‘Meet The Quacker Team – John Shrader!’ by Patrick H. Hoy. Patrick Hoy here – and as I’ve said before, Angel and I get to work with the BEST team in the whole world! We are so lucky to have a Quack-Tastic team that we work with every single day! Jeanne Bice really knew what she was doing when she brought us all together.
A lot of people are surprised that since Quacker Factory is on QVC in both America and England, that we must have at least a hundred employees – but that’s not the case – we actually have less than 15 team members! I love our team so much – we really are like a family – and when you love your ‘family’ you want to share them with your friends! So for the rest of the year, I’m doing a series of blogs where you’ll be able to get to know some of the wonderful people on the Quacker Factory team. Last month I introduced you to Kristy Destefano – so this month I wanted to introduce you to another team member who I just know you’re going to love!
John Shrader is our Senior Art Designer. Many of you have met him on the Quacker Cruises and also in Branson. And I know many of you have seen him in the audience at some of our Live Audience Shows.
John has a job that allows him to work remotely from his home in the Hudson River valley of upstate New York. I recently caught up with John while he was working in his design studio and asked him a few questions so that you could all get to know him better.
Patrick: John, I know our readers would love to hear what you do for us – and also what typical day looks like for you?
John: Hello Patrick – and everyone! I’ve worked for Quacker Factory for 13 years now – and I’ve loved every second of it – it really is a dream job! Every morning, I go through magazines like a mad man – and the Internet – looking for inspiration – this was something Jeanne Bice used to do every day as well. I want to see what’s out there in the world. I then come up with an idea for a design that I think our ladies will love. Once I have an idea I’ll speak with Susan & Leslie (Heads of the Quacker Factory Design Team). When Jeanne was alive, I would of course also speak with her and share with her my ideas. I think one of my favorite times to seek inspiration is just before I get out of bed in the morning. It’s so peaceful then Patrick – it’s so quiet and tranquil at that time of the day. I honestly do this every day – this is how I start my morning – just looking and thinking. Once an idea ‘comes to me’, I’ll start sketching up my ideas at my desk.
Patrick: Here’s a picture of John sketching away at his desk – how much fun does this look?!
Patrick: I LOVE those designs, John! What happens next?
John: Once I have the sketches done, I’ll either email or call Susan to talk about it. After we’ve spoken, I’ll then do some more detailed artwork – this is the really fun part! This is when I’ll start listing all of the embroidery and stone colors – or any other embellishment detail that we have decided to use. I do this on tracing paper – and I’m specifically trying to capture the scale of the embellishment and artwork – and the placement of all of the decorations that we’re going to use. It is a detailed roadmap so that we can really see what the finished product is going to look like. I list all of the colors of the stones, embroidery, sequins, etc.
Patrick: Here’s a really neat picture of John with his Color Board – did you ever imagine there were THAT many different colors that Quacker Factory designs with?! And believe it or not, there are hundreds more!
Patrick: So what happens next?!
John: Once I’ve had fun doing the detailed work, I scan the sketches into my computer and then share it with the Design Team. Susan, Leslie & Colleen then have our Design Manufacturing Team make a ‘sample’ of the item so that it can be shared with our Buyer at QVC. Once it’s approved – the next step is for you and Angel to share it with our wonderful viewers on QVC!
Patrick: It must feel great to see your designs on air – and being worn by our customers!!
John: It makes me feel terrific!! When Colleen receives the first sample of the finished product, she takes a picture and sends it to me – and this is so thrilling – I do a little happy dance in my studio!
Patrick: I bet! Here’s a picture of you with Susan & Leslie – I really love this picture of the three of you!
Patrick: So tell us what you did before you started working for Quacker Factory 13 years ago.
John: Right before working with our wonderful team, I worked at Michael Simon’s for 20 years as an artist and designer. They were a company that created high-end novelty sweaters that they supplied to big department stores, catalogues and boutiques. They also did a lot of designs for companies like Disney, Express, Dr. Seuss, Warner Brothers – and many others.
Patrick: John, you might be surprised – but I actually have one of the sweaters you created and did the art work for all those years ago for Michael Simon & Disney!
John: Oh my gosh – where did you get that?! I remember doing that one!!
Patrick: I can’t give away all of my secrets!! Now, I understand that volunteering is very important to you. Can you tell us about that?
John: I grew up in Chapel Hill, NC. Both of my parents worked at the University there – and I want to Appalachian State University where I studied Spanish – and of course Art! My first job was at a botanical garden – a conservation garden on the University of North Carolina grounds – and I was 10 years old. It was a volunteer job – so I think that’s when my love of volunteering began. Volunteering is so important to me – I still volunteer to this day. When I lived in New York City, I used to raise money for the Harlem Girls Choir – and I even designed a sweater the girls’ choir wore when they sang in front of the President.
Patrick: That is Quack-Tabulous John – wow!! Here’s a picture of the Harlem Girls Choir in YOUR sweater – how neat is that?!
Patrick: That sweater is so beautiful – and of course all of the designs that you do for Quacker Factory are amazing! Where do you get your inspiration from?
John: When I left Michael Simon’s to work with Quacker Factory, I decided it was time for a BIG change. So after living in New York City for over 20 years, I packed up all of my belongings and moved north to the Hudson River Valley – and I am SO glad that I did – it’s absolutely beautiful up here! I’m so lucky to have a garden with tons of flowers & plants such as ferns, orchids & hostas. And almost every single day, I have lunch on my back porch, which overlooks my garden. There are no vegetables – because I could NEVER give up space in my garden for beautiful flowers!
Patrick: Here’s a picture of part of John’s beautiful garden – I think you’ll agree with me that it’s definitely inspirational!
Patrick: Your garden really is beautiful John. I can tell that you are really inspired by nature. Are you ever inspired by people you meet?
John: As a matter in fact, I am! I live near the Catskill Mountains – and this is quite a haven for other designers, artists and craftspeople. We all get together at different times either for coffee or dinner – or we just run into each other at the local grocery store – and we exchange stories and ideas. That’s what I really love about living here. This is a real artistic community – I’m so blessed to live here. Leaving New York City was one of the best decisions I ever made!
Patrick: Okay, so I want to know what are your personal favorite designs to make – and why?!
John: CHRISTMAS!!!!! I LOVE Christmas!! It’s all because of my mom’s mother – my grandmother. Every year at Christmas time, we would bake together, make Christmas ornaments together – I’m telling you Patrick, that woman crafted EVERYTHING!! Ceramics, knitting, crocheting, and embroidery – she did it all – and she taught me all of her tricks and secrets. You can only imagine, with all of her talent, what our Christmas trees looked like every year – all homemade and GORGEOUS!! Every single thing on her tree was made by her – and me!
Patrick: It sounds like your grandmother and Jeanne Bice would have gotten on really well! Speaking of Jeanne, what’s your favorite Jeanne Bice story?!
John: I went to Jeanne’s house a LOT! When I first started with Quacker Factory, one of my favorite flowers were daisies – so I went a little overboard and whenever I could, I would submit a daisy design to Jeanne. Well, I must have REALLY been ‘pushing the daisies’ agressively, because one time I was in Florida at her house – and had just given her ANOTHER daisy design, she said “John Shrader, if you give me one more daisy drawing, I’m going to wrap my fingers around your neck and strangle you – and they’ll be pushing up daisies on your tombstone!” Well Patrick, I must have softened her up a bit – because shortly after that, I got a call from her and she said she really loved the latest daisy design I had given her – and guess what Patrick – it sold out!
Patrick: I LOVE that story – and it is SO Jeanne Bice! Here’s a picture of you with Jeanne & Colleen at one of our team dinners – it looks like you were all having so much fun!
Patrick: Did Jeanne ever give you any advice – or did she inspire you in any way?
John: Whenever we would go to Florida to have meetings with Jeanne, she insisted we stay with her. She had a big house with lots of bedrooms – so it was like a fun sleepover when the whole team was together. I woke up early one morning when I was staying there – and she was in her office (because that woman was ALWAYS up early!) and she was watching TV – and honestly, it was almost always on QVC! She heard me in the kitchen and told me to get my booty in her office. We ended up talking for what seemed like hours before anyone else was awake – and it was a conservation that I’ll cherish forever. We found out how much we had in common – especially our love of embroidery, handwork, yarn, sequin & stones. We found out that we really inspired each other – and I was SO in awe when she told me how much I inspired her! In answer to your question about what advice she gave me? It definitely has to be when she told me “NEVER forget to put the sparkle and shine into ALL of your designs!”
Patrick: Now, that definitely sounds like advice Jeanne would give! What’s the funniest thing you remember Jeanne ever doing?
John: I think the funniest thing she ever did was her Pink Flamingo Pool Party. One time we were all down visiting – and she decided to have a pool party – and not just ANY pool party. You know Jeanne Patrick, she never did anything unless it was over the top! When we walked out to her pool, EVERYTHING was pink! The tablecloths, the napkins, pink balloons, pink feather boas – and of course HUGE freestanding blow up pink Flamingos – EVERYWHERE! It was like a hurricane of pink had landed in her backyard! And this wasn’t even for a birthday party or a holiday – it was just a typical Jeanne Bice party! It was like a Disney moment – the level of detail was incredible – nothing was subtle or low-key when Jeanne threw a party!
Patrick: What a wonderful memory of our beloved Jeanne – I think we’ll have to have you and the design team come up with some more flamingo designs in the future now! So John, I know you are very close to your family. I’ve had the honor of meeting your lovely parents. Please tell us a little about them.
John: Yes, I really do love them Patrick. 5 years ago, they moved from NC to the beautiful Rhinebeck Area here in New York not too far from me. It’s wonderful having them so close – they really have become not just parents to me, but now they are good friends. Every weekend, we all go on an adventure together. We love exploring this beautiful part of New York together. In the past we’ve done garden tours of some of the historic homes. We also love finding new vegetable stands or picking apples at a newly found orchard. But no matter what we do, it always ends up with us having some good food – we are devoted foodies! It’s so wonderful having them near me.
Patrick: I love this picture of you with your parents at Easter Brunch – and I LOVE that you’re all wearing bunny ears – just look at all of the love in this picture!
Patrick: I know you love to cook John – what’s your favorite food?
John: Anything with flour!! I don’t care if it’s pastas, cakes and other treats. It’s all about the flour – you won’t catch me cooking up a low-carb meal!
Patrick: Ha! Did you and Jeanne ever cook together?
John: No – but we sure did eat a lot together!! If you’ve ever had her shrimp salad – you’ll know why I LOVED eating with her!
Patrick: I haven’t had her shrimp salad, but I’ve had her ‘Eat Your Green Bean Casserole’ from her Christmas cookbook – and let me tell you, it was definitely Quack-A-Licious! John, if you had a magic wand and could change ANYTHING in the world, what would it be?
John: I would make potatoes, rice and baked goods not fattening – that is my wish for the world!
Patrick: I love that – and I hope someone gives you a magic wand one day – because I would love for you to make that happen!! If you won the Lottery, what would you do with some of the money?
John: I would redo/renovate/revamp the entire town I live in – every one of my lovely neighbors, and our Main Street, would benefit if I won the Lottery.
Patrick: Where in the world would you love to travel to that you haven’t been to yet – and why?
John: Positano, Italy – because of the food and the pictures I’ve seen. I’ve been to the Amalfi Coast in Italy – but I hear that Positano is even prettier. That what I would use some of my Lottery winnings on as well!
Patrick: What’s your favorite color – and why?
John: Blue. I think that I have always had a personality that is blue – I embody that color – it’s who I am. I’m a little quiet and private – but I can be calm like blue – it’s me to a tee. I like it in art – and I like it in everything.
Patrick: And finally John, I know our readers would love to know what your favorite QVC product is?
John: My Shark vacuum cleaner – it’s a lifesaver in my house because with all of the beads, sequins and rhinestones that dance across my wooden floors when I’m designing – my Shark has been a lifesaver – it’s incredible!!
Patrick: Thank you so much John for sitting down with me!
One Team – One Dream!
I hope you all enjoyed getting to know John! I know now that whenever you see a Quacker design with daisies, flamingos or anything to do with Christmas, that you’ll be thinking of our wonderful John!!
Quacker Hugs & Love From Across the Duck Pond!
Patrick H. Hoy
To stay up to date at what’s Quackin at the Quacker Factory, join the email list! Click Here to sign up to receive emails from Quacker Factory
To follow Patrick on Facebook, click here.
To follow Angel on Facebook, click here.