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Window Fashions, Design & Education Magazine
February 2001, Volume 22, No. 2
By Jolene Turner

Brother and sister team, Steve and Ruth Barron of Barron Designs certainly have interesting stories to share about being raised by their mother, Barbara Barron—a renowned fiber artist and accomplished business woman. “Most experiences we have are from being immersed in the art world,” says Ruth, now vice president of her mother’s company, Barron Designs. At the height of Barbara’s art career, she was exhibiting her unique fiber wall hangings at New York’s esteemed art show, ArtEXPO, consecutively for 15 years. “The ArtEXPO parties were held at the hottest clubs of Manhattan,” recalls Ruth. “I remember dancing at Studio 54 at a very young age, and meeting amazing artists, like the Israeli artist, Agam.”

Today the Barron’s are much too busy to be leisurely enjoying the New York art scene. In 1998, after 27 years of building Barron Designs, Barbara retired and the brother and sister team took over as owners. “I never thought the kids would be running this business,” remarked Barbara. “They went out on their own at first to discover what they wanted, but then they came back. It was when I retired that they really took control. I felt a little bad at first for leaving, but they wanted me to and needed me to. They couldn’t work under my shadow, but rather needed to do this on their own. And what they have developed are these phenomenal products!”

Inspiring Efforts

Inspired by their mother’s hard work and artistry, Steve and Ruth reinvented the company by designing a product line all their own—Creative Cornices. “Basically, we applied the technique from our one-of-a-kind art pieces into our window treatments,” says Ruth. “You are getting art for your windows!” Featuring patented designs and a patented technique of hand wrapping and sculpting cording for the cornices, the Barrons are very pleased with the product, and its accompanying sales tools. “We have showed them for the first time at the Window Fashions EXPO last September, and we are delighted over the wonderful response we received from designers! We are anticipating a successful 2001!”

Way Back When

The original idea that brought about Creative Cornices was born when Ruth was only six and Steve, three. “I didn’t consider myself an artist because I couldn’t draw,” says Barbara, who originally planned to be a school teacher. “I loved fiber, though. I was the college girl in the back of the room doing embroidery, that’s how I met my husband. By out third date I knitted him argyle socks.”

Always enjoying a hobby with fiber, by the early ‘80s Barbara was making macramé plant hangers. They were so good, a friend suggested she show her work to Bloomingdales—a suggestion that sparked the beginning of her career. “It was wonderful! I was making the hangers and soon other products as well, such as the wall hangings. It was exciting, but time consuming! I was working out of my basement and had 20 women working for me on a piecework pay basis.”

Throughout all the orders, scraps of yarn, trade shows and art exhibits, Barbara was also raising two children. “The garage was always packed with boxes upon boxes of yarn,” remembers Ruth. “Steve and I used to play hide and seek. Having an art business in the basement of your home did not seem like an odd occurrence to us, it was just how we grew up. Plus,” Ruth adds, “with all that yarn in the basement, playing with the cats was all the more fun.” And lucky for the Barrons, Barbara wasn’t doing it all on her own.

“My dad took on the role of ‘Mr. Mom’. He was the one who drove us to our soccer games and gymnastics practice, he cooked dinner, did the laundry—all at a time when it wasn’t so common. With his own career in special education and school administration, he supported my mom so she could follow her dreams.” Ruth says in admiration. “Now he’s supporting us 1000 percent; He will even be assisting us in New Orleans at the IWCE!”

Rivalry Or Revelry

As Barron Designs’ president today, Steve has much resting on his shoulders. “With this new start-up line, I am keeping busy overseeing production, contributing to marketing, product development and working closely with Ruth.”

And, as far as working with a sibling goes, Steve notes they have it all under control. “We do have arguments once in a while, but all partners will have some challenges. Without Ruth I don’t think we could have brought this business to its present level. We put our hearts into this and have worked hard to be where we are now. Having the same vision has been a crucial part of our success.” In agreement, Ruth adds, “the older we get, the easier it is to work together. We started out young and easily angered. When my mom retired, that was it: sink or swim. We bonded together to make the company grow rather than wither.”

While both Barrons had a tremendous hand in developing the window treatment line, Ruth’s duties include customer service, designing artwork and running the office, as well as handling the finances. “I found my mother’s drive and hard work inspiring,” Ruth says in regard to being raised by a determined business woman. “Because of her I know how much heart it takes to run a company like this. I truly appreciate everything she had to put into this to keep it going.”

Looking Ahead

As for the future, both Steve and Ruth are looking forward to showing Creative Cornices at the Pacific Home Fashions Fair in February and the IWCE in March, and unveiling the company’s website, earmarked for completion early February. Among other new happenings, Steve comments, “we will have dealers set up nationwide selling and designing of our unique window treatments and artwork; we will constantly add new designs, and new colors to keep up with trends; and we will continue to provide great customer service and have steady, solid growth to keep our quick turnaround time as well.” “We are the kids on the block in this industry,” Steve notes. “We notice how closely knit every one is, so it’s great to see how people are so willing to help us and give us good advice.

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