STYLE

Fabricating Design

Lori Towers Craffey plays with fabric and color

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Lori Towers Craffey is the creative force behind Little Rhody Design Co. and Lori Craffey Design. Armed with a BFA from the Surface Pattern Design Program at Syracuse University, Lori worked for almost 24 years in the textile design business. She started working for herself three years ago and is also a freelance designer in textile, fabrics and soft goods for the TJX Company. Growing up in Somerset, Lori now lives in Little Compton with her husband Keith, and their sons Aidan, Liam and Cullen. Surrounded by Little Rhody Design Co. pillows, beach tow- els and table runners, we talked about design inspirations, the popularity of customized fabrics and plans for bricks and mortar in Bristol later this year.

Tell us about your work.
Little Rhody Design is the retail side, which sells everything from pillows, table runners and wallpaper to wrapping paper and customized blankets. All the items feature the designs of Lori Craffey fabrics. Of the products I make, I really love decorative items for the home, which are bright and colorful and reflect my love of home.

How did you branch out on your own? Did you have a goal when you started your business?
After the company I worked for in Fall River closed, I decided I would start my own business. I loved working in textiles and I didn’t want to give up on what I really loved doing. I love fabrics and making my patterns. I am very lucky because every minute I am doing it I am so happy! I think that is why my fabrics are so lighthearted, bright and happy. It is how I feel when I work. When I started Lori Craffey Design I had so much fabric I needed to start making something with it. Unexpectedly I have found sewing as rewarding as making the fabric. I had learned to sew when I was five-years-old with my grandmother, but I had never made much of my skills. Now I love creating my fabrics and thinking, “What is this going to become?” In my previous jobs that had always been someone else’s responsibly. Now it is my responsibility and a privilege for me.

What influences your work?
I love the water, the New England seasons and I am inspired by color. I love going out and taking photos of animals on the beautiful farms in this area or just people out on their bikes. I take elements of those photos to create designs from it to be made into fabrics, wallpaper or wrapping paper.

Have you been surprised by any part of your business?
My customized fabrics and products! I started customized work because my son Cullen has a unique name and could never find anything with it. He asked me to make him a blanket with his name on the fabric. So I designed a pattern with the name in different styles on the material. I can customize it for any name and customers can pick the color. They are wildly popular. Last month I introduced Custom Birth Stat pillows which have the baby’s name and birth stats. The most popular item I sell is cutout photo pillows of pets. I create a pillow using a photo of a customer’s pet. Last Christmas I sewed and sold 200 pet pillows in four weeks. I usually can fulfill an order within two weeks from receiving it, creating it and shipping it.

Where can we find your work?
I began with a shop on etsy.com, which took a good year to get going. I was really patient with it and it has become very successful. My products and my fabrics are now sold all over the world. I also sell to some area businesses including The Kitchen in Westport, the Art Café in Little Compton and Simmons Store in Adamsville. I’m now at a point I have to hire someone to handle representing the line because I am so busy with everything! I also have an independent line of wallpaper and wrapping paper.

What is on the horizon for you?
This September I am going to be opening a space in Bristol on Hope Street in a building my brother Jim owns. It will be on two floors with a working studio on one level and a retail shop on the other. The working studio will allow people to walk in and get something customized with my fabrics. I think that is the future of my business. People spend so much on fabrics for home interiors, so if they can get something that is personal I want to offer that. The best part of de- sign for me is creating something for someone and getting to see the customer’s reaction. I love that!

Lori Craffey Design/Little Rhody Design Co. 401-297-7585.