I only discovered Jackie Peters Cully last year. While reading the book, Women Designers, I found her name among other African-American female designers. Peters Cully attended school at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with the intention of being an art teacher, but dull art education classes sent her packing to Paris to study fashion at the esteemed Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. With a fashion degree in hand, Peters returned to the States hoping to knock down doors and become the next thing in fashion but what she faced was a lot of rejection. Peters knows that some of it was due to her race but says most was because she was inexperienced in the fashion field.
Peters determination lead her to department stores looking for jobs as a fashion illustrator only to be told that she should apply to be a showroom model. She knew that wasn’t want she wanted or what she had worked for so she kept pushing and she eventually landed a job as a display artist. This led, Jackie into fashion illustration which she came to find also was not her cup of tea. Remembering that someone had once noticed and commented about her fabric designs and said that she should be a textile designer, she decided to look into the field of textile design. She didn’t know much about it but she found her niche. Until recent years, I never even really thought about the textile design field. I bought fabric not even realizing that I was buying the print not the material. That’s when I started to study surface pattern design building on what I had learned in design school.
Peters eventually worked her way to chief stylist at H.M. Kolbe where she worked as a fabric stylist and colorist for many years.In 1978 she opened Jackie Peters Design Studio and she also taught textile design at Parsons School of Art and Design.
I find her story very inspirational. She had a talent that could of been used in many careers. As she evolved personally, she looked for that fulfillment in her work until she found the right match and with that came success. Jackie Peters Cully continues to be active working and teaching and you can see her website here. I have come to realize that most creative people face ups and downs along the path to success and I have learned in the last few years, the artistic path is definitely not straight. Here are some photos of Jackie in her heyday at H.M. Kolbe.