Aging gracefully is not always what former models do. Maggie Pate, model turned textile designer is doing just that with her brand Inks & Thread. While Maggie was living and working in New York City she has dealt with many different aspects of the fashion industry, including merchandising, marketing, public relations, styling, project management, just to name a few; she has found where her passion is and that’s in design. Inks & Thread is Maggie’s outlet for print design and natural textile dyeing. The newest collection is called Patina, a fading – sign of aging both chemical and sacred. She describes the silk scarves as luscious and diaphanous meant to feel like second-skin and have a philosophical inspiration. The prints are a mix of watercolor works and photographs of aged copper/bronze along side her drawings. The originality in her process of creating each pattern has set the tone for individualism among her garments and pieces.
Maggie is currently working out of her home state of Tennessee with intentions of moving her business to New York City in the near future. She shared her insights and experience from creating Inks & Thread with us and candid advice for any emerging designer.
What is the biggest difference between your homeland of Tennessee and NYC that enabled you to create Inks and Threads in Tennessee and not New York?
Inks + Thread could have started anywhere because it’s conception came about out of my need to create, rather than locational opportunity. I’ve known for a long time that I’m not a desk-job kind of person. Sitting behind a computer makes me restless but I found myself in a desk job doing web-merchandising in Tennessee after the economic fall of 2008 & 2009. To ease my creative spirit, I started painting and diving into silk painting again and worked on a few collaborations with other artist friends, I launch the first release of scarves in 2013.
Are there any experiences you can share from your time in New York that helped mould who you are as a designer?
I suppose the biggest insight came from my years modeling. For the longest time, I thought designers and labels created their collections from a spontaneous-serendipitous stroke of genius but that magic drifted away as I began to notice home much they copy one another. I don’t want to spill the beans, but silhouettes were often repeated year after year because they worked. The only element that seemed unique were the prints and patterns used season to season. Perhaps that’s why I hold textile design in such high regard.
What is one bit of advice you could give that you wish you knew before you started your brand?
Don’t compare your chapter 4 to another’s chapter 20.
Comparing where your business is to where another one might be is only going to create frustration and anxiety. I tend to want to jump to the end of books and it is the same with my small business. I want to jump to the section where it is sustainable but everything takes time.
What are some of your biggest obstacles?
Being in Tennessee is a bit isolating; sometimes I wish I was still in NYC. Perhaps more opportunities would pop up if I were on the flame of the industry. Another struggle is always funding, I have no investors so I save and front all the cost for each collection. Makers and small batch designers tend to carry their cost and all the labor. I would like to seek investors but I like most creatives the world of finance and accounting will remain a foreign language in my brain.
You mentioned before that the process of how you create the prints is “chemical and sacred” can you please explain that process and why you’ve decided to use that one to create your designs?
The newest collection is called Patina, which was a fusion of aged surfaces (chemical) and metaphysical symbols (sacred). This collection of scarves is an intersection of aged patinas and textures with numinous imagery. I have always loved the artifacts of decay and passed time. When surfaces age and their patina change, I think they become more beautiful. I was the little girl that kept the old aged copper penny and flippantly gave away or passed up the bright and shiny new one. The patina of oxidized metals or the faded hues of a watercolor played a huge roll in the construction of the patterns. Each print also an emblem paired with a texture that offers a sacred of profane consul – mostly influenced from my study of philosophy, religion, and cognitive theory.
What inspires you the most and how do you stay innovative?
Of course other artists inspire me but most of my prints stem from my study of cognitive theory in college. I see patterns take form in the everyday, beyond the visual field and into the social, cultural, and spiritual arena. For me prints are a synthesis of textures, repetition, and geometry –it forms a poetic visual language. With that said, I don’t think I can isolate one or even just a handful of inspirations.
Do you do all your manufacturing by yourself or do you have a sample house or manufacturer?
I do all the natural dyeing and sewing/construction; the only thing I have to outsource is the transfer of the print on to fabric. The two companies I commission to do that are both located in the USA. I have a friend in NYC, a fellow Rebecca Taylor alum, who helps me draft patterns for clothing, which I will not attempt to do!