Wondering if the American Dream is still alive and well? Don’t take our word for it, let’s take a glimpse into the life of the co-founder of one of America’s leading fabric manufacturers, Pat Bravo.
Does that name ring a bell? If you’ve been on or around the fabric scene for any time at all, you probably recognize the name Bravo, because Pat, along with her husband Walter are the founders and creative minds behind the renowned Art Gallery Fabrics.
It takes a truly visionary mind to create a fabric empire like the one the Bravo’s have pioneered for themselves but their creative process took years to birth Art Gallery. So let’s take a walk through the life of Pat, we know you’ll come away with a greater appreciation than ever for the fabrics you love and the years it took to bring them to you, in all of their resplendent glory.
“I see the world for its beauty and majesty. The intricate, the ornate, the royal… All of this catches my eye. You can say I have soulful eyes.”
Pat Bravo is an Argentinian native, born in the nation’s capital, Buenos Aires. Pat seems to have developed her soulful eyes from a young age, through the passionate and driven teaching of her mother. She recalls at the age of 9, sitting at her mother’s sewing machine and by the age of 13, enrolling in a sewing school in her native city, where she further developed her skill with all things fabric by learning the crafts of dressmaking and patterns.
Pat grew up surrounded by beauty, art and had deeply developed a love for it all, but when Pat was of the age to attend college, she began to temporarily pursue a different path by studying law. This path didn’t hold much interest for her for long though, as she began to truly realize where her true talents and passion lay.
Following her short time pursuing law, Pat spent three years delving back into her love for art and exploring her talents therein, this time, through painting - is there nothing she can’t do? It would also be around this time that Pat would meet the love of her life and future business partner, Walter.
Pat describes her relationship with her husband in these words, “He is my friend, my confidant, my everything…” In 1989, this dynamic duo, with their fabric dynasty still unconceived, moved to the United States of America to begin their new life, one that would bring them closer each day to the astounding time when they would be the leaders of a fabric manufacturing empire.
Shortly after moving to America, Pat became pregnant with their son. She recalls their lives being flipped completely upside down by the move, the culture shock she experienced as a new citizen and mother bore down on her in full force from every side. New foods, new faces, an entirely different way of life in the new city they were calling home, Bravo's journey to assimilation was not by any means a short one. For a while, Pat even recalls that she no longer found the energy or inspiration to try her hand at the things she once loved and couldn’t go a day without.
That all changed though, on the day that Walter came home bearing a gift of a sewing machine and that simplest act of thoughtful care and love began the rejuvenation of Pat’s love to create, her life-blood through fabric was restored .
In the United States, Pat fell in love for the first time with quilting, being the bold, creative that she is, Pat taught herself how to sew squares, triangles, and later, moved on to learning more advanced quilting techniques. As her confidence and skills grew, she began to transition from the more basic, traditional quilting she taught herself how to do, to the advanced skill of making art quilts.
Drawing from her roots which lay in painting, Pat started by creating quilts with a landscape theme but struggled to find batik fabrics that came in a wide variety of colors, yet again, the painter and her eye for an extensive color palette came into play and instead of leaning into discouragement, the always inventive creator, decided to learn to paint her own fabrics.
This was the final step that launched Pat and Walter into the creation of Art Gallery Fabrics. As friends and others in the creative community began to see Pat’s beautiful fabric, they wanted to have fabrics as beautiful and vibrant as hers too.
The “soulful eyes” of the endlessly creative Bravo’s led them, one small step at a time, into the empire that we now know, love and celebrate today. Never surrendering to the overwhelming possibilities of a new country, far from their homeland, staying true to her true talents and passions led this Argentinian couple into the spotlight and straight into the forefront of the fabric scene both in America and around the world.
Interested in what Pat loves to create on fabric and where she draws her inspiration from? Keep reading!
Drawing inspiration from the vibrant life of the world around her and the various cultures to be found around the globe, she perfectly combines her own styles and color palettes with those of the cultures she so deeply admires and beautifully captures on fabric.
Never forgetting her roots though, or the love and creativity that raised her. Pat’ collection Nuncia, named after her mother, is an ode to their times in Buenos Aires, and her childhood, in the kitchen, hearing stories from her mother. Both mother and daughter having a deep love for flowers, the Nuncia fabric collection celebrates this unbreakable, mother-daughter bond and the unforgettable life-lessons she learned.
For a fun Blender collection that Pat created to pair with any of her existing collection, we have the vibrant and fun, Matchmade collection.
Consistent in everything Pat creates, is her love for colors that vary from the commonly used path. Choosing instead, colors that represent different things in nature, such as shades of berry, various tones of foliage, and tints of midnight blues. Nothing is common to Pat as she explores the natural beauty of life and culture, one fabric collection at a time.
Today, we hope you came away with a more profound love and appreciation for the path that a creator walks to eventually burst forth with all of their creative splendor, to you, our reader and fellow creative. Where would the fabric community be without the Bravo’s? There are so many more, yet to be explored, whose stories are just waiting to be told and to learn more about Art Gallery fabrics, read our blog on Art Gallery, here. Come back next week to see who will be taking the spotlight next!