Creative Captain: Cyndi Fernandez Beltran On Leadership And Design Through Adversity - LA Lives

Moss Design House’s design director believes that those in her field and industry are natural innovators, and are able to adapt to tough times.

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Like all business owners, Cyndi Fernandez Beltran is treading new waters when it comes to operating during a worldwide pandemic. Instead of letting herself sink, she found herself looking at her firm and brand, Moss Design House and Moss Home, and figuring out what could be done to help the situation.

“I look at the pandemic as a catalyst for change,” Fernandez Beltran, who is Moss’ design director, says. “Business as I know it has changed 360 degrees, and I had to forget or unlearn things I knew in the past to try to re-calibrate myself to think of ways on how to navigate this change.”

Shifting focus

Events made up 65 to 70 percent of the brand’s business revenues. But because they happen to be a multi-disciplinary firm, it allowed them to focus and tap into other disciplines like interior design and retail.

“We were able to re-boot the company and see where the needs of the consumer lie and focus on that,” she says. “This time allowed us to be as collaborative and as creative as we can be to churn out the best business pivots.”

It was important for Beltran to be transparent with her team. One of the ways she did this was truthfully telling them where Moss Design House was and where she thought the brand was heading. “Leaders in crisis must show trust, hope, and optimism that leads to positive energy and purpose,” she says.

“Design is about solving everyday problems,” says Beltran

The brain trust conducted a business continuity plan, discussed at a town-hall meeting, and included different business scenarios. There, Beltran asked the staff for their help, wanting to know what they could put on the table. The changes, soon after, were instantaneous.

“What I learned was, there is nothing like a person driven with a new-found purpose,” she says. “Their roles have changed since we created a game plan, and everyone’s goal is to keep the company afloat, which seems to have everyone aligned,” she says. This was a collective effort, she points out, something that came from her team having a clear understanding of the situation and acknowledging that they are part of the solution.

Right now, Beltran says her favorite services at her firm are those recently put up during the pandemic, with the vision of bringing design into people’s homes.

This includes Design on Demand, an online platform for those looking to refresh their personal spaces without having to leave their home. Through this digital resource, users can interact with their team on a per-hour basis, and ask for guidance on design dilemmas or full-blown renovation projects.

Problem solving

“Living and working in the design industry can be tough at times,” she says. “Designers are increasingly perceived as problem solvers so it constantly pushes us to keep innovating and making sure we get to discover new avenues to try to keep things fresh and relevant during changing times.”

One of the biggest challenges in Beltran’s profession is finding new ways to innovate and be original. According to her, commercialism and increasing access to mass-produced pieces make it challenging to sell artisan, bespoke, and well-crafted pieces.

“Consumers are now getting more impatient,” she says, frankly. Most people, she points out, would rather purchase home items that they can get off-the-rack versus quality custom design pieces that cost more and take longer to produce.

To combat this, she works to change the idea held by many that design is superficial: something that only serves aesthetics with little to no science or material consciousness put to it. For Beltran, this is far from the truth.

“Design is about solving everyday problems and having deep knowledge about how people move, understanding material use and the technicality of building things with little to almost no wastage is becoming more and more important,” she says.

The full story on Cyndi Fernandez Beltran can be found in Volume 1 of Lifestyle Asia 2021.

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