When I started this blog back in 2010, I had no intention of teaching or mentoring other designers. My parents were both teachers, but teaching never really appealed to me. Yet, through blogging, I found that I have a strong passion for teaching and lifting up others in our design community. Surprisingly this passion to teach is now stronger than my passion for designing patterns. I never would have thought this would happen.
Another surprise occurred a few years ago, when my husband and I quietly built a website that would allow designers to upload their artwork and sell it online. We worked with a branding designer and the website was almost complete when we pulled the plug. The large-scale site lacked the personal connection to designers that I find to be so important. This made it a project I just could not invest my heart and soul into the way I wanted to.
And, the latest surprise occurred just a few months ago. We decided to exhibit at the 2018 SURTEX show and I made the decision to invite our Textile Design Lab members to submit work for representation at the show. For the exhibited work, the Lab members had certain requirements to meet for the opportunity. These requirements included: 1) Designing according to our Pattern Observer Studio briefs; 2) Submitting their work to Textile Design Lab’s private forum; 3) Each design received a critique by the Lab’s team of expert designers; 4) Based on critique and feedback, the opportunity for designers to resubmit work was offered.
While there were some logistical bumps along the way, the experience was extremely inspiring. Our Lab members stunned us with the quality and quantity of their designs. We received hundreds of high quality professional designs that we were thrilled to represent at the show. And while I could see that our process could be improved, I also saw the potential power of this large group of talented designers. Suddenly I realized that this was the design studio that I had been thinking about for so long, but was never able to grasp how to create it—that community of designers learning, growing, and encouraging each other while receiving real world design experiences and earning fair pay for the work they are sharing with the world.
I also realized that we needed help.
Selling the work of this many designers is a fulltime job and isn’t something that I can possibly do on my own. My true passion is teaching and lifting others up; however, the sales, networking and marketing required for this project wouldn’t leave time for my passion and strengths.
With this realization, Chelsea and I went to SURTEX in May with several goals. I’ve discussed some of these goals in previous posts, but we also hoped to meet our future sales representative—and it turns out that we did just that.
Chelsea and I met Melissa Schulz of Branded Licensing at SURTEX and immediately loved her warm, inviting personality. She’s outgoing, a champion for designers in this industry, and a perfect fit for the Pattern Observer team. She’s also a licensing rock star, with over twenty years of experience in the industry. Which is why we are delighted to announce that Melissa will be representing the work of our Pattern Observer Studio designers and those Textile Design Lab members who choose to participate in our studio briefs.
In addition to networking and selling the work of the Pattern Observer Studio, Melissa will also be active in the Textile Design Lab. She will be joining our team of experts and will be checking the forum twice a week and sharing her industry knowledge with our Lab members through live chat and Q&A sessions.
Our goal is that she will be sharing regular, up-to-date information with our members on what buyers are looking for, how buying habits are changing, and how designers can make their work more relevant for products. So even those members who decide not to participate in our studio briefs will gain insight from Melissa as they market and sell their own work.
Knowing where to focus within your business can be a challenge. Opportunities arise and as I have learned over the years, usually the answer needs to be a polite “no, not at this time.” But every now and then, an opportunity comes along that results in a strong, passionate, relieving YES. We are so excited to welcome Melissa to the Pattern Observer team and look forward to continuing to support, inspire, and promote the work of designers from around the world.