Business Class: Candice Olson — modern woman, traditional values

By Randall Kenneth Jones

Originally published in the Naples Daily News

Monday, March 3, 2014

Candice Olson is late for our interview.

After a day jammed with air travel, meet & greets, and presentations, there’s been an accident on I-75 South.

Finally, as Olson’s elegant, statuesque frame enters Robb & Stucky Interiors’ showroom, I look at my watch—only 22 minutes left.

Candice Olson photo by Keith IsaacOf course, on shows such as Home and Garden Television’s (HGTV) “Divine Design” and “Candice Tells All,” Candice Olson is used to performing miracles in only 22 minutes.

Plus, for someone with Olson’s pedigree, this limited time could arguably be used to erect a second showroom in the parking lot.

In her world—where “creativity” meets “structure”—flexibility is everything.

Thankfully, I am prepared, and the charming, effervescent Candice Olson is, in a word, “on.”

It’s showtime.

In a story that rivals Hollywood fables of the past, Candice Olson was discovered due to illness. Someone else’s, that is.

Clad in work boots, baggy pants and a tank top, Olson served as a last-minute replacement in the presentation of one of her award-winning designs on a Canadian design program.

Today, unexpected-understudy-turned-TV-design-mogul Candice Olson also safeguards “The Candice Olson Collection”—a thriving brand of home decor products, including upholstered furniture, fabrics, wallpaper, lighting, bedding and more.

Not surprisingly, many of the design techniques Olson champions also represent the way she has styled her career.

Randall Kenneth Jones and Candice Olson photo by Keith IsaacFor newcomers: “Work hard for the opportunity and try to beat it to the door before it knocks!”

Olson quips, “When my time came, I knocked those friggin’ doors down!”

To a woman who has participated in demolishing countless door frames, non-load-bearing walls and dated kitchens, one suspects this act came pretty naturally.

Olson also has a healthy respect for the “business” of design.

Take a closer look and her celebrated approach effortlessly translates into excellent advice for the design of a successful business. According to Olson, “It’s not all puppies and kittens. It is a business. Treat your client’s money as if it were your own.”

Candice Olson and Randall Kenneth Jones photo by Keith IsaacTo illustrate her point, Olson cites a cash-strapped couple from her early days as designer. By honoring their budgetary limitations, Olson went on to design three more of their homes. Yes, the budgets did increase but the relationship the trio built on mutual trust and respect was priceless.

Devotees of Olson’s signature style live by her enviable vision: “My work is a fusion of traditional form, scale and proportions, with the clean, crisp, simplistic beauty of modern design.”

However, with modern technology often seen as an adversary to traditional business values, the same could be said of Olson’s professional style. “There’s something comforting about the traditional—such as a handshake and a personal meeting,” she observes.

Candice Olson and Randall Kenneth Jones photo by Keith IsaacOlson also takes her frequent advice to “HGTV Star” contestants very personally—as indicated by the emphasis she places on displaying warmth, humor and authenticity on camera.

Whether she’s eliciting belly laughs from a story about renovating a former frat house she once helped to “trash,” or weighing the pros and cons of my impromptu throw-pillow-fight request, in 22 minutes, Candice Olson proved to be a natural, both on-screen and off.

Randall Kenneth JonesMarketer, publicist, business humoristprofessional-courtesy advocate, branded-content writer, creative-development consultant, and entertaining motivational speaker Randall Kenneth Jones is the creator of and the president of MindZoo, a marketing communications firm in Naples, Florida.

TOP and INTERIOR Photos — Candice Olson and Randall Kenneth Jones — Copyright Keith Isaac Photography (used by permission); BOTTOM — Randall Kenneth Jones.