Interview with Pati Palmer and Melissa Watson of Palmer/Pletsch Publishing

Tell us about your company, it’s purpose, mission, target audience, goals, what makes it unique.

We design for The McCall pattern company which publishes sewing patterns. I, Pati Palmer, started with them in 1980. My daughter Melissa Watson was born in 1986 and was first in the McCall’s office in NYC when she was 2 months old, so they have known her for her entire life.  She and her partner who was my intern one summer, decided there was a missing piece to the McCall Pattern line for late teens and twenty somthings. I told them I’d give them a name to contact which they did and made an appointment. They presented their ideas in October of 2007, got signed and now have 8 designs in the catalog and they are selling well.

How did you come to work together in the first place?

Melissa  watched her mom work from home running her companies all of her life and at times did odd jobs for her publishing company. She got the hang of how I designed my line for McCall’s.

Please describe your respective roles in the company.

We come up with ideas, but for our own target markets. We both write guide sheets for the sewing instructions. I was previously the first licensee to do this. I told the girls not to offer to write guidesheets as it is hard work. McCall’s asked them to because they want the reader to hear their young words.

How has working together affected your relationship outside the “office.”  In other words how do you keep family matters separate from work related issues?

We are having so much fun working together, but then we’ve basically always been a family business. My late husband and I worked together importing ceramics from Italy, and my brother and Jack’s son work for me now in both businesses, PalmerPletsch Publishing and Mamma Ro Italian Ceramics. Melissa has always been in tune with these businesses. 

What are some of the challenges you have faced working together?

Mututal respect for what each person contributes is the most important thing in a small business.


Everyone is rewarded if they succeed.
What do you like best about working together? Least?

For Melissa and me, SHOPPING which we do for ideas. 

What, if any big challenges or little annoyances have occured as a result of working together and how have you managed to overcome them?

Can’t think of any. When we travel, I wake up much happier than my 23 year old!!  
What tips would you share with our readers for working with a member of the family?

Be tolerant, make communication a priority, be open. don’t gossip or act petty. I say these because of all of my businesses other than our designing for McCall’s.

What’s been the most exciting thing that has happened as a result of working together?

We have been written up in several sewing industry magazines and on the cover of one. We modeled each other’s designs recently at a major sewing show charity fashion show. Instead of telling the audience how wonderful our designs are, I told them about a personal story of how large corporations can have a heart. When I lost my husband to heart attack in a taxi headed from the airport into Manhattan in 2000, McCall’s came up with my designs for a year, wrote my guidesheets, and still paid me a royalty. I have been designing for them since 1980. Melissa and I both know what a great company they continue to be.

What’s next for this mother daughter team?

In 2 weeks Melissa is moving to NYC and wants to find a job in the fashion industry either in merchandising, advertizing, publishing or whatever. I will be there.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Contact Palmer/Pletsch Publishing at 1801 NW Upshur Suite 100, Portland, (97209 503 294 0696 ~ Pati or 503 753 2411 ~ Melissa)

Contact the McCall Pattern Co 120 Broadway, NY, NY  212 465 6800 C/O Kathleen Len, Sr. VP
This article can be read in the Spring/Summer issue of WE Magazine for Women