Passion. That’s the word that best describes Pat Bravo. She is driven by her passion. Her heart overflows with generosity. With the help of her husband, she has drawn on these very things to build a successful fabric and textile manufacturing company, Art Gallery Fabrics, from the ground up.
Pat Bravo was born in Argentina. She began sewing at nine years old and attended sewing school when she turned thirteen. Following sewing school, she enrolled in law school but dropped out after three years and took painting classes. It was during this time that she met who, after 30 years, she still calls “the love of her life”, Walter Bravo.
Discovering Her Passion
Pat and Walter moved to the U.S. in 1989, where Walter worked in the clothing industry. Pat describes this time as very difficult for her, as she struggled to adjust to a new culture. When her husband gave her a sewing machine, that all changed.
She fell in love with quilting. She started out learning the traditional techniques, but soon ventured into art quilts. Her creations progressed from landscape to the more abstract. As she searched for the right fabrics for her designs, she discovered that the available color palette in the batik fabrics she used were very limited and insufficient for her needs.
Her landscape quilts required lots of shades to use for rocks, trees, etc. She found a book and taught herself to paint fabric. Her results were stunning and when she shared the fabric at her local quilt guild, she sold every single piece. She began selling at quilt shows in her home city of Miami and other cities with great success.
In order to reach more customers, she made the decision to open an online store. It became impossible for her to meet the growing demand. According to Pat, “some days I was painting up to 80 pieces a day.” Wow! Can you imagine?
She decided to try selling fabric at the Quilt Festival in Houston. Her husband accompanied her on this trip. When he saw how large the demand for her fabric was within the quilting business, he encouraged her to make the leap into manufacturing commercially.
Walter had just sold his apparel company in New York and was looking to start a new company in Miami. Art Gallery Fabrics was born in 2004. Pat was still selling online, but soon stopped when the wholesale business took over.
Her first collection was called Oriental and was only one print in three colors. Pat was apprehensive attending her first quilt market as a wholesaler. With only her small collection, she feared ridicule from others in the industry. She created two more collections made from hand painted panels that were very successful.
Her next collection was made entirely on a computer and was called Belle Epoque. From then on, she has never hand painted again. Everything is done on a computer and hand drawn using Adobe Illustrator.
Bari J was the first outside designer brought on to Art Gallery Fabrics by Pat Bravo. This is what she had to say about Pat –
“I met Pat back in 2009 when my first line of fabric came out. I was with another company at the time but we both knew that if the stars aligned and we could, we’d want to work together. I was so thrilled when that happened. Pat is a huge creative talent in her own right, but she is also a gifted creative director. She and I seem to speak the same language when it comes to design, and she’s been able to pull my very best from me… even when I thought it wasn’t there. Pat is full of passion and heart both personally and professionally. It’s an absolute pleasure and honor to work with her.”
Success In Business
In a live chat, Pat told Pattern Review that she believes three things for success in business; good product, honesty and a lot of sacrifice working long hours. True Up says this about Pat, “she broke into the business in true DIY style.”
Lately Pat has begun aggressively marketing herself as just another designer for AGF. Soulful Eyes is her personal design blog where she shares her inspiration and love of design.
Anais Crowley, Social Media Director for AG, says –
“Pat is a very passionate person. She really pours her soul into every line, every flower and every color choice. Coming from a background that has always been heavily influenced by an eclectic mix of color she has taken that into her collections. Pat is a person that strives to gain knowledge of various cultures and she transforms that knowledge into her collections. Her style is ever changing but with a familiarity and devotion to her true style.”
What impresses me most about Pat is her desire to help those around her. Her passion is contagious. Despite everything that she may have going on, she is always accessible to her colleagues and customers. She is generous with her time and talents. I asked Shannon Donoghue of Create Kids Couture pattern company what it was like to work with Pat –
“Pat is one of the nicest and most helpful people in the industry! She mentored us through Quilt Market and if it wasn’t for her we would have been SO unprepared. She is so passionate about her work and when you speak to her it’s contagious. You can’t help but get excited about her fabrics when she talks about them. We’ve had the privilege of using her fabrics on our Fall 2012 line of paper patterns and they just made the patterns!”
What an inspiring example of what passion and hard work can accomplish. She is not only passionate about creating her own beauty, but in becoming the inspiration for others to do the same. It is clear that Pat Bravo truly gives her whole heart and soul to design.
Who inspires you?