Fellow artisan: Red Thread Design (DEAF & OOAK)

I’ve known of Devorah Miller for a while through a friend, and I’m pretty sure I bought one of her lovely dresses many years ago at the One of a Kind Show for my niece as well. We met in person this past weekend at the Cabbagetown Art & Crafts Sale, had a great weekend, and are looking forward to another great weekend coming right up at the Danforth East Arts Fair this Saturday and Sunday from 10-5 at East Lynn Park near Woodbine Station. Come on out and check out the art, handmade goods, food, children’s activities, music, and pick up a Red Thread dress for your wee one!

Caterpillar Dress Corduroy Shirtdress Summer Breeze Dress

Red Thread Design

Products: Children’s clothing, most of which is designed to be multi-season and to last for years. I also make baby quilts, mostly using the scraps left over from my dresses and tops.

Price Range: $20-$64

How did this all begin?
I grew up with a textile artist mother who taught art classes in my house, so my interest in creating with fabric started very early. Red Thread was born in 2004, while I was working full-time as a writer for an architecture firm. On maternity leave with my second daughter, the desire to quilt and sew again overtook me. I started making patchwork dresses for my daughters, like little living quilts that we could use and enjoy, but soon started designing more simply, to enjoy the beauty of wonderful fabrics without such time-intense labour. I love the creative design process, the satisfaction of making things by hand, the connections with my customers, and the challenges of being an entrepreneur. That’s kept me happily working away at this for ten years!

The name “Red Thread” was inspired by a lovely Chinese proverb I discovered when I adopted my daughter Samantha from China in 2003: “An invisible red thread connects those who are destined to meet regardless of time, place or circumstance. The thread may stretch or tangle but will never break.” I love the image this conjures of all of us being interconnected.

I don’t design clothing because I love fashion. For me it’s all about the joy of gorgeous fabric and colour. Children know instinctively what they like, and they’re not self-conscious about pattern and colour. I love the freedom that designing for children gives me to use wonderful vibrant fabrics, and the challenge of making clothing last a long time, even though it’s designed for active, growing bodies. I believe that for all of us, surrounding ourselves with colours and textures we love, and wearing well-made clothes that make us feel great, just make life better.

I’m currently designing my first line for women (to launch in Spring 2015) and am trying to capture that love of beautiful fabric and colour in a way that’s really wearable, even by more self-conscious grownups!

What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind Show vendor?
Preparing for One of a Kind Show for the first time can be very stressful. My advice is to take some time and calmly think through everything a potential customer will experience from the time they approach your booth. What do they see? Is it well lit, so your product stands out? Is there some product close to the aisle that they can touch or admire to entice them to step in? Are there beautiful images showing your work in action, to reinforce that your work is valuable/luxurious, or practical, or adorable?

Once they’re engaged by your product and you are helping them find just the right thing, where will you reach to grab exactly what they want (is it out on table, stored under a table, in a bin), and how will you complete the transaction? What will you put in their bag? What does that bag look like? (hint: branded bags, even just with a sticker or stamp, are a very good idea)

Last but not least, how will they find you again? If you are able, capture their email address so that you have a way of communicating with them in the future. This is immensely valuable and should not be overlooked. You can do this with a book to sign, ballots for a giveaway, whatever works for you. Don’t forget to email your list of wonderful new customers to thank them after the show!

If, when thinking through all of these things, you still have questions, get in touch with a current exhibitor. I’d be happy to answer any questions about the show and I know many other exhibitors would too! This is a very supportive community and there is a wealth of information being shared and discussed, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
I have so many one of a kind moments. I have had customers buying clothing from me for children soon-to-be adopted, and then meeting those children and seeing them grow. I have met amazing people who do charitable work and have collaborated with some of those people on fundraising projects. And I have met generous vendors who stepped in to help when another vendor needed a hand – sometimes in a big way. I have customers who have followed my work for ten years through this show, and some customers and vendors who have become close friends. Sometimes tears are shed in my booth, when a customer catches up with me about the past year’s events. These connections are my favourite thing about doing this show.

Red Thread’s website is www.redthreaddesign.ca. You can also find Red Thread Design on Facebook Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and on her blog.

Baby Twin Set

(Images from Devorah Miller used with permission.)

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