This past September one of our founder Auralis Herrero-Lugo visited North Carolina for a week-long seminar on Crafted Production and Democratic Workplaces hosted by the Carolina Textile District. A group of manufacturing operations in the area that got together post-recession back in 2009 and decided to start helping each other survive and eventually thrive. They now host various events to teach other clusters of industries what they did and why it worked. But this story doesn’t begin here. It begins in March when Retazo started, thanks to a creative industries grant from the Department of Commerce and Export in Puerto Rico. Auralis won a $5,000 grant to start Retazo at the end of 2016. As it happens the fiscal board that took over Puerto Rico froze the grant in September, leaving our founder to figure out how to get to North Carolina and afford it all. Colonialism has a way to sneak up on you no matter what. The CTD wanted to help me and Retazo be a part of this cohort so we made a barter, her interpretation skills for the Clandestina team who was coming from Cuba in exchange for the seminars. The perks of being bilingual!
The week included tours to a range of sewing operations big and small plus the insight from the owners and workers. I had a fantastic time and learned a ton about modular small batch manufacturing, crafted production and keeping democracy alive and well in the factory floor. We had a tour of the Manufacturing Solutions Center, where I have the coolest video about making a sock!
There were a small group of other entrepreneurs with the desire to manufacture in their communities from all over, Cynthia & Odalis from Clandestina, Alia from Zayda, Kya and Brittany from Uptown Sweats, Kris from Stitch Texas, Jonathan and Lucias from Safe Passages, Betsy Cook and Sasha Hammad. It was an awesome time learning together for a week.
Also, a special shout out to Asheville food, so good, so inexpensive and well made.