Textile Republic, a design company based in Novelty, Ohio, is giving local artists and designers an opportunity to be recognized and even paid for their work.
The company, founded in 2007 by the brother-sister team of Kimberly Osborne-Milstein and Brian Osborne, specializes in products featuring original designs that customers can choose to put on any product the company makes. These include trays, luggage tags, picture frames, coasters, belts and more.
Artists submit designs from all over the world to be featured on the company’s website and used on products. However,Kimberly and Brian recently decided it was time to focus their attention closer to home.
“We really want to tap into the design talent here in the area,” Brian said.
Kathleen Smith Waters, a 2010 graduate of The Cleveland Institute of Art, is their first employee to come out of any of the area’s art and design programs. She brought with her both expertise and training that Kimberly and Brian admit they lacked before her arrival.
Waters plays a part in selecting designs of other artists to be featured on the company’s website as well as contributing her own designs and new product ideas.
“I think it’s really cool to let other artists get their names out there,” Waters said.
Kimberly and Brian are talking with The Cleveland Institute of Art about setting up internship opportunities and may look to employ more graduates in the future, depending on the company’s growth. Eventually, they hope to set up a factory in Bedford.
They select designs based on the number of “Likes” a design gets on Facebook. Many artists also use this as a platform to network with others in the artistic community.
Once a design is selected, it becomes available for customers to order on products. Artists receive 7 percent of the sales price of any product sold with their design on it. The artists’ names and pictures are also shown on the company’s website so they get recognition as well.
“I feel like larger design companies don’t recognize the artists,” Kimberly said. “That’s what we try to change.”