Tell us about your business.In 2009, I left what was supposed to be my dream job. I was working in Silicon Valley, for a huge internet company, doing what I'd always wanted: User Experience. But the job had not turned out as I expected. I wanted to make things. I wanted to help people. So after creating a business plan, doing mountains of research, and creating an initial product line, my husband and I picked up and moved to Portland, OR and launched our company. I couldn't have imagined a better path. Today, User Experience is still a huge part of what I do. I help people learn the all-but-lost art of garment sewing by crafting great sewing experiences. In return, our customers are the most loyal, engaged, warm-hearted people imaginable. Their support has helped us grow into into a flourishing small business. Our goals are to provide our audience with wonderful craft experiences in new and different ways and to provide our employees with a place to work they can love and feel proud of.
What makes your business stand out?I'd never understood why sewing patterns were so difficult to use. The truth is, most women (and men) today learn to sew by picking up some fabric and a pattern and trying it out. Many of us are not lucky enough to have mothers or grandmothers to teach these complex skills. Yet, most sewing patterns assume a great deal of knowledge. They aren't the learning tools they should be, even though that's how they are used. Colette Patterns are different. They explain concepts and ideas deliberately, getting into the "why" as well as the "how." They include supporting material on the web, in the form of sew-alongs and tutorials linked directly in the patterns, as well as a handy glossary and a thriving community. Our instructions have often been hailed as the best on the market. That thoughtfulness also extends to the designs themselves. We create versatile pieces with interesting details, utility, and customizable options. We put our hearts into every aspect of Colette Patterns.
What's the best business advice you've received?Having a successful small business is about much more than getting to do the hobby you love for a living. That may be how it begins. But in order for a business to grow and change, the business owner herself must grow and change. She has to give up more and more control, and spend less and less time doing that one thing that used to be the core of it all. As the business matures, you have to fall in love with the process of running a business itself. When you discover the joy in that, you're golden.
Mark Your Calendar
NominationsJune 3–Aug. 29, 2014
Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.
JudgingJune 23–Sept. 8, 2014
Judges will select finalists throughout this period.Meet the judges
Online VotingSept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014
Vote for your favorite American makers.See the finalists
Winners AnnouncedOct. 17, 2014
2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.See past Award Winners
American Made EventNov. 7–8, 2014
Join us for our annual event in New York City.Buy tickets now