Susan Dean-Threadbare Primitives
By Denise Bailey
Please tell us a little bit about yourself
I am 49 years old and have been married for 28 years. No kids but lots of "fur babies". I have three "indoor" cats....Jinx, Chadwic, and Porter and one tiny four pound Chihuahua named Baxter. These are my kids and I spoil them rotten every waking moment. I guess you could say I am an animal lover. My husband and I also run a cat rescue center on our property for unwanted or abused cats.
I live in a beautiful old 85 year old farmhouse on 2 acres surrounded by trees, squirrels, and every kind of critter. I love to cook, read, go to auctions, and take care of my animals.
How long have you had your online shoppe?
I have been online with my website for about 4 years now. It has gone through many changes in those years and I am constantly updating it to keep it new and interesting. The latest thing I have added is my $4.99 epattern section. With the economy being a little tight I figured anyone can afford $4.99 for a pattern and not have to worry about spending the money.
How did you come up with the name Threadbare Primitives?
Well, when I started this business I did alot of extreme prim...which I love. I would sand those dolls till the stuffing showed....thus the name "Threadbare Primitives". Now I design everything from whimsical to extreme prim. I seem to go through phases.
How long have you been creating primitive and folkart patterns?
I have been sewing and crafting for 20 years but have only been creating patterns for about 4 years. But I do enjoy stitching, punch needle, painting and working with clay. You name it and I have done it.
Is all your work done freehand or do you use a graphics program to draw out your patterns?
All of my patterns are drawn out freehand on a artists sketch pad. Then revised til they look the way I want. I don't think my dolls would have the same feel if I used a graphics program......I like the hands on approach.
How long have you been interested in drawing? Did you take art classes? Are you self taught?
I am a self taught artist. I design and draw every day. I try to do things that I am not entirely comfortable with in order to keep my edge and skill level up
What or who is your inspiration for the many wonderful patterns you create?
I love antiques and primitives, so anything old, rusty and with paint missing is right up my alley. I have always tried to make dolls and folk art that would fit into that decorating scheme. My whimsical dolls are just my attempt to be "just so darn cute". I guess I have a duel personality....I really try to design for all tastes.
How long would you say it takes you to create a new pattern, from beginning to end?
I have always been lucky. I just get an idea, draw it out, make the pattern and sew it up. I turn out 1-2 patterns every week which I think is good for my customers because they can visit my site and always see something new. It keeps them interested and inspired and always coming back for more.
Do you make one pattern at a time or several before you introduce them into your shoppe?
No...I make a pattern and get it up on the site on the weekend. I try to stay consistent with
with that....if I miss a weekend I get email saying "Are you gonna have something new this week?" LOL....I LOVE my customers! They TOTALLY keep me on my toes....I really love every one of them!
I see you are now offering punch needle, applique & sampler patterns, is this new or have you had them all along?
I have had those patterns for a while now...I love making samplers and patterns and need to do more of them but I have been so busy with getting Fall and Halloween patterns in the works I have not had a chance. I will be doing more stitcheries though....the ones I have right now have been quite popular. They are very easy and can be finished in one evening.
What other venues besides your online shoppe do you offer your patterns for sale? Which venue does best for your sales?
I currently sell through my own website, Ebay, and Prim Mart. I have also been honored to be on the front cover of "Homespun" magazine and have a pattern available within the pages and a lovely article written about my business.
Do you sell your patterns wholesale?
Yes, my patterns are available at wholesale pricing.
Threadbare Primitives Patterns are distributed and sold
throughout the USA as well as Australia, Italy and Canada
and through many finer Quilting and Needlework shops.
When you make an item to sell ( not the pattern) , do you make only one or do you make several? For example: you make one item to use as the cover model for your patterns - sell that and you go on to the next pattern?
I have never made two of anything. The original creation serves as the model for the cover shot of the pattern jacket. That same model is then sold and I am on to the next idea.
Which type of pattern seems to be your best seller/s?
Right now I am selling alot of whimsical patterns...but then I have been focusing on that style for the last little while. I have about 175 patterns at the moment and I would say they break down half 'n half. Half are cute and whimsical and half are extreme prim. But...I have switched and have gone back to the prim style and have turned out some awesome black doll patterns with more coming.
Which type of pattern do 'you' have the most fun creating?
I love the extreme prim style though I am probably best known for my whimsical style. I love making and designing old black dolls and have released quite a few new black doll patterns over the past couple of months. I have alot more in the works too, so I will be concentrating on a more primitive style for a while.
Do you ever make something from your patterns to keep for yourself?
Unfortunately, no....everything I make, I sell. (Sigh)
Alot of gals out there often ask me what is the key to success in this business. Since my strength is in business and I come from a business background I could go on and on about the business end of things. But one thing I always stress is that if you want to make a living with your art form, then treat it like a job. In order to make a living "out there" in the private sector you are required to go to bed at a decent hour, set your alarm clock, wake up get dressed and go to work. You will work for 8 hours every day to earn your pay check. You will do that consistently every day for 5 days a week. If you do that with your craft, if you REALLY treat it like a job, you will be successful. So my advice to anyone either starting out or who just isn't having the success they desire is to treat this business as a business. AND NEVER EVER EVER give up!!!!!