|Deb, Arrin, and Katie|
The process of designing as a threesome started via email, as Ohio residents Arrin, a high school art teacher, and Deb tossed around ideas and sketches with Katie, a student studying fibers at the Savannah College of Art and Design. Once together, they chose which designs worked best—“It balanced out nicely, no one got more designs than anyone else,” says Deb—decided on a palette, and painted. One of Deb’s favorite memories is the three of them working away on drawing boards set up in her home studio. “We need to get a picture of that someday!” she says.
The shared experience was a joy for Deb, who says that since her children were small (she also has a college-aged son) she encouraged them to take note of things like color, pattern, texture, and composition. “We’d look at the sky and Arrin could verbalize the color she saw when she was very little,” she says. “They’ve grown up with my art and we all love art history and even my husband can pick out the Masters—Monet, Rembrandt, Van Gogh. Our grandsons were in an art museum before they were a year-and-a-half old.”
The Strains also have shared with their children their entrepreneurial spirit. For many years Deb and her husband ran a greeting card company based on Deb’s illustrations. “All our children, I believe, will do something entrepreneurial,” she says. “They have confidence and aren’t afraid to try something new—it’s wonderful to see.” Arrin, a Moda designer in her own right, and her partner are starting an organic children’s clothing company, Little Figs (a combination of the name of her twin sons Finn and Graham). And Katie asked for just one thing for her upcoming graduation—a sewing machine. She hopes one day to work in design for a company like Moda, or in the apparel or home furnishings industries.
Arrin and Katie describe their three-way partnership as “inspiring” and “a dream come true.” Katie found that their differences in style and the way they approach design made the process more fun. She also appreciates her family members’ past efforts. “It was great as a young designer to work with my mom and sister, who are experienced designers,” she says. And Arrin enjoyed that all three brought something to the table—“Mom brought her extraordinary talent and eye for patterns that will work no matter what, I brought my love for color and the inspiration I get from my lovely twin boys, and Katie brought her amazing energy and new ideas,” she says.