When I was younger, creation was a part of the everyday lives of the women and men living in my community, especially for my grandparents. People—most often those living in rural communities like my hometown—were deeply connected to the land. They made their own bread, got milk from their own cow, and grew everything they ate. Every summer we would sit on the back porch and shell peas and “put up” corn, and that’s what we ate throughout the year. This generation was a collective of artisans in their own right.
These women and men created sustainable products to nourish, clothe, and care for their families by using the materials that were readily available to them. Though they were highly skilled, they were humble about it and didn’t celebrate their work. At Alabama Chanin and The School of Making, we have spent decades building a sustainable business that celebrates the living arts and looks back to a slower way of living and making. By doing so, we preserve these unique craft traditions that have faded over time. We value the relationships to the products we create and believe they should enhance the quality of our lives and the planet.
Last fall, I had the privilege of speaking about my upbringing, career, and life’s work at a slow living retreat hosted by sustainable lifestyle and apparel brand Lady Farmer. We talked about these very subjects—making in past generations, self-sufficiency, and ties to our communities. The conversation evolved with discussions on overcoming challenges as a sustainable business, shifts in the fashion industry, and the future of textile production.
It is shared as a live recording on their podcast, The Good Dirt.
Mary E. and Emma Kingsley co-founders of Lady Farmer
Lady Farmer co-founder Mary E. Kingsley writes, “Slow living can mean different things to people, but we think of it as simply making conscious choices about how we live our lives. It’s about paying attention to how we spend our time, money and resources, and how to be more mindful of and connected to the sources of the things we need and use every day, such as our food, clothing and products of daily living.”
They value the art of the maker, “who takes the time and care to create with their hands, and the time honored crafts that combine human ingenuity and skill with natural, non-synthetic materials to create necessities for daily life.”