The following article is published in Vail Valley Home, January 2020.
For more than 35 years, Beth Slifer and her company, Slifer Designs, have helped define Vail’s iconic design and style. Now, both the woman and her business will be featured on an award-winning educational television series, “Behind the Scenes” with host Laurence Fishburne. The series seeks to educate and inform its audience about a wide range of topics, and is aired nationwide on PBS and affiliate public broadcasting networks.
The episode featuring Beth puts a spotlight on her path as a woman entrepreneur, her choice to found her own company, and the importance of creating an environment for professional women to thrive. It is a timely message, but one that Beth has been cultivating for decades.
As the episode states, Beth is “known throughout the country as a woman who helped change the look of Vail.” That is hardly hyperbole. However, the interior designer, mentor and founder / creative director of Slifer Designs didn’t necessarily plan on being the face of high-end creativity in resort communities.
Beth’s path as a female entrepreneur started well before she moved to Vail in 1983. It took more than moxie for her to build a nationally renowned business. Beth knew that to run a successful company takes passion, perseverance, confidence, knowledge—and a strong reputation. She was the first ever female corporate loan officer at Citibank New York, worked on President Carter’s campaign, appointed to the Environmental Protection Agency, and earned an MBA.
As the daughter of a female business owner, Beth never thought that starting her own business would be out of the ordinary. She did not rely on her strong resume or even her MBA for the confidence to start her own business, although she recognizes that they gave her the experience and acumen necessary for her business to succeed.
As Beth states, when she founded Slifer Designs she was able to “take the creative side of interior design and put a stamp of professionalism on to that pursuit.” The result is a company that has endured three decades, and several economic highs and lows, and remains known as one of the iconic interior design firms in the country.
Just as a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, Beth’s journey of running the Vail Valley based interior design firm started with just one mountain remodel. She started her career in interior design in the mid-1980s, not to set out to revolutionize design but simply to help a friend sell a condo. However, combining her business prowess with her design acumen, Slifer Designs was born.
In the 36 years since, Beth has been at the heart of everything Slifer Designs does. She has been integral in empowering hundreds of women, and creating inviting spaces while being meticulous in both her design and her expectations of her company. Each project has been met with the same exacting standards she first employed: “Our first responsibility is to give our clients what they want, and we always aim to exceed their expectations.”
“The most important thing in … business is reputation, personal trust in what you promise and what you deliver. Through the ups and downs in the economy, we made sure we can follow through on promises. Whatever we do is guaranteed,” she says.
The stamp of professionalism has become synonymous with Slifer Designs’ work and its designers. Over the years, Beth has hired hundreds of designers who work on second homes, boutique businesses, and large commercial projects, on projects from Canada to Mexico, from the East to West coast, and most everywhere in between. Many clients are repeat customers who rely on the personal relationships developed as homes are designed to fit their lifestyles.
At Slifer Designs, the design team is given equal parts free rein and a cultivated education. By working collectively rather than individually, they are able to bring the highest level of expertise, creativity, and detail to their designs.
Kim Toms is a team member who has benefited from Beth’s leadership, and has in turn become a mentor to her own team of female designers. Kim started at Slifer Designs 18 years ago, coming from a predominantly male general contracting company, but has thrived at the woman-owned Slifer Designs, which is 80 percent female and is a completely different experience. She has since risen through the ranks from entry level designer to the Managing Principal.
“We have a very good process to follow that helps [young designers] learn and grow their career. It’s a supportive environment,” Toms shares. She’s seen many young associates grow and navigate the world of interior design.
For Beth, she is most proud of starting a company that continues its commitment to people first: to the clients they work for, the employees they work with, and their community in the Vail Valley.