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Designer Shannon Mullett-Bowlsby

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Shannon's first crochet design appeared in September 2009, and he attributes his rapidly escalating success as a crochet designer to an eye for fashion and mathematics! During our phone interview, Shannon told me that there is a difference between "makers" and "designers." "Most people don't understand that designing crochet involves calculus and geometry," he said. Having learned to crochet from his grandmother around age 3, Shannon can remember making the classic squiggly worm bookmarks. "Our family would have an annual yard sale," he remembered. "We would also sell things we made, and we participated in church bazaars. I can remember making slippers that were a folded triangle, and I sold dozens as a child."

For 20 years, Shannon was a professional ballroom dance instructor, coach and professional competitor. "Fabulous costumes are created for the dancers that flatter the body as they move on the dance floor," said Shannon. "Although I didn't actually sew or create them, I learned a lot about the form, fit and function of fashion." Today, Shannon and his partner, Jason Bowlsby, have parlayed their combined skills from running other people's businesses into their own business and design studio, Shibaguyz Designz. "We decided 'why wait until we retire to do what we enjoy?'" explained Shannon. "We have integrated our business into our lifestyle so the job doesn't control us. We have fun with it, and there is nothing more exciting than seeing someone wearing clothes that we have designed. Although we have flexible hours and can take time off when we want to, we must have a strong work ethic, and we must go to work every day. It is no different than having a storefront business. Truly a design partnership, we collaborate on everything, and Jason has a hand in every design that comes out of the studio. He is a very talented photographer and graphic designer."

The majority of designs done by Shibaguyz are for women. "In my portfolio, I have approximately 250 women's and 12 men's designs," explained Shannon. When I asked him about the need for more men's designs in the marketplace, he replied, "There are good men's designs out there, and the percentage is just about on par with the fashion industry. For example, if you were to take a look at any store's fashion department, you would find the men's fashion and accessories sections are quite small compared to the women's section, which would have its own separate department just for accessories." In Shannon's opinion, it is not inequality; it is just the nature of the market. "I believe there is a gap in designing for men," he said. "The gap is between what men will wear and what the stitcher will make. The stitchers are excited about all the bright, variegated and hand-dyed yarns that continue to appear on the market, and they want to use them. Men don't want clothes made from these materials."

Shannon is very grateful to Drew Emborsky, The Crochet Dude, who mentored him at the beginning of his career. Shannon has since lent advice to many a crocheter who is contemplating a design career. His best advice is "Join CGOA and book a flight to the Chain Link Crochet Conference where you can attend the Editors' Meet and Greet. Be sure to bring samples and your portfolio!"

Check out the lovely pattern from Shannon that we have included in this issue, Totally Tam, a versatile pattern that can be adapted for either men or women! To see more of Shannon's designs, check out Shibaguyz Designz at Ravelry.com and at their website, ShibaguyzDesignz.com.

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