On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast we’re talking about building a business as a surface designer with my guest, Erin Dollar.

Erin Dollar is the textile designer behind the home decor brand Cotton & Flax. She’s known for her minimalist-modern approach to surface pattern design, and her textile home goods have been stocked in indie retail shops around the world, as well as on the shelves of stores like CB2, Need Supply, and West Elm. In 2016 she launched Arroyo, her first fabric collection for Robert Kaufman Fabrics, and this month her second collection, Balboa, arrives in stores.

In this conversation, we begin by talking about where Erin grew up and her creativity as a child. Erin explains her creative path in college and what led her to become interested in surface pattern design, specifically printing on textiles.

Silkscreen-printed flax dinner napkins in DNA print by Cotton & Flax.

Erin has built a thriving business and in order to do that she’s developed many key partnerships and collaborations along the way. We talk about hiring photographers to help her market her work early on and hiring production sewers in Los Angeles to help her create her sewn products. We also delve into the benefits of licensing her designs with other companies including Scout Books and Robert Kaufman in order to broaden the range of products she can create.

Gold notebooks by Cotton & Flax.

Recently Erin has hired a contract screen printer to produce her screen printed fabrics and we discuss the initial concerns she had in letting go of this element of her business, as well as the rewards she’s seen since deciding to outsource.

Erin Dollar at Cotton & Flax retail

Cotton & Flax’s new retail location in San Diego.

Erin has also opened up a small retail store for Cotton & Flax. It’s only been open for a few months, but it’s an exciting new development in her business.

Arroyo fabrics by Erin Dollar for Robert Kaufman.

We spend a bit more time talking about Erin’s fabric collections with Robert Kaufman. Erin explains how she positioned herself to be a good partner for a fabric company and how she pitched her portfolio. She also talks about what she learned from her first fabric collection and how she’s applying those lessons to her second release.

Cotton & Flax pillows.

Erin has fantastic business advice to share and I hope you enjoy this episode! If you enjoy Erin’s style, watch her classes on CreativeLive. Erin also writes frequently for Craft Industry Alliance and has taught a webinar for CIA about selling goods wholesale.

We reference:

And, of course, I ask Erin to recommend great stuff she’s enjoying right now. Erin recommends:

Catch up with Erin on the Cotton & Flax website and blog, and follow her on Instagram to see what she’s up to day-to-day.

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This episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast is sponsored by Search Press North America, bestselling books for sewing, quilting, knitting, fine art and many other crafts. Award-winning titles include the A-Z embroidery books and the Half Yard sewing series. Whether you are a beginner or an expert looking for new inspiration, Search Press delivers consistent, step by step instruction books for all crafters. You can find Search Press books in all major craft stores, as well as specialist retailers around the world. Use the discount code WSN102018to receive 20% discount off books on the Search Press North America website plus free shipping.

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You can listen to this episode by clicking on the green arrow below, or subscribe to the Craft Industry Alliance podcast on iTunes or on Stitcher so you never miss an episode. If you enjoy the show, tell a friend about it! Thank you so much.

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