Jane Shelton never set out to become a fabric designer. She just wanted better fabrics. As a matter of fact, to this day she insists, "I am not a designer. I'm an editor." She finds inspiration in patterns, artifacts and objects – then translates it to fabric as a medium, envisioning shapes and hues within the flow and fall of the material. It's a dynamic canvas, and Jane imbues it with a passionate and refined point of view.
Jane has never followed a business model. She simply followed her passion. Starting in the 1970's, a sideline decorating friends' homes for fun grew to friends of friends of friends – and a viable business. But she soon became bored with the fabrics available to her.
She knew from her dog-eared design books that there were some truly wonderful fabrics to be had. But she had no access to them. So she called her favorite fabric house and convinced the rep she could sell it. And she did. Soon the reps were taking notes of her comments on how to improve their new seasons.
Then Jane found herself actually selecting the fabrics for these taste-making lines. In lieu of a fee, Jane reserved the right to pick out fabrics for her own line. Before she realized it, the Jane Shelton fabric house had been born.
Although boutique lines are now a niche market, it was unusual to build an entire line around one designer's perspective 30 years ago. Poring over details, obsessing over dyes and threads; her fabrics infused elegance with character. Her line found its way into showrooms throughout the U.S. and in London – alongside the storied fabric houses she once aspired to sell herself.
Over the years, more and more of these "boutique" houses have been bought out by corporate lines, diluting their identity and flair with quotas and committees. But just as she started, Jane Shelton operates as a true individual, building upon her vision season after season. Her office bulges with pieces of inspiration, scribbled notes and swatches – tables lined with hand-assembled designs in progress.
Jane Shelton may not call herself a designer. But her designs speak for themselves.