Originally working in art as a painter, Barbara Poole discovered felt-making and has been creating handmade wearables for the past three years. For two of them she has also wholesaled her work, but she plans to continue retailing at craft fairs, where she meets the customers directly and gets important feedback about her work.
Retailing is in her blood. Poole tells the story of how years ago she worked at Macy’s, learning to merchandise clothing, and to use all the senses to entice customers to buy. She remembers working on window displays, where she had to opportunity to create striking arrangements. She says, “Store windows are like three-dimensional photos. They draw the customers’ eye.
Setting up a trade show booth is a little different from creating a store display, however. Poole says she has to “fight the urge to put too much out.” Each piece in her booth is carefully placed, organized by category and by color.
A visit to her website shows that she categorizes her wearables there by “hand” “head” and “body” and uses models to make her limited edition felt clothing really stand out. She understands the importance of truly excellent photography to give an impression of the value of her clothing.
Amazingly, her garments are not sewn. She uses a technique called Nuno felting, where dyed wool roving is felted through layers of silk, penetrating each layer. “No sewing is needed in my clothing,” she says, “The wool holds the fabric together. It’s the binder.”
Her handmade clothing invites touch. She loves color, and textures, creating intricate and rich effects with puckering, the softness of the wool and the feel of silk. She works in limited editions, so that customers can own truly unusual clothing that no one else has.
“What I’ve learned is that there are trends, but no definitive answers,” she says. “I’m findiing who my customer is. And I can customize orders for retailers, who may want a different color, for example.”
The artist also creates accessories, from handbags to even offering felted jewelry. Originally, she made the jewelry because she didn’t want anything in her photos that was made by anyone else . She says that she started creating the jewelry as “an editorial statement,” but now sells them all.