This Drexel Professor Got Her Work Featured in the PMA, and We’re in Awe

Roberta H. Gruber is an amazing example of the creative spark Drexel can bring out in a person. Currently a tenured Associate Professor in the Fashion Design program, Gruber had previously been the head of the Department of Design at Drexel for eleven years. She’s had quite a career at Drexel, having taught here for over thirty years (and attended Drexel herself as a student!)

Image Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

As president of her own dress company and as a designer for other national firms, we have a lot to be inspired by in this professor, and so we were very lucky to have the opportunity to speak with Gruber and heard a little more about her latest project–collaborating with the Philadelphia Museum of Art(!)

Apart from being an Associate Professor, she also has her own creative personal business making cards handcrafted to perfection. Every year she creates Christmas cards started off by hand, screen printed and finished with paint, metallic, ink, and embellishments. We asked Roberta how she ended up in such creative positions, and her response made total sense: “I always painted, always did creative work, it was very effortless.” Based on her creations, she clearly has a natural talent for it.

Image Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

In the beginning, Gruber did not have a lot of time to concentrate on her business, but little by little, she started selling her cards. Following her passion opened store doors in Bryn Mawr and eventually led to being commissioned by the PMA! With Roberta’s long stint in the fashion industry, she was eventually connected with the PMA Shop Buyer, though as Gruber said, “it’s about the person believing in what you are doing and being worthy, not about connections.”

Asking about advice for a student who wants to go in the avenue of entrepreneurship and have a design business, she said, “There's no magic–You have to work for it and do the research so you aren't going in blindly.” Having a financial plan is very important to avoid ending up in debt. It’s also important to have a realistic time frame and realize things are not created and built overnight.

Gruber plans to stay in the fashion industry and continue her business simultaneously. When she retires from teaching, she will eventually take on her business full-time. Her passion for teaching isn’t going anywhere, though. Gruber finds that teaching her students is a far greater feeling and she likes to be able to guide her students through lessons she has learned along her own way.

Image Courtesy of the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Look out for more of Roberta Gruber’s products in the D&M Shop Holiday Pop-Up Shop on December 5th! Instead of trekking all the way over to the PMA for a peek of her work, snatch up some of her hand-designed cards in the URBN Center from 2-5PM.