Almost 10 Years: An Honest Look Back

Written by Eléonore
July 7 2022 | Behind the Scenes

Did you know that in September Deer and Doe will be celebrating its 10th anniversary?! When I started this business and published our very first patterns in 2012, I had no idea how far we would go.

Indeed, we have learned and grown tremendously during these last ten years. Translating our patterns into English, participating in creative fairs in Paris, then moving to Toulouse and transitioning into a bigger company with the arrival of my business partner Camille. The team grew even more with the arrival of Meriem (followed by Sylvie) in customer service, and additional service providers who joined us: talented photographers, a foolproof logistics team, a translator, and finally our communications manager. On the product side, new things followed one after another with the redesign of our paper patterns, preparing and releasing all of our patterns in PDF format, the publication of our ebook Dressed, and the expansion of our size range into a second block . . . we have not been twiddling our thumbs!

A look back at our successes . . . and our failures

During these 10 years, we are particularly proud to have always offered you well-drafted patterns and clear, easy-to-follow instructions. Some of our patterns have been a resounding success, like the Belladone dress, the Myosotis dress, and of course the Sirocco jumpsuit and the Magnolia dress!

Publishing our book was also a big accomplishment for us. Dressed was a huge amount of work, in part because we did it all ourselves. Although we had to push ourselves to get it to the finish line, we are proud of every aspect of the book—but especially the quantity and quality of information it contains.

Finally, our most ambitious project to date has been the development of our new size range. Even though we are still in the early days of this new offering, we are proud of our efforts and very happy to see the community create so many amazing projects up to a size 60.

Of course, there are also things that we regret . . . Camille and I are two perfectionists (our loved ones can confirm this!), and we have constantly pushed ourselves to provide the most flawless work possible. This has come at the expense of counting our hours, requiring us to draw ever more from our reserves and arrive at the launch of our patterns totally exhausted. Over time, it became increasingly difficult for us to find the energy to communicate about our daily lives, our work, and of course, our patterns . . . and we gradually lost our voice. There were no more personal creations, a lack of behind the scenes updates—all our time was spent and is still spent on the development of patterns and sewing of prototypes, collection after collection.

We both went through periods of severe burnout and depression.

It is under these circumstances that we both experienced periods of severe burnout. I’m on the autism spectrum and Camille suffers from clinical depression. The combination of our work pace, growing market expectations, and the pressures of mounting (and contradictory) demands on social media pushed us beyond our limits. We both spent weeks in survival mode, unable to get out of bed, and Camille was sent to in-patient psychiatric care. We became sick, exhausted by the rhythm of keeping up. We realized that we could no longer continue on this path without the risk of losing our physical and mental health.

A wake up call and opportunity for reevaluation

To be honest, the start of 2022 has been particularly dark. The toll of the pace we were inflicting on ourselves, combined with our extreme fatigue, led us to reevaluate our work flow. We knew we had to let go of something, and after careful consideration, we decided to discontinue our paper patterns a few weeks before the release of our spring-summer collection.

This change allowed us to reorganize our production rhythm, gain flexibility, and regain the energy to take a step back from our operations. We’ve been able to find the time for some deep reflection about the future of Deer and Doe, and here are some of our goals for moving forward:

  • Find our voice again. We will make sure to reconnect with you through posts about our sources of inspiration, our backstage and personal achievements, and be more vulnerable about our successes and failures.
  • Get help. We want to continue to personally take care of what ensures the quality of Deer and Doe patterns: the pattern drafting (in our two size ranges), and the grading and writing of our instructions. But we’ve decided to delegate the sewing of our photographed samples (30 for this collection!) in order to free up more precious time and energy.
  • Affirm our difference. Fashion has changed a lot since our very first patterns were released, and keeping up with the trends while maintaining brand consistency can be a difficult exercise. After various attempts in different styles, we took stock and have decided to return to the essentials of what sets Deer and Doe apart: timeless, elegant and streamlined patterns, with a strong Parisian chic influence. We will be taking new photographs of our latest collection with this aesthetic in mind, and we hope you will like them.
  • Keep improving. We want to continue to innovate, challenge ourselves, and improve our products, but not at the cost of our health. We have learned that everything is possible, but not everything at the same time! We are very excited to further expand our offerings (like projector-ready files, for example), but we will take the time to do so at our own pace. Currently all of our resources have been devoted to perfecting our size ranges (our big project for 2021-2022), so we will wait to take on these new projects until such time that implementation feels sustainable for our business and our personal health.

We have learned that everything is possible, but not everything at the same time!

As we come close to wrapping up our first ten years in business, we are so proud of what we have achieved. We feel grateful to all of you who have supported the beautiful project that is Deer and Doe, and are full of hope for the future. We will continue to strive to find the balance that will allow us to practice this profession for many years to come.

Sometimes it takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable, and we hope this article has spoken to you. We are currently hard at work on the autumn-winter collection, which will accompany our 10th anniversary! Stay tuned for beautiful new patterns in the next few months. Take care, and thank you.

12 commentaires

Liz, July 7 2022

Sending love and understanding vibes – I’m a recovering perfectionist. Congratulations for 10years of wonderful patterns! I have a much loved Deer and Doe clothing (first thing that comes to mind is all the compliments I get on my Lupin jacket)

Amy, July 7 2022

Thank you for keeping going. I also suffer from anxiety and depression and your patterns provide serious joy to me. Many hugs and celebrations from here in Australia

Karine, July 7 2022

Bravo à vous toutes pour votre travail acharné et pour continuer à offrir des super patrons! Prendre soin de sa santé est tellement important et j’applaudis votre courage d’en parler.

Alexandra, July 7 2022

Congrats on ten years! It’s ok to slow down and give yourselves some grace. That’s how we all do our best work.

Judith, July 7 2022

Congratulations ! Ten years is a long time, and there are inevitably some ups and downs. I think you are wise to see the need to protect yourselves from the pressures of social media. I hope you find a balance between engagement and withdrawing that helps you to thrive. Fashions may have changed, but your patterns have a timeless qualiy. I still wear the Datura, Airelle and Sureau that I made many years ago.Thank you foryour work Wishing you luck for the next ten years!

Rebecca, July 7 2022

Thank you for your vulnerability. You are not (at all) alone in your struggles and I will continue to love Deer and Doe with whatever pacing and support structure makes sense for you.

Helena Jeppsson, July 8 2022

Congratulations to ten years! And thank you for your honesty. As a landscape architect by trade and in spirit a creative person both in my work and in my life I have experienced the same as you and had to do the same halt as you about 7 years ago when I came to the same place as you. At a pace that is now accustomed to me I found my way back to my creative self. Cause that is what really matters. Cause if I burn out my creative spirit within the things I do would not come from me any more and quality will go down or disappear. For me to create I need time of peace calm and inspiration and to say no some things. I hope you keep on valuing your own special creative spirits cause in my opinion I think it is from them you make things you love and we love.

Jessica, July 8 2022

Thanks for the update. I’m very happy, I love your femenine designs, Paris Chic sounds like a dream.

I’m only buy pdf patterns (I live in Central America, so it’s the best option for me).

Your health is something important, I can wait for new designs 🙂

Michelle Brisebois, July 10 2022

Your designs are truly special. Nurture yourselves and your creativity. We will be here eager to sew with whatever you create.

Sally, July 12 2022

Kudos to an amazing decade of sewing, made possible by your wonderful designs! As a beginner seamstress, I was so *inspired* by your patterns and still remembering buying my first one. I am a total D&D fangirl and always know where to turn when I need a sewing “win”. Thank you for sharing and being vulnerable about the hard stuff. It was like I could feel your feelings through the screen reading this, and I am sending so much love and support your way!!!

Francesca, July 13 2022

The pandemic can’t have helped either:(. I am so touched by this post. I am saddened to hear that you and Camille went through dark times, and am happy that you are on the other side.
I love your patterns, through all their different incarnations, and will miss the printed ones – so beautiful – but I hear you. You must do whatever it takes to make your work work for you. Don’t think I will be investing in a projector for now, but patternsy has made pdf patterns so much easier. I look forward to your new patterns being made from a place of more relaxed creativity :).

PS I tend to be obsessive and a perfectionist. Practising zen and buddhist principles has helped me so much. Note – principles, not religion. Buddha did not name himself a god… but his principles make for a more serene and ethical life. I highly recommend Buddhism without beliefs by Stephen Batchelor.

Eleonore, August 3 2022

Posting a late comment as I’m catching up on my blog reading — but I did want to reach out and say thank you for the amazing work you’ve been doing. I am glad to read you are finding ways to prioritise your health and happiness. Please trust that those priorities will not hold you back; quite the contrary. Creative work has to be sustainable to thrive. I’ll be looking forward to whatever you do next. In the mean time, take care!

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