Doug Sutton learned how to design floor plans while studying at Virginia Commonwealth University. Photo by Emily Paine Carter, special to So Salem
The Richmond-based business was the brainchild of Salem native Doug Sutton. He has been a “mover” of sorts, too — especially when he went back to college in his mid-30s.
But let’s back up: Doug is the second-oldest of retired Roanoke College Dean Don Sutton and the late Emily (“Rinky”).
After Andrew Lewis High School (“go, Wolverines,” he emailed), he earned a business degree from North Carolina’s Catawba College (“go Indians, when it was pc”): “Almost a military experience… rooms inspected twice a week (shoes in line under the bed, and a bed made that could bounce a quarter!)…. Dress dinner twice a week and required chapel and vespers [weekly]. And required attendance at football games with coat and tie! … SATURDAY CLASSES!”
Then to directing tours in Spain and England (“much fun” and busy). Afterwards, a thriving career with big companies for friendly, personality-plus Doug: American Cyanamid, Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly.
But then: At 35 and as a brand-new daddy to his and wife Pattie’s 7-day-old baby, Keller, he went back to school. Big time: as a Virginia Commonwealth University freshman.
And to study a field new to him: interior design. (What, leaving a good job? Switching fields when one already has a perfectly sensible degree?! “That was just too weird for some of our Richmond friends,” he said.)
So to VCU’s Art Dept. — way different from his late-1960s business studies: It was OK to call professors by first names and to “disagree with everybody about everything and even challenge my grade.” Study groups (“average age of 20”) and even several fraternities asked him to join (“I couldn’t have had a more meaningful time in my life,” he wrote). Read more »