Designing Women

Four years ago, when my friend Elisha was diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I went to Boston to accompany her to her chemotherapy.  At the time, Elisha was working with  Sara Campbell, Ltd, a Boston- based clothing designer.  Sara Campbell is a line that I carry exclusively in my store, Ginger Howard Selections. While I was there, I helped pick out fabrics and styles for the following year fall line.  Since then, I have been going back every year.  It is one of the highlights of my job!  One of my dreams  is at some point to design my own line of clothing.  This is great practice, and it helps Sara know from a retail perspective what sells and what doesn’t.  Sara Campbell is a real person with a wealth of creativity and expertise in her field. She has been designing for over 25 years.

She has just recently opened her own stores within the Boston area.  They all have the unique personality of Sara and her whimsical flair. She has beautiful fabrics and her trims and finishing touches are what sets her apart.  While other designers may steer away from lady-like femininity, Sara is a cut above the rest.  Her line is classic, yet updated with styles that will last as long as your figure will.

I want to give you a feel of a typical day in the design room while I was there.  I arrived on Wednesday around noon.  We ordered lunch up, and sat around a long work table surrounded by bins and bins of fabrics separated by textures and content.  Kay Thread, an appropriate name, for her, as she is Sara’s fabric selector and helps with most of the design is there with newly ordered fabrics.  She has been with Sara for over ten years.  She has moved to New York so she commutes to Boston every other week.  Kay, Sara, and I quickly inhale our lunch and start going through fabrics.  We go through bin by bin and if we see a fabric we like we pull it, and Kay labels it and we put up on one of three huge boards. We were working on Fall 2011 deliveries for September, October, and November.

We finish that day around six, and I was having dinner with Elisha, who now owns her own accessory store within a hair salon in Boston.  Sara takes me to the restaurant, and comes in for a glass of wine.  It was fun to be with the two of them again together, as they worked together for ten years and made such a good team.  Elisha is doing great from her cancer, and looks better and happier than ever.  Sara left to go to a meeting, and Elisha and I chatted and caught up. The dinner was superb.  I went home to stay with my dear cousins Glorianna and Evan, who live on Beacon Hill.

The next morning,  I come upstairs to a printed menu for breakfast that Glorianna had done.  That was a special treat.  She fixed me a yummy breakfast,  and I was off for day two.  We started off where we had finished,  and ordered our lunch up again.  Sara and I went downstairs to her store and pulled styles that I am going to take to a trunk show in November.  Her pattern makers and workers are downstairs behind the store. Her office is in the South End of Boston in a warehouse.

We worked all day and began to pull the collections together. The color stories started to mesh.  By now, we are no longer sitting on chairs, we are on the floor matching colors and fabrics.  We toss aside some choices from the day before because we found more suitable choices. We also went through tear sheets, pulling pictures from magazines of styles we liked. Several times during the day, we stopped as a pattern maker came up to fit Sara in a style.

At the end of the day, Sara and I went to her new store on Charles Street in Beacon Hill. It is darling and very charming.  We then met Kay and Glorianna for dinner at a cozy restaurant around the corner. We had a wonderful time. The place was packed and it was such fun!

Friday was my final day, and I was pooped. Sara went to Nantucket to close up her pop-up store that she had this summer. Kay and I went through tear sheets and a few more fabrics, and then drove up to Concord to see the latest  Sara Campbell store. The town was something out of a Norman Rockwell painting.  Main Street was beautiful, and the trees were all in full colors. It was a cold and windy day. We visited the shop and went across the street to a darling cafe for soup and a sandwich.  She drove me back to Boston and dropped me off at the airport.

It was a great time, and I have learned to appreciate all the hard work and talent it takes to design a line.  And if that dream of mine is never fulfilled,  at least I experienced a bit of what it takes to be a designing woman!