the short & sweet
Hello! I’m Bonnie, an artist and textile designer living nestled back in the great Smoky Mountains. My heart is filled with flowers and making artwork for companies & products around the world is my happy place. You’ll find me here living a simpler way of life, where creativity, inspiration and motherhood intertwine.
My journey begins with my momma, Maxie. Because of her, my childhood was saturated with creativity. I grew up spending time in her quilt shop, watching her sew and making things alongside her. We spent time learning crafts together, decorating the house and cooking meals. Whenever I wanted to learn a new craft, I knew I could turn to her. From pottery and painting to photography and baking. She has mastered it all! Creativity seems to seep from her pores and it’s through her wisdom, willingness to teach and gentle guidance that made me know that my world had to revolve around being creative, too.
I come from a family of entrepreneurs, so naturally, I decided to attend business school. After graduating, I quickly married my sweetheart, David, and returned to our hometown in North Carolina. Not knowing exactly what to do next, I began working at mom’s fabric shop. I worked on inventory and routinely met with reps to see the latest and greatest from the quilting industry. Working here is what brought it all together. All of the sudden, I knew my passion was design. It took everything I loved in life, all of my passions, and wrapped them up as a beautiful career option. I had decided, I was going to be a fabric designer.
The only problem was, I didn’t know how to design! After mourning my decision to attend business school (instead of design school), it dawned on me: I can do this on my own. It may be the hardest thing I ever do, but I can do it. I also later learned to embrace my given degree for the business savvy it gave me.
The first step I took was to open an Etsy shop and begin this blog, Going Home to Roost. This was the easiest way I knew how to start getting involved with the handmade community, and has been by far the single most rewarding experience! Creating an online presence not only got me plugged in to ‘my people’, but also helped give me a voice in the community. Now, I like to think of my website as my ‘home base’, a springboard that helped catapult me into the bulk of my career as a designer.
After about 6 months, I was making a small but substantial enough income and was able to quit my day job (sorry, momma!). This is when I was able to really focus on pursuing my dream of becoming a surface pattern designer. So, I began doing one thing every single day in taking a step towards reaching my dream. For a while, it was just spending time each day researching where I needed to begin. I asked questions, read books and began taking online classes to learn Adobe Illustrator. After 11 months of ‘daily things’, I made my first repeating pattern.
The next 9 months were spent making as many patterns as possible. Days were spent sourcing inspiration, sketching and designing. Some days I would only have about 15 minutes to accomplish my ‘one thing’, while other days were spent entirely on design. Months went by until I finally had 3 pattern collections that I felt proud of, and ready to share with the world. Because I wanted to present my work in a special, beautiful way, I decided to take a bookbinding class. This is where I learned how to print the pages of and bind my very own book, which would soon turn into my first portfolio (I now have courses available on learning this very method!).
Putting myself out there was scary. Putting a name to my work, cold calling companies, asking them for their opinion of the work I’d poured my heart and soul into. Rejection is inevitable and boy, does it hurt! It’s nerve racking to present my work. But I knew that if I didn’t put it out there, no one would see it! I’ve always told myself: it only takes 10 seconds of courage. It will only take 10 seconds of courage to dial a number, introduce myself to an art director or ask someone’s opinion. After my 10 seconds of courage were up, the conversation would be started and things would flow. I still use this ‘trick’ to this very day!
During this time of trying to find work, we struggled. David made a humble salary and my income was minimal and inconsistent. We downgraded to having only one car, lived in a small one bedroom house and hardly ever ate out or bought new clothes. David believed in me though, and my family supported me, and that helped drive my passion.
I spent a few months sending my portfolio around to different companies and waiting to hear back. Because the fabric industry is where my passions began, I decided to attend International Quilt Market in 2012. I took my handmade portfolio and several projects I had made using fabrics printed with my designs through a local company. I also carried with me a small quilt my mom had made to show my designs and it’s one of my most favorite possessions. I keep it folded in my sewing room where I can look at it and think about what it represents often.
I met with several companies to show them my work and samples, but was most looking forward to the meeting I had with Art Gallery Fabrics. From this meeting, I walked away a different person. The art director offered me a contract right away and I left Quilt Market to begin my career as a fabric designer!
Since then, I’m elated to say that I am living my absolute creative dream. At the time of this article, I’ve designed 10 fabric collections for Art Gallery Fabrics and have seen my work come to life on ribbons, wallpaper, iPhone cases, embroidery designs, photo books and more!
Looking back, I can now say: it wasn’t easy, but it was absolutely worth it.
why i love to share my secrets
Because of my journey, I’ve become passionate about sharing what I’ve learned. That’s why I love to teach and feel called to share all of my secrets, teach everything that I learn and encourage a community of like-minded creatives. In addition to the Roost Tribe, I offer several courses on Surface Pattern Design. I hope you’ll come join us, I look forward to connecting with you!
my favorite tip
Do one small thing every day. When big dreams seem overwhelming, begin reaching towards them by doing just one small thing each day. At the end of a week, a month and a year you will have made giant leaps towards accomplishing them. These will be the steps that will lead you to living your dream!
Videography by: Fifth of June