Sunday, May 10, 2015

About the Spring Artisanal Speakeasy... where do I begin? (Part 1)

One of my favorite movies is "Phenomenon", which, on its face, seems like a lighthearted tale of an unusual encounter that happens to ordinary man in an ordinary town. But, hidden in this movie, are some really profound mini-stories that have made a deep impression on me, that I just can't shake.  Why do I even bring this up when describing the recent Speakeasy?

There is one important scene in the movie that beautifully conveys the power of community and collaboration.  In the scene, one of the characters is frustrated by the presence of rabbits in his garden, and needs his fence fixed.  The innovative solution he proposes, is that three different people with unique expertise to one another in different areas, offer their services to each other, helping each other in a triangular way, thus each person's practical challenge is fixed.  This kind of thinking knocks down the obstacles, and opens things up in a new way.

When it comes to creative pursuits, the value of this kind of thinking increases exponentially.  Our intimate group was inspired and excited by the experience of this two-day creative journey, and I am certain that we were ALL (myself included) profoundly enriched by it.

Did we learn?  Yes, we did.  The generosity of the garment district professionals who educated our group was just fantastic. I am actually struggling to convey in words how educational and enriching our private meetings were, but I will try.

Now, there are things I can tell you about this trip, and things I can't.  The ones I can't, were specifically because they were dependent upon relationships I have with specific people, and opportunities for a private audience I was able to negotiate on our behalf, but are not generally available to the wider public.

On Friday we got an early start, visiting an old, established business in a spruced-up, new location.  From there, we went to a private appointment with a wonderful, old, garment industry business, who showed us examples of beautiful, highly mathematic, intricate work.  Then, our genius of a host for that business revealed some wildly creative and beautiful applications of that work that would make anyone swoon. We fell in love with machinery, garments we saw being designed, some completed garments and accessories, and we gained a deep appreciation for the work and engineering involved, and then we learned how to use the services of this business in our own creative pursuits.

Then we visited another great, established/historic garment district business, where we saw the process of fabric manipulation, equipment and the fine, dextrous handling that goes into creating the amazing things that company produces.  And the conversation grew much bigger than that, too.  Industry challenges and changes, meeting consumer demand and new ways of using their products, changes in the district itself, real estate, fabrics and experiments - so much fun, and so much food for thought!

Then we had an appointment with another company who does beautiful work in a very specific and sophisticated way, placing a person with a vision in a position, where even a one-off can be created with professional quality you wouldn't have known was possible!

Based on the group's specific interests, we visited that fabric stores that served what we had seen, what I already knew about our group, the other places we visited, the educational value of the stores and their unique offerings, historical significance, and things group members wanted to explore specifically.

Which stores?  B&J, Elliott Berman, Pacific Trimming, NY Elegant, Rosen & Chadick, C&J, Manhattan Wardrobe Supply, and Sposabella Lace were our spots for what we sought.

On Saturday (yesterday), we went to the Art and Design Exhibition at FIT (separate post on the exhibit to follow), coupled with a special FIT library visit, that went slightly wrong at first, but was beautifully rescued by fabulous friend and touring parter, Cindy Chock! We were eventually able to see some pretty breathtaking stuff!

The big takeaway: There is always SO much more to learn. And, what a thrill to get a glimpse of just how vast the creative horizon is.

What would I do differently next time? First off, I think I would schedule in a coffee break or two. We simply committed to exploring 'til failure, so we had two long, full days. Wow, were we tired! (I'm just recovering right now! - 10AM Sunday) But, in the best way.

Happily, there remains significantly more to show/more people to talk to than what we saw, so I see that I can do several equally valuable versions of this tour, if demand will meet it!

Taking the temperature of the group based on what we'd seen and talked about, significantly increases the value of the shopping portion of the trip. Knowing what the group will appreciate, and taking them to the places that will serve them well (in the right order to serve their creative appetites), really proved to be a great way to shop. 

And... we ate SO well!  We had great meals, and we NEEDED them, after so much walking!

Will there be another artisanal speakeasy?  Yes, there will be.  Planning begins now. I will keep them intimate, as that seems ideal, and what the market will bear, too, apparently.

*This is the first of a few posts inspired by this tour.

A 3-D printer.  An example of innovative uses of technology in the world of design.  Seen at the FIT exhibit (downstairs)

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At May 14, 2015 at 3:11 PM , Blogger Claire R said...

Here's an unsolicited testimonial: The Spring Artisanal Speakeasy was a total blast!! My Fitbit recorded a little more than five miles of walking each day, so a coffee break or two would be a good idea. Even though it would be hard to convince me to stop and take a breath because it was all so thrilling, interesting, and fun!
Thanks Mimi for a really fun trip to the Garment District!



At May 14, 2015 at 3:40 PM , Blogger mimi jackson said...

Thank you, Claire! It was a blast leading you!


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