The output of the fashion company, Alabama Chanin, is a gulp of inspiration to me. They are a girl/business crush for me. I even, accidentally, work with one of her stitchers for my small and sporadic production runs for Katie James. As with most of my crushes, I don't put a lot of research into them because A. it would drive me crazy with impatience of wanting to be more like them right now this instant, and B. I don't make the time, but should make more time to learn about what makes my crushes tick.
This morning, when I finally left my daughter and babysitter to come upstairs to seclude myself in my well-lit, quiet bedroom to work, I clicked through earlier emails before committing to finish the production of our member-only newsletter, that was due Monday. It's Tuesday (ahem: now you see, dear members, why we are not clockwork around here).
Sabina is a dedicated forwarder of inspiring articles. She makes time to read articles every day. She forwarded one to us that was the column by Natalie Chanin on EcoSalon. She asked us to read it with our full attention. So I did (sorry dear members, the newsletter is delayed another hour).
Natalie wrote about what a day in her life looks like, and how she balances home and work with motherhood. There are lots of articles on this, and they are all helpful to read. But from Natalie, I have not read this yet, and was hooked. You should do as Sabina says, and read this article with your full attention. It has stirred many thoughts for me that were already brewing, and helped to put a muffle on some "dragon voices", which will hopefully die away. Natalie broke down her article into main thoughts she lives each day for. I plucked some highlights for you:
BACKGROUND: Like I said, I don't know their full background, but I first learned about Alabama Chanin while reading about their show at Fashion Week one morning on the subway while reading the paper. Then, a friend of mine worked on a documentary covering them. Shortly thereafter, they closed up shop, or stopped in the way that they existed.
"You might be surprised to learn that my small business today makes much more actual profit – what we really want to have – than my larger company did a decade ago because we have chosen to set and achieve smaller goals on the road to larger aspirations."
BACKGROUND: When my New York based sample studio closed up shop to open a Chinese restaurant, I reached out to friends who I knew were making bags and such, to see who they used for production. My college roommate used "rural women from the south", and she put me in touch with them. I was reminded of Alabama Chanin, who prided themselves on using southern women to stitch their carefully produced clothing. I came to learn that I was working with one such woman.
"By producing locally, I have been able to work “close to the bone.” By reducing the time required for manufacturing, reducing overheads (in comparison to a big city studio), and enlisting the help of my community, I unknowingly built a system and structure that has allowed me to do much, much more in a shorter period of time."
BACKGROUND: No background here, I just whole-heartily agree. Another reason why I don't advocate crowd-sourcing design work.
"Invest in people; you will not regret it. This is one of the most important points to remember in the process of “getting it done.”
BACKGROUND: No background again, but I agree, and ask myself the same question: what is worth it to me to take me away from my family - husband, daughter, dog, cats, friends, community events, completing other enjoyable tasks.
"I sat down and started thinking about how many hours I had invested in this – very worthy – conference and realized that I was making about $2.00 per hour. So, for $2.00 an hour I was missing my daughter’s first time ice skating."
BACKGROUND: Again, no background ;) Just a new thought that has entered my mind now that I have a daughter and am carefully navigating a childcare system that works for me and my daughter.
"My inner dragon screamed “HOW WILL YOU GET ALL THIS WORK DONE? THE COMPANY WILL CLOSE. YOU WILL FAIL.”
So, enough of my words, go read hers.