Message from Alabama Chanin: Love Your Thread
16 Oct 2008
Designer and Alabama Chanin founder Natalie Chanin joined TCD faculty, staff and students Wednesday evening October 15 as the featured speaker for the annual TCD Convocation, held this year in the Nebraska Union. Chanin, of Florence, Alabama, shared an inspiring and sometimes poignant story of her evolution as both a designer and entrepreneur. Committed to moving the textile and apparel industry in the direction of increased sustainability, Chanin has created a successful design/build model for a community-focused artisanal business. Chanin's appearance was funded in part by a grant from the UNL Convocations Committee.
Natalie Chanin addresses the annual TCD Convocation
Chanin spoke about her circular life and career journey, one that began in Florence, Alabama, took her to New York and Vienna where she worked as a costume designer and stylist in the apparel and film industries, and, 22 years later, saw her return to her roots in Florence, first to establish Project Alabama and, six years later, her current business, Alabama Chanin. Her business model 'thinks global' but 'acts local' with the emphasis on the local economy and on creating a mutually sustainable relationship between Chanin's design, product development and marketing team and the independent contractors who manufacture, mostly by hand, the garments and home accessories that make up the company's product line.
While in the department, Chanin met with students in TXCD 225 Surface Design on Textiles, TXCD 212 Product Development I, and TXCD 403/803 Draping, answering questions, talking about her design and production methods and systems, and commenting on student work-in-progress.
Natalie Chanin discussing student work in Surface Design on Textiles
Chanin's visit also included a luncheon with members of the TCD student organization Montage in the new International Quilt Study Center building where Chanin, a quilt enthusiast whose product line has included innovatively embellished recycled quilts (featured in the June/July issue of American Craft magazine) had the opportunity to tour the facility with IQSC currator of collections Carolyn Ducey. "You're so lucky to have this here," Chanin stated, "it's an amazing facility."
The TCD Convocation, begun as TCD's Welcome Back event in 2006 when Project Runway contestant Stacey Estrella served as keynote speaker, was created as an opportunity for new and returning students to meet one another and the faculty and staff, network, enjoy food and other refreshments, and learn about TCD programs and plans. This year TCD majors Abby Gross, Melissa Purvis, Kristen Limoges, Liz Nguyen and Jessica Nathans spoke about their summer 2008 internship experiences, each illustrating her presentation with imaginatively developed PowerPoint slides. Their experiences provided invaluable insights into both the internship program and the apparel professions.
Natalie "Alabama" Chanin (center) with TCD majors Katelyn O'Brien,
Bridget Berry, Melissa Purvis and Madison Simmons.
Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design