By Elisa Vietri
I have a an important message for you, fashion and design are alive and well on East Side! This message brought to you today by Dru Thompson of Dru Christine Fabric & Design. When I first met Dru I was immediately drawn to her enthusiasm about her work and fashion in general. I knew immediately we had found our next Maker.
Dru began sewing at a young age simply because she was surrounded by a family who did just that, they sewed. And, over time, it just became part of who she was. Her love of fashion grew alongside her skills as a seamstress until she knew this passion would become her full time business. Dru Christine Fabrics & Design was born just over a year ago and is going strong. At a time when building a business is challenging, to say the least, Dru’s retail/studio space is thriving. Clearly that comes from a combination of talent, marketing and plain old hard work.
Dru’s energy permeates the welcoming storefront filled with all that’s needed to design and create a one-of-a-kind garment or refine a vintage treasure. Oh, and there’s deconstructing going on too! Her creativity has no boundaries when it comes to her work. She’s happy to take on the challenge of whatever walks through the door, including sketching your design as you sit and sip a drink on her comfy couch. She’ll walk you through picking fabric and buttons from her collection, cut the pattern, pin you, fit you, sew it and then help you accessorize. She believes that this highly customized, full-service business model is what sets her apart and makes her product special enough to get you off the Internet and into her studio. And more than likely, you’ll have a good laugh and lively chat while you’re there too.
The thing I liked about Dru the most is her sense of community and interest in supporting other businesses. Whether they are in the neighborhood where her studio is, or they are vendors that supply her with the ample selection of accessories in her studio, she wants them to succeed. It’s obvious she understands their success is closely tied to her success and she wants to build relationships that allow everyone to rise to the top.
The day I was in her studio it was clear she was the hub of the ever changing activity. She was offering sage advice to one of the models, waving a warm hello to someone poking their head in to say hi, complimenting the royal blue of a customer’s alteration and showing off newly arrived fabrics. And it occurred to me, she’s her most valuable product. She will be the part of her business model that will give her studio longevity.
Dru was kind enough to answer some questions about herself and her business, you can find them below with a series of photographs showing her work space and unique designs.
About the Business
Elisa Vietri: Give us the “elevator pitch” summary of your business and product.
Dru Thompson: I’m Dru Thompson, owner and designer of Dru Christine Fabrics and Design, located at 1623 Lee Road in Cleveland Heights. I am a Cleveland-based designer and opened my store in 2012 where I sell vintage and contemporary fabrics, service my custom clientele, sell ready to wear Dru Christine pieces, sell accessory lines by local business owners and artisans, as well as host various events throughout the year in my boutique including sewing classes and other lifestyle based events.
What are 3 words that best describe your brand?
Evolving, current, personal.
What/who inspired you to create your product?
What inspired me to become a designer is an overall love of fashion…being able to create art starting from a piece of fabric always fascinates me.
Additionally, my clients inspire and challenge me often. They come to me with a ‘she can do anything’ approach and I try not to disappoint. Because of my clients and my store, this business is always changing and my job is never the same twice.
What makes your product different than other products that are similar?
What makes Dru Christine Fabrics and Design different than other designer studios is that I can offer the client an overall experience when they enter my store — from sketching the actual design to the client being able to select fabrics and even buttons — all while being a part of the design process. Taking things a step further, clients often complete their finished look with some of the accessories I offer in the store – a true custom design experience! Entering my store is like entering my home; I make your visit comfortable, inviting and eager to return. There are no ‘short visits’ here; most people tend to stay awhile.
About the Maker
Why do you live and create in Cleveland/NE Ohio?
Why not?! Cleveland is a place for those eager to try the latest they see on the runway, in magazines, television, etc. The fact that I am able to accommodate this customer is always a plus because people like to support locally. With the advent of the internet, my customer base has expanded outside of the Cleveland area, so my brand is able to live on in different regions of the country.
What is your favorite local guilty pleasure?
Whenever I can, as time permits, one can catch me thrifting. Not necessarily looking for deals, but I often enjoy looking at older pieces for their construction, fabrics, design details, etc.
What other local “makers” or businesses are you a fan of?
There are so many to list! Definitely, my neighbors at Naturally Gifted Fitness Center – the ‘Wonder Twins’ as I call them, has given a great ‘spunk’ to our block….they have the ability to motivate people to get healthy and enjoy it. Outside of their popularity in the city, Philly and Philip remain humble and are nice guys also.
Monica Green, Owner of So Kinky….So Curly…So Straight, is one of the leaders in her field right now. Monica has a forward-thinking approach to moving her business to the next level. Her beauty based events are ALWAYS a success in HUGE numbers.
Stephen Midgett is truly someone I talk to on the regular that really ‘gets it’ about the upcoming fashion scene here in Cleveland. An amazing photographer, with the professional expertise to back it up.
What 1 item is part of your “everyday carry” that you can’t live without?
I always need my gadgets; my phone and my iPad – I’m guilty of always seeking out the newest and the latest as soon as it hits the market.
The following are examples of original Dru Christine designs from her most recent collection.
Models: Elana Wells & Ron Alexander
Hair & Makeup: Malika Brown
Here’s how to reach Dru:
Owner/Designer, Dru Christine Fabrics & Design
1623 Lee Road
Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118
FB, IG, Twitter, Pinterest, Linked In: druchristine
Blog: Dru Christine: Hustle and Sew – http://druchristine.wordpress.com
Elisa Vietri is a Cleveland based photographer and blogger who loves to show off her adopted hometown, Cleveland.