Designers In the Limelight
Broader appreciation for a trio of local pros
Photographer Carli Wentworth
When Target says they want your product in their stores, the “yes” is quickly followed by a shift in focus and a growing awareness of the scope of the demand. As one of America’s largest retailers, presence on Target’s shelves means wider awareness of your product along with increased sales.
Whitney English designed her Day Designer because she could not find a planner that fit her hectic lifestyle, owning her own company and raising three small children. She looked at every planner she could find, but all of them lacked some component that she believed was crucial.
English started working at a paper and stationery store when she was 15 years old, and she continued the job through college. Her experience with paper made part of the task of designing her own planner easier, but there were still substantial hurdles, including learning about the various aspects of the manufacturing process. English persevered, and the company sold 500 planners the first year.
“I never expected it to become this collaboration with Target,” she said. “It was this small thing, under the radar.”
The Day Designer, which features a hard cover and an absorbent bond that allows for quick drying of ink, has sections for hourly planning, a long to-do list, notes and even a box for “gratitude.” English chose a spiral construction because she likes to be able to fold the planner back on itself — space to work is often compact when working from home, after all. She also went with brass instead of nickel.
“I’m over the nickel thing,” she said. “I’m into brass right now. It’s really chic, really polished.”
While the revenue growth for Day Designer has topped triple digits in two of the past three years (320 and 232 percent), English said she now defines success differently than she did with her first company, which failed. “It used to be correlated with something like greed, and I think part of the reason it failed is because I held onto it too tightly. Now I hold it loosely, and I’m happy with where we are and with our growth.”
When Better Homes and Gardens’ special publication Stylemakers comes out this fall, it will feature Rachel Shingleton’s home. Shingleton, the owner of Pencil Shavings Studio, has been writing for BHG’s “Style Spotters” blog for the past four years. She writes a design/style piece twice a month, so when the publication was looking for tastemakers to feature in Stylemakers, her editor recommended her to the publication.
“My understanding is the magazine is featuring the homes and offices of different designers and tastemakers,” she said.
Shingleton offices out of her home in a room that was originally designed as a bonus room. Sometimes, she works from her kitchen, her laptop in front of her as she manages a household that includes two children, ages eight and not-quite-two.
“My work hours are wherever I can grab them,” she said.
She describes her home’s style as “colorful, preppy chic, a little dressy with vintage flair.” The primary neutral color is white, and her palette includes blue and aqua as the primary accent colors.
“Color reflects a personality type,” Shingleton said. “People have a gut reaction to color, and I think for design it’s a matter of finding the best hue.”
Being formally trained in graphic design provides a foundation for dabbling in all aspects of design, and while Pencil Shavings started out doing invitations and logos, Shingleton has now taken it into interior design and product styling.
“An art background gave me a foundational education in color integration, scale and proportion, and I apply that to helping clients live the way they want to live, with interiors that reflect an understanding of their identity,” she said.
Without question, more people outside of Oklahoma have heard of Kelly Caviness than people from his native state. Caviness designs pools, and his company has won international design awards every year since 2007, but when the phone rings, it is most likely to be someone from outside Oklahoma — outside the U.S., even — than a local.
Caviness started a landscape company in 1983, and at a home and garden show in 1995, a gentleman approached him and asked if he could convert the display into a swimming pool. That was Caviness’ first pool, and it was a sign of what was to come.
Caviness Landscape will build you a standard rectangular pool in your backyard if you want one, but what they really do is build remarkable designs that include swim-up bars, tunnels, hidden slides and grottos. And waterfalls. Caviness has always loved waterfalls.
“I think people get on the website and they see what we do and think, ‘I can’t afford that!’ but we will build whatever the customer wants,” he said.
Working with a customer wish list, Caviness consults with clients individually to make suggestions. Most of the elaborate components are the company’s recommendation, and their specialty is creating pools that fit within the landscape architecture and aesthetic of the property.
“We’re still old school,” Caviness said. “We draw everything by hand. I hired a landscape architect three years ago — Marissa Linz — and we work together on the designs. My father-in-law is an architect, so he really helped me learn how to draw the designs, too.”
Caviness’ designs are notable enough to have caught the attention of HGTV (“Cool Pools”) and the DIY Network (“Pool Kings”). With the kind of publicity he is getting outside the state and country, it really is a wonder he doesn’t get more local calls.