Celebrating Antoine

Slow Factory is proud to present our latest collaboration with acclaimed visual artist Shantell Martin on this collection, which ties the magic of Le Petit Prince with the whimsical visual storylines of Shantell Martin. 

The launch of this collection marks Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's birth date, June 29th, and is made of ethereal scarves also coincides with the $80 million animated adaptation about the novella by director Mark Osborne, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last month.

Slow Factory’s founder Celine Semaan Vernon & Shantell Martin have created a unique silk scarf from a unique collage of the Prince on Rosetta’s Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and Martin’s drawings, which create a universe of their own.

This collaboration from Slow Factory, Petit Prince and Shantell Martin celebrates Science and Fiction — ESA’s landing on the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, and the classic novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry that gave so many of us the inspiration to dream of space as children.

Acclaimed visual artist Shantell Martin builds upon the cosmic mystery of the imagery with her original drawings that are a part of her ‘Dream’ series, a whimsical visualization of the subconscious which build on Slow Factory’s collage of the classic image of the Prince in his Asteroid replacing it with high-res photo taken by Rosetta on 14 February 2015.

Slow Factory is excited to present this collection, an oneiric universe honoring the philosophic nature of the novella. Scarves will be available at www.slowfactory.com  from June 15th, 2015, starting at $55 for the pocket scarf version and $175 for the larger size.

 

Me Talking To Myself in The Future

I borrowed this title from friend and actress, performance artist Marie Brassard. If you haven't seen any of her work, I urge you to follow her updates to know when she might play next in your city. Her work is eerie, magical and a journey into her stories and invented places.

This post is about the ups and downs of starting your own business. 

 

  

It's 09:00AM, I am lying on the floor of my Brooklyn apartment; the sun is filling the room in a warm light. I’m having a hard time breathing. All the savings I’ve earned working on User Experience design and teaching gigs are now all sent to our factories. I'm thinking to myself "I am trapped. I can't go back. I have basically jumped from a flying airplane and there is no way of a safe landing in sight, or I have to figure it out for me not to crash." Whatever people tell you about running your own business, it never comes without risk. Even the smallest risk is still risk. Entrepreneurs who talk about following your dreams or your passions, but don’t mention the risks, are misleading.

So here I want to talk about the beautiful reality of following your passion and getting out of your comfort zone to make it happen.

It's 1PM I receive a call that prompts me to run downstairs to find that the delivery truck has left all 20+ large shipping boxes on the sidewalk. I panic for a minute as it starts to rain. I sit on the sidewalk and try to catch my breath. New York apartments are not supposed to be used as warehouses. Where am I going to store these?

As I sit down to “calmly” think of a solution, someone from the building walks by and offers to put them in the roof storage. Roof storage?! I feel like the Universe is sending me helpers. Bill Nye would roll his eyes at my magical realism explanation, but I don't care. I help the young man load the boxes in the elevator. The view on the roof is just breath taking. I can see the busy city vibrating with energy. I feel ecstatic for a second until my phone rings, bringing me back to reality. It's the FEDEX broker. Yes, another shipment is coming from Italy. Okay. No big deal. We're going to make this work.

How will this sound, when I’m Future Me recounting it to others in a near future?

I imagine myself in the future, telling the story of what’s happening to me as it happens, but with all the distance and charm and “happily ever after” perspective that I cannot have right now. It's my way of coping with the stress of the everyday ups and downs of running your own business on your own without a credit card, or a loan or an investment.

My future self talking about me in the future sounds like this:

“So I just got let down by someone I was counting on, the day after we launched a major campaign (our ANERA campaign to help refugees in the Middle East). I didn't sleep all night. I received her email at midnight: my phone binged, I read it and couldn't sleep. There is this automatic voice in my head, like the one of a narrator that begins to describe the situation in a soothing detached manner "Midnight, the main help I was counting on quits on the campaign and I can't help feeling abandoned. I had no idea that it actually happened because deep down I had to learn that it's to show me that I can find a way to make it happen by myself. Whenever you count on someone it cannot be at your own expense. It has to be a relationship that empowers both of the people involved. At that moment I couldn't take a full breath, but soon enough I would be able to see that everything is happening in its right order. And that I will find a way."

Now that I am in the future of this situation I can say this. One, the amount of time I spent agonizing over situations I had no control over is absurd. Two, everything happens to teach you something about yourself. Find what it is and grow from it. That's the only survival advice I can genuinely share with confidence that –even if it sounds like a self-help book, it's what made sense to me.

That campaign surprised me. We managed to raise close to 10K in support of women refugees in the Middle East in around 2 months time. With this donation ANERA was able to provide dignity kits, clean clothes, and medicine to women and children displaced in Jordan and Lebanon. We sold out of our Gaza by Night scarf.

moi aussi je grandis et j'apprend

A photo posted by celinecelines (@celinecelines) on

 

I learn everyday. This is what gives me meaning in the path I have chosen. It's what's keeping me amazed, eyes wide open like the eternal 7 year-old soul that I am adding the little wisdom these past 30-something years has given me. Every single person I meet is a teacher. The ones I need to let go off, the ones I want to keep close. Everyone has shown me something about who I am and ways for me to grow and in the same way contribute in nurturing what I have built with Slow Factory.

This is the first post where I open up as a designer and an entrepreneur and share some of my thoughts without fear. Because Why Not.

Green is the new denim (take two)

This post is referring to "Green is the new Denim" written by Vanessa Friedman.

The magic combo Pharrell + Adidas + Parley = Green Power

Adidas announced that it had signed a five-year “seven figure” contract to team up with an organization called Parley for the Oceans, which was created to publicize and tackle the problem of ocean plastic. Credit via Parley for the Oceans

The Information Age and open data has made the reality behind fast fashion and mass productions and encouraged mass consumption impossible to deny or ignore (especially after the Rana Plaza factory collapsed). We have reached a new level of awareness and of internet connected consciousness. Large companies now invest in green strategies and review their ethics as everything is now in the transparent culture of the web.

From reality shows exposing fashion bloggers to what goes on behind the scenes of their favorite disposable fashion items to this startup selling $2 T-shirts to expose the reality behind cheap garments, the message is clear: someone has to unfortunately pay the price and the system we have in place currently protects the most privileged in a given situation. The garment workers pay the expensive price of cheap labor.

A few weeks ago, Sarah Maslin Nir wrote a poignant essay about the Price of Nails exposing the not so glamorous Nail industry in New York city with heartbreaking interviews describing the real situation workers are living under. This article went viral at the time when most of us were very much looking forward a nice Mani-Pedi before sandal season. This information brought light to the mass and awareness about the price of luxury. There is no such thing as cheap luxury. But we have been conditioned to bargain and pay the lowest price possible to get high quality products — this always goes with a bigger cost: human conditions or the environment.

This is why we exist. This very reason. There is a way (hardest road, I agree) to chose to manufacture goods that are both fair-trade and eco-friendly at the same time without compromising detail, design, quality or craftsmanship. The cost is higher but the bigger cost and overall risk on the Planet is way lower. Because things take time to be made and have an inevitable impact on the environment. This is our very mission. To grow our product offerings sustainably, with the least impact on our planet with always the most respect for our workers.

Summer Paid Internship Opportunity

Join Our Growing Team!

Want to learn and grow with a small, successful science/art/fashion brand?

We are looking for a creative, resourceful, down to Earth, crazy, fun, inspiring person to join our team for a paid internship from June 2015 until September 2015 (with a possibility to continue and grow with us after this period). 

The Skills we are looking for are:

  • Instagram prowess
  • Knowledge in Photoshop, InDesign & Illustrator
  • Loves learning
  • Google Queen or King (Great research skills)
  • Kindness
  • Generous
  • Curious 
  • Loves Fashion 
  • Passionate
  • Meticulous
  • Detail Oriented
  • Can drive in NYC (optional but definitely a PLUS)
  • Science Geek at heart
  • Good writing skills
  • Great sense of humor

If you read this and feel you are the one for us, please reach out to Brigitte: [email protected] with a link to your Instagram account or Tumblr or Blog or Pinterest. Send us something that inspires you, moves you or makes you smile. 

Looking forward to meeting you!

xo

 

Everyday is Earth Day


This is not a Manifesto. This is in honor of Earth Day + Fashion Revolution Day. 
Once upon a time, the first humans were beginning to adapt and survive on Planet Earth. In a short amount of centuries, humans took over the Planet and began to manipulate their environment. Today, we realize that Earth's resources aren't infinite but finite. This is a picture of the last rhino alive. 


And over here is an image of the last Eastern Cougar. 
From the New York Times article declaring it was extinct;

Either way, the “Eastern” cougar as such is no longer with us. Any recent sightings in the cougar’s historic range, which stretched from eastern Ontario and Michigan eastward to Maine and southward to Georgia, Tennessee and Missouri, were actually sightings of its relatives, the Fish and Wildlife Service said.

“It’s extinct,” said Mark McCollough, a wildlife biologist with the agency’s offices in Maine, referring to the official determination by his agency.

“But it’s not?” he was asked.

“But it’s not,” he confirmed. “It may well return to part of its range.”

 

 

So we believe in change. We take a stand and believe that a) things can last, and we make it our mission to have everything part of Slow Factory have meaning, utility and come from natural fabrics and paper so that it can bio degrade not harming the planet. b) things can be made consciously and we can chose to change our behavior towards consumption and consume wisely by contributing to a network of good causes that will - at the end of the day - make a positive change in this world.

 

Join us in our efforts to preserve our planet with the WWF.

The generation that made clothes last

"People care more about trends now than they do about style. They get so wrapped up in what's happening that they forget how to dress, and they never learn who they are because they never learn how to take care of anything. So much of what my generation was taught regarding clothes was how to make them last. How to wash and care for them." – Fran Lebowitz


How the Information Age shapes Fashion

Article Céline Semaan wrote for The Document Journal

 Céline and Laeticia Semaan, Montreal in the 80's

 When I was a kid growing up in the eighties, I had no idea that my fluorescent sneakers were made by actual people. It seems obvious now: that hundreds, if not thousands, of people were involved in the research, design, development, sourcing, manufacturing, shipping, marketing, and sales of every piece of corporate consumer goods. But to me they were just a symbol of my inability to blend in to the post-industrial culture of my refugee home in Canada. They were part of the mass-produced cultural alienation of urban North America, and yet I still couldn't comprehend how or why, no matter how identical my sneakers were to those of the white kids without "funny accents", I still stood out.   As I moved around the world growing up — first back to Lebanon at 13, then to Paris at 18, then to Montreal again in my twenties, and finally New York in my late twenties — I recognized two major themes in the ways that information technology has changed the way the world operates:

  1. everything is open   “Open” is a big word with a lot of implications, but I think it’s really important. The shifts that a drive for Openness brings are incredible. Access to information is Open. Communication around the globe is Open. Knowledge is Open like it has never been before. The “sharing economy” does actually exist. Governments and institutions are specifying open licenses to data and knowledge.

  2. everything is a remix   There is no copyright in fashion. You can trademark a logo (and people do!), but the garment industry is the only major industry where intellectual property is not a driving force or central concern. More than ever before, there is a strong recognition that “new” ideas are always built on previous ones. Designers and companies must stay ahead by innovating.  

how is technology changing fashion?  

There has been another major technological revolution that, when paired with these two ideas, has the potential to create a real cultural shift. It’s about moving manufacturing away from mass-production. We see it across all industries: music, film, electronics, manufacturing. As new technologies becomes cheaper and more accessible, the act of making becomes more open and democratic — we are seeing individual craft weave its way back into the fabric of everyday life.  

Now, I wasn’t able to put all of this into words as I was growing up and watching these changes occur, but I did grow up with ideas of openness, possibility, and playfulness, which I see as the positive side of what technology can bring to fashion. We can have an idea and combine it with access to knowledge of how to make the idea a reality, access to methods of producing high-quality goods, access to ways of communicating that idea across oceans.  

This is exactly how Slow Factory started. Shortly after NASA had joined Creative Commons, an organization I was very active in, I tweeted something like “Wouldn’t it be cool to print this [Hubble] image on silk?” I got such an encouraging response, that I decided to find a way to do it. There were two very clear, very different roads ahead. Make the scarves and mass-produce as cheaply as possible, and close my eyes to the human and environmental cost; or make something meaningful and use technology to play with the boundaries of commerce and individual craft.  

This had to be based on open: using NASA's open-licensed images made sense; this had to be based onethics: fair trade and eco-friendly are not marketing afterthoughts or stunt labels; this had to be based on meaning: real care and real craft at all stages of design and production.   As Slow Factory, a sort of culmination and synthesization of my observations and experience, has taught me, the biggest cultural and technological changes of this so-called Information Age have been around the value of knowledge, and the value of goods. Céline Semaan Vernon

The Prince on Rosetta's Comet: Searching For Deeper Meaning

Inspiring awe and wonder since the dawn of history, Comets are something to be celebrated. In discovering NASA’s image of the Comet and the launch of Rosetta, one of our favorite childhood books came to mind, Le Petit Prince, which is simultaneously being launched into the public domain this spring. In the book, an aviator, downed in the desert with limited odds of survival, meets the Prince who has traveled from his solitary home on a distant asteroid,  tormented by the single rose with which he lives. Noted as a young person, not yet a man nor a boy, his central emotions of conflict—isolation, fear, and uncertainty—are alleviated only by intimate speech and love. The story, it turns out, is a fable of war that explores the deeper complexities, abstract ideas and emotions associated with the ‘strange defeat’ of France, with the experience of Vichy and the Occupation. With the launch of Rosetta (a ten year mission), NASA hopes to find a deeper meaning of space and earth by catching and exploring the Comet.

 

Existential pose, Samar Seraqui de Buttafaco, Une Libanaise à Paris.

Rosetta holds great significance, being the first spacecraft to soft-land a robot on a comet, furthermore accompanying the comet as it enters our solar system. It will observe how the comet transforms from the sun’s heat, a process that has inspired people for centuries.

Though the origins of these two stories, and landmark events, are significantly different - both in time and space - their themes are significantly parallel. As true connectivity to our inner selves and earth becomes more and more rare, we continue to search for meaning. We often look outside of ourselves to feel more grounded, when we are all searching for the same things: connection, understanding, and love- just like the Prince. We ask: Is this a story of war with ourselves?

To celebrate these themes, we’ve combined NASA’s image of the comet with Le Petit Prince to create the ‘Prince on the Comet Rosetta’ sweater. Printed in Brooklyn, New York, on 100% cotton, each collage requires 8 screens to print. This, in and of itself, serves as a significant point of our creative process. The number 8 represents perfection and infinity, further bringing to life the underlying dualities and theme of seeking deeper meaning and connection within imperfect scenarios.

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Written by Emilie Hawtin