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!
Musician (and eco-warrior) Jack Johnson had a whole heap of misprinted, mis-sized, and otherwise unsellable t-shirts. Jack Johnson also needed over a dozen large tablecloths. Then, because the world works in mysterious and beautiful ways, Bethany and the rest of us at Rhetorical Factory ended up with two giant boxes of Jack Johnson tour t-shirts, and have been tasked with making them into fifteen fitted tablecloths.
Fitted tablecloths, incidentally, are not like fitted sheets- an assumption that turned out to be quite incorrect. They are much larger, spanning not only the width and length of an eight foot folding table, but also the height turning this project into A BIG PROJECT.
A BIG EXCITING PROJECT!
Jack Johnson's ethos consists of a lot of efforts geared toward everything from tour greening to non-profit partners like All At Once, community groups and charitable foundations like Plastic Ocean Project, Inc and his own The Johnson Ohana Charitable Foundation. With large practices in place that support sustainability like eliminating the use of single-use plastics and powering much of his touring entourage with biodiesal, down to small measures like encouraging carpooling to shows and providing eco-friendly concert merch, the Jack Johnson team vision really hits home for us here at Rhetorical Factory.
So in an effort to help out a new friend, we're busting out some upcycled (our speciatly!) tablecloths in the studio. Cutting, fitting, sewing, ironing, more fitting and sewing, late nights, early mornings, the help and support of some good friends, and several learning experiences along the way, we're nearly there...
We're on a mission to be 100% Good, and it feels great to help out some others with the same vision along the way...
For more information on Jack Johnson's sustainability supporting practices, visit the tour greening section of his website.
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.
I have so much respect and gratitude for my friend Phil Cheney
Phil recognized this vision and hung in there throughout it's fruition, making a huge difference with not only a ton of work but constant encouragement.
It was hard to be patient with myself over the last year, and difficult to always keep my head up looking forward to what would come of all the distracting strife with simple permits, but he was there to remind me how great it would be. He was so right. Having a person be so dedicated while really expecting nothing but to be involved, showed me time and time again that this thing is real. If someone like Phil Cheney is inspired, you know it's got to at least have potential!
Phil's art is for sale here at Rhetorical Factory. It is the only gallery besides his studio that can boast a collection of any kind. I hope you'll consider supporting this man and his carefully honed art form. His use of color will transform your home and probably your life.
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.
Each screen print has a story behind it. I actually take a photograph of the object I want to represent, and I require that it have sentimental value. The theme for the prints has been "simple mechanics", tools objects and concepts that are essential to our culture and civilization.
The Mason Jar has got to be one of the most simple illustrations of this.
The way jars found their way into my heart was through their usability. As a broke artist food was something I never wanted to waste, and I didn't have the interest in buying fancy dishware, so I saved all my salsa and jelly jars and used them over and over again to carry water. The Ball Mason jar is the most beautiful illustration of this concept which to me symbolizes preservation and survival.
In Appalachia the mason jar carries a particularly symbolic weight for moonshiners and canners alike. It has been said that the mason jar could be at least partially accredited with the survival of the mountain folks. A simple honest invention we can no longer live without.
Look at all of our Mason Jar Prints using the filters on the left, Click Here!
It's no secret that construction can be seriously difficult to get started, keep going, do right, and finish. When you start out for the permits all excited about the addition to your house, or the finishing touches on your new business, you walk into the permitting office all aglow, greeted by a room full of gloomily patient people once just like you. Tell says that Asheville is a particularly difficult place to get a permit. In some ways that could be in our favor, as long as it's not that way because of corruption. You know, keep things moving slow and keep rapid corporate growth at bay.
I was once under the assumption that everything can be broken down into parts. That once you set your mind to something, you make a plan of how to go about it and you get it done. Tools like Google and the experience of others make this world somewhat navigable for me. I found out that I am right about that, but wrong about a lot. Just because something is simple, or could be simple, doesn't mean it is going to be. Coming from school where questions are encouraged and often answered with sound information leads to the mindset that information is free for everyone. It's not. When it comes to navigating bureaucracy, which is what must happen to actualize an experience that involves a community, we are crushed. We have the rug pulled from beneath us in favor of those who know the way. Anyone outside the system stays outside the system. There is a whole culture of body language, casual and formal requests, the proper placement of forgiveness and permission, not to mention technical jargon. There is a precise order of steps to take and backs to scratch in order to make it through that ringer that is our System.
My pointing this out is not meant as a complaint. Luckily I have hind sight at this point in the particular construction project I am in, that means we got it done to a large degree. I can now look back and see my old struggles, see the questions all around me that I didn't know to ask, until I did. Like trial and error for over three months I tried to reason my way through, until finally I had asked enough questions about all sorts of things for someone to tell me I needed a Commercially Licensed General Contractor to do it for me. Good bye DIY! Once I hired my own good old boy to do it for me, I started to get somewhere. We re did everything I had done, this time along with an hourly rate. I really appreciate the contractor I finally found, he is honest and straightforward, he talks to me with respect and gets his own hands dirty on the job site. But should I really need to hire someone to navigate for me?
There was no reason I couldn't have run the errands myself, accept that I haven't done it before. So if we just keep out everyone that hasn't done it before, then the system will keep working in a way that benefits the system. Ultimately it will be opposed to change because there won't be new eyes on it. Ultimately stagnation like this leads to corruption, because why not? This is the definition of discrimination, this is where the term "good old boys" comes from, this is the barricade on the lower class. All it takes to keep the door locked is for the information to be handed only to those who know the right questions and have been there before, introduced by a qualified member. Those who know how to work here are taught directly and socialized to know. They are lavished tonka trucks and coached not to cry. They are on the sports teams and lead the business clubs. They are taken seriously. They shake hands with the leaders before them, who approve of their likeness and only their likeness as plausible replacements. They are white men.
Is it their fault? No. It's like the coffee grits settling to the bottom of the cup. The power must settle somewhere. It takes stirring to maintain diversity; we have to go out of our way to redistribute the knowledge of how to build this world if we want it to reflect the priorities of the masses. Men, women, children, and minorities alike.
Thanks for reading, please comment!