Looking back at what we have accomplished this year at Alabama Chanin, I feel nothing short of overwhelmed. With the help of many friends, Alabama Chanin has grown in ways I only imagined. Our company is the best it has ever been, and will only get better. Over the summer, and on the heels of Camp Bacon at Zingerman’s, I wrote a 10 year vision for the company—a peek into what I wanted for the future of our family of businesses. Many of the things I envisioned happening years from now were accomplished by this year’s end, with much hard work, dedication, occasional pains of labor, trial and error, and the true grit and determination of our team. All this growth and success doesn’t come from nowhere, after all.
It is hard to believe that so much has happened in the past year. While we are busy wrapping up our year-end Inventory Sale here at The Factory, it is nice to take the time to reflect on all the projects, people, and places we have experienced in just twelve incredible months.
Our staff has more than doubled in the past year as we continue to grow to serve you—our customers, friends, community, and everyone else we’ve met along the way (including those of you we met in our travels to some of our favorite cities, like Chattanooga, Tennessee, Charleston, South Carolina, San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles for workshops). Your support, emails, phone calls, and love are the things that keep us going. Your amazing kindness and loyalty is appreciated beyond measure—and is the reason why we are able to keep growing. For all of those gifts, we say a heartfelt “Thank you.”
In the spring, we hosted the Texas Playboys from Austin, Texas, at our studio. The baseball club made up of artists, architects, musicians, filmmakers, photographers, and entrepreneurs joined us for a weekend of great music, food, cocktails, and, of course, a baseball game (a challenge we took on alongside our friends at Billy Reid).
2013 also saw the continuation of our MAKESHIFT conversations, stories, and experiences involving collaborative projects. We provided organic cotton tote bags as a blank canvas to guests, as a means to express their thoughts, ideas, and inspirations from the conversations.
Alabama Chanin, along with Heath Ceramics and The Standard, partnered with Tumblr to expand the voice of our MAKESHIFT project globally. We invited an additional 100 artists, designers, writers, musicians, chefs, and makers from across the globe to participate by creating their own bags and contributing a photograph of their customized work to a Tumblr Image Quilt. Photographs of each bag create a piece, or square, published to a Tumblr page created specifically for the MAKESHIFT SERIES.
I was (and am) deeply honored to be the 2013 recipient of the CFDA/Lexus Eco-Fashion Challenge Award of $75,000. Be on the lookout for the launch of our A. Chanin garments, and a new Alabama Chanin collection in the coming months—made possible by the support of the Council of Fashion Designers and Lexus. Alabama Chanin’s continued practice of responsible and sustainable design will be able to grow even more now.
For Alabama Chanin, the biggest (and most trying) accomplishment of 2013 was our expansion of The Factory. The studio space we have called home since 2007 now includes a full-service café, the flagship Alabama Chanin store, and a designated spot to host our Workshops (including Studio Week at The Factory, another project brought to life in 2013). Earlier this year, we began working on opening an event space to serve our employees and the community, catering small lunches, and serve as a home for our storefront.
Gratitude and thanks also goes to longtime friend Terry Wylie (who owns the factory building that houses our production and design studio) and our director of special projects, Erin Stephenson, who took my ideas for the space and turned them into a beautiful reality, along with the help of several of our friends in the Shoals and beyond.
This year also saw the “soft launch” of a range of machine-made garments under the label A. Chanin. Our community has a long history of textile production. In fact, the building where we now work was once a sewing, dyeing, and embroidery facility. We want to bring that industry back to Alabama (and do so in a way that is both environmentally and economically sustainable). The new line embraces our same commitment to sustainability and local, hometown manufacturing. A. Chanin is both an integral part of Alabama Chanin and a stand-alone entity, offering a wider range of organic cotton products at a lower price.
We have found strength and safety working in a place with such a storied history and want to be a part of revitalizing the textile industry here in the Shoals, our home, our community.
Again, thank you for your continued support, love, and loyalty. YOU make a difference.
Wishing you happiness, good fortune, health, prosperity, and peace in the New Year,
xoNatalie and all of us @ Alabama Chanin