Today we’d like to introduce you to Josie Ford.
Josie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Growing up in Santa Barbara, CA I was always inspired by the natural patterns I encountered day-to-day. After graduating from college with a degree in studio art, and an emphasis in graphic design and printmaking, I went straight to work in marketing. I really enjoyed it, but I wanted to do much more with my passion. Meanwhile, I was painting patterns, drawing from the world around me, and receiving tons of positive feedback from family and friends. I kept hearing that people wanted to purchase my designs printed on fabric. So in December of 2017, I traveled to India, sketches in hand, in hopes of connecting with the artisans and creators of textiles integral to India’s vivacious and colorful culture. With lots of persistence, I connected with amazing people whose unique skill sets helped me launch my business and first collection in November 2018.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I don’t want to jinx myself but so far it’s been pretty smooth. I’m 25 years old and learning as I go.
One major challenge I encountered this summer was navigating India’s monsoon season. I placed my production order early, but the monsoons lasted much longer than normal and my production order was delayed. After printing, the fabric is hung outside to dry, and if it gets wet during this part of the process, the final print will be affected. I am learning as I go, and I’m incredibly grateful for my team’s guidance throughout this process.
My advice is to talk to other women running businesses. You can learn so much from talking to other people who are following a similar path. I would not be where I am today without mentors who have shared their knowledge and struggles with me.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Studio Ford – what should we know?
I design textile products including quilts, pillows, table linens, and scarves. As well as custom fabric by the yard for special projects. My designs are all hand-sketched and inspired by the patterns I encounter in my everyday life: in nature, architecture, art, and design, for example. Once my designs are finalized, I collaborate with block carvers and printers to bring these patterns to life. Collaborating with my colleagues in India has been an incredibly valuable process. I feel fortunate to continuously work with and learn from families that have passed on the block printing tradition for generations. It’s an honor to be able to bring awareness to an art form that has been practiced in India for thousands of years, and especially to see how this same process translates to my designs today.
We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
The biggest barrier I see in female leadership in my industry, in India specifically, is that printers are mostly men. Unfortunately, women-led management can be met with some tension. One employee in India, Sonia, who oversees all of our vendors, has a ton of industry experience in handling difficult situations, but it’s certainly not easy all of the time. She experiences pushback from printers and finds her leadership frequently questioned. It can be challenging finding ways to support her from afar, but with careful communication, leadership, and education, I see more women finding their space in the block printing community.
- Website: studio-ford.com
- Phone: 8054486920
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @studio_ford
Josie Ford & Helen Nishi