A Little Window Shopping
Author: Kitty Bartell | Photographer: John Brackett
WINDOWS HELP SET THE MOOD IN MANY FAMOUS STORIES, FROM HOLLY GOLIGHTLY ENJOYING HER BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S, TO DOROTHY’S TWISTER-UNHINGED FARMHOUSE WINDOW THAT TOOK HER TO THE LAND OF OZ WITH ONE BUMP ON THE HEAD. ’TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS WOULD NOT BE THE SAME WITHOUT THE SHADE ON THAT SIMPLE BEDROOM WINDOW, SHUTTERED AGAINST THE WINTER COLD, BEING TORN OPEN AND SANTA’S SLEIGH BEING REVEALED.
Windows are the snow globes of our lives. They contain displays of warm bakery sweets enticing us in for a bite, or worshipers bathed in the rainbow of a church’s stained glass. We go “window shopping” to pass the time, and are told that our eyes are the windows to our soul. The importance of the windows in our lives is not taken for granted at Window Fashions Of Hilton Head Island, where owners LaVonne and Steve Keister work hard to continue the 24-plus year tradition of success that the business has enjoyed.
It was not a direct path that brought the Keisters to purchase Window Fashions in October of 2010 from its founders, Rhonda and Ed Dooner, but in many ways it was meant to be. The Dooners launched the business in 1989, operating for 22 years as Window Fashions by Rhonda. At just about the same time that the Dooners were considering selling the business and retiring, LaVonne was getting the urge to take her 10 years of short-term property management experience, do something new, and have more control over her schedule to spend time with their two-year-old son Beckett.
LaVonne had worked closely with the Dooners during her property management career. “I scheduled repair and maintenance for my owners; so whenever there was a problem with blinds, I called Ed and Rhonda,” she said. “I heard through the grapevine that they were thinking of selling the business.” LaVonne laughs as she recalls inquiring about their plans while stopping by to pick up some parts for a client.
“Rhonda immediately said, ‘Yes.’ She was ready to retire. Ed said, ‘No, I’m not ready to sell.’”
The Keisters invited the Dooners out for dinner, and it wasn’t long before both Rhonda and Ed warmed to the idea of selling the business. “They had another interested buyer, but I think Ed and Rhonda were more comfortable handing it off to us,” LaVonne said. Their similar paths may have sealed the deal; the Keisters were in the same stage of life, with one young child, as the Dooners were when they started the business.
The Keisters have taken their time making the business their own. The clients are the priority, and being certain every job is the right fit for the client’s needs is LaVonne’s fulltime job. While she is the day-to-day face at Window Fashions, selling, measuring, and installing most projects, Steve is her talented collaborator, taking on projects for the business in conjunction with owning and operating his own landscape business.
Appreciating the value of beautiful, functional window coverings, Window Fashions has dressed windows in homes, restaurants, office buildings, and schools around the Lowcountry. On every project, hands-on customer service and guaranteed quality and installation are standard. Window Fashions also has the advantage of being able to offer the client a wide range of manufacturers and options, where the competition is often limited by what their particular franchise requires.
“You’re getting us on the project and you’re getting us on the phone,” LaVonne said.
“When a client calls and says there’s something wrong, they aren’t given an 800 number to call. With the products that I sell, I know before I sell them to my client that I can service them myself. If there’s something wrong, I know I can fix it.” LaVonne keeps up with the latest training through online instruction and seminars, but still says her best training came from Ed and Rhonda. “If I have a question even today, I pick up the phone and call them.”
Continuing to make the business their own, the Keisters have completed a fresh renovation to modernize the Window Fashions showroom, creating a beautiful canvas on which to display their extensive window treatment options. With a backdrop of rich green walls, both manufacturer and custom-built displays give clients the ability to creatively visualize the look of their project. A similar renovation is underway in the warehouse, where the more industrial work of building custom blinds and completing repairs is done.
CONTINUING TO MAKE THE BUSINESS THEIR OWN, THE KEISTERS HAVE COMPLETED A FRESH RENOVATION TO MODERNIZE THE WINDOW FASHIONS SHOWROOM, CREATING A BEAUTIFUL CANVAS ON WHICH TO DISPLAY THEIR EXTENSIVE WINDOW TREATMENT OPTIONS.
Every job begins with an on-site consultation with LaVonne. Knowing every product available and how they operate is her specialty, which translates into every client having the ability to select the very best option for their windows. After the style and materials are selected, LaVonne takes the measurements and even creates custom templates when the angles and arches require something entirely unique.
Window covering choices at Window Fashions run the gamut from classic blinds, shades, shutters, and draperies, to more modern cellular, woven, and solar screens. Choices are dictated by function and fashion. Privacy and energy efficiency are good starting points when making selections. How much light needs to be blocked and what mechanisms best suit the client’s needs are important questions to answer as well. LaVonne’s expertise at matching these functional needs with the client’s design aesthetic, while being on top of the latest trends in materials, design, and even child safety regulations, is her winning hand.
One of the newer trends in window coverings is woven wood blinds. “They’re really versatile and have such a nice look,” LaVonne said. The design options are virtually endless with over 100 wood stains and paint choices, giving them the ability to work well in any room. The woven wood materials can be used in folding panels, side panels to treat doors, Roman shades, and top treatments. “It used to be the only thing you could do on top of a window was fabric,” LaVonne said. Now woven wood top treatments are an exciting new option.
THE KEISTERS SON, FOUR YEAR OLD BECKETT
Another particularly great product for the Lowcountry is solar screen roller shades. “These shades block some light and glare, but don’t entirely block the view, and you cannot see in from the outside,” LaVonne explained. “The manufacturer offers different degrees of openness to the materials that changes how much you can see through. You still have your view, but can vary the amount of light you block,”—the perfect window covering for clients with spectacular views, whether water, golf, or marsh.
Just like Beckett, who is now four years old, Window Fashions is growing by leaps and bounds. As windows are dressed, new stories are being written for each home and business. Whether watching a Calibogue Sound sunset through a perfectly framed picture window, catching a warm breeze through slightly drawn plantation shutters, or filtering out the hot summer sun, Window Fashions brings out the very best in each window.
Window Fashions is located at 30 Hunter Road, Suite D, Hilton Head Island. For more information, call (843) 689-3990 or visit windowfashionsofhiltonhead.com.