I have finally had a moment to process after our whirlwind drive across the country to solidify my partnership with Spooltown in Portland, Oregon. I started working with Dana and Sara about 9 months ago. We started with a conversation about shoulder straps. Then, very soon after, my entire world turned upside down and my feelings about how I was accomplishing my personal and business goals changed entirely. For the last 8 years, I have been a very direct part of making every single Moop bag and I have run every other aspect of the business myself. I have had some great people to consult with along the way and help out with things I couldn’t have done on my own (like, hiring an accountant was one of the smartest things I had ever done). But, I took a minute to envision the next 8 years and I did not want to see myself in the same place, with no personal growth and no additional happiness, still working 7 days a week, seeing my entire creative practice slipping away. There have been so many moments over the years where I have been so overwhelmed by simply the time spent on production and managing those doing production with me that I did not see how I could continue to build an exciting business that keeps not only me interested but, you as well. When everything fell apart, I knew the solution that would help me rebuild in a way that made me really happy and allowed me to focus on the areas in which I work best.
About 3 years ago, Spooltown had reached out to Moop and while I was not ready to think about sharing production with anyone outside of my studio at that time, they never left my mind. I watched them grow as they built a sustainable, living wage, female owned, private label manufacturing space in Portland. They have been operating with the same ethics in manufacturing, job creation and visible production as I have with Moop. The textile industry is a very closed, secretive world. No one wants to talk directly about who does their manufacturing because it opens them up to criticism or to vulnerability with competitors. I have long held that I am not a part of the fashion world and I definitely do not operate under traditional business practices. I make functional, stylish, practical products and like to believe I float between many worlds ie; art, design, fashion, business, music, food etc., and I want to talk about who will be manufacturing with me. I am really excited to have found a small manufacturer who is so compatible with my personal ethics and business goals. I am proud to talk about them as a company and a noteworthy model of ethics in manufacturing and small business ownership. And, it makes me very excited about the evolution in Moop bags that will come from our shared experience, equipment and expertise.
I’ll be spending a lot of time in Portland and can’t wait to keep the conversation going about what this manufacturing shift means for my small and growing business. I will also, still be making lots of bags in Pittsburgh, having the same conversation about creative practice and small manufacturing. And, I might even take a vacation this year. 2015 is going to be great.
Here’s a few photos of our trip, Dana & Sara and Spooltown with a few of our machines!
Enjoy and thank you, thank you, thank you!
p.s. The very first bags to come from this partnership are now available! I am releasing a new color in the Backpack no.1 (I carry this bag daily and so do lots and lots of you!). I discontinued the gunmetal and replaced it with a gray waxed canvas, with dark navy leather detailing and a super heavy weight waxed canvas bag bottom (this is a change coming to many of our bags, adding even more durability). We also added a few small zip pouches. These are super practical, cute and perfect for tossing inside a larger bag, filling with toiletries or even packing your sandwich and granola bar lunch (if you’re anything like me). Find them here and here.
And now, some photos!!
This is what Nebraska from the highway looks like...pretty much the whole way.
We did the entire drive from Pittsburgh to Portland in three long days. So glad to have had Gena and Lexi to do this with me.
Piles of Moop bags in our hotel room.
Arriving at Spooltown! Their glass roll up door was put in with the sole intention of making manufacturing visible. Yet another reason why I love these women.
Those machine heads weigh almost a billion pounds. Or a hundred. They are really really heavy and awkward to move.
Sara and I fine tuning one of our twin needle, custom gauge set industrial sewing machines.
This machine cuts fabric much like a CNC machine cuts wood. It is a beautiful machine. My poor wrists are so happy to start using this machine...I currently hand cut every single piece of fabric used in our bags with a handheld rotary blade. This is much healthier for my joints.
Sara, Dana and I around their huge, precise, mechanized cutting table having a long conversation about the importance of doing things the way we do.
Sara and Dana - owners of Spooltown! I feel like I've known these two for at least 30 years.
The beautiful Spooltown building.
There are more photos from the trip that were posted to our Instagram feed as they happened...check those out here. @moopshop
p.s. just about all of these photos were taken by Lexi, my shipping assistant. She and her husband are very good photographers. Check out their stuff here.