Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How it came to be - the story of one girl's journey to becoming a fabric designer

Can I share a small glimpse into my story?

I believe, no, I've had too many confirmations for that word, I know Heavenly Father has asked me to pursue becoming a fabric designer. Why? I have yet to have the question answered. All I know is one day I woke up and out of the blue,with a physical longing, an aching, to be a fabric designer. I had no prior history or knowledge of fabric design or a desire to even learn about such things and with only a small,vague conscious awareness that there was someone who actually designed the patterns on fabric.

You can imagine my surprise!

In 2009 just before I turned 30, with this new found seemingly unreachable goal, I made a game plan. Every time I began a new decade I would choose one crazy hard to accomplish goal. I gave myself the whole decade to complete it. For my 30s, clearly, the goal would be to become a fabric designer.

I wrestled with this goal a little. What is the world did it have to do with the eternities, with raising my young children (my youngest at the time was just over 6 months old), with returning to my Heavenly Father? And yet, I have been taught that we should use and develop our talents. That IS something that will help me attend to those other top priority items.

One of my talents happens to be art.

For the first week after I woke up with the new direction Heavenly Father had given me, I cried. Every night. I didn't know what I was doing. At the time there was NOTHING out on the internet to guide me. There is a ton now, but if you notice nothing published before Sept. 2009. I was shocked to realized the interwebs had failed to provide me with the information I asked for. Even the public libraries were no help.

I had just started and already was failing.

Have you ever been driven to do something and then, despite your very, very best efforts, you realize there is no way YOU, small little you, can make it happen? It's a rough place to be.

I was expressing this misery to Kevin, my husband, when he said, "I have a friend who owns a fabric manufacturing company."

I believe my words to him were, "You do not. Please don't joke about this. This is really important to me for some reason."

I mean I had been crying for A WHOLE WEEK. He knew what I was crying about, I'm not really the silent sufferer type. So you can see why I thought he was fooling around. But no. He meant it. He actually does have a friend who owns a fabric manufacturing company. Riley Blake Designs no less.

I was thrilled! They were local, Kevin knew them personally, I thought I was in! I thought, the intensity of the feelings I had been given  were a clear indication that things were going to fall into place rapidly.

Clearly, that didn't happen. In fact, they HATED my designs and told me in so many words. I was crushed. I kept it together long enough to get into my car and then I just cried and cried. However, I decided early on that, "no" did not mean, "never" it just meant, "not right now."

The next few years were filled with more leads, and open doors, and tears, and many, many, MANY no's. But with each No I'd try really hard to look at it as one no closer to my yes. I believed with all my particles that there was a yes. It was out there, I just had to keep working my tail off.

I kept teaching myself the computer programs I need to know like, Illustrator and Photoshop. I read anything I could get my hot little hands on that would lead me to more knowledge of how becoming a fabric designer actually happened. In September of 2010, I came across a blog, 7 Layer Studio. Shelley had just recently announced she had licensed with Benartex and was coming to SLC that spring because that's just where Quilt Market happened to be that year. Right in my backyard! I reached out to her and offered to be her minion at Market and that she could stay with me while she was here. I know it sounds crazy. I didn't even know this lady, but it felt like a door opening. At least I'd get to SEE what Market was like and I would get to help an actual, real life, designer. I'm a hard workers so I knew it could be beneficial to her as well. There's a LOT that goes into a booth.

She said yes! I couldn't believe it and she couldn't believe it either.

Market went great! Shelley's booth was in.cred.ible! You can see that here (May 15, 2011). She is SO talented in a lot of areas. It really is inspiring. She put me to work, we got things set up, and then I was off to walk the floor.

I showed my portfolio to a great number of manufacturers. The most common response was, "we like it, but it's similar to so and so's designs that we already have signed on. But THEN I got a YES! From Paintbrush Studios. You can read all about that here (May 13, 2011). In the end, it just didn't feel right to sign on with them. It was hard to say No to a Yes. REALLY hard. It felt ungrateful and pretentious. But at the end of the day, it wasn't a good fit.

Back to the drawing board.

The rest of the year I kept submitting work to various manufacturers I had met at Market, but had been unable to meet with them OR they had said they'd like to see more work. Benartex and I even began talking. I get SO close and then weird things would happen. With Benartex, the day I was supposed to have a final meeting with a bunch of the head people, their high rise New York building caught fire and their phone systems were out for days and days. We never made it on the same page after that.

I was feeling hopeful and utterly discouraged at the same time all the time. Which, consequently,  really drives a person to the chocolate! The rest of 2011 came and went. No contract. Still working hard. Still putting my work out there. Most of 2012 came and went very much the same. BUT in October of 2012 my dream came alive! Out of the blue. Well, not really. It came after YEARS of putting my hard work out there and all the networking finally came full circle. I signed my contract with Modern Yardage  Oct. 24, 2012 ! You can read all about how that came to be here (October 24, 2012)

Now that I'm on the other side of it, it's weird. I remember all the hard work. I remember the tears and the sleepless nights for longing to fill this hole in my soul. But on this side it feel like, "well, of course it had to be like that." I'm finding, in my old age, many trials end up feeling that way on the other side.

I am beyond grateful that this is part of my story. This is part of the legacy I will leave my children. That big dreams CAN come true with a lot of hard work. It won't be easy and I'm grateful for that too. I hope they reach. I hope they shoot for something they might fail at. I hope they even fail a little along the way, but learn to use the "No" as the next step up to reach the "Yes". I hope working for it brings them fire in their hearts, sleepless night of longing, and sends electricity through their bodies.

Everyone should have a chance to feel that at least once.