July 1, 2020
I have been feeling overwhelmed lately. We have so many things to make us feel powerless and out of control of our fate lately. I took a few days to step away from the store and the website thanks to my wonderful staff. My goal was to clean up my studio and get some projects done, but the cleanup still hasn’t happened. However, several other things happened.
My daughter and I finally took that hike we have been talking about since last August. We were able to walk through the forest and up a mountain enjoying the sites, the weather, and each other. This hike gave me an opportunity to step back and reevaluate my current situation.
Crossing a stream on the way up.
Enjoying the view.
I came to realize that I was stressing myself over so many things that are beyond my control. Instead of spending precious time worrying over things I cannot change or have little impact on, I have decided to work even harder on those things that I can control and look for more ways to effect change in my own small world.
Esther’s is a small but mighty business. With the hard work of its past 7 women owners and my recent takeover, this business has survived for over 60 years. Esther’s staff and I are working hard as a team to ensure that the store survives these current challenges. I believe that what makes us unique is our commitment to customer service, to providing high quality products, and our support of other small businesses locally and across the globe.
We strive to support small businesses that bring high quality products that we love. One example is Cloud9 Fabrics. This business was started in 2009 by Michelle Engel Bencsko and Gina Pantastico. These women left jobs in large textile companies to begin a business that works closely with mills to ensure they are run in an ethical manner with respect for their employees. Cloud9 buys organic cotton fabrics and then dyes and prints them with low impact dyes. Their fabrics are certified, so if you ever want to know more about the fabrics that we carry, just ask. Many of our suppliers can give us certification papers or impact information. Gina and Michelle work hard to produce a high quality product that is affordable. We will be getting new knits from them this week, along with some additional bark cloth. We are also looking forward to receiving a large shipment of organic cotton flannel from them in July or August. We love their solids so much that we carry their entire line of Cirrus Solids which are cross weaves of yarn dyed organic cotton. These fabrics work well in garments as well as in quilts. These fabrics give a quilt just a hint of texture, and the cross weaves blend well even it is it is not an exact color match to your other fabrics. If you would like to hear more about how Gina and Michelle started their company then listening to this podcast from the Craft Industry Alliance is a great way to start…
As I learn more about the environmental impact of various fabrics on the environment, we will phase out those fabrics that have a large detrimental effect on the environment. For example, we no longer carry acrylic fleece. Only a portion of the micro plastics that come off in the wash get filtered out in the water plants, and the remainder flow into our rivers, sounds, bays and oceans. These micro plastics then end up in the sea life causing them harm and also harm to us through eating seafood. These resultswere found by Patagonia funded research project which looked at the impact of fleece on the environment. Additionally, a European Commission policy reportfound acrylic to be one of the most toxic fabrics to produce in the world.
We also work with small companies who produce fair trade goods that support living wages for makers. One example is a company called Indigo Handloom. The founder Smita Paul started as a journalist, but decided that although writing about the death of a small weaving village was important, she felt she could do more good by starting a company that could import these fabrics to the US. Through her company and the sale of these fabrics, she is able to help this village by supporting their traditional way of life. These fabrics are woven on handlooms that have been used for generations, so buying these fabrics support the continuation of this art form and enable them to support their families. The fabrics from Indigo Handloom are organic, they are woven without the use of electricity, and the workers are paid fairly for their labor without the use of child labor. These fabrics are beautiful, soft and a joy to wear see the stripe and the check. We have smaller cuts in the store, but here is the link to two of the fabrics online. Enjoy this beautiful small film about the weavers.
As much as possible, we test and use the products we sell. If we find that they do not live up to our high quality standards, then we will no longer stock those products and look for alternatives.
Finally, one of the things that I think Esther’s does best is personal service. If you want to wander through the store, we are happy to let you wander to your heart’s content. But if you need help, just ask. We love to help you locate a fabric, find something that will match, or even figure out how to fix that favorite jacket or shirt, or help you plan out your next quilt. Or, if you only want to wander in to see what’s new and get inspiration, we love that too.
We are a part of Bainbridge. Thank you for helping us remain that way. I and all the staff at the store love being back where we belong.