32. The Business of Selling West African Inspired Textile Designs and Prints
Welcome to Season 2 of the Studio 78 Podcast! Yetunde Rodriguez is a graphic designer and textile artist based in Ohio who creates authentic African-inspired prints for wearable fashion and home decor.
Although there was pressure to follow convention and pursue a job in the medical field, Yetunde’s entrepreneurial spirit and desire for challenge has always navigated her career choices. She dabbled in several corporate and independent jobs before leveraging her background in graphic design and marrying it with passion for interior design.
Yetunde’s business now is a perfect blend of her heritage, creativity, and love of design, and a testament to her willingness to chart her course and realize her dreams by consistent continuous learning.
- Born in Nigeria and moved to the US as a teen
- Joined US Navy and served for 5 years
- Attended Hampton University and studied graphic design (following a non-traditional path because her parents wanted her become a medical professional )
- Made soaps and body products for years, but found herself being more drawn to design elements and packaging of the products
- Describes her experience with going back and forth with entrepreneurship and corporate jobs
- Moved to Ohio in 2007 and then decided to stop making handmade soaps because the market had become oversaturated
- Started to take notice of common African symbolisms, especially Adinkra symbols
- Decided to begin researching and learning textile design (i.e. screen printing); she was also able to meet Lotta Jansdotter
- Started a blog Afro Martha and maintained it for 5 years during her transition from soaps to textiles
- To generate sales, she did a lot of shows: craft shows and farmers markets
- We discuss what to keep in mind when considering price: time, materials, and understanding your market
- Yetunde discusses the hardships of being an entrepreneur
- “Most entrepreneurs you talk to will tell you they quit like every other day” –Yetunde
- She diversifies her income by offering her products wholesale, doing custom work, and offering classes; she’s still continuing to work on this aspect of the business
- Talks about the struggles of making things by hand, but still trying to establish an appropriate price point
- TIP: if you’re trying to sell your patterns, go to some of the big trade shows like Surtex
- Spoonflower (get fabrics printed)
- Lotta Jansdotter
- Surtex (trade show for patternmakers)
- Printsource NY (trade show for patternmakers)
- Upward Bound (educational program)
YETUNDE RODRIGUEZ DESIGN
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