Knitwear Design Alumna Launches Textile Design Studio
Kate Gabrieli (pictured, right) graduated with a Professional Designation Degree in Fashion Knitwear Design. "I took a Textile Design class with Anne Bennion, Chairperson of FIDM's Fashion Knitwear Design, Textile Design, and Design programs, for fun since I had some extra credits to earn, and so I had the chance to dive into it," she says. "I was terrible at it, but that class has helped me more in my career than I would have thought." We recently chatted with Kate to learn more about the textile design studio in Marina del Rey, California she recently launched.
We hear you used to work at the FIDM Museum Shop. I worked at the Museum Shop while I was a student and when I graduated, I managed the store for Judy Yaras, the Director of the Museum Shop Operations. I was so lucky because when I graduated, I knew knitwear wasn't what I wanted to do anymore, so it truly gave me a chance to figure out life and then go from there. During this time, I was able to really understand sales, working one-on-one with our customers and then being invited with Judy to go buy for the store; it really made everything click for me. It made me understand that you can't always buy for yourself, but if you are passionate about the product, then the customers will be too. Also, working at FIDM helps me to this day because I kept connected with everyone, and I'm blown away by the support I am getting.
What led you start your own textile design studio, Reserved Studio? After leaving the Museum Shop, I got a job as a creative director at the only service studio in Los Angeles where I fell in love with textiles. I got the job strictly on personality; I really knew nothing about this industry, so I learned first hand all about the production side of things and how to create really amazing artwork here. I was spoiled and had some of the best textile designers here in LA at my fingertips. This is where I met my future business partner who was an artist. We would be brought in to companies such as Vince, Brighton, David Meister, Robert Rodriguez, and a lot of others. We would create custom textile artwork for them and then from there, we would make it factory ready. I loved the stress and deadlines and the creative outlet it gave me. It was so rewarding and when I finally had a good grip on it, I wanted a change and to move back to the east coast where I am from.
I moved to NYC and worked with a leading print studio there as their rep. I got to travel a lot and met a lot of heavy hitters in the print buying world. I was lucky enough to form some really strong relationships with all the major retailers in the US, Europe, and Australia. Working in a print studio was a much calmer environment and I found I was really good at sales. So when life aligned to make the jump to open my own studio, with a ton of great support, I jumped with my business partner, Shima, one of the best artist from the service studio I worked at in the beginning of my career. Shima is from Iran and moved to Spain to study product design at IED Madrid where she learned photoshop and really created her craft. She moved to Los Angeles in 2011 and started working in the textile industry here and fell in love with it. Her multicultural background always brings a fresh feel to our artwork.
Eventually, I quit my job and moved back to Los Angeles. Shima was freelancing and had the time to dedicate. It was so rewarding to have what we have been talking about for years finally reach fruition. In June 2016, we went underground for about a month, created close to 300+ designs, and then hit the market. We have been so humbled about how much the industry has been loving our artwork and we are really lucky for our path that leaded us to this. We are the perfect partnership because I handle the sales and day to day business and help directing her and she is just the most amazing artist and this really allows her to fully dive in and make some truly stunning artwork that is now taking the industry by storm.
What is it like running your business day-to-day? I seriously couldn't ask for a better day-to-day! I work alongside Shima on creating strong, salable textile artwork. Since I work one-on-one with the clients, I know what they are looking for and so Shima and I discuss how to make it better and then she makes the coolest version of what was in my head to life. I am super thankful for my Shima because in a business partnership it is really important to be on the same page, creatively we get each other, and we think that is why we are having such a strong start.
When I am not working with Shima create artwork, I am emailing our clients to get all the great artwork out. I have meetings with the designers, show them the collection, and they buy what works for them. I've always viewed my job as just being able to hang out with designers, show them inspiring things, and then hopefully they buy--it's not something you can push, it has to sell itself. Without the time working in New York I don't think we would have such a lucky time getting in with all the big buyers. I am beyond thankful for my time in New York City and what it taught me and who it introduced me to. It has made it so real to me that you can never burn a bridge because later you will want to cross it again.
How did FIDM help prepare you for your career? FDIM helped my with my career in its support as a community. When I was in NYC, I would work with some designers then we'd talk about where we went to school and I ran across a lot of FIDM Grads and we just kind of kept it in the family. Also, I have a lot to thank Anne Bennion for; she got me my first job in the industry at the service studio and I don't think my life would be the same with out that. I really am humbled for that and always beyond thankful to her. I kind of have her to thank for all of this.
What are your ultimate career goals? Shima and I are really happy in the direction of our business, We are wanting to grow further and really make our imprint in the fashion industry as a print studio. We really love what we do and want to hopefully one day expand into producing fabrics for our clients as well, but for the time being, we just want to create great artwork we are proud of and keep up the selling in the industry.