Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Birch Fabrics Interview

Cynthia Mann of Birch Fabrics

We (as in the Birch Fabrics family!) thought it would be fun to interview our fearless leader, Cynthia.  We wanted to share more about our company but in a fun and interesting way that let's you get to know us a little bit better.  

Tell us about yourself in 50 words or less?

I would say I’m an artist at heart and a business woman by accident.  I’m often too nice, non confrontational, care deeply for others and don’t like it when anyone’s feelings are hurt.  I’m not tidy, neat or organized, but pride myself on having a very good memory.

When and why did you start Birch Fabrics?

We started Birch Fabrics in 2009 in an effort to fill a void in the quilting community for organic fabrics. We were already selling fabrics retail on our website, www.fabricworm.com and we were having a very hard time sourcing organic fabrics. We just decided to do it ourselves.

When you opened Birch Fabrics what was your main goal?  Has that goal changed?

When we opened Birch Fabrics the store, our goal was to provide our local community with an opportunity to have access to our beautiful fabrics, especially our organic fabrics. There were no stores within 100 miles that carried printed organic fabrics.

When referring to starting our line of fabrics, our main goal was simple. Get organic cotton in front of young moms and crafters that are interested in living a greener lifestyle. We knew if it was important to us, that it must be important to many more like us. Our goal is still the same. We wish to stay small, independent and a family business, but we want to draw awareness to why organic cotton in important to our families, our environment and our World. I also had a personal goal of getting more modern boy prints in the market place, since I had a seen a real lack there of, while sewing for two baby boys!

Why did you choose to use organic cotton vs. standard cotton?

We feel that not only is the organic cotton better for the environment, but the cotton and the construction of our fabric is superior to that of standard quilt weight cotton. We feel that if you are going to spend $10-20 per yard on fabric to make a beautiful quilt, the quilt should be an heirloom and should last for generations to come.

You design some of the Birch fabric collections?  Please tell us about your creative process.

Our creative process almost always starts with a theme. We create a design board with fabric swatches and photographs. We draw some sketches in pencil, and work on an over all concept. We consider current trends in pattern and color and then start manipulating our drawings in Photoshop and Illustrator. The second phase of the process is thinking about how each print will be used by the customer and tweaking repeats of designs to work for the end user, or eliminating designs based on whether or not we think the end user will be able to work with the design.
Why do you use other designers for the Birch line?

We have thus far only worked with Dan Stiles and Monaluna Designs, and we really mesh with their aesthetic. We are confident that our customers like to have options and we hope to bring on more designers in the future.

Do you live a "green" lifestyle?  If yes, please tell us more about it.

We do our best to live a green lifestyle. Our kids have organic bedding, we cook with organic food, and we recycle and compost as much as possible. We understand that it can be difficult and expensive to change your entire lifestyle to live green, but every little bit counts. Jason built this cool tube from our pantry that deposits out to a recycling bin in our garage, and it fits cans and bottles perfectly, so I think the key is to making green living fun and easy for the whole family so that it doesn’t feel like a chore.

What is your greatest joy and your biggest challenge being a working Mum?

My greatest joy in being a working Mom, is showing my boys good work ethics and that anything is possible when you are passionate about what you believe in. They see me working hard, and sometimes too much, but in the end they get a real sense of what hard work is about, and how following your dreams can lead to real successes in life.

My biggest challenge is definitely balancing work with family. But we are working very hard to free up more time now that the business is grounded.

What is next for Birch?

This year will bring several new collections of course. We are currently drawing our follow up to Storyboek, which will include more marine life and our favorite Dutch muses to be released in the Summer! We hope to work with Dan Stiles and Monaluna again on new collections next Fall, and of course more basics, and maybe a follow up to Avalon as well.

And, the fun questions -

Favorite color? A moody mineral blue/green

If you could be someone other than yourself who would it be? I like being me :-)

What actress would play you in a movie about your life? I’d choose Julia Delpy but she’d have to fake an English accent!

Favorite food? My husband's Heirloom Tomato Salad

Favorite Movie? Before Sunrise

Something everyone should know about you but probably doesn't

I have a strong skin allergy to metals (wow, we didn't even know this!)

We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about Cynthia, and Birch Fabrics.

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