Textile Truths: click image for larger version and link to downloadable pdf
June 27, 2011 Jen Madsen of Stitch Simple
emailed me this statement: ". . . we need, you know that 'dirty dozen'
list for organic produce? How about a list of most environmentally friendly arts and crafts supplies or home décor items?"I thought she was absolutely right! But how
to rate, rank, educate and not overwhelm people is no easy task. Fabrics are so much more complex than fruits and vegetables. As the idea progressed, I contacted Leigh Anne of Oecotextiles
. She has one of the most comprehensive and thorough blogs about textiles and the chemicals in them. She is my go-to for the chemistry and statistics so I asked if she would be willing to help. Thankfully, she agreed!The three of us (Jen, Leigh Anne, and myself) knew that there was SOOOO much information that one infographic was not going to do. Our goal then became to put together a series and it was decided that we would start with BABY since that seems to be the most common entry point for people when it comes to organic fibers. I took a stab at the graphic, I redid it about 20 times. It stalled and stammered. My dear friend Suz enlisted her graphic design friend Alison who took a shot at revamping my sad attempt. It helped but also lost the entire fabric focus. We knew we lost our audience. Alison did the work pro bono and I thank her deeply for helping move the project forward in April of 2012 and highlighting where we went astray (focus!).It stalled for months. I was sick of looking at it and frankly didn't know what to do. In September of 2012 I was contacted by Linsi of Spark Collaborative. We had a mutual friend Rachel Hulan who connected the dots.
I bit the bullet and hired Spark Collaborative to take a shot at it. I sent them various versions, thoughts, and challenges. The name was changed from Worst Things/First Things to Textile Truths (duh!) and the layout started to pull together. I sought
help from Suz again (she is an editing wizard with decades of experience!), my friend Madge
(a marketing maven and hiking tour leader extraordinaire), and a select few others (you know who you are!!). Changes: color changes, text changes, font changes, layout changes, pattern changes, alignment changes and more changes were made. Then I sent it to GOTS
to make sure they would approve of the logo usage. Whew. It got their blessing and now . . . drum roll please . . .
IT IS OUT IN THE WORLD at last. Will it fill the need we aimed to address? Will anyone read it and care? Will it go viral and ignite different purchasing behavior? Launch a helpful series? Help all organic fabric companies to be better appreciated for what they are doing? Will it crawl under a rock never to be seen? I don't know. Time will tell. I can tell you that I am very grateful to have it no longer haunting my to-do list! I also want to acknowledge all of the kind, thoughtful people who helped in this journey. I LOVE YOU and COULDN'T HAVE FINISHED THIS WITHOUT YOU!
I VERY MUCH welcome your feedback (too late for changes to this version) and if all goes as hoped (and prayed for) we will be releasing other versions for: Home, Fashion, Pets, etc.Please feel free to share this with anyone you think would be interested.Buckets full of hugs and gratitude to each of you. It is my gift to the organic fiber community and the world. I hope you like it.
It is my pleasure to bring to you the next installment of our Meet the Team Series. HoneyBeGood
is a very unique company with a remarkable and poetic location. It's a family business. Karen, her daughter Melissa, and husband Edward run the company.
Believe it or not this organic cotton fabric company is operated out of the old Cotton Warehouse at the renovated Porterdale Mill in Georgia! Here's a brief history of the Mill and the fairly recent undertaking by Walter Davis to restore this vast set of structures:
Opening in 1899, the Porterdale Mill prospered into the 1960s becoming the world’s largest producer of cotton twine. Low priced global competition forced its closing in the early 1970s causing the small town of Porterdale to decline. In 2006 the Porterdale Mill has been transformed into the Porterdale Mill Lofts, with residential, retail, and live/work spaces in a community designed for young families and singles, professionals and artists, small and independent retailers and business owners and anyone seeking a genuinely unique contemporary lifestyle.
Karen was involved in the Mill restoration during 2005-2007. When she got the inspiration to start her own organic cotton fabric store in the spring of 2012, the location just seemed like the perfect fit.
Although primarily an online store, according to Karen, "If folks are in the area, they're welcome to stop by (calling first is appreciated: 888.419.1563). If they're game and weather permits, we'll be happy to take them kayaking on the river!" Beam me there. That sounds amazing. I love the idea of the history and future colliding at HoneyBeGood. What fun to have Harmony Art fabrics
play a growing roll.
Besides the unique location, what sets this Team apart from our others is their laser like focus on quilting. Karen has been quilting for over 20 years! The only cotton they carry is organic and this is intentional. They have designed their selection to be presented in a way that speaks to the quilter. To this end, they offer fabrics in full widths but also in coordinated fat quarter bundles. According to Karen, these fat quarter bundles are quite popular!
Karen and I share some similar feelings about the quilting fabric treadmill.
To quote Karen, "I've become acutely aware of the pressure for designers and quilt makers to quickly churn out new patterns and product samples. The quality of the designs suffers, along with the idea that these creations are inspired and unique. That's not to say there aren't many fabulous designs in the market place - there are! by many talented designers. Often times I find myself in envy that the designer isn't working in organic cotton. But when I embarked on this retail venture I knew for certain that I could not be one to peddle conventional cotton. To me, organic cotton is more than environmentally- and socially-responsible; it's one solution for a textile industry that needs to slow down to be sustainable. In a slower, higher-quality mode, we can all take a breather and stop to truly appreciate the fabulous medium we're so blessed to work with.
"I think part of the reason I feel this way is that I quilt by hand - often bed quilts. This takes a lot of time during which I become intimately familiar with the fabric I've chosen for my quilt. I spend a lot of time under it. Not just any fabric will do and I think there are others out there who feel the same way (I sure hope so!). My goal is to provide a rich variety of organic and responsibly-sourced fabric for quilters and sewists who don't want conventional cotton. We've added hemp blends to our collection in beautiful solid colors in linen and muslin weaves and plan to add other alternatives to cotton as we become familiar with them.
"Some of my inspiration comes from The Slow-Fashioned Movement and all the wonderful and talented designers (like you!) who are dedicated to healthier fabric."
HoneyBeGood proves once again that the journey is indeed the prize. Meeting, supporting, learning from, and having the honor of working with like-minded, thoughtful people really makes my heart sing and all of the work feel like a gift. I am truly blessed. Thank you Karen, Melissa and Edward. Keep up the good and important work!
Karen, her father, Melissa and Edward
Meet Monique - the force behind our European distributor Pure Fabricz
! Pure Fabricz is based in The Netherlands and has been handling our EU distribution since 2009. As luck (synchronicity) would have it, Monique was looking for colorful, appealing organic cotton bedding. She was frustrated when all she could find was beautiful shades of oatmeal and granola. Undaunted she decided she could make her own bedding. Her search for wide-width organic cotton fabric lead her to Harmony Art
.It was at this exact same time our European distributor was relocating to the Ukraine and was closing her shop. Instead of simply making a set of bed sheets Monique jumped into the fabric business!
(She is someone who is not afraid of a good challenge from time to time.) Monique
studied at fashion school, so she knew her way around a sewing machine. Prior to this career move she had several jobs, from shop manager to executive secretary. In addition, she is a volunteer at a local animal shelter where she is the editor of their quarterly magazine and the cat photographer!
Since their start in 2009 they have grown into a webshop (Pure Coverz
) and wholesaler. They recently moved their business to a new premises with enough space to grow further. Pure Coverz sells all different organic cotton items for the home; bedding, home, bath and kitchen textiles.
The fabrics are now to be found throughout Europe
in shops and webshops. Pure Fabricz has helped numerous small designers create the most beautiful garments with it.
It is a pleasure and joy to work with Monique. She is thoughtful, compassionate, detail oriented and a total sweetheart. I truly am the luckiest girl in the world. We wish Pure Fabricz
a wonderful new chapter in their expanded (and organized!) location. If you have any friends in Europe looking for organic fabric, please refer them to Monique
[NOTE: Pure Fabricz has THE largest selection of Harmony Art organic fabrics!]
I think many of us struggle with this puzzle. My next post or two or 10 or more will share with you some of my experience of juggling life and home and entrepreneurship. I also plan to use this space to answer as many business questions as I feel able to, so feel free to send me
your questions. Let the journey venture forth. . . thanks for coming along.
Tomorrow my husband leaves for Russia. He will be gone for 2 weeks. In the 20+ years we have been together this will be the longest and furthest we have been apart.
He is going to Russia as part of the Fort Ross
/Kashaya Expedition marking the 200th anniversary of the 1st Russian settlement in the continental USA - which just happens to be in our neck of the woods. Sus (hubby) will be traveling with 24 other people to St. Petersburg, Moscow and Tot'ma
(the home town of the founder of Fort Ross). As the executive director of the Gualala Art Center
, Sus is representing our local art community and traveling with some descents of the "first artists"
of the area. Part of the reason for this trip is for the Kashaya (native American Pomo tribe) to see and identify artifacts and artwork that was taken back to Russia when the fort was disbanded - over 150 years ago. They will be touring museums, meeting with dignitaries, participating in a parade, and doing home stays while in Tot'ma. He was trying to figure out what gifts he should bring with him.
The idea of tote bags came up and immediate we thought of the Green Bag Lady
. We called Teresa and she sent us some Silent Stumps Sateen
bags as well as some other solid bags that we could screen print the Gualala Arts logo on. Teresa ROCKS! In less than a week we had the screen printed bags. Tomorrow they make they voyage overseas.
I can't tell you how happy these bags make me! The trilogy of Green Bag Lady + Gualala Arts + Harmony Art = BIG LOVE.
I hope the Russians like (and use) them and I hope Sus gets home safely with lots of good stories to share.
When I was a little girl I had a blue blankie. It went everywhere with me. Eventually it disintegrated and had to be thrown out. It was a sad day in my life.
A few months ago my dear friend Teresa (aka The Green Bag Lady
) sent me a VERY special gift that she and her "Bagettes" made for me. When Teresa was visiting a while back we came across some dresses and skirts from my childhood that I still had! I gave them to Teresa for her youngest daughter to wear. When she out grew them Teresa couldn't bring herself to donate my 30+ year old clothes to Goodwill so she and the Bagettes transformed them into a quilt for me. I had NO idea they were doing this. Imagine my surprise and delight when I opened the package and found this thoughtful, one-of-a-kind, re-recycled gift! I was speechless, touched, thrilled! Teresa even incorporated a hood for me so I could wear it while I worked. When we renewed our vows on Bowling Ball Beach, I wore it. When we took a road trip to LA in June, I took it and wore it. I basically am 5 years old with a blankie again. . . and lovin' it! THANK YOU TERESA and THE BAGETTES! I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
Note the prairie patterns that were popular in the early 80's
You look the other direction and see this:
From their web site: "The Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant (DCTWRP), was designed to produce reclaimed water that will meet the requirements of the California Department of Health Services and the County Health Department for specific uses with the priority to protect public health. The main function of the plant, however, is to relieve the overburdened portions of the wastewater collection system between the San Fernando Valley and the City's main wastewater treatment facility, the Hyperion Treatment Plant, located in Playa Del Rey.
The balance of positive and negative forces, Yin & Yang, are ever present here. Obvious in the skillful blending of traditional Japanese landscaping with modern Occidental architecture, less so in the way the Japanese concept of "WA" or harmony is used to unite the desires of the human spirit with our more mundane requirements—the exquisite beauty of a Japanese garden with the need for an abundant supply of fresh water."
Pretty cool, don't you think?
In late March I had the pleasure of speaking in Madison, Wisconsin. I had never been to Madison before and I was blown away by how lovely the city is. I thought I would share some of my favorite things about Madison:
Frank Lloyd Wright designed Monona Terrace right on lake Monona
Botanical Gardens in full bloom
Owners (and sisters) of my favorite store in Madison, Anthology
(store front photo below). I am not a shopper at heart so the fact that I bought 2 things there is truly noteworthy. (An organic cotton t-shirt and a hair clip. My next post is going to be all about the hair clip!) I honestly liked just about everything in their store. They are super cute and thoughtful with what they select for their store.
Cool photo taken my husband in the Museum of Contemporary Art
. The Museum is FREE. We checked out the Houdini exhibition while we were there and also had a snack at the roof top restaurant. Additionally, there was a FREE movie that night at the Museum in one of the downstairs rooms. The movie was:If a Tree Falls
. I highly recommend it. Warning: it is pretty heavy.
One of the highlights of the trip was seeing the home my mother grew up in. Here it is! Next time I get to Madison I am going to bring my mother with me! I definitely want to go back. We saw a lot but there are still plenty of things we didn't have time to experience.
Thanks Madison! We'll be back.
On March 10th a dear friend and mentor passed away. David Moore was the President of Protected Investors of America
when I first started working there back in the 90s. I worked there for 5 years and had the pleasure of working under Dave for much of that time. He was thoughtful, intuitive and taught me SO much not just about business but about life.
I thought I would take this opportunity to pass on some of the wisdom I learned from Dave.
- Every business is the relationship business.
You may think you work in investments, or fabric, or apparel but the reality is ALL businesses are the relationship business. If people enjoy working with you, and you gain and deserve their trust they will continue to want to work with you. The item or topic may change but at the core every business is the relationship business.
- The most important job of the head of any company is morale.
If people are happy and enjoy what they are doing, they will be productive and the business will prosper. Good leadership always keeps the morale of the company as their main objective.
Another thing I learned from Dave was to appreciate good food. He was a foodie before that word existed in our lexicon. If you had the pleasure of going out to lunch or dinner with Dave you knew it was going to be an experience you would remember.
When Dave retired I designed his new "un-business" cards for him. He retired to sail on his boat the Wu Wei with his son, Richard. On the back of his cards we had printed the explanation of Wu Wei:
"Wu wei doesn't try. It doesn't think about it. It just does. And when it does, it doesn't appear to do much of anything. But things get done. Wu wei is like a sixth sense - being sensitive to circumstances. One of the most convenient things about this sense is you don't have to make so many difficult decisions. Instead, you can let them make themselves."
That sums up Dave's philosophy and one I still struggle to emulate.
Even after Dave retired we stayed in touch. He was always just a phone call away with sound advice and thoughtful questions. My life was richer with him in it. His body is gone but his love and wisdom remains.
When Dave retired he gave me the paperweight I always admired on his desk and a picture that hung in his office. Both are still here with me and will always be treasured. To quote the Peace Pilgrim, he has made the "glorious transition to a freer life."
Smooth sailing, Captain!
So, how many of you have heard of Stitch Simple
? Jen Madsen, the founder of this small but powerful company, liked to quilt but didn't like to prep the fabric. She found the washing, cutting and pressing tedious. She figured she couldn't be alone in this opinion. Upon further research she found no one offering ready-to-sew kits. Oh, there were kits to be purchased but none of them had prepared the fabric for you. Stitch Simple was born to fill this need.
What I personally love about Stitch Simple is that Jen is not afraid to try new things and she definitely listens to her customers. She believes (and I agree) that what sets companies like Stitch Simple apart from large fabric stores is the care and attention each customer receives. When you purchase a quilt kit from Stitch Simple, it not only includes all the pre-washed, pre-cut, pressed fabric you will need but it also includes a practice pack of pre-washed, pre-cut fabric pieces to get you warmed up. In addition the assembly instructions for some kits are for six different sized quilts and you get UNLIMITED assistance from the Stitch Simple Quilt Kit Support Line with every kit. I'd call that amazing!
In addition to their pre-washed, pre-cut and pressed quilt kits, Stitch Simple also offers a variety of prepared fabrics like fat quarters, full yards and even by the inch(!) fabric pieces all ready to sew with. They even offer custom hand rotary-cut orders - pinked edges, triangles, anything, really! If you don't see what you are looking for, ask. The flexibility and options they offer are truly mind blowing.
When it comes to being a retailer of the Harmony Art organic line, Stitch Simple offers the most comprehensive swatch sets of both our woven
fabrics. Stitch Simple also offers (to businesses only) our fabrics re-bolted
onto those cute cardboard cores you are used to seeing in fabric stores. If you are a small business and want to carry our line but can't commit to a full 50-yard roll, Stitch Simple's reseller program
might just be the answer for you.
Like what you just read? How about going to their facebook page
and "liking" Stitch Simple?