On a six-month trip to India, when Annie Brady was supposed to be taking a break from design work, she found herself filling notebooks with textile patterns. “It’s a weird compulsion,” she says. “There’s no other choice for me but drawing.”
Annie, who currently lives in Rhode Island, started drawing as soon as she could hold a pencil. “My books in school were completely covered with doodles,” she says. “I’d try to listen to the teachers, but it was like my hand would take over.” She went on to earn a degree in design and illustration—an endeavor where covering books with doodles was actually encouraged—and worked as a graphic designer for the fashion company Avoca in her native Ireland. The company has their own mill and Annie designed some prints for fabrics. “That really clicked with me,” she says, adding that her travels throughout India added fuel to her fabric obsession.
About two years ago she and her husband came to the U.S. for his work. They arrived in Boston during a winter of huge snow storms. “We were wondering if we’d made the right decision, but then summer came and weather here was so much better than Ireland,” she says. “Ireland’s a beautiful country, but there’s one thing that’s grim and that’s the weather.
The move also gave her time to focus on her design work, as well as introduced her to a larger market for her work. Today Annie’s illustrations are found through Minted.com on wrapping paper, greeting cards, lampshades, and art prints. And now, on Moda fabric! Her first line, Big Sky, was inspired by spending time in nature. “My love of hiking and the outdoors reflects itself in my work,” she says.
Annie’s creativity and work ethic just might be genetic—her sister went to Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and recently opened a florist business, her mother studied piano and at age 70 started a Montessori school, and her father, a retired schoolteacher, writes novels. (Annie’s brother is an engineer, where Annie says he does drawing of another sort.) Creativity was encouraged when Annie and her siblings were young, but always with an eye toward practicality. Even though her parents wanted their children to have stable careers, Annie remembers her mother telling her that money can’t buy happiness. “That still rings in my ears and quite likely influenced my choices as I navigate self-employment,” she says.
Annie’s sister Brigid, whose sewing skills included making her wedding dress on their grandmother’s treadle sewing machine, will help Annie with sample sewing. “I’m excited about working with her—the last time we collaborated was for my wedding three years ago,” says Annie, who is also planning to start screen printing upholstery fabrics in the studio portion of her loft.
But for now she’s focusing on her fabrics for Moda. “I went to Market three years ago to check it out and being a fabric designer was a dream,” she says.” I love the way you can tell a story through a collection of fabric. Now I’ll be launching a collection and I have to pinch myself, it seems so surreal.”