shares her journey into the interior design industry while raising her children, as well as how COVID-19 has affected the design industry, and what her new day-to-day looks like currently. She also touches on social media marketing and her process for selecting content to post which best represents herself and her business.

Sean O'Connor

Universal Furniture's Senior Vice President of Sales

Explore Home with Sean O'Connor, Universal Furniture's Senior Vice President of Sales. Listen as Sean shares his personal and professional background within the furniture industry as well as how he eventually found his way to Universal Furniture. Sean discusses Universal’s upholstery offering and how that has grown over the last several years into what is now their new special order upholstery program. For more on our new special order upholstery program, you can visit universalfurniture.com. We are now accepting orders!

Kaitlin Petersen

Editor-In-Chief of Business of Home Magazine

Explore Home with Kaitlin Petersen, Editor-in-Chief of Business of Home magazine. Listen as Kaitlin shares her start to journalism and what eventually led her to Business of Home. She discusses what’s involved in putting together an issue of the magazine, from longer lead times to incorporating meaningful themes that designers will not only enjoy but benefit from, and more. They then discuss how COVID-19 has affected the design industry and Kaitlin’s personal observations on where things are headed for the future.

Rachel Shingleton

Owner of Pencil Shavings Studio

Explore Home with Rachel Shingleton, owner of Pencil Shavings Studio. A color-obsessed interior designer with a background in graphic design, Rachel chats about a recent collaboration that she and Universal Furniture completed in Oklahoma. This collaboration heavily featured items from the Coastal Living collection, proving that breezy beach style can work just about anywhere. Listen as Rachel shares how both her blog and her travels have positively affected her design studio, opening up new perspectives and trains of thought.

Carla Regina & James Andrew

Regina Andrew

Explore Home with Carla Regina and James Andrew of Regina Andrew, maker of luxury interior products with an emphasis on lighting. Carla and James take us through a brief summary of their individual professional backgrounds and detail the beginning stages of Regina Andrew. They touch on the pros and cons of running a business with your significant other as well as some lessons learned along the way. The team then discuss their home base of Detroit and how that particular location affects their unique perspective on design. Learn about Regina Andrew’s new lighting venture with Coastal Living and how that project perfectly complements Universal Furniture’s collections with the same brand.

John Hillman

VP and Broker at Crane Island Real Estate

Explore Home with John Hillman, Vice President and Broker at Crane Island Real Estate, an exclusive Coastal Living community. Crane Island was also the location of Universal’s second Coastal Living photo shoot featuring the Getaway collection.

John touches on his background in the design industry and what led him to the custom home business. He then talks about he holistic community aspect of his developments and why his clients gravitate towards this kind of living. John also explains why he loves Crane Island and what makes it such a unique place to live and work. Neil and John delve in to the effects that COVID-19 has had on not only the developmental side of his business, but also in the building and designing of a home remotely.

Stephanie Cohen

Stephanie Cohen Home

Explore Home with Stephanie Cohen of Stephanie Cohen Home. Listen as Stephanie begins with her professional journey to interior design, one that includes switching from a law student to a full-time design student. After detailing this transition, Stephanie shares more about her business which is comprised of an interior design firm as well as a brick and mortar storefront. After delving into both the challenges and opportunities associated with owning a retail storefront, Stephanie shares the unique impact COVID-19 has had on her business. They then discuss what changes have been made to adjust to 2020’s world, as well as certain design trends that have come about as a result of the pandemic, including an increased need for outdoor living spaces.

Michelle Wiebe

Founder Studio M

Explore Home with Michelle Wiebe, President, Founder and Principal Designer of Studio M based in Clearwater, FL. Michelle details her launch into the design industry and the unique evolution of her business throughout the years, as well how she and husband Tom have found balance working together at Studio M. Michelle discusses some of her favorite Universal pieces as well as the work and dedication that went into planning the Seasonal Living Virtual Show Home Project.

Melissa Galt

Interior Design Coach

Explore Home with Melissa Galt, a premier interior design business coach. Melissa shares a brief history of her professional journey, detailing what influenced her transformation from being an interior designer into an interior design coach. She touches on the advantages of digital technology and the rise of e-design and remote working, especially in the age of COVID-19. They discuss how to not only define but attract your ideal client for your business.

Lori Paranjape

Owner of Redo Home + Design

Welcome to Explore Home Podcast! Today we explore home with Lori Paranjape, owner of her own design firm based in Nashville, TN which focuses on luxury homes and new construction. Lori's work has been featured in publications like Domino, Architectural Digest, House Beautiful and Traditional Home. Discover how an English Literature major and former TV reporter turned her beloved hobby into a powerhouse interior design firm.

Lori discusses how the tempo and style of interior design has changed over the last year with the arrival of Covid-19. From directing installations via Zoom calls to finding your groove when apart from your team. We also discuss how Lori uses Instagram, the impact it has on her business and some tips that could help you.

To learn more about Lori and her firm we encourage you to visit redohomeanddesign.com and follow her on Instagram at @mrsparanjape.

Scott O'Neil

VP of Global Sales for Cylindo

Explore home with Scott O'Neil, VP of Global Sales for Cylindo.

Discover how Cylindo’s focus on 3D product visualization platforms allow manufacturers and retailers the ability to provide customers the power to visualize products while shopping from home. With more people shopping online before stepping foot in a retail store, it is important that consumers "experience" the product online. Scott talks about how manufacturers and retailers have had to rethink how they present their products, the buyer journey has changed forever.

Benno Duenkelsbuehler


Explore home with Benno Duenkelsbuehler, (re)ALIGN CEO and Chief Growth Sherpa. His company focuses on the intersection between growth and execution. Benno helps new brands grow and take their products to market. He guides his clients on how to create an experience that makes people fall in love with, and purchase, their products. Benno details how “disruptive” brands have changed how people think about shopping, they make consumers devoted to, and remain loyal to, their brand. This is the goal he hopes to achieve when working with a client.

Sara Serarle


Explore Home with Sara Serarle from Promoboxx. Sara discusses her time spent on the account management team at Snapchat. While there, Sara took note of how the platform fostered conversations between friends using Snapchat integrated content. Out of this experience grew a passion for advertising and social media. Sara then describes the challenges her multi-generational small family business faced when trying to implement social media into their marketing strategy. This is what drew her to Promoboxx. Promoboxx is a platform that connects brands to retailers and their consumers through organic and paid social media, e-mail marketing and downloadable content. It is a tool that can level the playing field for all types, and sizes, of retailers.

Kyla Herbes

House of Hipsters

Explore home with Kyla Herbes, creator of the House of Hipsters blog.

Kyla talks about the birth of House of Hipster, which started as a hobby. Kyla knew it was special and was willing to put in the time and effort to turn it into one of the top blogs in the country. Today, House of Hipsters is a consistent award-winning blog and launched Kyla into the limelight. Kyla details how she focused on Pinterest on her blog, which led to her joining the “Pin Factory.”

Danny Seo

Publisher and Chief Principal of RUE Magazine

Explore Home with Danny Seo. Danny is the epitome of a modern-day Renaissance man, he is the author of 14 books, has run a non-profit organization, worked with Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon, and produced and starred on an Emmy award winning lifestyle show. 7 years ago, Danny launched the Naturally Danny Seo brand. His magazine, Naturally Danny Seo, hit the shelves and immediately flew off of them. Danny discusses his latest endeavor, RUE Magazine, now on newsstands. Danny is a firm believer that consumers favor quality, from the paper that the magazine is printed on, to the content, Danny oversees it all.

Sharon Savage & Don Massenburg

Explore Home with Sharon Savage of Lancaster Custom Crafted Upholstery and Don Massenburg of Design Inkredible. Listen as they discuss the various challenges and opportunities that COVID-19 has presented within the design industry in the last year. Then, Neil, Sharon and Don discuss HPxD (High Point by Design) — what it is, what its mission is and how it is a prime and exciting new resource for interior designers all year round. With HPxD, designers now have access to view product and meet with brands outside of the traditional High Point market times.

Ericka Saurit

Saurit Creative

Explore Home with Ericka Saurit of Saurit Creative, a digital marketing firm for the home industry. Listen as Neil and Ericka start with a brief history of Ericka’s professional career, including her years spent living and working in China. They then touch on Ericka’s involvement with Airbnb to build their Airbnb Plus division along with Universal Furniture. Ericka talks about their favorite aspects of market opening back up as well as sharing more on how to use social outlets like Instagram to benefit your business.

Patti Carpenter & AmyLynn Schwartzbard

Kaleidoscope Project

Explore Home with designers Patti Carpenter and AmyLynn Schwartzbard as they discuss the Kaleidoscope Project. This exciting design initiative took place at the Cornell Inn in Lennox, MA as a group of 23 diverse, under-represented interior professionals renovated and redesigned 21 unique rooms within the space.

Ginna Christensen

Business Coach & Consultant

Explore Home with Ginna Christensen, interior design leadership expert, business coach and consultant. Ginna details the start of her career at Giorgio Armani and how the lessons learned there helped shape her professional foundation as she moved from fashion to interiors. Ginna delves into the importance of building a brand story and consistent messaging.

Tiffany Cassidy

Lagnappe Custom Interiors

Explore Home with Tiffany Cassidy, principal designer of Lagnappe Custom Interiors located in St. Thomas, VI. Listen as Tiffany discusses her journey to living and working in the Caribbean. Tiffany touches on why she loves specifying products from Universal Furniture, especially from our Coastal Living collaborations, and chats about which pieces she loves the most.

Patrick & Meghan Sharp

Mister + Mrs Sharp Design Studio

Explore Home with Patrick and Meghan Sharp of design studio Mister + Mrs Sharp. They first detail how they met — within the visual merchandising department of Banana Republic — and how their time spent in retail naturally propelled them into the furniture and design industry. They touch on the unique community of Serenbe, located outside of Atlanta, and how their design influence can be found within the community (they also live there!). Discover some of their Universal Furniture favorites that they have used in recent design projects.

Kelli Lamb

Editor-In-Chief, RUE Magazine

Explore Home with Kelli Lamb, the Editor-in-Chief of RUE Magazine. Kelli chats about her professional start in blogging and how she eventually made her way to RUE Magazine. They discuss the many ways RUE has grown and changed since Kelli first joined the team as an assistant. Neil and Kelli discuss a new market opportunity called '5 Minutes With' which is hosted in the Universal Showroom. Here, designers are able to meet with Kelli and the RUE team for quick meet and greets as a way to foster connections and get the most out of market visits.

Jonathan Vehar

Pilgrimage Professional Development Group

Explore Home with Jonathan Vehar, Partner at Pilgrimage Professional Development Group. At Pilgrimage, Jonathan partners with organizations to help them more effectively and efficiently achieve their goals through a focus on teamwork and communication. Jonathan elaborates on his advice regarding how to set specific goals while keeping in mind the steps it will take to achieve them. They also discuss how exactly to measure success in business from both a numerical and behavioral standpoint.

Shannon Lookabill

Director of Product Development, Universal Furniture

Explore Home with our very own Director of Product Development at Universal Furniture, Shannon Lookabill. Shannon discusses his journey into furniture design, beginning with influence from his family as a child. They delve into the detailed process of creating furniture, starting with defining a need. Shannon discusses Universal’s upcoming Erinn V. collection and why they are especially excited for this launch. To stay up-to-date on the upcoming Erinn V. launch as well as other new Universal Furniture additions, follow @UniversalFurn on Instagram for more.

Erinn Valencich


Explore Home with Erinn Valencich, interior designer and real estate developer. Listen as Erinn details how she first made her way into the design industry, starting with some special childhood roots. Erinn discusses her exciting new furniture collaboration with Universal, as well as takes a closer look at what inspires her and how she uses that inspiration to execute timeless pieces.

For more on Erinn, you can visit erinnvdesigngroup.com or follow her on Instagram at @erinnvstyle.

Will Brinson

CBS Sports Senior Writer

Explore Home with Will Brinson, CBS Sports Senior Writer. Listen as Will discusses the similarities between a well-run NFL organization and a well-run company. Both have faith in the people hired to manage day to day tasks. Both know how to delegate and let people do what they do best. Both know when to step-in and when to step-away. Will has seen the benefits first hand of organizations that recognize their resources and manage them well.

Amy Bartlam

Amy Bartlam Photography

Explore Home with Amy Bartlam, owner of Los Angeles based Amy Bartlam Photography. Neil and Amy discuss the artistry and skill it takes to plan and execute a beautiful interior. When photographing for interior design projects, Amy always asks "what story are you trying to tell." There is a misconception that photography is reality, but what it is really doing is telling a story, evoking a feeling. When building a brand it is important to tell the story that you want clients to see.

Erika Ward

Erika Ward Interiors

Explore Home with Erika Ward, owner of Erika Ward Interiors in Atlanta. Listen as Erika describes her journey from majoring in finance at the University of Georgia, to opening her own interior design business. Erika and Neil discuss why she loves attending High Point Market. She loves to visit her top vendors to see what’s new, as well as take the time to go off the beaten path. This Market she is looking forward to attending several educational events to broaden her horizons and network with like-minded professionals.

Tammy Nagem

High Point Market Authority

Explore home with Tammy Nagem, President and CEO of High Point Market Authority. As the newly appointed HPMA President, Tammy describes her transition into the role and the anticipation of the upcoming Spring High Point Market.

John McClain

CEO/Creative Director
John McClain Design

Explore home with John McClain, CEO and Creative Director of John McClain Design. Neil and John talk about how he began by decorating friends’ homes for a free lunch. On a whim, he auditioned for an HGTV special that focused on designers. He made the cut, and the exposure made him an in-demand designer. Following this momentum and a fortuitous meeting on a cruise, John moved to LA and began designing full-time.

Rydhima Brar

R/Terior Studio

Explore Home with Rydhima Brar, founder and designer of R/Terior Studio based in Los Angeles, California. Rydhima shares about her childhood growing up in Kuwait and how her upbringing played an integral part in her unique aesthetic. Listen as Rydhima describes her first visit to High Point Market and the value she found in making the cross country trip.

Yvonne Christensen & Nichole Speirs

House West Design

Explore home with Yvonne Christensen and Nichole Speirs, owners of Utah-based House West Design. Listen as Yvonne and Nichole discuss how “meeting” on Instagram led to joining forces and opening House West Design. They discuss the challenges of merging two companies together, from day-to-day processes, delegation and hiring the right team. Yvonne and Nichole talk about how Universal’s collections, quality, and depth and breadth of in stock items allows them to streamline ordering furniture for their projects.

Neil MacKenzie

Meet Your Host

Hosted by Neil MacKenzie, Senior VP of Marketing for Universal Furniture. Neil has over 15 years of marketing experience working with clients ranging from golf and recreation brands to retail banking and home furnishings. Neil has overseen the emergence of Universal as a whole home resource and launched the Universal To The Trade program. In addition, he’s been responsible for licensing partnerships like the Coastal Living Home Collection and Miranda Kerr Home.


Introducing the Explore Home Podcast hosted by Neil MacKenzie, Universal’s Senior VP of Marketing. Listen in as we navigate design trends with furniture industry insiders, Interior Designers and Influencers who inspire the way we design furniture. Subscribe to the Explore Home Podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or ask your smartspeaker to play The Explore Home podcast.