When Skaneateles-based artist Patience Brewster's contract with Department 56 ran out at the end of 2007, she had a backup plan.
Thursday evening, Brewster debuted her first new line of ornaments from her start-up company Patience Brewster Inc. during an ornament signing at Pomodoro on East Genesee Street, one of the local shops that keeps her merchandise in stock.
Since leaving Department 56, Brewster has found herself in the role not only of artist, but also product design and business to business marketing. She also recently returned from a trip to Tokyo and the Philippines to see her products manufactured.
"She is in charge of everything now," said Rebecca Dalton, director of sales.
"The control of the details and every aspect of the business is great, but a lot of work," Brewster said.
Now, she doesn't simply come up with the designs and then send them off where the ornaments are made in a shroud of mystery. Her trip to the Philippines sent her right into the workspaces of the people hand-painting each piece.
"You just can't comprehend that every line, every fleck in an eye has to be put on by a human hand," Brewster said, adding that she would like to get the artists new brushes. "The people who work on these things are such wonderful artists."
Every ornament is made by hand, which makes them more special for the ones purchasing them or those who receive them as gifts.
Along with the new business, there is also a new business model.
"We're doing quite a different business model," Dalton said. "We're building to order, so the product is going to be much more limited."
Instead of marketing to the consumer, the model includes marketing solely to the businesses that sell the products. In the fall, the company did a pre-sell for specific retailers so they could get a jump on the holiday season. Each retailer received an exclusive ornament.