A Short History of Hot Patterns
In putting together the email announcing the new Fabric.com exclusive free Hot Patterns downloads (available August 12 through November 12) we asked Jeremy from Hot Patterns to give us a brief history of how the company came to be. The document he provided us was much longer than would fit in our email, but I couldn't bring myself to edit it down. His take on the events leading up to the develpment of one of Fabric.com's favorite pattern lines provided fun and witty insight. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. (Click the link below to read the whole story).
How it all began, eight long years ago...
HotPatterns began as an idea way back in 2001. We lived in London, England back then, and owned a successful couture boutique making wedding gowns for the rich and famous. I distinctly remember Trudy (my wife and now HotPatterns CEO) getting very frustrated on a trip to the mall around that time. After what seemed like hours watching her try on expensive, ill-fitting clothes, she told me "once again there is nothing that I like in my size ".
"Why is it so difficult to find well made fashionable clothing at reasonable price points?" She complained.
I thought I saw a logical solution. "We employ six fully trained seamstresses who work to a very high standard", I said, "and we've got accounts with every high end fabric house across Europe".
"Why don't you get some of our seamstresses to make you something you'd actually like to wear?"
"I barely have time to draft the patterns for our wedding gown customers" she shot back.
I was starting to get impatient at that point, and to be honest, just wanted to go home and watch TV or do something different: anything but trawl endlessly round the mall as my wife got more and more frustrated.
It seemed madness to me that, here we were; owners of a high end clothing business that made amazing garments, and there I was trawling the mall with an unhappy wife. And what's more, being asked hundreds of English pounds for ill fitting, badly made garments, most of which were available in nothing bigger than a size 10.
"Right" I responded, about to deal my ace. "I know the department store over there sells Vogue patterns, and Lord knows when we were first married you were always sewing and cutting up patterns on the floor of our tiny apartment. Let's go and buy some patterns, hand them to the seamstress with the fabric, after all we employ two fitting assistants, so fitting you should be easy I just can't see the problem " I grumbled. Tempers were getting frayed by now, it was an unusually hot day for England and I just wanted to go home and put my feet up with a cold beer.
We stomped angrily across to the department store, and began flicking through the pattern books. "How about this" I'd suggest, to be met with a withering glance. "I sewed that pattern ten years ago" she snapped, "and I hate tissue patterns and .. and... and .. and"
"You should design a range of high fashion, cool patterns then" I replied. The look I received told me it was time to shut up. I gave up. Silently we got in the car and we drove home.
Happy wife, happy life!
My Grandfather Sam of blessed memory, was a wise old guy. I didn't know that as a kid or even a teenager, although I loved him with all my heart. It wasn't until many years after he had passed that I began to understand his mantra, always said with a wry smile "happy wife, happy life." But I digress...
The wedding gown business was burning us out, Trudy especially as she was at the forefront with her name above the door. Then, after 15 years of marriage, in 2003 our miracle baby Gideon was born. London was burning us out, our high stress business was burning us out and now we had a son to bring up. My wife was unhappy, (with good reason I might add) I was unhappy, time for a change.
America beckoned, totally driven by me; I was obsessed by the idea of America, and had been since I was about 6 years old. If I could just get to America.
America. White Picket fences, Hot dogs, cowboys, yellow cabs in New York, Yellowstone, Florida sunshine, America.
"What would we do there?" Trudy asked.
"How about that idea YOU had to do a range of high fashion sewing patterns?" I shot back.
"I'll research the market." she responded.
Fast forward two years...
Wedding gown business sold? Check.
House sold? Check.
Green card obtained? Check.
A year spent in Florida setting up HotPatterns? Check.
We launched HotPatterns in September 2005, literally from the kitchen table, with this crazy idea that somehow people would want to buy what we were offering. We had very little budget to set up and launch the business but, as if by magic, orders started to flood in. We made mistakes, I'm not too proud to admit that, and for quite a while, it really was touch and go as to whether HotPatterns would survive. Debate raged on internet sewing boards. "Who are these crazy English folk , who think they can come to America and set up a pattern company?" one lady stormed.
Undeterred, we ploughed on. 14 and 16 hour work days were not uncommon; they're still not uncommon at some points in the year. With the support of our amazing customers, the people who understood what we were trying to achieve, we slowly inched forward. By 2007 the patient was well on the way to being stabilized.
2009- No one ever said it was gonna be easy
I write this nearly four years after we launched HotPatterns, four challenging years. The last 18 months, of course, we have been embroiled in the worst economic scenario since the 1930's. That situation brings a unique set of challenges to us all. It's been a rollercoaster ride without doubt, but we remain committed to improving HotPatterns in every way we can. HotPatterns is growing steadily, and with your continued encouragement will continue to grow and offer more and better products.
On a personal note, we have a daughter born in America in December 2006, our very own American!
We miss England and our families and friends, but America is where our future lies.
"If you will it, it need not be a dream"
I'd like to thank you for reading this far. If you are a "Hotpatternista" as we call our fans and long term customers, we thank you, without you there would be no HotPatterns, it's that simple. We salute our Hotpatternistas around the world.
If you've never sewn a Hot Pattern, why not give us a try? We think you'll enjoy what we offer and you'll make some awesome garments.
Peace, Love and happy sewing
Sarasota, Florida. Aug 2009.