“Design has been a part of my life since I can remember,” says Caroline Scheeler, co-founder and creative director of Jayson Home, a Chicago-based urban home emporium. “My father was an architect and my mother was a deeply creative homemaker, the first and absolutely biggest influence in my creative life.”
After studying painting, photography, sculpture, and art history at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Scheeler explored life as a post-graduate, living in the Caribbean, working as a bartender, operating a catering company, designing clothes, and working for interior designers and architects before landing a job as an assistant buyer at the company that would eventually become Jayson Home. “I knew right away that I’d found my career path and my work-home,” she says, “I saw a future and a way to absolutely love what I did for work, every single day.”
These days, Scheeler, 52, moves between her stores, travels the globe in search of the perfect pieces for her clients, and manages to make time for interests that include photography, horseback riding, yoga, and cooking. “I have always had a voracious need for change and a drive to create, build, brainstorm, and make things happen,” she says, “so the worlds of interior design and retail suit me very well.”
Having learned about Scheeler’s uniquely successful past, we were eager to know more about her perspective on the present, as the head of a booming business and a mother of two teenagers.
You opened a store in Manhattan this year and relaunched your website. What’s special about Jayson Home’s online presence?
When we designed the new Jayson Home site, we wanted to do everything we could to let our unique merchandise shine; after all, that’s what keeps our customers coming back again and again. We now have larger, better product images and a more editorial site design that allows us to feature more photography. This combination shows off our products better than ever and helps our customers find exactly what they want.
Staying busy seems ingrained in your character. What does your typical workday look like?
There are all kinds of things that can come up in a day: marketing meetings, new product designs and reviews, photo shoots and catalog design, meetings with vendors. Every single day is a new adventure here. It’s always been that way and it’s a dream work environment for me.
With all that going on at work, how do you maintain a balance between your professional life and family time?
Doing what we love, what makes us feel whole, as women, mothers, and humans is so important. Now I have a son in college and a 16-year-old daughter, but when I look back, I cannot believe that I did what I did for so long. I felt like a warrior. But being overwhelmed is not always a bad thing! Your kids will grow so fast and you’re their world, until you’re not anymore. They always need you, but I think keeping your own interests alive is so important. Kids may not realize it when they’re little, but as they grow, seeing you happy and fulfilled not only sets a great and empowering example, but shows them there are lots of layers to their mama — and to every other human on the planet.
How has growing older changed how you want to spend your time?
This is kind of a new thing for me — being still and being OK with being still. I look forward to a time in the future when I’m free to make art, cook, travel, practice yoga, read, and just be still.
Looking back on your career, can you reflect on how your experiences brought you to where you are today?
I was a late bloomer for sure and to this day, a Jane-of-all-trades. I’m a huge believer in opening as many doors as you can — or as many as you can handle. I’ve always been motivated by doing and knowing that there is the potential for failure. Not doing and playing it safe was never for me!
What satisfies you at this stage in your life?
Feeling empowered and confident in my own skin and getting to share life and all its wonders truly fulfills and inspires me. Growing up and older has given me more confidence to be bolder and more honest with myself and others, both at work and at home, with friends and family. I feel like the sky is the limit when it comes to being creative and being yourself, which is exciting and energizing. But I’ve also learned to be fulfilled just by being present, by softly reminding myself that time is of the essence. Every single day, as soon as I wake up, I like to go through a list of things I’m grateful for. It’s a daily inspiration, a call to action. Life is so precious; time is fleeting. Make your mark. Break rules. Be heard. Listen. Be happy. Make others happy. This is the foundation of my creativity.