Interview with Little Dipper Founder Emilie Drumm: Part I

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Little Dipper Blog: What inspired you to think of and take on the work of founding Little Dipper? 

Emilie Drumm: The idea for Little Dipper came to me while I was hanging out with my sewing friend, Rachel. We were laughing and commiserating about all the things that drive us nuts about traditional fabric buying. In the fabric industry, there are so many problems with quality. And a shocking number of businesses have been producing the same designs year after year since the 70s! It's rather sad.

During that conversation with Rachel, Little Dipper came to me as an actual “Ah hah!” moment! Aloud I said, “Why not start a fabric business that allows a lot of different designers to submit their work? And why not make it so people who love fabric choose which designs that we produce?”

I started Little Dipper because I knew we can inspire a community of passionate creatives to do better!


LDB: What is your background?

ED: When I was young, my dad used to say, “Art flows from your fingers.” I cannot remember a time that I wasn't trying to make something beautiful. In college, I studied both visual design and commercial print. I've worked corporate jobs and have taught students to create their own designs, but now I'm ready to build & grow an amazing company that celebrates artists, designers, and makers!


LDB: Part of your inspiration is from your mother, Anne Donnelly Drumm. What did you learn from your mother that is now useful for Little Dipper?

Well, Little Dipper would not be here today without the influence of my mother. We call her the Little Dipper Guru! From my mother, I learned to love color, pattern and texture. I learned harmony within designs, and balance.  

My mother also taught me that when it comes to sewing projects, you cannot be afraid of experimenting. One way that my mom leaves a creative mark is that she always adds something special or secret to each of her projects. For example, on one quilt she sewed hearts on each corner, with one corner a secret 3-D heart pocket. Each of her projects comes from love. The secrets she sews are inspiring. No pattern ever tells my mom where to put that little something special!

Anyway, my mother influences Little Dipper in many ways, but most especially her insistence on quality. After 30 years plus years of quilting, she says, “If you’re going to go to all of that trouble of creating a piece, don’t waste your time on cheap fabrics from box stores. It just doesn't hold up, and it's more difficult to work with.”

Also, my mother is inspired by fabrics, buys them and stashes them. You should see what she calls her “Sewing Suite!” It is filled with color and designs. She says that when she finds a special fabric, she won't walk away from it because she never knows when it will be available again. Understanding that about my mother and her friends is a big reason why I believe Little Dipper will be such a fun experience for the millions of creatives just like her! Keith and I work hard to make the Little Dipper Guru proud, yes, but (arguably) more important, we work hard to make our guru happy with her fabrics!


LDB: Regarding Little Dipper, what are you most proud of so far?

ED: I am so proud of the community that Keith and I have the very great pleasure to be building! It is so exciting to see so many people embracing Little Dipper wholeheartedly. We are small, but together with the support of the creative community, we have the ability to change the world! And it all starts with fabric!


End of Part I. To discover why Emilie thinks Little Dipper is special and why she sent us a picture of jack o’ lanterns in November (?). Check back for Part II next Monday!

Emilie D. and Anne Donnelly Drumm aka The Little Dipper Guru
at Fallingwater near Pittsburgh, PA. 

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