October 2, 2019
Mastering the Art of a Seamless Transition
An Interview with Debra Weiss of Specks & Keepings
We take a look back on the incredibly creative, invigorating, and community-building career of one of our favorite designers and longtime friends, Debra Weiss of Specks & Keepings.
She’s wrapping up nearly two influential decades of designing clothes (all credit goes to Debra for the linen jumpsuit revolution) this winter, so be sure to stock up on your favorite pieces! But don’t worry, she’ll still be creating beautiful art and making things.
Debra! We are such big fans of your work. How did you land on textiles and clothing as your craft?
As a young girl, I learned to sew and crochet, then I taught myself macrame. Then, in the early 70’s, I started selling my pieces in Venice Beach, by the boardwalk. When it came time for college, I studied textile design and learned to do everything, from weaving, to dyeing, to fashion and embellishment.
What was that beginning of your career like? What kind of hurdles did you jump through?
When I started my business as Rebe in 2000, I was working a day job doing ultrasounds and raising my 3 daughters. I started by making purses and bags, then transitioned to clothing. In 2002, I went online and started with wholesale and direct customer. A few years later, I expanded my business by bringing it to fairs in other cities; and by 2007 I gave up my day job and had pieces in over 300 boutiques. Unfortunately, just a year later, close to 90% of those boutiques went out of business, so in 2010 I switched from wholesale to strictly direct customer sales, fairs and festivals, and my website.
Through your journey, what has success meant to you?
Having my customers happy with what I made and ideally supporting myself!
Any advice for new artists?
Start with working capital! It’s a rollercoaster but worthwhile – and requires full attention.
Making more fiberart, teaching, consulting, and putting my patterns out into the world! I’m grateful for the 19 years and while it’s bittersweet moving away from apparel, I’m looking forward to what’s next for me in this journey of life.
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The biggest thank you to our creative and inspiring friend, Debra. While we can’t imagine a Fair without her textiles, we can’t wait to see (and buy!) what she creates next. Find her final collection this Winter 2019 Tour, or online at SpecksandKeepings.com.