Issue: August 2009
Art of Business
Rose Corrick has seen her business rise from the ground floor to $500,000 in yearly sales. Success? Nah; She wants a million.
Oh, Rose Corrick thought about quitting. Like the time she had to convert her driveway into a makeshift workshop to paint 35 yards of fabric. And the time she sold $8,000 worth of clothing at a craft fair but came out $6,000 in the hole.
But her struggles have lifted her basement business Art of Cloth to approaching a half-million dollars in sales and placed her clothing line of hand-dyed t-shirts and jersey separates in more than 400 stores nationwide.
â€œI didnâ€™t have a road map, and there werenâ€™t books telling me how to make a living as a textile artist,â€ Corrick says. â€œIt was important to let the creative process unfold, but being patient was so difficult because I am a moneymaker. I expected to make money.â€
In 2004, Corrick left a successful, 25-year career in interior design to pursue a love of textiles that stretched back to her undergraduate training in textile design. She began to experiment withitajime shibori, a Japanese technique of selectively extracting black colors from a garment and then redying the original color to a vibrant palette. Her clever use of clamps, twists and clips result in black archetypal patterns that dance across a color wheel of primaries, secondaries and everything in between.
Her clothing is unquestionably well-crafted and scores high points for expression, but it took Corrick several years and treks on the trunk show and craft fair circuit to formulate the right profit equation:Inexpensive separates plus wholesale divided by outsourcing equals money.
â€œFortunately, the businesswoman in me is constantly assessing,â€ Corrick says. â€œI saw that women wanted clothing they could express themselves in but not spend a fortune on. So I retired my high-end silks for cotton and jersey.â€
Corrick tested her theory with a line ofshibori cotton T-shirts and jersey wraps this January at the MODA Manhattan wholesale show: $18,000. She went back to New York for a wholesale show in May: $45,000 and sales representatives jockeying to sell her line in every region of the country.
By outsourcing her sales and sewing and moving her workshop from her basement
to a 4,500-square-foot warehouse in Chagrin Falls, Corrick and her small team of design and production assistants can now focus on using new dye techniques and finishing embellishments, such as embroidery and quilting, on different textures.
In her success, Corrick lacks complacency. She strives to become a $1 million business within a year by expanding her market geographically and demographically.
â€œI want to really use this space as a creative think-tank and outsource the production so that we can keep our creativity really high to become a design company that generates fabulous designs.â€
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