Corbin and Sara See’s career trajectories are studies in nature and nurture.
Corbin had design in his blood—the son of Carson See, partner in noted Oklahoma City firm Sees Design. Before he was old enough to grasp it, the principles of design were ingrained in him. “I grew up with it every day,” he recalls. “My Underoos were stored in an 18th-century commode in my bedroom.”
Sara’s creativity, however, developed as a way of coping with change. A “brat” not of the military sort but of corporate relocation, Sara was given license by her parents to space-plan her bedrooms with each move. Her mother, an accomplished quilter, took Sara to fabric stores, allowing her to pick colors and patterns.
Corbin’s and Sara’s paths crossed in Chicago in 2001 while they were working for Holly Hunt—he as the production manager under Hunt; she as the samples manager for Great Plains, Hunt’s textile line. “I had no plans of leaving Chicago,” Sara says. “I meet Mr. Right and he breaks it to me that, ‘Oh, by the way, I have no intention of staying in Chicago. What do you say we move back to Oklahoma City and take over the family business?’”
For the next 12 years, Corbin and Sara—along with Corbin’s father and brother, Ross—worked at Sees Design, the firm Carson founded in 1975. Sara brought her textile expertise, and Corbin curated eclectic spaces for clients. In that time, Corbin and Sara tied the knot and had two daughters. Being partners personally and professionally, they admit, was sometimes taxing.
“The most tiring thing is coming home and talking about work,” Corbin says. “Not so much the difficulty of working together—just not having individual lives.”
Early this year, Ann Sutherland, president of Dallas-based Perennials Fabrics, came to Sara with an offer: Join the textile manufacturer as design director. Though nothing short of Sara’s “dream job,” the decision to uproot her family wasn’t one she made lightly, considering her own childhood. Corbin already spent time in Dallas for projects and product sourcing, so the move made great business sense. It also allowed the company to establish a foothold outside of Oklahoma City.
“I think what we wanted to make sure was: Is this going to be good for all of us?” Sara says. “Once we felt like that answer was yes, we were ready to hold our noses and jump in.”
Corbin established Sees’ first satellite office in the Design District and secured residential and restaurant projects. Sara is thrilled to be a part of Perennials, where she highlights the indoor possibilities for traditionally outdoor-performance fabrics.
They still work in concert—he with clients, she with suppliers—but can leave work at the office and focus on family while at home.