Local woman designs rugs for the hospitality industry
Sitting in her not-yet-unpacked house, Owens scrolls through her samples on a computer from her coffee table and couch — her office for the time being — where she dreams up the next design.
She described the style of her work as organic and modern.
“I like vine-y things and like to add more textures,” Owens said.
One of her favorite designs and the one that’s been used most often is a free-flowing vine-like pattern contrasted with concentric circles in warm redish hues.
But her designs often depend on the client, she said.
“It’s nothing like I have in my house.”
Wearing cowboy boots, jeans and a small green graphic print button-down, Owens sat in her living room, where the most out-there décor is a vintage slot machine near the lamp she designed for John Richard.
“I was raised in Natchez for Pete’s sake, I’m very traditional,” she said.
Owens’ job has brought her all over the world. At one time, she was sent a month at a time to Hong Kong, the Philippines, Mexico and Vietnam for inspiration and to shop their vendors. For a time, she lived in New Orleans, Mobile, Ala., Amarillo, Texas and Milan, Italy.
“I’m not going to lie and say I don’t miss a little travel, I absolutely love to travel,” Owens said.
But nothing beats coming home, even if her sister, Lindsay Devening, has to act as her human GPS since she hasn’t lived in Natchez since age 17.
“(Nothing) can take the place of working with my children at home, and not only picking them up from school, but my nieces as well,” Owens said.
So when she works after 3 p.m., she designs the next big rug for a major client with four kids and three dogs running around in the back yard.
“My kids are going to same school I went to, and my daughter has told me time and again she loves it,” Owens said.
Owens said without her Trinity art teacher, Kirby Meng, she doubts she would be where she is today.
It was in fifth or sixth grade when Owens said she discovered she had any talent at all. She was up in bed, unable to sleep, when she pulled out a book about dogs and drew a picture of the head of a Great Dane.
Her parents encouraged her to enter it in a contest, and she won.
Appropriately, a huge Great Dane watches over Owens’ house on Duncan Avenue.
With the lessons and encouragement of Meng, Owens entered the Mississippi State Scholarly Art Awards. The exposure at the competition — which she highly recommends to budding artists — netted her a full scholarship to Savannah College Art and Design.
Instead of taking it, Owens went to the University of Alabama for a year, pledged a sorority and then transferred to art school in Atlanta, which led her to her career today.
As an art student, Owens said she had settled with the idea that she would be working for an advertising company.
“I would be one of 30 (graphic designers), shooting out somebody else’s ideas,” she said.
Owens said she feels lucky that her job as a textile designer has brought her around the world and given her creativity free range to grow.
Now, when she makes a mistake designing on her computer, she’s learned to go with it.
“I have a rough idea of where I’m headed (when I begin a design), but the most important less I’ve learned is to go with the happy accidents,” Owens said.
“Oops (turns into) Wow.”
And though it’s not like seeing a painting on the wall in the Guggenheim, Owens said she loves the idea that all walks of life will see her designs, and walk over them.
“It’s a neat feeling.”