It wasn’t too long ago that Kristi Fitzpatrick told her husband, Deric, she needed to expand the 1,000 square foot design studio he built for her in a workshop they share on their property near Clover Bottom.
After participating in a series of fashion shows in fall 2018 and this past spring in New York, Los Angeles and London, Fitzpatrick, owner of George and Ginger Pattern Company, was quite literally running of space.
Deric built a loft area to provide extra square footage, and that has helped, but with another major opportunity on the horizon, Fitzpatrick is hopeful she may need an even bigger solution soon.
Next February, the 1999 Washington High School graduate will compete in “Britain’s Top Designer,” a cutting edge fashion designer competition hosted by Fashions Finest every February during London Fashion Week to find the best emerging UK and international designers.
After reading about the competition online, Fitzpatrick, the daughter of Tim and Barb Meyer, Washington, said she decided to apply on a whim.
“I had to send them all my social media links, my website link, a bio and examples of my work, so it was pretty extensive,” she said.
For the competition, Fitzpatrick will have to design and create a six-piece collection that she will take to London for a runway show with the other designer contestants. Prior to the show, judges will meet with each contestant to conduct interviews. They also will ask questions of each designer as their fashions are being shown on the runway in front of the audience, said Fitzpatrick.
That part doesn’t worry her too much, but the entire experience is more than a little nerve-racking, she admits. It’s also exhilarating and exactly what she wants to be doing.
Fitzpatrick’s ultimate goal right now is to develop a ready-to-wear line to go along with her pattern business.
“I made the decision to take a break from Fashion Week shows this past fall so I can focus on that ready-to-wear (line), so that if I do more shows in the future, I can say, ‘Oh, yes, you can buy that,’ ” she explained.
At a show in New York where she had “America’s Next Top Model” India Gants walking the runway, Fitzpatrick said she realized ready-to-wear was the next step for her.
“As soon as India made this one turn on the runway, there were people who were (Direct Messaging) me and asking, ‘Where can I get that dress?’ I had so many messages about it, and I had to tell them it’s a pattern,” said Fitzpatrick.
Competing in Britain’s Top Designer will provide the kind of exposure that can only help propel her toward that ready-to-wear goal, said Fitzpatrick, noting all of the previous winners have gone on to bigger and better things.
“Britain’s Top Designer was set up to give up-and-coming designers the opportunity to present a collection before a panel of industry judges, to receive constructive feedback in order to go and produce even better collections and grow their business,” the website reads.
There are usually between eight and 10 designers who compete, and the winner will be announced at the end of the show.
Fitzpatrick doesn’t have any details yet to share on the collection she will take to London. She is currently in the sketching phase, and those sketches evolve, she said — sometimes in the matter of a day.
She expects to be hunkered down with sewing and fine-tuning her designs from the end of December to the end of January.
Before Designing, She Was Drafting
Before she launched a career as a fashion and pattern designer, Fitzpatrick worked in drafting. She took her first drafting classes at Washington High School and went on to East Central College, where she earned a degree in drafting and design before going to work in civil drafting.
As a hobby, she took up crocheting and that’s when a friend suggested she try her hand at sewing. She took a class and from there began drafting her own clothing patterns.
When Fitzpatrick decided to start her own pattern company, she named it George and Ginger after her husband and son — George is her husband’s middle name, and Ginger refers to her redheaded son.
She had already grown her pattern business into a following of more than 22,000 members on Facebook when she received an email inviting her to be one of the emerging designers featured in the SOCIETY Fashion Week in New York City February 2018.
That success led her to show spring collections last fall in New York, Los Angeles and London. The shows were held within three weeks of each other, but Fitzpatrick created a different collection for each show.
“They were wildly different collections,” she said, noting one featured metal corsets, accents and purses. “It was a lot of work, but it was really fun.”
She took between 20 and 25 pieces to the shows in New York and Los Angeles and around 10 pieces for the fall 2018 show in London. She also did a Christmas-themed show called “Deck the Runway” in Orlando, Fla., last December.
Fitzpatrick is known for using her friends and pattern testers as models in her shows, but she added a new face to a show in New York. Her 12-year-old daughter Hazel walked the runway for Ginger and George.
“Since the beginning she’s been asking, ‘When am I going to be old enough to model?’ But as a mom, you’re kind of reluctant to throw them into that because you don’t know if they’re ready or if they’ll ever be ready. But she did amazing,” said Fitzpatrick.
Patterns Offer More Choices, Options
Last year when Fitzpatrick spoke to The Missourian after her show at the New York Fashion Week, she described her patterns as “a modern twist on classic pieces.”
“I like to do more ‘out-there’ designs than a lot of pattern designers,” she said, noting there’s nothing basic about her pieces. “I am known in the sewing community for doing these weird, asymmetrical styles.”
Today, she said her patterns have evolved to offer sewers more choices in options.
“Everybody who buys patterns wants a lot of options,” she said. “If there’s anything I’ve learned about this business is people don’t just want a dress that’s going to be a dress. They want it to be a top version and a tunic version, multiple sleeve lengths and styles.”
A pattern she released a few months ago that has five different front bodice styles and five different backs to choose from allowing sewers to mix and match.
Providing those kinds of options requires a lot more work, not just in terms of drafting the pattern, but also in testing them too.
Before a pattern is ever released for sale, Fitzpatrick has it vetted by 30 to 50 testers — sewers who take her patterns and make the item in various sizes to find any problems. They are testing everything from how clear the instructions are to how good the fit is, she said.
For the dress pattern with the option of five different fronts and five different backs, Fitzpatrick said she had around 100 testers.
“It was crazy, but it was so worth it,” she said. “We are working on another one like that now. And with any other patterns, I look to see, What can I add? What sort of options would they not even realize they would want to have.”
Fitzpatrick noted along with adding options to her patterns, she also has extended her size chart. She now offers more patterns that include tween sizes and plus sizes.
Her Kids Play a Role
Fitzpatrick credits her three children, ages 14, 12 and 9, with helping her improve her business profile on social media beyond Facebook. George and Ginger is on Snapchat, Instagram, Reddit, Twitter and YouTube, where Fitzpatrick leads sew-along videos from her studio.
“They are really supportive,” said Fitzpatrick of her three kids, Frankie, Hazel and Sam. “They think it’s really cool. They tell everyone at school, ‘Watch my mom’s YouTube channel!’ ”
For more information on George and Ginger Pattern Company, go to https://georgeandgingerpatterns.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/George-Ginger-415698898625195/.