Friday, December 21, 2012

An Interview with...Drew Emborsky (aka The Crochet Dude)

Once a week I post interviews with interesting people about their insights on their experience of working in the Knitting industry.  I’ve noticed that every one of these individuals makes their living in a slightly different manner bringing their own unique presence to the Knitting world.

You can find Drew here and here on Ravelry.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find my inspiration from an eclectic grouping of sources. I very much like the vintage fashions, home decor, etc, and at the same time I love to see the outrageous fashions that they present on the runway each season!! Simultaneously I love the mountains and the great outdoors in general. When I look at my designs I can see some or all of those influences.

What is your favourite crochet technique?

I've been in love with post stitches for several years now. I think it's amazing how beautiful they can make any project. I tell the students in my Post Stitch Boot Camp class that post stitches make crochet do everything that you've always wish it could.

How did you determine your size range?

Completely depends on the garment. For example if I'm designing for women I'll use women's sizes. If I'm designing for men I tend to use men's sizes. I find that works best for me.

Do you look at other designers' work or are you afraid that you will be influenced by their designs?

I will look at other designer's from different industries mainly. I like to look at pottery, ready to wear fabric garments, etc. I don't seek out other knit and crochet designers as inspiration mainly because it's more fun for me to take my own design journey. Having said that, we are such a close community in the fiber world that I can't imagine we don't rub off on each other constantly anyway! 

You are known mainly as a crochet designer and teacher. However, you design knitting patterns as well, do you have a preference for crochet over knitting, and if so why?

Absolutely no preference at all because I think of them as complete individuals. Crochet has been a part of my entire life, it helped me to mourn my mother's passing, it has brought me great joy as The Crochet Dude grew from a nickname with a charity afghan group into a blog, into a trademarked brand. Knit has been a part of my entire life and I have fond memories of reading Fair Isle charts to my sister as she knit sweaters, and I didn't start taking my own knitting journey until after my mom's passing, and I've taken classes with some of the most amazing teachers, and it has been such a valuable tool in stretching my design skills. Choosing one or the other would be liking choosing favorite children - they are uniquely important to me.

How do you feel about the so called controversy of "dumbing down" patterns for crocheters and knitters?

You know that actually caused me to discontinue working with one major yarn company because their design director kept saying to me "you don't understand how stupid crocheters actually are - dumb it down even more". And I remember that as a pivotal moment in my career because I hung up the phone and with every part of my being I said "No, I don't accept or believe that". 

From that day on I have stood firm that there are many different skill levels, but that none of those levels need be dumbed down - they just need to have well-written patterns.

Do you have a mentor?

I have several mentors. For my yarn company there is one, and when I have marketing questions there is someone else. I have been very very VERY blessed to be surrounded in this industry by some of the best people I have ever met in my life. And in turn I try to help others when I can. 

Do you have a business model that you have emulated?

Brighton has always been an inspiration for me. I like how they have a vision for the product design and don't waver from it. 

What impact has the Internet had on your business?

Since my business grew out of the popularity of my blog, I would have to say that the Internet is the reason that I pursued design as a business. I love the way the Internet gives me opportunities to not only explore, but to also market and sell my product. But way beyond that, I love how I am able to be in touch directly with the thousands upon thousands of people who buy my products every week. It's just amazing.

How do you maintain your life/work balance?

That is so tricky because I've had a lot of people give me advice about it over the years. Trust me, I've tried it all too because having a good life/work balance is essential, especially when you are the creative force behind the product. Some say "don't work at home", some say "always work at home", or "set strict hours" or "take frequent days off". But when it comes down to it each of us has to get into a rhythm that works well for one's business and one's life.  For me the best balance has evolved into working as hard as possible during the work week, sun up to sun down, taking a good couple hours off to cook dinner (my current favorite hobby), and also taking the weekends off.  It's often makes the deadlines harder to meet, but "time on" and "time off" must be balanced for my creative brain to function at full capacity.

How do you deal with criticism?

I don't. Criticism is none of my business. If you don't like what I do there is NOTHING I can do about that. There is a lot of design-work out there that I don't like, but I would be shocked if Marchesa changed their designs because Drew Emborsky happened to not like them. We all have our own design vision and if others happen to like it then we are lucky, but the vision must never be influenced or it will no longer be ours.

How long did it take for you to be able to support yourself?

I was working as a full-time designer within a year of launching my blog. 

What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career in crochet?

Don't do it for the money, do it because you are an artist and crochet is your medium and you can't think of anything else but your next design. Be willing to compromise on some things, but never on your design aesthetic or your own personal code of ethics. If your design is rejected from a magazine or yarn company, always remember that they have a story that they are telling and when they reject your design it's because it doesn't fit in with their story - DON'T TAKE THAT PERSONALLY!!! Just keep on submitting designs until you get some traction.

To my readers: If you enjoy reading my blog, I'd really appreciate it if you would tell your knitting friends or share links to your favourite posts online with Twitter or Facebook. Word of mouth is really helping to grow my business as knitters respect the views of other members of our community. Thanks!