There seems to be some confusion about Designer’s Gallery (DG), its owner and origins. If you’re interested at all, keep reading.
In 1999 my wife and I owned a couple sewing machine stores. We were doing very well and had many customers as part of our extended family.
Having watched the most horrible launch of customizing and digitizing solutions from another company, I said, “This is crap. They don’t know what they’re doing. Things our customers need are not being addressed.”
We sold a couple different brands of sewing machine, so I shopped the companies to see if anyone was interested in some software that served these customers. One took my idea, put it in their program and told me it wouldn’t have paid me anything anyway (They were the ones with the lousy software already, so no surprise.) Otherwise not much was done for a couple years, other than my building a great relationship with one of the sibling brands of Baby Lock.
Eventually Steve Jeffery was appointed head of Baby Lock and became aware of my involvement. We were friendly from the start and I showed him what could be. I didn’t hear back immediately, as it was the holidays (20 years ago!) but then early in the year we met and he commissioned me to get started. They would ‘own’ the product and I would make it for their brand. I was never employed by them in any fashion. It was not to be called ‘Baby Lock’ because that name requires a small license fee to the serger manufacturer Baby Lock.
By the Baby Lock convention that year, I had created a program I called, “Easy Access” which was a cataloging and utility program which included some never-before-seen “automagical” utilities. Steve loved to name things so he called it, “Designer’s Gallery.” The idea was that it showed the design collections of the various embroidery designers. Ok by me.
Designer’s Gallery was an instant success. So they came and asked me if I had any other ideas. Ha! When I unrolled about five year’s worth of ideas, they said, “Whoa! We need things that are not part of our Palette program. We do not want to mess with the good relationship we have with our partners who make our main product line. Can you make things that fill in the gaps around Palette?”
Nothing on my list was doable in Palette.
I said, “So you want me to invent new things that people really need, on a continuous basis, as the mission for this brand?” “Yes,” they said. “Ok by me,” I said. And that’s what I did for many years.
We got to work. Well I did anyway. And made ColorWorks (They were in charge of names the entire time, please realize.) SizeWorks, DensityWorks, HoopWorks. We wrote several patents for those. Along the way they renamed my original program to “Studio.” Designer’s Gallery had become a brand name. That took me by surprise, but ok.
In 2003 Baby Lock brought in another company, Pulse Microsystems, to make products because the brand was growing so well. They were afraid to put all their eggs in one basket – mine, specifically, and Pulse were commercial product experts. The brand had grown in recognition as well as sales, and they wanted to maximize it.
Some partnerships are not meant to be.
Although I helped design interfaces and wrote manuals for just about all the products, I went my own way to develop Interactive embroidery. I released 12-13 titles including Christmas Traditions, Dining in Lace, Sashiko, etc. Those were very successful when shown at events, and I wound up traveling with Nancy Zieman for about 10 years at the Love of Sewing retreats. Those were good times, mostly, except when I had to explain why we couldn’t add a feature or fix a bug in one of the Pulse-made products. I had no control of any of that, but I did my best to work with everyone and help them as I could. I think it was very successful, actually. And the Pulse products were really quite good, and deserving of the brand, in spite of the creative differences we had.
At one point, LetterWorks III, a Pulse product, got to be so expensive that I fought for a more reasonably-priced lettering product. About a year later they let me create MonogramWorks. That program was based on a new platform. Yes, it was the genesis of the Embrilliance Platform you all use today. Yes, they knew then it would be used in other ways, including for Embrilliance. This was about 10 years ago or so.
A friend of mine who had worked for Apple for the prior dozen years or so was looking for work and I persuaded him to come work with me because Mac had been left out of the embroidery landscape for so long. David came aboard and worked with me until his death a couple years ago. Because of his involvement, we were able to create a platform technology that could be made as a native Mac program as well as a native Windows version at the same time. It was, and still is, the only one of its kind.
Over time, most of the products were discontinued or replaced. Studio, MonogramWorks, EmbroideryWorks and Creator are the ones left in DG which were made by us. Anything else is simply history at this point. (Or the future as a vintage remake?)
I know some of you are still using your original Designer’s Gallery program from 2000. The Help Desk lets me know sometimes when you call about your old diskettes! You should know that support for DG has always, and will always, come from Baby Lock and your sewing machine dealers. They do a good job of it! We cannot help with lost dongles (Pulse only!) or new Activations (Pulse only) etc. (Those things being two of the aforementioned creative differences.)
The Embrilliance Platform is going forward, and we welcome anyone using the Designer’s Gallery Platform titles: EmbroideryWorks, MonogramWorks or Creator. Come, be part of the Embrilliance family! Do you own other titles? Let us help you discover Embrilliance.
Baby Lock management has changed over time. People have new directions they want to go. It’s the way of the world. I saw that coming, many years ago, so I set out to control the destiny of my products. That’s when and why Embrilliance was born.
Over time I’ve been joined by a few of the best people in the industry. They are the top of the field, know and love our embroidery customers, and have found a permanent home here. I’m proud to say that our team is the best of the best in the entire industry. It’s not a one-man band anymore!
Those are a few of the basics. There’s a lot more of that 20 year story to tell. Perhaps you’ll buy the book when it comes out. 🙂 Until then, thanks for your interest!
3 thoughts on “The Origin of Designer’s Gallery”
Wow that is an impressive resume Brian. It’s fantastic how you’ve grown and designed amazing digitising programs. I love Embrilliance and I’m so glad I chose it over all the others.
Thank you Brian for this very good explanation. I know you were the designer for DG , because in 2010 I attended a Nancy Zieman “Love of Sewing ” retreat in Salem Oregon. You were also there and gave a presentation on DG. When Embrilliance was introduced and your name was associated I became very interested because of the affordability of the product. Than you for this program; I have 3 modules plus Thumbnailer and find it very user friendly for a non-techi person.
Brain you are wonderful. Thanks
Comments are closed.