Room to Grow

Sisters eye the future while designing new office

Olivia Carleo, OD, says that opening a practice with her sister, Anita Carleo, OD, was definitely an idea in their minds while they studied at the University of Houston College of Optometry and when they graduated three years apart. “It’s easy to talk about a big idea, but then actually doing it can be a little scarier,” Dr. Olivia Carleo says. “We always thought it would be a great fit because my sister is a business partner I can trust, and we really complement each other well,” Dr. Anita Carleo adds.

The sisters decided to go for it in early 2013 after each of them had spent several years working as associate doctors in different practices. They were driving around in the central Dallas area, where most land is already accounted for, when they came across a plot of grassy land with a For Sale sign. The phone call to the number on the sign launched the start of Vision Veritas, and they opened their doors in December 2014. Construction and permitting had delayed them a few months, but the extra time was fortuitous, as Dr. Olivia Carleo’s daughter was born a little early on Sept. 1. “I could not have done it without my sister,” Dr. Olivia Carleo says. “We had divided the work but when the baby was born, she stepped up and really spearheaded the end of the process.”

The sisters wanted to emphasize both a full-scope, medical practice and a dispensary with fabulous offerings, Dr. Olivia Carleo says. “We think you can have both, and we tried to meld our love of the health and science with the fashion.” The design is entirely their own, and the yellow stucco building, complete with a bell tower and a red-tile roof, is approximately 12,000 square feet. Vision Veritas office takes up a quarter of the space, and Drs. Carleo are currently marketing to rent the three remaining units to other health care professionals.

They mapped out their office flow plan on grid paper, picked out paint colors, imported their frame boards from Canada and even walked granite yards in the Texas summer heat looking for the perfect piece for the front desk, just the day before Dr. Olivia Carleo’s early delivery. They agreed on many points and share similar personalities, but “it was a give-and-take for sure,” Dr. Olivia Carleo says. “There were some silly discussion points like about the ceiling height,” which she thought should be lower, while Dr. Anita Carleo insisted that it would give the room an open, airy feel. In the end, Dr. Olivia Carleo agreed to the 12-foot ceilings, and now they have become a talking point just like the spiral staircase that descends down into the optical. Dr. Olivia Carleo won on the discussion for carpet in the five exam rooms.

Two of those rooms are equipped now, but the sisters see the others as untapped potential. “I didn’t want to look back in 20 years and realize we needed more room,” Dr. Anita Carleo says. Dr. Olivia Carleo agrees. “We wanted to grow into the space, not grow out of it,” she added. For now, the doctors continue working part-time in other practices and each spend two or three days at Vision Veritas. Drs. Carleo say that they will move there full time and bring on additional doctors as the business grows.

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