Last Thursday we launched our Apparel Tailoring and Manufacturing apprenticeship program in a modest, light filled room in local tailor, Lisa Lambert’s tailoring shop. It was the first step in building a workshop in Princeton for the custom fit apparel line. And now it begins. Thursday arrived and all of the sudden there was a turbocharge on the project. Other people were gathering in a workshop with me to build the 100 Blouses project and the Reid Miller vision.
What are we building with the 100 Blouses Project? We are conducting an experiment: can we make high-quality custom fit blouses that create jobs in Princeton, West Virginia? Our apprentice, a Princeton resident, has begun to learn the art of custom shirtmaking with the talented local tailor, Lisa Lambert. Together, we will begin making custom fitted blouses that we cut and sew in Princeton, West Virginia and ship out to supporters around the country. At the workshop, we are building something of a womenswear laboratory where we get to test out techniques for making custom fit womenswear using the pattern making software and top quality sewing techniques.
Over the weekend I was working on the pattern and the sewing with a new found energy to keep pace with the women gathering each week to work on the project. And I was listening to Ezra Klein interviewing Richard Powers, author of The Overstory on his new book – Bewilderment. I am ironing away and I hear Mr. Powers talk about how the Earth is made up of all these experiments going on all the time: a bird is born with a smaller beak, a seed takes root in a new environment, a woman arrives in a small town in West Virginia. We humans are part of that experiment. And I had a moment of inspiration: this experiment with the 100 Blouses Project is about as natural as it could be. We are engaged in an experiment to make better clothing, provide better jobs, reduce waste in the fashion industry and build a business model that allow for more sustainable and equitable clothing production. Though these are lofty goals, ultimately it is just an experiment, which is the natural state of things. That though brought such a perspective of ease into the room.
So when I am up in my workshop and faced with some cross road, I remember the experiment – which direction will further the experiment, leave roads open to more possibilities and allow us to learn more?
And I’m sure I’m not supposed to tell you that this is an experiment. I am supposed to say that it is a sure thing. But I believe that the time is now to get real with each other. We need honest experimentation more than ever right now. So much around us is due for a change. Our very survival depends on it. And the answer is experimenting with new ways of doing things and being open and honest that these are indeed experiments.
And now I’m going to have the audacity to ask you to join me in this crazy endeavor. In the coming weeks we will open 10 spots for women who want to join us in our experiment to bring this vision to life, who want to be part of a new way of doing things in the fashion industry (and who want a beautiful custom fitting blouse, sewn in Princeton, West Virginia). The experiment has started. The dream is becoming. Join us. Send a note to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in learning more.
Go, fight, win.