Designer Profile: Molly Fitzpatrick, Founder of DittoHouse - Cleveland
Hey Molly! Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Hi! I am Molly Fitzpatrick, a textile designer from Cleveland, Ohio. My textile design business has three facets; consulting, licensing, and a product line. I am the mother of two small children, Malachi and Malala.
What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
I attended art school at the Cleveland Institute of Art where I received my degree in fiber and material studios. While in school I explored all aspects of hand made textiles and fell in love with textile design. I could be found on the loom weaving most days and jumped at the chance to do a weaving workshop in North Carolina during my final year of college. Through this workshop I got my first taste of textile manufacturing and I knew this was the only thing I wanted in my life!! I was very lucky to be offered a textile design internship at a mill where I worked for 5 years and I learned so much about manufacturing, the textile industry, design- everything!! When I write it down I really see what a straight path I have had since college (I graduated almost 15 years ago!!) and how long it takes to build something, even when on the most direct path.
What led you to start DittoHouse?
When my son was born I wanted cute (but also washable) modern bold textiles for around the house- textiles that were not necessarily baby, but could have patterns that would engage his little eyes and mind, and mine, too! Since my background is in manufacturing I found a mill to make my textiles here in the US. I launched DittoHouse in 2015 with a small collection of textiles and have added more designs and collections every year since.
Having your own line of textiles and creating/consulting for others, what does your process look like?
I often start with a mood board of images that inspire me or can convey to my clients what I am trying to express. The mood board can be pictures, quotes, snips of yarn, interesting textures- anything!! It helps me organize my thoughts and also stay focused when I am creating a collection to keep it cohesive, which carries me through the entire design process right through the photoshoots of my products and how I'd like to style my product shots.
What inspires your designs?
Textiles! The history, the manufacturing process and the cultural significance of textiles. Most of my designs start with a geometric foundation based on simple weave structures. The textile manufacturing process really inspires me, too- I like to design specifically within the capabilities of whatever machine or process the textile will be created through. I also am endlessly inspired by the history of textiles- indigenous textile designs, the sacred value of textiles to many cultures and the role of textiles in many important social movements, like the Freedom Quilts used by the Underground Railroad and the Freedom Quilting Bee’s sharing of knowledge and cooperating to effect change all while stitching quilts to give their family warmth during the civil rights era. Textiles have played a significant role in so many social justice movements and I design with that history in mind.
Your textiles are sustainably created, could you tell us more about creating responsibly?
I am well aware that textile manufacturing is responsible for so much harm in the world, both in regard to human dignity and also to the environment and the effect on our planet. It is very important to me that I work with mills that are operating ethically with safe and clean conditions that create quality, lasting products. Working with American mills works great for creating responsibly- they allow low minimums, creating less waste and excess, their process is transparent, and their suppliers use great quality fibers, like the beautiful and impressive recycled cotton yarns used in my knit products.
What does your workday look like, creating from home with your two little kids?
Oh boy! Everyday is a different gift! Some days I have a babysitter who comes to my house, so on these days we eat breakfast together and then I head up to my office and get started with checking emails and going through my task list I compile the previous night. As long as I am not on a phone call, I have an open door policy- I accept hugs all day long and am available to help on quick lego builds or read a story. These little bursts of baby time are highlights to my work day! I usually work until 3 and then its Mommy time! I play with the kids and start preparing dinner. After the kids go to bed I get back to work! I love when the house is quite and calm- this is the time I get most done. When I am working on new textile designs for a licensing client I will stay up until 2 or 3 am every night for a few weeks until the project is done. Every night I try to write out a list of what I'd like to accomplish the following day so that I can make the most of my time when I have childcare or the kids are napping.
What makes you passionate about the work that you do?
Knowing that textile designs are the background rhythm of our lives and patterns are a pleasant part of so many memories from growing up and traveling and throughout my life- it is an honor to be part of such a special and rich tradition. I love designing textiles so much and take the privilege very seriously. I view textile design as a sustainable and lasting art form and aim to design patterns that will retain their relevance and ignite joy and interest for years to come.
What are some of the setbacks or challenges you face?
I do not have any formal business training and get stuck sometimes when I am faced with business dilemmas. I often make decisions based on gut feelings, but sometimes I'd like to have a better system. My business is growing and I want it to continue being sustainable and smart. Other setbacks that can completely derail an entire day of work are small IT problems- where if I worked in an office I could pick up the phone and hand off the responsibility, but I have to google and youtube until issue is resolved.
At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other? How have women supported you?
I think it is so important for Women to support each other because anything that happens in this world is because a woman made it happen. Women have an incredible ability to handle any situation, solve any problem and create something out of nothing all on their own. When a woman is supported she can do incredible things faster and easier, making it possible to do more, create more and love more. Women have supported me at every turn in my life. I have 3 sisters and a mom who are my biggest fans. Any opportunity I have had professionally is because of the support of talented and smart women who went out of their way to shine light on me and give me a chance to succeed. Women in my life have supported me with love, encouragement, advice and food!
What women bring you inspiration?
My mom, my sisters, my aunts, my grandmothers, my daughter, my nieces. Malala Yousafzai- I love her so much I named my Daughter after her!
Do you have any resources that have been helpful to you that we should know of?
I use my local library system so much- they offer free subscriptions to Lynda.com- where you can learn so many programs. I have been delighted to learn how many free resources my library offers- everything from business workshops to laser cutting!
Is there someone who helped shape your career path?
I have had a many kind and wonderful women that helped me on my path- College professors that encouraged me to pursue textile design as a profession, facilitated internships and my first boss who taught me so much about textile manufacturing. My mom has been very influential in my career, too. She is a talented quilter and encouraged me to make things ever since I was little. My siblings and I spent many hours in fabric stores choosing fabrics for new clothes or for our bedrooms. Textiles have been a big part of my life since I was so little thanks to my mom.
What are you trying to learn right now or what is something that you are wanting to learn?
I am trying to learn how to create systems to be more organized and efficient. I am starting a new business this spring with my husband and we plan to begin homeschooling our kids this fall so I know I need to get serious about time management and good habits and routines.
What are some of your favorite places in Cleveland?
The Cleveland Museum of Art! It's mission is: "For the benefit of all the people forever" and is free to visit, always! The building is incredibly beautiful and has indoor and outdoor spaces that are fabulous. Sometimes we just go to let the kids go up and down the escalators in the impressive atrium! I love Pop Life Universe who's headquarters were painted by the one and only Camille Walala! They are opening this year with community Yoga classes and a juice bar. They are wonderful!My favorite places to eat are Barroco for the most divine Colombian food and Roses Grill- a true gem of a restaurant- they serve the most delicious Croatian food and have the sweetest owners- they always spoil my kids with powder sugar covered sweets. Most evenings and weekends I spend outdoors with my kids and husband- we love the Cleveland Metro Park system. We explore creeks and trails and in the summer swim in Lake Erie. For shopping I love Threefold Gifts in Lakewood, they carry so many cool Cleveland brands and are the best place to go if you are from out of town. The owners Dave and Laura know everywhere to eat, drink, and have fun in Cleveland- they are the Best!!