Today we’d like to introduce you to Kathleen Fitzpatrick.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
I have been creative for as long as I can remember. As a teenager, I had several side hustles where I would make and sell jewelry. At one point, I even offered photography and light graphic design services alongside part time jobs in college. Looking back, I think much of my creativity was due to being diagnosed with a learning disability at an early age. Keeping up with school academics was always difficult for me success-wise. I regularly had to put in twice the amount of work as my peers just to keep up. But from that, an artist flare really helped balance out the areas in which I felt I was lacking.
Having a previous interest in jewelry making, I thought my first semester in college would be focused on rekindling that flame and moving forward with a concentration in metalwork. However, as luck had it, the introductory course had filled up, so for fun, I signed up for a weave class instead. It’s now been about 8-9 years since that course, and I haven’t stopped weaving yet. A course that was intended as a filler ended up shaping my entire career path. I came to earn my bachelor’s degree from Pennsylvania’s Kutztown University in material studies and art history. Material studies included textile techniques like hand weaving, Japanese shibori dyeing, felting, and fabric manipulation.
Shortly after graduation, I landed my first textile position as an account manager at a globally recognized digital print firm. For six years, I worked directly with some of the industry’s top independent designers and firms. My role guided these designers and established artists through the process of building private label textile collections and aiding with fabric selections, designing continuous repeats, and color management.
In 2016, I decided it was time to dive into my own work and really focus on establishing myself as an artist. From this, Tie-Up Textiles was born. Tie-Up is a boutique business dedicated to preserving the art of hand weaving and dyeing, while also challenging these practices to make them entirely my own. Over the years, Tie-Up Textiles has gone from being a small one-off weaving shop to a full-scale home decor line with several product avenues. Today, my work can be found both domestically and internationally.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Starting a business is a challenge within itself, regardless of the industry. I’ve had my fare-share of obstacles along the way, but the most obvious and persistent challenge that remains today would be from the Covid-19 pandemic. Like most businesses, everything came to a halt in 2019 as we began navigating the world through Covid. Even now, close to three years later, most of us are still feeling the effects. As far as the textile industry goes, it’s been a double-edge sword. The first month of mandatory closures really changed the ways in which my business was run. Fabric showrooms closed, as did the brick-and-mortar boutique shops I sold through.
As crippling as that felt, things soon shifted as the country began to embrace this homebody sort of mentality. With that, came a spike in DIY blogs focused on home improvement and renovations. Soon after, the memo requests for yardage and custom woven orders also picked back up, and for the most part, haven’t really slowed down.
Now, on the flip side of things, shortages and price increases are the new obstacles. Covid closures have put a serious strain on many fabric-producing textile mills. Over the past two years, the industry has been experiencing significant delays in production times and that isn’t expected to improve anytime soon. On top of that challenge, there is also an ongoing flax crop shortage which is adding to the delay. Only time will tell how things play out, so for now; we’re doing our best to embrace the ebb and flow of this new norm.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
When establishing Tie-Up Textiles, I was focused on two core values; to offer a bold alternative to the mainstream motifs so long associated with interior fabrics, and to pay homage to the dying era of artisanal handwork. In the process, I have created a collection of high-end fabrics that step away from trend, to focus on nonconformist texture, organic shape, and a timeless color palette. As an artist, I’m less interested in keeping up with standard trend as it relates to home decor, as I am in emphasizing my own approach. My overall design aesthetic is influenced by a curiosity for early 20th-century manufacturing and a romance toward the desolate landscapes of southwestern America. Ultimately, my body of work strives for an out of the box, visual and tactile experience.
I think the biggest factor that sets my work apart from others is the process itself. Every woven element within my line has been hand-woven start to finish by me. Our collection of designer yardage originated from these woven and dyed fabrics. Each has been scanned and cleaned up for continuous repeat within our studio. Tie-Up uses little to no outsourcing throughout its production. Finished products such as custom pillows and tabletop linens are all stitched and packaged by our in-house team of seamstresses and merchandisers. We keep a low overhead to provide the highest quality, cost-considerate goods for our clientele. We also work with natural fibers and water-based pigment inks. Whenever possible, we partner with local mills and encourage environmentally friendly practices to reduce our carbon footprint. I often quote, “home is our passion, but sustainability is our commitment”.
The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
I would say the biggest lessons I’ve learned in the face of Covid-19 are:
- Take things one day at a time. What may feel completely overwhelming today with no positive outcome could change entirely in a week, month, or more. While it’s important to plan and be prepared, it’s equally as important to focus on working in smaller doses to avoid burnout.
- Be prepared for supply chain limitations within your industry and the potential for having to source alternative materials for the long haul.
- If you are still experiencing significant downtime in your industry, reach out to your network of peers for support. However you’re feeling, you’re not alone, and chances are, someone else could really use the support as well.
- Website: www.tieuptextiles.com
- Instagram: @tie_up_textiles
Photo Credit: Andrew Livingston