Last time, we spoke to Nellie Rose Davis of Nellie Rose Textiles about her studies in shibori.
We continue our conversation:
Q: How did you come to found Nellie Rose Textiles? What was the inception like? What obstacles did you face?
NRD: I didn’t establish NR Textiles until I had spent a year working in my mom’s studio, developing my own line of scarves, and I realized I wanted to keep creating. I established NR Textiles in October 2013. And you asked how my business came about?
NRD: I was vending at a festival with my pops in West Virginia, and a woman came by and inquired about my work. She was the executive director of the Tamarack Artisan Foundation and felt like my work needed to reach an urban market. That is when she connected me with the Foundation’s Rural to Urban Markets Program.
This program takes some risks out of going to wholesale shows in order to connect with urban markets. With the generous help from the foundation, I got to go to my first wholesale market in the winter of 2014. I went to the American Made Show and the American Craft Council Baltimore show and that is when I got my first orders from galleries across the country and started to build my clientele.
This program is what really got my business moving. It was amazing—I could actually live in a rural area and make a living. Along with that I also did retail shows and trunk shows to fill the gaps in income.
The challenge of going to a wholesale market is that there are so many things to prepare for that you don’t know how to prepare for until you do it. The biggest challenge for me is that I’m not the best at the business part, and that is something I need to keep working on. Being a business woman is not completely natural; it is not something I studied, and it is something I’m learning on the fly. We all struggle with confidence issues and representing oneself and speaking to galleries, asking if they need your work, can be daunting.
Q: It sounds like it.
NRD: There’s a fear…I don’t know how to explain this…but we are just people trying to figure it out. You have to be totally cool with rejection, your work will not fit in everywhere and that is totally fine.
To deal with it I almost made up a new personality like a secretary that was totally removed from the work.
[She speaks with a British accent] Like Mary Fairweather!
[In her normal tone] Maybe buy some glasses to go with it…
Q: Glasses! Of course! They’ll never see through it!
NRD: Yeah I never went through with it.
Q: What is next for Nellie Rose?
NRD: Oh my goodness, I am so excited that you asked that!
I am working on a new line of products, and it is something I have been developing for the past year: hand-painted raw silk. I have been mostly making dresses and crop tops and such, and they are so much fun! This particular artistic process uses a different part of my brain; very different from my shibori work. The dress design is free form, no constriction. They move the way your body moves. There is this excitement putting it on. It is the effect that I believe fashion should have on people. I will still stick with shibori, but this could become the main thing of NR Textiles. We shall see!
Q: When might this be out?
NRD: I need to figure out a way to produce them efficiently. At this point they are very time consuming, so I might incorporate some silk screening. I am hoping to have them out next fall. Please check out my Facebook page (they are not on my website yet). For the time being, they are just available in my little gallery in Thomas, WV.
Q: Nellie Rose Davis, what is your quinstance?
NRD: My quinstance…I think it must be dried flowers. They are all over my home. I love looking at them. They make me happy every time I see them. Something so beautiful while they are alive is still beautiful in death.