Just a couple of weeks ago, one lucky designer claimed the top prize in our 2013 Fabric8 contest. Thank you all for being part of the community that chose Robert Kaufman's newest fabric designer by voting for your favorite Geek Chic fabric collection! Your winner, Sarah Johnston, won a contract with Robert Kaufman Fabrics for her Fabric8 Geek Chic collection, a $1000 advance against royalties, and a Wacom professional digital drawing tablet. Now she begins the exciting journey to see her Geek Chic collection produced by Robert Kaufman and sold around the world!
For a peek into the process, we invited 2012 Fabric8 winner Andie Hanna, to share her experience of producing her first professional textile collection. Her collection for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, Modern Bliss, debuted at International Quilt Market this spring, and is now for sale in fabric shops all over the US and online.
I currently live in Columbus, Ohio where I grew up. I worked as a fashion designer all over the country for over fifteen years, but was able to leave my full time job last August to stay home with my 6 year old son, Emerson and work on having another– I'm currently four and a half months pregnant with a girl due in October). The timing couldn't have been better!
My husband, Josh and I had been working on getting to a place financially where I could work from home and not have kids in daycare, and we reached our goal right after I won the Fabric8 Contest. It was so exciting because I really got to transition into my new role and focus on my "Modern Bliss" collection. I have a huge family here in Columbus – tons of cousins and they're all extremely supportive. My cousin Michelle and my mom even helped me sew a ton of samples for the trunk show!
Coming from the Fashion industry, Quilt Market was a whole new world to me and it was amazing! I learned a lot about the quilting world and saw so many great fabrics, quilts and sewing patterns. It was very inspiring! I got to meet many of the people from Robert Kaufman which was fantastic. I had spoken to many of them on the phone, emailed and even Skyped but I got to meet them in person and they are so supportive and sweet.
One of the most amazing things was getting to see the swatch board of my "Modern Bliss" collection at the Robert Kaufman booth. They didn't have yardage of my fabric yet, it was being produced, so they sold my collection from a swatch board instead of hangers. It was very surreal to see the sales reps showing this to potential customers!
When we were preparing to produce the collection, the first thing we did was play with color. Robert Kaufman asked me to send them various different color combos of my collection for them. Once I sent those, they narrowed them down and picked three. They also tweaked the colors a bit as well. They are definitely the experts and know which color combinations sell best for them, so I was very open to their tweaks and suggestions. Once they finalized the three color palettes, they sent the artwork off to their factories to get strike-offs. This is very helpful because it gives you a better idea of what the colors and prints will look like on actual fabric. Also, they can start the color approval process with these. Robert Kaufman uses the strike-offs to help decide for sure whether to continue with each color way. Luckily, they still liked all 3 color ways. They sent swatches of the strike-offs to me so I could review them and make any necessary comments as well. They all looked great and I liked them so I approved them. I supposed if I absolutely hated something, they would work with me to improve it. Somewhere along the way during the strike-off process, Robert Kaufman also asked me for artwork for my selvedge. I got to see this on the strike-offs which was super exciting! Once all the color ways were color approved, they went into production. Artists receive two yards of each fabric, so it was like Christmas when I got my big box of production fabric!
I just finished sewing a ton of samples in my "Modern Bliss" collection for a trunk show at a local fabric shop that is carrying my fabric. I was featured in the last issue of MOYO (a digital surface design magazine at www.dowhatyouloveforlife.com/moyo) and got to design the layout of my interview myself. I've already submitted several Fall 2013 collections to Robert Kaufman and they've decided to license one of them which I'm thrilled about. It's very different from my debut collection, but it's fun and whimsical. I'm currently finishing up some Spring 2014 collections to send to Robert Kaufman soon.
I was contacted by an Art Director in Argentina who found my website at the beginning of the year who invited me to participate in a bag project with many other artists from all over the world. He curated a collection of printed bags to sell in art shops in Argentina. The bags are made to carry a traditional tea-like drink called 'mate'. I'm also working on creating some fun sewing patterns (mostly accessories to start) and developing some fashion croquis with my patterns for stationery. I've done some custom textile design work locally utilizing Spoonflower and I have a piece of artwork featured in many of the new Houlihan's restaurants around the country.
I'm very inspired by the outdoors and nature as well as travel. Throughout my fashion design career, I've been lucky enough to travel to some amazing places in Asia and Europe which were all very inspiring. I'm also very into vintage textiles, wallpaper, apparel and artwork and love to go to antique shops, thrift stores and flea markets. I read a lot of magazines and scour the internet for inspiration as well. I'm obsessed with photography and music. I find that I tend to photograph some of the same things that I like to illustrate: nature, travel, architecture. I love to travel, take art classes and spend time with my family. I hoard magazines/catalogs and I'm a tear-sheet freak! I think this comes from being a fashion designer, but I'm constantly going through magazines and tearing out things that inspire me. I have piles of tear-sheets all over the house as well as stacks of magazines and catalogs that are waiting for me to go through them. It makes my husband crazy. I use the tears a lot when I'm trying to pull a collection together and need inspiration. I'm also big into research, so I spend a lot of time at libraries, bookstores and online when I'm working on new collections.