Birthday + The Future of Herron Clothier.

Happy birthday to Herron Clothier! It has been 2 years since Herron first began in a tiny attic in Chicago and 1 year since officially opening for business. A culmination of many things have brought it to where it is today; a decade worth of experimenting with various aesthetics and art forms, a deeply rooted devotion to fiber studies, a desire to teach and share with my community, and an unending quest to reduce my carbon footprint and produce a beautiful utilitarian object in the most honest way possible. I have been deeply inspired by Jane Addams and Hull house, the writings of Jane Jacobs, the work of Judy Wicks, Natalie Chanin and The Bauhaus. Herron Clothier was born out of these and it could not be what it is today without these experiences, inspirations and the support of my community and incredible, gracious, flexible and encouraging partner Two & Two More.

Ortega, Handwoven scarf, organic cotton, 25" x 25" available in September through Herron Clothier

Embarking on another year, I have lofty goals and a vision for what is to come. As I prepare to introduce Herron Clothier's Fall 2013 collection of limited-edition handwoven goods, I want to preface by noting that these pieces have been made using 70% organic, locally sourced, small farm fibers. For this I am proud but not satisfied. This Fall I will be spending a lot of time incubating plans and taking steps to raise funds to create new handwoven products that will be 100% regionally sourced and ethically produced using the Fibershed model of operation for my company. Part of this mission will also include the development of SKILL SHARE, Herron Clothier's urban outreach weaving program that aims to educate and invigorate under served communities through weaving and craft. As many well know, the textile industry was once a thriving part of our American heritage. Today, most of our textiles and clothing are produced overseas often times in unethical, non environmental conditions. I believe that weaving, textile production and milling in the US is a skeleton of an industry that is worth saving.

Goats at Mountain Farm in North Carolina whose fur created the wool I used in the A Mano Gris pillows coming to my shop in September 2013.

 That's me, hand dying my Mountain farm Angora wool to weave for this collection.

Inspired by Rebecca Burgess's Fibershed Project that began in California in 2011, Herron Clothier hopes to begin making steps to establish a Fibershed in the Midwest by becoming a Fibershed affiliated business in 2014. At the forefront of this mission is connecting fiber farmers, dye plant growers, weavers, spinners, knitters and seamstresses of all kinds to create an ethical and sustainable textile industry by region. Herron Clothier uses cotton and wool to produce our handwoven goods. As we move toward being a 100% Green business, this will mean finding cotton mills and fiber farms in the Midwest that produce the types of wools and dyes we need to make our products.
Here are some of the key factors in the Fibershed model:
  • Your resource base is defined by a clearly understood geography (it could be small or large; 20 miles or 300 miles)
  • All the fibers and dyes used in your goods are grown in this region
  • All the labor to create your goods is sourced in this region 
Like slow food, this model is slow fiber. And like the process of weaving itself, Herron Clothier's new additions will not happen in an instant, but rather slowly and steadily overtime. However the result of their cultivation will be a thriving local living economy,  job creation, a reduction of our carbon footprint and the establishment of an important agricultural and skilled trade industry by region.

Herron Clothier is a small business that dreams very big. As I work toward these big goals, I will be posting and discussing more about them here, on social media and within my local community. If you are within 300 miles of Chicago, IL and are a fiber farmer or mill interested in helping me establish a Fibershed in the Midwest or working as a supplier with Herron Clothier, please send me an email through the contact form on the Herron Clothier website. If you are a school or community organization, women's shelter etc... that would like to Herron Clothier to teach a weaving workshop please also get in touch using the same contact form on the Herron Clothier website.

Lastly, here are a few resources and inspirational websites:

How to start a Fibershed
American Craft/Fiber Shed
Judy Wicks
Alabama Chanin

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