Welcome to Cottonwood Whispers Design! I’m Carol, the owner, and designer.
I am a local Topeka native who went to Topeka High School, followed by Allen County Community College, and I earned a bachelor’s degree in Electronic Arts (aka Graphic Design) in 2004 from Washburn University. I grew up with parents who owned a typesetting business in Topeka; Carla’s Type, Inc. Typesetting was graphic design before graphic design existed as we know it today. Without boring you with the history of the art, let’s just say I have design in my blood. My mother was the typesetter and my father took care of the layout. I grew up exposed to the small business way of life, but also art in many formats.
Before I even received a diploma from Washburn University here in Topeka, I had a job offer from Sunflower Marketing, a Topeka-based business. They are a large screen printing company and I was hired as a production artist. I loved that job. It was during this time I perfected my Illustrator skills. I had to—since all of the designs were vector format. I also learned about color mapping and got a thorough education on the screen printing process. And… then I was downsized. My next job was at the Topeka Falley’s Food 4 Less home office. I worked in the art department with my main responsibility being the weekly ad layout. But a few months in, my boss left and they put me in her position. I hired an employee and was responsible for everything. And… then Falley’s Food 4 Less closed their doors. From there, I joined a small local business, National Electronic Type. This small business provided a wide diversity of projects and I gained a variety of experiences here. I learned how to work in a darkroom and expose film for a printer, I mastered QuarkXpress and InData for catalogs production and also built my first e-commerce website from ground zero and filled it with products. It was a varied and interesting job. After NET, The University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas offered me a summer position as a graphic artist. In the fall I accepted employment at a local print shop in Topeka, Hall Commercial Printing. (Shortly thereafter, I married a wonderful guy who could only be described as my soul mate.) Hall’s is where I learned everything about prepress and gained an understanding of what a printer needs in a file in order to easily complete the finished product. Halfway through my employment there, Hall’s purchased a local weekly classified paper, absurdly named That Paper. I became the entire department, was put in charge of the customers, sales, layout, delivery, advertising, and the website. Everything but the actual printing. Although it wasn’t my favorite creative type of work, I have to admit I learned a lot. It was similar to running my own small business. My most recent employment was with WIBW Radio as Senior Graphic Designer and Communication Specialist. I joined their team in 2013. It was the closest to my dream job for which I could have wished in Topeka. (My actual dream job would be with a music label designing album art.) I felt as if I was working with celebrities. I loved it.
The content I was creating was fun all the time—from Bridal Fairs to Horse Expos to Kicker Country Stampede banners and stage art. I perfected my WordPress skills and used all of the design programs and really grew here. Fun all the time! Then Alpha Media out of Portland, Oregon bought WIBW and… ten months later I got laid off.
Reflecting on what is considered devastating, in the normal course of events, being laid off at the exact time it happened was actually a blessing in disguise. You see, my husband and I had been trying to adopt for a long time. Our little man was born a week later and my world was turned on its head. I cannot even fathom being away from him all day to go to an office. It would be torture.
But I also knew I had to work. Not only to make ends meet for us, but I knew I couldn’t not design and just stay at home puttering around. It would drive me out of my mind to not use my skills and be actively creating. So, Cottonwood Whispers Design was born. Today, I have my own home office and love my clients who come to me via word of mouth and from finding me online. Along with my small growing
freelance business, I sell a little eBay and a little stock art and have two active Etsy shops as well – one selling vintage items and one selling design work. It is very satisfying and allows me to be creative and build relationships with new people all the time. I love this life and I hope it shows in my work and my business relationships!
Thanks for visiting! If you have any questions, please shoot me an email!