When it comes to getting new businesses up off the ground, it takes an openness to trying new things. Indeed, to a certain extent, success depends on a person's willingness to throw things up against the wall and see if they stick. So, when my friend and jewelry designer, Ruth Barzel recommended Threads by Nomad for Salon Arlington I jumped at the opportunity.
If you missed our post earlier about Salon Arlington, it is an event (in Arlington, VA) where local artists are asked to display their work in an informal, intimate setting and to give a brief talk on whatever they feel will help the audience understand their process, the influences that have guided them, why they do what they do, how they got started, what they do with the art (sell, hobby, etc) or anything else they want to talk about.
The event was a huge success! I met interesting people, had a fun night out with my family, and enjoyed sharing with an entirely new group of people the Threads by Nomad brand and message.
Here is the script I wrote in preparation for the event; while my actual presentation steered from this a little and I ad libbed a lot, you'll get the general idea:
It took me much longer than I thought it would to figure out how to tell you about Threads by Nomad. Because it turns out there's a lot to tell. I mean, where do I start? Do I start by telling you that I am in business with my mom and that working with her is a veritable dream come true? Or do I tell you that our designs are inspired by our travels, by the women we've met and our respect for their contributions to their communities? Do I tell you that our business was born out of our need for a creative outlet and a desire to change the world in even a small way? Do I tell you that a key component of the production is the hiring of refugees stateside and the enlisting of creators from various countries providing micro-enterprise opportunities? Do I tell you about this first collection, the clothes hanging here, the art? Or do I explain that they make up a capsule collection of seven pieces that are designed to work together in many different ways for many different body types and lifestyles?
Indeed. There is a lot to tell you. But I believe what makes Threads by Nomad worthy of your time and attention tonight is the people--the artists--who make it happen. For ease sake, let's start with me. Since I'm here. My name is Christen and I design the Threads by Nomad clothing and accessories, and I manage all of the marketing from graphic design to social media.
Then there's my mom. She manages production and customer relations from Houston, but she is an artist, too. A longtime seamstress, she tweaks my designs to make them more wearable and collaborates with our master tailor to ensure the quality of our product meets our admittedly high expectations.
Speaking of our tailor, his name is Hayder and he is a refugee from Najasi, Iraq where he owned and operated a successful custom clothing shop. He was forced to leave Iraq several years ago because it became too dangerous, and we are proud to have someone as talented as Hayder on our team. Hayder now lives in Houston with his wife of twenty years and three sons. Hayder enjoys living in the United States, where he says people are gracious and like helping others. Still, he misses his parents who are still back home in Iraq.
Then there's Atia. Atia is a beautiful mom of five and a refugee from Kabul, Aghanistan. She is in charge of all things embroidery and crochet at Threads by Nomad. Atia misses the dresses and beautiful clothing that women wear in Afghanistan, but admits to loving the shopping in the United States. When asked how she likes living in the United States she responds: "I want to make friends, but it is hard because I don't speak English."
The other day I woke up and spent an hour texting with a Togolese batik designer and painter named Frederic. In French, we discussed the next round of samples for our second collection. It is more complicated than I thought it would be. The dying process is sensitive and limits the colors that can be used on a single piece of fabric. Frederic lives in the Togolese countryside, 120km away from the next big city.
In this same big city is a weaver by the name of Christine. Christine and her mom are working hard to get us enough custom woven pieces of fabric by the time a mutual friend travels to the United States for the holidays so she can bring it to us.
And then there is the makeup artist and the photographer and the graphic designer who helped us prepare for our recent and successful Kickstarter campaign. And there are other artists too, artist who don't contribute directly to the Threads by Nomad project but have supported it in many other ways--like Ruth, who recommended Threads by Nomad for this event.
You see, Threads by Nomad isn't really about me. Sure, I design the collections, but I play a very small part in the line's success. Threads by Nomad's success is dependent on a global community of artists, a community that wishes to support those who need it most around the world, and to celebrate diversity through design, through art.
Of course, there is a lot more to tell. But if you want to know more...about me, about the clothes, or even about how to purchase them...please stop by and chat. Thank you all so much for having me.