We are proud of our strong company culture rooted in collaboration and innovation. This special series highlights the creativity of our employees on and off the clock.
Bridgette Burke. Product Coordinator. Patternmaker and Grader.Bridgette brings big ideas to life, both in her work at Fossil and as a budding entrepreneur. We asked Bridgette more about her Creative Class persona, and here’s what she had to say:
What is your Creative Class Hobby or Business?
My Creative Class business is called The Crazy Grader, a small business-to-business operation dedicated to helping upstart fashion houses, manufacturing companies, and private individuals meet their patternmaking and grading goals. The Crazy Grader was derived from a mind that is equal parts creative and technical. I guess I get that from my parents; my dad is a drummer and my mom, a hairstylist, both of which require creative and technical expertise in their fields.
What do you do at Fossil and what makes your job unique?
I work on the Ladies Jewelry Product Development team. Along with my amazing teammates Crystal and Phaedra, I manage the seasonal production lifecycle for the ladies jewelry business. I have the opportunity to see the designs created by our talented designers and then my team has those designs sampled and produced through our factories, all the while negotiating to make the best product at the best cost. We see the styles through the entire production lifecycle from concept to market. Pretty exciting!
How does your Creative Class skill set align with what you do for your day job?
Attention to detail is of high importance in both roles. In patternmaking and grading, attention to detail is required to deliver patterns that are perfectly balanced and trued, which will create a quality fit. In the jewelry making business, the same level of attention to detail is required throughout the production lifecycle in order to deliver a quality product to Fossil’s stores and its wholesalers.
How did you get started and what was your original inspiration?
While finishing up college for Fashion Design, my classmates would often see me grading my professor’s original first patterns to various sizes and would ask if I could also grade their patterns. Fashion designers love the design aspect, but most do not enjoy the pattern making and grading piece of it. All of that technical stuff is “just not sexy” to them. So, that’s where I come in.
Prior to graduation, I entered a Little Black Dress Designer competition, and grabbed second place out of over 100 student designers. This large cash award, along with another cash award earned from The Fashionista’s Fashion Fund, went straight into a business account and grew from there. I set up the business, purchased the computer software, sewing and printing equipment and supplies needed to upstart my business and got to it.
Growing up, my dream has always been to design clothing. I would draw clothing for my paper dolls and figure out the perfect fit on the girls.
What are some successes you’ve had with your Creative Class business?
One of my most recent successes occurred just this past holiday season when I developed an outsourcing partnership with a local manufacturing company to grade their client’s patterns on an ongoing basis. I had previously introduced my business to this company over a year ago. They recently lost their pattern grader and remembered me!
Q: What is your dream of where this could lead?
I am definitely a dreamer! Growing up, my dream has always been to design clothing. I would draw clothing for my paper dolls and figure out the perfect fit on the girls. I remember making an outfit at 12-years-old and my sassy auntie put on her heels and statement jewelry and wore it out dancing and looked amazing in it!
Though I am not necessarily living the designer’s life that I dreamed of as a young girl, I have found my niche in the business of fashion and plan to grow from there. What’s next? Pretapatterns.com, a business-to-consumer independent fashion pattern line for the intermediate to advanced level home sewer who loves designer clothing sold ready-to-wear (pret-a-porter). Also, an iOS app (to be released at a later date) is under design that will operate in support the pattern line. Pretapatterns.com will be live March 15.