I can totally believe it has been a year since we opened. Every day has blossomed in it's own way, teaching me so much. I must say, compared to the year before it felt like the longest year of my life. Not in a bad way at all.
Rhetorical Factory is just about the perfect place for me to create art and process all these awesome clothes. It has become so through extra efforts on top of running the store. My friend Phil Cheney has been a big part of that, helping me build the space in a way that works for it's purpose. We work a little at a time.
With the experience of the past 11 months behind RF and I, I feel sure we can top it with the next rotation! We now have a pretty great selection of ethically produced items from companies other than Rhetorical Factory. With Spring clothing just about fully stocked, I can get into some new creations and organizations....
Spring is Springing!
Even though at this moment it is cold as can be, there is no denying the direction we are headed.
For some reason Rhetorical Factory has been referred to by me as "recycled fashion" and hardly ever "upcycled fashion". In this niche industry of re purposed fashion, there is often a lack of terminology, actual words that describe what we do. It takes a conversation and lots of eye contact to turn someone on to the idea of "upcycled". I think that is why I never took on the term, because people know what recycled means and people want to recycle, right? Plus the RE goes with so much re-invent, re-imagine, rhe-torical....
Well as it turns out, I have a feeling, people don't want their fashion to be recycled, unless they already know what upcycling is. Most people, and most people don't know about upcycling, refer to recycled fashion as "consignment".
My friend Alice gifted her 12 year old niece a Rhetorical Factory bike t shirt and when she went to explain, her niece interrupted saying with a finger point "Oh I know, this is UPcycled! I love upcycling."
So why would I shun this term any longer? It obviously works!
Tell your friends about your favorite Upcycled Fashion Store: Rhetorical Factory!
Lately, I have been working on consistently perusing Instagram to find similar brands and like minded people who would be into what we do at Rhetorical Factory, and likewise inspire our perspective. What I've found is really amazing, there so many artists and entrepreneurs who care about making the world better through business. That's the dream!
The cool thing about facebook, instagram, twitter and all those modes of communication is that in the end it's real people on the other side. Sure- if you're only going for hype you can find thousands of shallow connections and fake profiles, but when you really want to be involved in a conversation it takes only a little time to get in touch with people on the same page.
So is the story with Bethany Tran from The Root Collective.
I've been looking for ethically made shoes ever since I found out how hard they are to find, and through the hashtag #ethicalfashion I landed on these awesome shoes made in Guatamala!
I had a good feeling even before talking to Bethany about selling these shoes at Rhetorical Factory, but once we started exchanging emails I was even more fired up. She cares about all the same things; bringing value to the work of artisans globally, allowing customers to connect to the difference that money can make as it changes hands.
Slowly but surely we are giving people the opportunity to invest in a better situation for people all over the world- a global economy that nourishes people with good intentions. It's better than putting money into salaries at a non profit- it puts money into the economy and makes the competition about Quality and Integrity not the Lowest Price.
and SO CUTE AND COMFORTABLE!
Try them on at Rhetorical Factory 444 Haywood Rd Asheville NC 28806
And look online too at www.therootcollective.com
Model Faye Foley is a dream- like her on Facebook
And check out our blog Next Friday about the new line for the Re Fashion Show... can't wait to show you the results of some creative work.
Before I tell you about how I feel working at Rhetorical Factory, I have to share with you a little bit of myself prior to Rhetorical Factory. I moved to Asheville 3 years ago from living only blocks away from Time Square, NY City. I have been a freelance portrait and magazine photographer for 15 years. I was hired to photograph numerous personalities, many interesting people and my work has been published in dozen of different countries. Then my daughter Lulu was born! I took a break from work to raise Lulu. Now my daughter is 9. We are in a new environment, if I decided to return to being a commercial photographer, I would have to establish myself all over again and spend a lot of time on promotion which was not my favorite. I appreciated the art of photography but deep inside I love working with my hands even more. During my years of working as a photographer, I neglected all my other interest such as drawing and painting. After a short time in Asheville, I reestablish my love for painting again and I acquire even more skills such as sewing, playing the violin, crochet collecting feathers and making them in hair accessories and the list goes on.
In the meantime, I know I need to return to work but I will not settle on any job just to pay my bills. I want a position that I can learn and grow but also allow me to be my own individual rather than a sheep and drown in boredom.
Last Christmas, I met Bethany at her old studio on Lyman st for a Holiday Cards making party. I was immediately captivated by her drive and ambitions. I said to myself that I can learn a lot from this vivacious individual. Within minutes of meeting her, I inquired if she needs a part time worker and told her that I am really good at using the X-acto knife as one of my many skills. Over a month passed, I got a email from Bethany to get together for coffee. I was running late and had to leave my house in pajamas. Turned out it was not a coffee date but a job interview. How comical and wonderful that I was hired in my pajamas.
Now I have worked at Rhetorical Factory the past 4 months. Mostly, I help Bethany in production. There is never a dull moment. I am working with my hands and learning something new everyday. Bethany always reminds me that my inputs and presence are valued. Sometimes I don’t even want to leave after my shift is over. This is indeed my perfect job, not to mention that I am big on recycling.
At Rhetorical Factory we sell Joanne's headbands and an ever-changing collection of her work!
I'm still relishing the magic of the changes that have transpired over the last fourteen days.
From a ragged shell to a beautiful shell took a year, but from a beautiful shell to a beautiful store took less than the blink of an eye!
The racks by Phil Cheney turned out just spectacular. I think they are really clean, sturdy and simple. They make the perfect foundation for the clothes to stand out. I'm SO thankful for Phil Cheney. He really helped usher in the Dream.
We had a ribbon cutting celebration on opening day, and it was remarkable. So many wonderful community members and neighbors came over to shop and celebrate with us. My Aunt Judi even made it into town for this momentous day!
I regret not having more time to invite more of our followers to that party. I know every one sees our updates in a variety of formats and I'm not sure how meticulous I was in those last days when it came to spreading the word.
But what I realized that night as I lay in bed literally laughing myself to sleep... Tomorrow we start again! And the day after that, as well as the day after that and so on. From limbo to opening to perpetual business is a catapult I can enjoy, and celebrate from 11-7 plus random bonus hours for as long as this really awesome train can keep on!
So please join us in the store. We have a lot to offer and we want to know what you want to see. Even if you're just curious or have a compelling topic of conversation to offer- come in! Ever since the construction, Rhetorical Factory has been a place to find what you didn't even know you were looking for. From new style to a new friend, we're an open ended book of question marks and exclamation points.
There are still a few minutes of Friday left to tell you about this magical time!
Quite a number of wise women have compared this time with the rebirth of Rhetorical Factory as similar to a pregnancy and child birth, and I would have to nod in agreement. There is a love and pure creative energy toward this being which has been brewing in my heart and mind!
Today we moved the studio furniture in, and it feels so right.
Phil worked on more pipe racks, which are epic and amazing. Simple, beautiful, oh my gosh.
I got some more art in that I can't wait to display, and figured out a little fung shway! Hey!
I never realized that plumbing technology was so anatomical. For that matter I never thought opening a store would take a year!
I decided to hire Michael Smith of Michael Smith Shibori to help me come up with the rack design for the store, since he has been traveling to shows and make absolutely amazing died garments for 20 years! Michael is a man of many talents, plumbing and welding being one, and he has guided myself and Phil Cheney in the ways of Pipes as Racks!
I'm really lucky, proud, and thrilled to have had so many great people's input. Mark your calender for April 29th for our Grand Opening Party and get your invitation HERE.
Working on our first ever Flagship store is such an Adventure!
Right from the beginning we knew that we only wanted to support sustainable, small, local and near contractors and artists to work on our space. This way every dollar has a fighting chance of staying in our community, and supporting like minded pursuits. It has been very rewarding to get to know every individual putting their time and skill into making the store operational and beautiful.Our most recent arts addition came from the one Ralph A. Frank Jr. in the form of a hand painted sign and windows. Ralph has been hand painting signs (the old school way) for around 40 years. He is one of the most humble and positive souls I have had the pleasure of knowing, and I'm really glad Rhetorical Factory gets to benefit from his work.
Check out some pictures I took of the time he was here working....
Thanks for Checking In, can't wait to see you This Spring!
Local woodworker Braun Meriwether has been creating for us a hand made counter for the checkout at the new store. We met at French Broad Brew Fest this fall, sitting by the campfire and talking about counter ideas and Braun’s passion for creating interesting custom pieces.
Of course the top of the counter is almost entirely what it’s all about. We wanted to use something that would have character and be line with Rhetorical Factory’s mission. Braun waited until some recycled wood was available and has recently begun. The top is made of lumber from one of the oldest barns around, it used to stand in Sandy Mush.
For the inner workings of the store, the inner workings of the counter play a big part also. We are thinking through every aspect of what this counter could be needed for, and creatively making use of the insides...
This masterpiece is going to be a wonderful centerpiece for the whole space. Beautiful and functional, with a story and lots of local love. We are so grateful for the resources and talent available!
If you are interested in hiring Braun to do some amazing custom work I would highly recommend it. Contact Us and we will pass it on!