This week on the Craft Industry Alliance podcast we’re talking about running a fabric company with my guests Pat and Walter Bravo.
Pat and Walter own Art Gallery Fabrics, a manufacturer of premium fabrics for the quilting industry.
They are two soulmates who live life with a lot of passion, doing what they truly love. Originally from Argentina, they have been married for 34 years and have an amazing son, Alexander. Pat began sewing as a teenager and discovered quilting when the couple moved to the United States in the late 1980s. When she couldn’t find the depth of color and pattern she was looking for in commercially available fabrics, she began painting her own and soon she and Walter launched a company to produce the kinds of fabrics she had envisioned. That’s how Art Gallery Fabrics was born, a company Pat describes as “the most avant-garde in the industry.”
We start out by talking about Pat and Walter’s background. Pat learned to sew as a teenager in Buenos Aires. Walter worked in sales. They met in a disco in 1982 when they were 20 years old.
They talk about coming to the United States so that Walter could open a business with a partner selling leather coats. Pat learned about quilting and found sewing to be healing for her when she was acclimating to life in the US. After they had their son she began hand painting fat quarters and selling them to art quilters both online and at shows. When that business model proved to be impossible to scale, she and Walter began manufacturing her designs and that was the beginning of Art Gallery Fabrics. Their first line, Oriental, was a single print in three colorways. From 2005-2011 Pat was Art Gallery’s only designer.
Pat and Walter strive for four qualities with Art Gallery Fabrics: quality, good design, timelessness, and service. They explain their decision to continue to reprint fabric that first came out many years ago. And Pat explains what she looks for in a new Art Gallery Fabrics designer.
We also talk about marketing. Pat and Walter explain the changing role that Quilt Market is playing in their business. Art Gallery Fabrics has a beautiful Instagram account and I ask Pat and Walter to explain their Instagram strategy. Pat explains why, as a wholesale company, they chose to market direct-to-consumer.
And, of course, I ask Pat and Walter to recommend great stuff they’re enjoying right now. They recommend:
- orthomolecular medicine
- watching documentaries
- books about entrepreneurship and creativity
This episode is sponsored by PRO Chemical & Dye located in Fall River, Massachusetts. Now in their 50th year, PRO Chemical & Dye is a longtime supplier of dyes, fabric paints, supplies, and information to fiber artists all over the world.
To learn more about the products and workshops offered by PRO Chemical & Dye, you can visit prochemicalanddye.com Use the discount code WSN10 when you check out to receive 10% off your online order.
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