So, I'm in my car, driving home from the park when my cell phone rings. I shouldn't pick up. One, I'm driving; two, I'm still out of breath from the three-mile run. But I answer anyway.
It's a new customer. Nothing at all to do with the kid's book business. It's a lady who just discovered my flannel fabric designs in a sewing store, and she's excited to be speaking with the fabric designer. Fabric designer? Who me?
She loves my designs, she says, and wants to know where she can find more of my work. She has all kinds of questions, and she's shared a few of my patterns with members of her sewing club. They are excited about my patterns that feature children of color. I'm ecstatic, of course. But problem is, I don't know much about the fabric industry. And, typically I don't shop at sewing stores.
But I decide to give it a try on a recent trip to Hobby Lobby; I need to start somewhere. While the wife shops for Christmas decorations, I slip away, inconspicuously, to the sewing department. Hands in pockets, I look up at the ceiling, then down to the floor. Several ladies briskly rummage through the many fabric selections; the energy is high. I key-up my macho swagger a few notches. Pretending to be uninterested, I steal a few glances at the rolls of flannel and fleece.
Another guy walks past, hands in pockets, too. Dang! Is he checking out the fleece, incognito, too? Surly a guy dressed in cowboy boots and wearing a handlebar mustache isn't gonna concern himself with the details of rubber-ducky flannel print. He walks past me and joins his wife, glancing over at me. I suddenly felt the need to ask him, "How 'bout those Dolphins," and slap him a high five. But I didn't press my luck.
Finally, I stop in the center of the fabric department. Panic! What's a brotha like me be doing in the sewing department of Hobby Lobby? I'd better get myself out of here before someone thinks I'm stealing something.
And that's when it hits me: Yes, in addition to being a children's book illustrator, who sometimes hides book covers when reading them in public, I am now a fabric designer, too! With a renewed sense of Versace, I snatch up some fabric samples. I study the designs! I consider artist's choice of colors! I swim through that flannel and fleece like a triathlete in a strong man competition!
And I survived with my manhood in tact. Now, to those around me at work, I just need to explain why I spend so much time cruising sewing and fabric websites.