Next Stop: Mars with Mae Jemison

by Summer Ash

Last Wednesday I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Mae Jemison in person as part of a celebration of National Geographic's upcoming special on Mars (part documentary, part drama). Dr. Jemison was a science advisor on the project and helped the team to accurately portray astronaut behavior in crisis as well as how the bunks of the spacecraft should be designed. And she would know, having flown on the Space Shuttle as a Mission Specialist for STS-47.  

After a panel discussion to open the day, I was fortunate enough have Dr. Jemison all to myself for almost half and hour! Knowing I would have this amazing opportunity, I came prepared thanks to Celine...

In addition to personally wearing one of Slow Factory's Women Who Inspire scarves featuring Dr. Jemison along with fellow astronaut, Jan Davis, Celine gave me the scarf of Dr. Jemison alone to present to her in person. So before my time with her was up, I showed her the full design on the scarf I was wearing and told her all about the Women Who Inspire collection. She was amazed such a thing even existed. To her surprise, I then gave her the second scarf and needless to say, she loved both. I managed to get this photo of both of us rocking our scarves in celebration of women everywhere. 

The day ended with a screening of the first episode of the MARS miniseries so clearly I had to represent the red planet with some more Slow Factory

If you don't know Dr. Jemison's work already, I highly recommend reading up on her. A former dancer, she entered college at age 16 and finished medical school by age 25. She then did a stint in the Peace Corps before going on to become the first African American women in space (such a slacker!). One of her current projects it the 100 Year Starship which aims to make interstellar travel a reality in the next 100 years by "including the broadest swath of people and human experience in understanding, shaping and implementing this global aspiration."

National Geographic's MARS airs nationwide on Monday, November 14th. You can already stream the first episode online and there are three more to come. It's a stunning mix of science and narrative jumping between the present in 2016 and the future first crewed mission to Mars in 2033. It will inspire the hell out of you. 

Summer Ash is the Director of Outreach for Columbia University’s Department of Astronomy. Having been both a rocket scientist and a radio astronomer, she’s now harnessing her powers for science communication. She is the "In-House Astrophysicist" for The Rachel Maddow Show and has written for The AtlanticScientific American, Slate, and Nautilus Magazine. She tweets as@Summer_Ash and is also one-half of Startorialist.

Filed under: astronaut astronauts awe event feminism going to space inspiration mae jemison mars national geographic nyc scarf scarves science space who wears slow factory women who inspire

Celestial Send-off

by Summer Ash

 

Yesterday morning, the European Space Agency's Rosetta Mission was given a fond farewell as it performed the final maneuver of its programmed life - a controlled descent onto the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. I'm still consoling myself on the loss by cozying up on my couch in my Le Petite Prince sweater which is one of my most treasured possession in the world.


 

Rosetta launched in 2004, but didn't fully enter our hearts and minds when it rendezvoused with its target in mid-2014 and began sending back some of the most incredible images of this strangely beautiful rocky interloper. 

Browsing through ESA's Rosetta gallery reminds me just what an amazing time we live in. Humans banded together to create the dream, the technology, and the means to not only build and launch a spacecraft to a comet, but one that could orbit it, send down a lander, and then later descend to the surface itself.

Every single image is worth contemplating in detail if you have a quite moment, but here are just a few of my favorites.

 

October 19, 2014: As Rosetta approached the comet in the summer of 2014, scientists saw the comet had a very irregular shape, instead of one lumpy body, it looked more like two stuck together. In fact, the closer Rosetta got, the increased resolution in images revealed it to be shaped like a rubber duck. This image is looking from the "head" of the duck towards the "body." (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/NavCam – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0)

 

January 22, 2015: Comet 67P from a distance of 27.9 km above the surface looking at the "neck" area of the duck. The Hathor cliffs are to the left and the Hapi region strewn with boulders are just right of center. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/Navcam – CC BY-SA IGO 3.0)

 

July 26, 2015: When Rosetta first reached Comet 67P, it was far enough away from the Sun that it wasn't yet "active". But as it continued toward the inner solar system, the Sun's heat caused the ices on the comet to warm and sublimate (go directly from solid to gas). This activity is what gives comet's their characteristic comas and tails. Comet 67P was too small to produce a large observable tail in the popular sense, but Rosetta go a great look at its many outgassing events. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

 

September 30, 2016: Rosetta took a few last photos during its final approach. This is from roughly 16 km above the surface, captured overnight (at least for this New Yorker). (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

 

September 30, 2016: A collage of images of Rosetta's targeting landing site as it continued to descend. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

 

September 30, 2016: Rosetta's final photograph. Scientists estimate this is approximately 20 meters above the surface. (Credit: ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA)

There's a sign at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory that reads "Dare Mighty Things". I always think of that when celebrating amazing feats like Rosetta. Go big or go home. Rosetta went big and now its at rest in its new home, riding through the Solar System on what is probably the best roller coaster ever.

Summer Ash is the Director of Outreach for Columbia University’s Department of Astronomy. Having been both a rocket scientist and a radio astronomer, she’s now harnessing her powers for science communication. She is the "In-House Astrophysicist" for The Rachel Maddow Show and has written for The AtlanticScientific American, Slate, and Nautilus Magazine. She tweets as @Summer_Ash and is also one-half of Startorialist.

 

Filed under: astronomy clothes comet cosmos exploration little prince petit atlas petit prince rosetta comet rosetta landing science science life space universe

Women who Inspire

by Celine Semaan Vernon

Women Who Inspire

SLOW FACTORY FW2016

A collection celebrating women


Slow Factory’s Fall 2016 Collection is inspired by all the women behind great scientific progress. Growing up, girls are not exposed enough to female role models in fact, in 2016 a survey asked children to draw draw a firefighter, a surgeon, and a fighter pilot to which the students drew 66 pictures in total -- but only five of them depict women. Inspired by the movie Hidden Figures about the life of Katherine Johnson, Slow Factory created 8 scarves, each celebrating a woman who inspires in her own right:


Here are the 8 women we printed for Fall 2016

  • Katherine Johnson, American physicist, space scientist, and mathematician.
  • Amelia Earhart, American aviation pioneer and author.
  • Kathryn D. Sullivan, American geologist and a former NASA astronaut. A crew member on three Space Shuttle missions, she is the first American woman to walk in space.
  • Mae Jemison, American physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first African-American woman to travel in space.
  • Margaret Hamilton, Director of the Software Engineering Division[2] of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, which developed on-board flight software for the Apollo space program.
  • Nancy Roman, American astronomer who was one of the first female executives at NASA.
  • Christa McAuliffe, American astronaut, one of the seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
  • Jan Davis & Mae Jemison, Astronauts Dr. N. Jan Davis (left) and Dr. Mae C. Jemison (right) were mission specialists on board the STS-47 mission.

The collection will be modelled and broadcasted on our Instagram stories, on Friday September 23rd at 10AM EST by the amazing women and friends who inspire millions:

  • Miki Agrawal, Co-Founder of Thinx Underwear, Patriarchal Proof Underwear
  • Piera Gilardi, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Refinery 29
  • Alaa Murabit, UN commissioner Women's Health & Sustainability
  • Anastasia Genicoff: Black Lives Matter Advocate and Model
  • Celine Semaan Vernon, Creative Director & Founder Slow Factory and Activist

Filed under: fashion activism women who inspire

Progress on our documentary

by Celine Semaan Vernon

(Still from our documentary, Are We There Yet, shot in the Lebanese refugee camps to document our work with our give back partners the American Near East Refugee Aid - ANERA.org thanks to the flash grant we receive as part of the Shuttleworth Foundation). The documentary is being edited as we speak in Beirut, Lebanon and we are so excited to be sharing our work with you all soon!

Filed under: fashion activism we are home

Will Wholesale be a part of the Future of Fashion?

by Celine Semaan Vernon

(Originally written on Medium)

The wholesale model of fashion sales and distribution is crumbling. For larger brands, full vertical integration is the way to make brick-and-mortar stores work (think Uniqlo, Zara/Mango etc), while for smaller or newer labels, thin margins are pushing many brands to go online-only and often aggressively push new types of marketing or business models (eg. Everlane, Warby Parker).

Slow Factory has been making NASA print silk scarves and other accessories and apparel for 4 years now, with a mix of wholesale and online direct to consumer sales.

We will now be stopping all wholesale for a number of reasons, and want to be vocal and clear about why.

Pricing is of course a consideration, but perhaps surprisingly not the main one. When you sell to stores or distributors, you essentially sell at half the price that you would sell directly to a person. This is due to ‘markup’ and the overhead of “middlemen”, and is a big part of what makes consumer goods cost so many times more than it takes to produce them. Payment schedules also mean that small designers have to pay up front to produce goods, then wait many months to get paid back which can be hard for small businesses. But all this financial stuff has known solutions.

The main reasons Slow Factory is going to sell online-only are about our philosophy of sustainability, and working against the disposable concept of fashion.

Selling through stores and distributors tends to perpetuate things that Slow Factory is actively fighting against. A really big gain we get from staying online only is to set our own timeline, to avoid the Fashion Calendar.

The Fashion Calendar

The fashion calendar encourages a few really bad behaviours:

  1. It pushes the idea of constant change, “planned obsolescence” and literal disposability of clothing and accessories. The constant over-consumerism mindset.
  2. At the height of “fresh” clothes, prices need to be very high to absorb all the costs of middlemen. Pricing is also set knowing that stores give deep discounts as things go off-season, a phenomenon which encourages distrust between brands and consumers. If we see a major pendulum swing from high prices to massive discounts, buyers feel that “only suckers pay full price”, and don’t trust the value and cost of goods produced with more ethical practices.
  3. Cheap materials and production: there are clear environmental costs of using cheap materials and production methods; notwithstanding the very expensive Green Washing Marketing campaigns from H&M to Uniqlo, Fast Fashion is still the second most polluting industry right after Big Oil.
  4. Cheap production through cheap labour: let’s not forget about the very real human costs of using exploitative labour practices; sweatshop and industrial labour in the “developing” world are still major issues, often hitting women the hardest.
When advocating for a slow fashion movement and more sustainable industry one has to walk the talk and stand with integrity with their vision. For our 2017 plan we will be revisiting or pricing structure, removing the wholesale markup we will be offering our customers our wholesale prices directly online.

 

We are putting in place a closing the loop model to collect damaged scarves and offer a discount to customers who chose to become a member of that program. We will be moving slowly into apparel with a few selections for the spring and the fall of 2017.

We are excited for what’s coming, always looking forward and grounded in the vision that slow and steady wins the race, we are in this for centuries to come and our fashion house will continue to create meaningful pieces, collectable items that are made to last.

If you want to learn more about sustainable fashion, tune in to our podcast: weareslow.co. To join the movement, sign up at slowfactory.com/signup.

Filed under: fashion activism

Slow Fashion (podcast)

by Celine Semaan Vernon

Tune in to this month's WEAReSLOW podcast!



This episode features 2 special guests:

Cady Lang works at Time’s Newsfeed vertical, where she covers pop culture, focusing on topics ranging from fashion to music. Her first love was and always will be fashion, which is where she got her start in journalism, working at outlets such as Vogue Runway and Stylecaster. Read her interview with Naomi Campbell and Edward Enninful, and her piece on the style of the 2016 NBA draft as part of her ongoing interest in fashion as a larger extension of culture.

Tessa Crissman is a handmaker and entrepreneur based in Denver, Colorado. She makes hammered wire jewelry and knitted and crochet wearables for summer and winter which you can buy online at her Etsy store Wool and Hammer. She also works as a craft party host at Wool and The Gang, which focuses on making high fashion knitwear sustainable and affordable. Shop Wool and Hammer


Filed under: fashion activism podcast

THINX x SLOW FACTORY

by Celine Semaan Vernon

Two of your favorite conscious companies — THINX & Slow Factory have partnered together for a hyper-limited edition collaboration called Distrupting Spaces, a celebration of menstruation's ties to the moon. Slow Factory created a custom full moon print that sits on the front of THINX's Hiphugger (two tampons worth) & Cheeky (one tampon's worth) styles. The synergy between brands is cosmic — with THINX's sustainable period underwear leading the pack on eliminating pad & tampon waste, & Slow Factory's commitment to a supply chain that's 100% clean and fair trade. Both brands are also deeply entrenched in their respective giveback missions — THINX partners with AFRIPads, an on-the-ground organization in Uganda that provides reusable menstrual kits to girls in Uganda, and Slow Factory supports various environmental and humanitarian causes.


 

& $40 for the Hiphugger

Filed under: fashion activism slow saturdays universe

My Journey From Middle East Refugee To Fashion Designer

by Celine Semaan Vernon

I wrote my very first personal essay on Refinery 29. Would love your feedback! 

This is the picture of our refugee status back in the 80's when we escaped Lebanon's civil war. It is among the few pictures from my past that we managed to save. Notice how my mom looks amazing while probably inside her is a tornado of feelings.

My earliest memory is fleeing war-torn Lebanon when I was three and a half years old. My father had safely made it abroad and was waiting for my mother, my younger sister, and me to join him, holding on to hope that he’d see his family once again. As we said our good-byes, I remember the wet kisses from our relatives; I remember the sobs and the tearful wishes for our uncertain future. We were leaving our homeland as refugees, hoping to re-establish the meaning of “home” somewhere safe.

Read full article on Refinery 29 here "My Journey From Middle East Refugee To Fashion Designer".

Filed under: dear diary fashion activism

Hello Goodbye

by Celine Semaan Vernon

"I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello
Hello hello"

 

The time comes in every company when great employees need to go their own way and experience new things. I find it bitter sweet and am trying not to be too sad to see our lovely Amina go! But at the same time I am so so proud of her and know she will impress and delight her new company. 

So I'll take advantage of this happy and sad post to send a message out there into the universe that we are looking for someone to take over her position.

...

Slow Factory is looking for an HQ Manager

Qualities we are looking for:

- Good communication skills

- Enthousiast

- Optimist

- Resourceful

- Organized

- Meticulous

- Creative

- Honest

- Reliable

- Punctual

Job description:

You would be fulfilling orders, taking care of customer service as well as occasionally helping us with social media, photography, blog posts and other social media posts, designing random cool things. If you love snap chat? You're in for a lot of fun!

Hit me up if you are interested!

 

Filed under: dear diary