Courtesy of Brook Perdigon Textiles / Marianna Jamandi
Have you ever wondered how to turn your dreams of owning your own business into a reality? We can help. Each week, as part of our Self Made series, we showcase female entrepreneurs—as well as their quality, handmade goods—and share their best advice related to starting, maintaining, and growing your own business.
Brook Perdigon traces the origins of her career journey to her younger years, when she began developing the artistic eye she has today. After she showed a glimmer of interest in art and pattern, Perdigon's mother enrolled her in private lessons with local painters in her hometown of Tampa, Fla.
The now-business founder and creative director's love for design never let up: Perdigon later earned her BFA in painting and printmaking from Washington University and continued studying painting in Rome. But when she graduated, she was unsure of her next move.
Stepping back inside the classroom was the answer: "In hopes of finding a way to finance my lifestyle through my creativity, I became quite interested in textiles and started taking classes at the California College of Arts & Crafts in Berkley," says Perdigon. "There, I learned how to hand dye yarn, explore fabric structure, and weave on a loom." She then enrolled at The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising to learn all about textile and surface design and manufacturing.
Courtesy of Andrew Stewart
Perdigon started her career post-FIDM working for a textile studio based in Santa Monica, Calif., and creating custom collections for interior designers. "They would often show up with stunning antique documents from their travels and want to build a collection around them," she says. "We would then get to work pulling out design elements." Some of the entrepreneur's projects included working on designs for textile designers Peter Dunham and Katie Leede and launching the collections for print runs.
"I loved the combination of design and manufacturing and how the nuances of the production techniques informed the artwork," says Perdigon. "This experience helped to shape my way of designing and it taught me how to have my own line as well."
By July 2015, Perdigon found her bearings—she knew the basics of building her own business. "At that point, I had spent over a decade designing both boutique fabric collections for interior designers and bespoke carpets for Tai Ping Carpets," she says. "I had been executing others' design visions for so long and was very eager to see what I would create from my own ideas." After growing tired of working mainly in digital pattern design, she gravitated towards the bread and butter of her art practice.
With design, my goal is to create something that feels fresh and new to the market.
She designed her debut collection of prints by creating hand-cut stencils. With the help of her best friend, Marica McKeel, a New York-based architect, she silk-screened 6 yards of fabric by hand in her garage during Christmas break, while back home in Tampa. "She turned half of the yardage into upholstery for chairs for her home upstate, and [I used] the rest to make pillows for a small show I was having in Los Angeles," says Perdigon. "The pillows sold out instantly and I decided to create more designs for us to silkscreen on my next trip back to Tampa and slowly built up the business from there."
Designing With Intention
In her studio based in Los Angeles' Atwater Village, Perdigon creates collections inspired by everything and anything, from antique textiles to flowers; she traces and transfers motifs by hand until she's found the perfect placement.
"The artwork then gets scanned into the computer where I finalize the layout or repeat and then we prep the file for printing," she says. "I am a stickler for well-designed repeats—patterns that flow really nicely so that it is hard (ideally impossible) to see where the design starts and stops throughout." All fabrics, such as the Brook Perdigon Hillside Garnet ($9 for 8" by 8", brookperdigontextiles.com), are hand screened and digitally printed in Los Angeles on Irish and Belgian linen.
Courtesy of Brook Pergidon Textiles
As part of her work, Perdigon also gives back to organizations that support women, help people battling homelessness and fight food impoverishment, including The Downtown Women's Center, The Alexandria House, and World Central Kitchen.
Perdigon focuses on lifting up people in her field, too. "Organizing the East Side Design Crawl in Los Angeles was a fun and new way for me to support fellow creatives in my community," she says. "I like introducing people to new products and well designed businesses, and putting that event together was a way for me to share some of my favorite Los Angeles artisan-led businesses with my client list and Instagram following."
The business founder works alongside Los Angeles-based textile creatives, such as Rule of Three and Lake August, by sharing client lists and business strategies—and she puts on happy hours to bring creatives together.
Evolving With the Times
Over the last two decades, Perdigon has seen textile design change. In turn, her business is changing, too. "With design, my goal is to create something that feels fresh and new to the market," she says. She does so by asking herself how her designs are unique and still marketable—and hopes that her tenacity for evolution and business ethics will serve as a model for other designers starting their own brand.
"For my customers, I hope that living with my textiles allows them to celebrate artistry and craft in their day-to-day lives," she adds. In the next five years or so, she hopes to launch a line of carpets (mirroring her days designing at Tai Ping) and move away from the logistics side of the business to serve solely as creative director.