Deborah Herman, owner and president of Miami-based Fabric Innovations, a leading supplier of bedding, drapery and custom fabrics to the hospitality industry, spoke on Thursday, October 25th to the Cornell School of Hotel Administration (CSHA) Female Leadership in Hospitality Association (FLHA) at the Ithaca, NY campus. During the presentation, which was part of a guest lecture series organized by the CSHA Alumni Association, young women of the CSHA gathered to learn about Deborah's experience as a successful entrepreneur, since she founded Fabric Innovations 17 years ago.
Today, Fabric Innovations is the sole vendor for Heavenly Bed by Westin, Four Points by Sheraton top-of-the-bed and a bundled vendor for Aloft Hotels. Fabric Innovations is also a branded vendor of drapery fabrics for multiple hotel brands, and will soon announce global contracts for worldwide production for two new brands. Known for sourcing the best materials and resources from every corner of the globe, Fabric Innovations currently manufactures draperies in South Hill, VA, drapery fabric in Turkey, linen products in India, top-of-the-bed products in Mexico, and a multitude of hotel products in China.
Deborah is currently the International Ambassador for NEWH, the Network of Women in Hospitality, and has served passionately for 20 years to promote and mentor young women. At the FLHA event, she offered her advice and the benefit of her nearly two decades of experience as a woman-owned business executive in what is still a male-dominated industry.
"The opportunity to speak with these young women and students at Cornell was a dream come true," she said. “Influencing the best and brightest minds of the next generation was a wonderful experience for me. I have been going to Cornell events since I was 19 years old and finally being invited to speak on campus was very exciting.”
One of the most important topics Deborah stressed during the presentation was that all the young women in the room would one day become salespeople. “You will one day have to sell yourselves to an employer, sell your way to a better salary and perhaps one day sell a potential customer to choose your hotel over another one in the neighborhood,” she advised. “Networking in our industry starts today - right here in this Cornell classroom and doesn't end even after retirement. Networking and sales opportunities come with every job in every facet of employment. Never forget this.”
According to Deborah, another one of the important lessons to be learned in the hotel business is that there is no manual specific enough to teach all the facets of every experience. Mistakes can be the best thing for business and for a career, and once made, one must learn from them and not make the same mistakes twice. She also spoke passionately about being innovative. She cited the example of hotel mogul, Barry Sternlicht, and how white bedding changed the bedding industry forever. She claimed that Mr. Sternlicht was an innovator who didn't study others but instead listened to his guests. A good night's sleep became his mantra, as he challenged the entire industry to provide a more luxurious night's sleep one brand at a time.
Deborah’s closing statement to the members of FLHA was, “Don't rely on luck. Get out of bed every day and make your own luck. Don't wait for success and life to happen to you. Go out and make it happen yourself.”
Kathleen Hodge, president of FLHA summed up the presentation by saying, “Deborah was truly inspirational. I had a number of girls come up to me and tell me just how amazing her talk was and how happy they were that they attended. She is one of the most dynamic women leaders that I've ever met, and it was a pleasure to have her here.”
For further information on Fabric Innovations, please call 305-860-5757 or visit www.fabricinnovations.com.
About Fabric Innovations
Fabric Innovations is a leading supplier of luxury linens, bedding and custom fabrics to the hospitality industry, specializing in long-term procurement programs for prestigious hotel properties and chains. Their extensive product line includes bedding, drapes and window treatments, custom fabrics, and bath products including robes and slippers. Fabric Innovations maintains its corporate headquarters in Miami, Fl. with regional offices and manufacturing facilities in the U.S., India, China, Turkey, Mexico and Latin America. For more information, please call 305-860-5757 or visit www.fabricinnovations.com.