I designed my logo over 3 years ago, inspired by a shibori design that came out of the vat.
What an exciting journey these last 3 years! I've met so many amazing customers, students and artisans along the way. My product line and color palette has changed so much in this time. When I look back on my Instagram feed, I get all kinda misty eyed thinking about all the successes, painful failures and decisions made along the way. There were a lot of firsts for me and a few lasts hahaha. My next new horizon is Patreon and if you’re a patron
, you already know where I’m headed and what my new adventures entail. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
My first photoshoot, June 2018. Photo: Andrea Plell
Back in 2014 I was thinking about what could be next for me. I was working in Men’s Design at Levi Strauss. We were indigo dyeing and making concept samples for the collections. Sustainability in fashion was in the news for a few years but customers weren’t paying attention to these issues as they are now.
I loved the process of shibori and the idea that you could upcycle your entire wardrobe if you wanted to with indigo. The more I got into it, all I could see was shibori patterns in the world and indigo in the night skies. I was obsessed. I started making products like pillows, napkins and scarves as gifts. Before I knew it I was getting into shows and selling my goods. So I decided I should create a company name and design a logo to give this collection an identity. That's when I came up with the name Modern Shibori.
I was thrilled yet totally exhausted working full-time and weekends. In 2016 I quit my job. It was one of the scariest but most rewarding things I’ve ever done except maybe when I moved to New York. I had a hard time adjusting to working at home alone for about 9 months. I still had a commute habit so I’d walk with my husband up to BART on Monday mornings, get coffee then turnaround and go home. Now I’ve gotten used to my work days at home, but I still Iike to walk up to BART with him sometimes.
I made a ton of pillows for my first few shows.
While I was trying to find my voice with my natural plant dyed collection, I made flat things like pillows, scarves and table runners. I was using walnut, indigo and avocado to create the line. I didn’t want to do apparel because I didn’t want to carry a lot of inventory. But eventually, I did a couple of organic linen dresses and smocks and those sold out at my shows! Realizing I had a hit on my hands, I found myself back to designing apparel.
Customer in St. Paul wearing Modern Shibori
I found that customers love my edited color palette and I’m enjoying challenging them to introduce a new color and/or silhouette to their closet. It’s validating to explain where the dyes, fabrics and silhouette come from, see them
light up and buy a garment from me. Moments like this make it all worth it when I’m at home up to my elbows in indigo dye.
A student at Handcraft Studio School, Emeryville, CA. Photo by Emma Fineman.
I also started teaching shibori on my weekends and really enjoyed it. Now I’ve taught shibori workshops to over 100 students in 6 different locations throughout the Bay Area and Sonoma County. Handcraft Studio School in Emeryville and later El Cerrito helped me get my start. I've also taught at the Asian Art Museum and at my backyard studio. I've enjoyed leading corporate teambuilding events for Levi's, Shutterfly and Genentech. No matter where I am, it's rewarding to see amazement and wonder on my students' faces as they pull their creations out of the vat.
Fun shibori retreat group at Johnson's Beach, July 2016.
For about 3 seasons I led Shibori weekend retreats at Johnson's Beach in Guerneville. I absolutely loved the outdoor setting by the river. It was so liberating! We were overcome by the beauty of all this indigo shibori hanging in the shade of the century old Black Oak trees.
Linen smocks with sashiko embroidery details 2018.
So what’s next for me in the world of plant dyes and organic clothing? I’m a workaholic and a big dreamer so I’m thinking big. I’m on the verge of launching my next eco-fashion adventures. My workshops and products won’t go away, in fact, my business will be enhanced by travel, textile-related travel! I’m so excited about this. My patrons and their collective help will allow me to document my trips. In return I’ll make things for them while visiting an Indigo Dyer in Japan, for example. I’m so excited about this.
I think about my journey up to this point. Along the way, I’ve met so many textile collectors, hobbyists and artisans who’ve inspired me. New sights, scents, workshops and cultures from textile travel will bump my artistry and talent to a new level. I’ll still post my musings and inspirations on Instagram but my raw, uncurated photos, unfiltered thoughts and emotions will be on Patreon. Check out what I’m doing there
. Maybe you’ll be my next patron.
Thanks so much for reading this far. It’s been cathartic to take a look back these last 3 years. I’m beyond excited for the journey ahead!