since I was but a wee child I wanted to design fabric. Literally. Ask my Mom. We would have a really hard time buying clothing patterns because all I could see was the color or the fabric that the models were wearing. "Look at the Pattern, Elizabeth, NOT the fabric." I had a block at age five, and the only thing I could think about was designing my own fabric for my own quilts, my own clothes, my own world. I remember being in about the seventh grade and deciding that I really needed to get going on this whole thing. I designed some patterns in Paint, all citrus soda themed. I even called a fabric company, asking about submissions, and I hate calling anyone so this was very difficult for such a little one. They asked what type of patterns they were... I said geometric, and they told me about there submission process and where I could send them. I tried to sound really professional and not like a 12 year old.
jump a few years. I focused mostly on Theatre, and my voice for about 6 years. Still the whole time designing...
Fall 2005: I moved home for my off track, then immediately moved back to Idaho, being at home wasn't the right thing for me to do. Back in Idaho; friendless, computerless and alone, literally, I went to the computer lab every night after classes got out and taught myself illustrator. I made up assignments and projects to learn different tools, and it worked. I worked at it like it was my job.
Summer 2006: I did theatre until I realized it wasn't what I was supposed to be doing it anymore. I Changed my major and only had intentions of being in one more show. My show. You're a Good Man Charlie Brown. Lucy Van Pelt to the core, I knew that I had to be in it, and among other things because I was I met Barbara Brandeburg, the Mother of Snoopy (Katie Brandeburg). We all went out to dinner one night and it came up that I wanted to design fabric. She was like, GET OUT! (maybe she didn't say that exactly, but it was like Elaine on Seinfeld...) She said, "I am a professional quilter!" She told me about the industry, she told me about her books, about her process. She shared everything. It was a dream come true. You can read about it more here.
Fall 2006: I got back from Paris after the little break in between semesters with a final resolve to be a fabric designer. I still didn't know what I was doing... because as many of you know, nobody really tells you anything. You are kind of in the dark unless someone, already in the industry, throws you a bone. So, I just went to it. I designed what I thought was a line of fabric. I look at it now and laugh a little, but it was a strong start. It was PaperAirplane. It was very different from anything that was being produced and there were some holes in it, just a learning curve that I wasn't aware of. Again, I was out of school in the fall so I worked at this like it was my job. My deadline to have everything done and shipped was the beginning of November. The whole time getting support and encouragement from my Mom and Barbara.
I emailed every manufacturer that I was interested in signing with and asked for their art directors email, or for their submission process. They would send me info, and I would take down their address. I sent out these great big print offs of my stuff to a couple companies. I got either no response or incredibly rude responses. One company sent my stuff back all crumpled up and essentially destroyed. RUDE! So I just sat with this line that I had worked so hard to create. It sat an waited for an entire year.
Fall 2007: Again, out of school but in Idaho. I found printmaking and my life was a little more complete, and I finally made some friends in that, became the lab assistant in the print lab, worked a lot on my own stuff. One day I had an idea for a book. I wanted to make a really nice recipe book that I would design and hand print myself. So I was with my friend Amy at her job in the arts advising office, and I drew the initial drawing for what is now lizzydish. I went back to the computer lab, scanned the image, used the pen tool in Illustrator to trace it so I could figure out some colors.
I'll talk more about that here. But I ended up with a print. Then it was time for our first market! We had started our pattern business, Cherry House Quilts, in the summer, and had some patterns that we were showing to distributors. This time I was going to talk to the manufacturers myself. I made a book of PaperAirplane that I was going to show to art directors.
Again, it did not have the best reception among most people. No criticism, they would just say it wasn't where they were going. Well, I have seen where they have gone... Someone even told me that I was infringing on one of their designers. I of course was not so this was an incredibly rude thing to accuse someone of.
There were a few people who were very helpful, but overall it was very discouraging. I was also being given a hard time because it was so different then what was being produced and I was 22 years old. People assume that because I am young, I am one thing. Well, I am another; most assuredly.
Enter Diana McClun and Laura Nownes, and Dale Fleming. It was Sunday at Market and I was so discouraged, but before we left my Mom wanted to meet Diana McClun, and Laura Nownes. They had done so much as far as educating her when she first got started in the early nineties. I was distracted by the gemstone beads on the other side of the isle. Drown my depression in faceted beads. She must have told them that I had designs that I was showing to people, and that people had not been receptive. They all wanted to see them. The name tag of someone caught her eye though. She was going over it in her head as she came to get me to show everyone my stuff. DALE FLEMING! She realized why it was so familiar! Because our pattern iDO, uses Dale's six minute circle. Well, I showed them my stuff, and shared with them my woes. They loved it! They loved everything about it, and were outraged that people were so rude. Dale, told me to stay where I was. Ok... She went and got someone. She dragged with a man from Andover. Cliff. She brought him to me so I could show him my stuff. He liked it. We set up an appointment for the next day. Here is where LizzyDish comes in.
I had not only brought PaperAirplane with me, but some other work too. I had heard someone say that they want to see more. If you only show them one thing, how do they not know that this is not your Opus, and it's the best you can do, and you will never produce to that level again? So, I brought the print that I had made based on that little sketch in my book. I gave that to them along with the book I had made of PA. They got it, they saw that I could see, and they took me for more than just a kid.
I ended up with a couple of offers, but I felt really good about Andover. So exactly one year from the time that I finished designing a line, I had a deal. By the beginning of the year I was signed, and it has been a really interesting road filled with lots of curves and unexpected issues, but at the same time, all a dream come true.
They told me that they were really interested in seeing more of the "dish print" so when I got home from Belgium, I bought a computer and went to work. Not expecting an entire line, when I sent them "more" of the print they were pleased.
So, now one year from meeting them, my first line will be produced. There is so much time involved in everything. I finished the patterns in the beginning of December and they will only be fabric now. It all takes time.
I just have this two last things to say about the whole thing.
1. Fabric design isn't so easy. There is so much work that no one ever sees. We want you to see the bolt, to see the possibilities of what it could be. So, if you are thinking about going into it, know that it is work, but the pay off is in yards
2.I do not think that I am the average 23 year old; I was responsible for a lot at a young age and have always been older than my years. From a very young age I was ready to be in business, and I don't think that anyone should ever take someones age as a cue to treat them a certain way. We are all capable of doing whatever it is that we want. So go get it.