A Chat with Chairman of the Board

Ellen Kravet, Co-Principal and Executive Vice President of Kravet Inc.—a fifth-generation family business that distributes fabrics, furniture, wall coverings, trimmings and accessories—became Chairman of the NYSID Board of Trustees in September 2017. Together with her two brothers and sister-in-law, Ellen and her family have expanded Kravet Inc. into the global leader in ‘to the trade’ home furnishings.

Since Ellen Kravet joined the Board of Trustees in 2012, she has been a force and resource at NYSID. She has served on the Committee on Student Life, the Financial Overview Committee, and the Executive Committee. She co-chaired a re-branding committee in 2014, and ascended to the role of Vice Co-Chair of the NYSID Board in 2014. A former teacher with a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from Hofstra University, she enjoys spending time as a Trustee in close contact with the students, personally imparting her knowledge of the industry during tours of Kravet’s facilities. She’s on the Women’s Leadership Council of her alma mater, Lafayette College, and has recently been accepted as a member of the Decorator’s Club, a prestigious organization of women interior designers. Kravet serves as Chairman of the Board of Cape Regional Health System, where she spearheads the hospital’s annual designer house tour.

What would you like to see happen at NYSID in the next 5 years? This is a pivotal moment in NYSID’s history. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education has recently granted the College accreditation, and the influential journal DesignIntelligence has ranked NYSID’s graduate and undergraduate programs in the top 10 for 5 consecutive years. In addition, New York State Department of Education has just approved NYSID’s Online Associate in Applied Science Degree. It’s a great time to expand the geographical base of our students beyond New York, to raise awareness of the NYSID brand in other countries and states. In terms of curriculum, I’d like to see NYSID continue to make certain that our students receive an education that prepares them for the real world. Student-designers need to learn to balance the creative aspects of their work with business skills like accounting, data analysis, negotiation, and contracts.

You have welcomed NYSID classes into Kravet’s studios and headquarters. Can you tell us about this experience? I’m a teacher by training, so when students come into our facilities I can’t help but get involved. At the studio on 21st Street, we show students how fabrics are organized to create a brand; how to use market data to predict which colors will be bestsellers, and more. It is a diverse industry, and we expose them to alternate career paths related to the world of interior design. At our Bethpage, Long Island, headquarters, we show students how product development incorporates the latest technologies used in the weaving and printing of fabrics.

How does the lens of former educator influence your work at NYSID? What I learned as a teacher of children is that people have different learning styles and aptitudes. Learners can be visual, verbal, have strong socioemotional skills or organizational strengths. I try to emphasize the importance of multiple approaches to learning in my interactions with the faculty.

What excites you about becoming Chairman of the Board at NYSID? It’s a role that combines two things I love most in life (besides my husband), interior design and education. I’m also excited about NYSID’s executive team, because they are adaptive, forward-thinking, and open to new directions.

What is the most important thing you have learned at Kravet Inc.? My grandfather and father were my mentors, and what they taught me sounds quite simple: Be nice; be honest; be fair. I carry those principles with me into my business, my board work, and my everyday life.

Phyllis Greer