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ask a designer: judy ross

today is the first installment of a new column at d*s: ask a designer. i've invited a slew of talented artists and designers to share their experience and advice with those of us looking to start a design-based business or just find some inspiration for our own work. today we're kicking things off with textile designer judy ross. i've been a fan of judy's for some time now and really admire her commitment to quality and the art of embroidery. judy has been producing her eponymous line of pillows, rugs and drapery since 1995 and has since become a permanent fixture in an industry known for its fleeting interest. whether she's designing a new line of chainstitched pillows or creating custom drapery for homes across the country, judy is constantly adding beautiful and thoughtful pieces to the market. not to mention raising her young son at the same time- which is a feat on its own. so, if you'd like to ask judy a question (work related, please no personal questions) about her process, how she got started, how she garnered press attention or even how she found a space to create her work please leave your comments below (these are merely suggestions, not the only questions you can ask). i'll be collecting comments today and tomorrow and then judy will answer as many as possible by this friday in a special section. so, ask away!

[if you'd like to listen to a podcast with judy ross and see a slideshow of her work just click here]

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Blogger naginata said...

I'm so excited about this feature!! A question that I would like to ask Judy is "Do you try to incorporate how your design will ultimately look in a room into your design process? And if so how does this attitude affect your designs?"


1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anna said...

What about competition? I've seen pieces at West Elm that look a lot like Judy's work and I wonder what her views on copying are. How do you protect your work or do you just try to ignore the copiers?


1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did you get your business off the ground. I'm a textile designer who recently graduated from FIT and I'm having a hard time getting a loan. How did you make the financial end happen to get things moving?

And, how did you find the money to hire a staff and pay people. I need help but can't imagine making enough money to pay someone.


1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious about her view on copying too. Like anna said above I have seen West Elm pillows and other products that copy her look. I've always enjoyed Judy Ross's designs but find the prices such a turnoff (almost $200/pillow). So I hate to say it, but that makes affordable copies attractive, even though I know copies hurt the real designers. It's a situation I always feel kind of torn about.

2:15 PM  
Anonymous jessica said...

I wondering about getting your products out there. How did you in the beginning get the much needed exposure? Was it through press or did you take part in the many shows? If it was through the press how did you get their attention? Do you have any advice for doing it all on a VERY limited budget? Please don't tell me it was luck.
Thank you

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you manage your time between raising your children and running a company? I just gave birth to my second and the idea of caring for both kids and trying to find time to create seems impossible. I'd love any tips on time management you have. That and managing the guilt of being away from them!


3:19 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

What's the right rug to pair with a chippendale-style camelback sofa with a bold chenille damask fabric? I feel like something with a pattern will make the room more whimsical and less formal, which is what i want, but i'm having a hard time finding something that doesn't clash and isn't too busy.

4:14 PM  
Blogger Mic said...

Thanks for this cool, new feature!
I was wondering how you find good production resources? (seems like a scary and ambiguous world). I'm assuming you use several different factories depending on the product(?). do you ever need to travel to oversee the production? Kudos to you for balancing such a great career while raising a child!

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great feature. My question for Judy is if she has any advice for someone who is thinking about doing to school for textile arts. Did she know exactly what she wanted to do right from the start? What was her vision for her future when she was starting out? Thanks very much.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Katie said...

How do you choose colors? Do you watch for up coming trends, or just go with your instincts?

8:06 PM  
Blogger luzai said...

beautiful stuffs
good ideas
great site
i love it

9:46 PM  
Anonymous Sara Blette said...

Hi Judy,
I am getting ready to go to the Stationery Show for the first time. I would love to hear your advice. Any budget friendly or clever gorilla tactics would be most helpful. How do you get the direct contacts in the media world? grow what you love -sara

10:38 PM  
Blogger what said...

I love this new feature on d*s

My question would be...
+ do you plan to design other products?
+ where do you get inspiration for new designs?
+ how long did you have your business before it started making money?


1:30 AM  
Anonymous rugsandcarpetz@gmail.com said...

Hi Judi, I am a textile designer from India and work for overseas customers.
I simply LOVE your products and its not just your patterns that make statement but your color selection leave an impression too. What I would like to ask you is that how do you choose colors for your rugs? I have never seen any color forecast agency that supplies colors predominantly for floor covering.

6:14 AM  
Blogger ANS said...

Please help me if possible.

Can you please pass this message to mic and tell him that I can help him in finding a good production resource in India if he wants?
I dont know his e mail ID.

I will be thankful to you.

6:53 AM  
Blogger elizajanecurtis said...

Hi, interesting new feature, I like it! I am a designer and I've always been limited by making everything myself. I have started working with other people who are sewing for me, so I can spend more time designing and printing! I'm finding it nearly impossible to get the quality of work I'm looking for, and I feel exhausted from unsuccessfully searching for someone in my city (Buenos Aires) who can work with my quality standards. I am starting to wish I could just go back to making everything myself! So, I wonder if Judi has any advice or words of inspiration about finding and working with subcontractors and negotiating about quality. Also, I'm curious, how often do you add new designs to your line, and how long do you keep each design in your collection?
thanks so much!!
your work is very inspiring.

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am looking to change careers and don't know how to take the first step to developing an independent design business. I want to develop a line totally manufactured in the US with an artisan level of craftsmanship. I suppose I'm having trouble deaveloping a clear vision.

Thanks, Tricia

10:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm also curious about production. Do you have to place an order for a large quantity? I've found that most producers want you to order large quantities which isn't feasible for someone staring out, or if you plan to do custom orders.

What is your experience.


11:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don't you update your website with new products anymore?

11:33 AM  
Blogger design*sponge said...


scroll to the right on the "pillows" section of judy's site and you'll see the "new designs" section ;)


12:17 PM  
Blogger elizajanecurtis said...

hi, just wanted to post a correction to my question - I spelled Judy's name wrong! sorry!

12:21 PM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

I am interested in starting a design-based business utilizing screenprinting techniques. I like the idea of producing the pieces myself, but worry about the possibility of becoming unable to handle a larger volume of production should demand require it (that's if I am to be so lucky!). Did you start by producing pieces yourself? And how did you transition to outsourcing the production? Also, in the beginning, how did you finance?

I love your color selection - so rich and earthy yet very lively. Lovely pieces. Yet with still more room to grow and create -- fantastic!

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm currently in the process of getting my own company started and am trying to figure out the world of wholesale. Not too sure how to price for this (without over charging) and still be able to make $$$. Would be great to have this be my day job!

Any advice on how to go about this? Seems like I would be better off not going this route and selling everything myself but then I won't get as much exposure.

4:10 PM  
Anonymous pal said...

This is a great column! I am a designer but changing careers and have no clue about textiles and production.Whats the process to go from a design till the final product. How did you make the samples when you started initially. I am currently hunting for production units who can make small samples for me. How do you go about approaching shops when one starts out.

Love the simplicity in your designs

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am a textile artist and very interested in what may seen like boring logicistical questions. thank you for your time. (great new feature!)

please ask judy :
about how she develpoped a relationship with artisans in india?

when you let go of actual production being done by yourself there are so many more variables. how does she manage that? ex: quality control. is that done on site in india (a manager there?) or by her here in the states.

yarn colors: does judy develop a color (in what medium: paint?) then send that to dyers to colotmatch on yarn?

thank you .

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Just wondering if I have missed the interview.

11:04 AM  

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