A New York State of Mind

This past Tuesday was my day off and I woke up at 4AM. By 7AM I was on the Bolt Bus to New York in search of imported African fabrics to use in our first Threads by Nomad collection. I had an address and a vague idea of what I was to look for, but having never done anything like this before nerves got the best of me.

Dressed in casual wide-leg slacks and a distressed sweatshirt, I found it difficult to dress for both 10 hours spent on a bus and a (fashion) business venture. It turns out that the fabric side of fashion is gritty and completely unglamorous, and no one could have cared less what I looked like. I’m glad I opted for comfort!

The bus ride, while long, went by speedily. I was very productive–I wrote six blog posts for various outlets and caught up on emails, but next time I will pack an extra pair of socks. I froze!

The bus dropped me off on 33rd Street between 11th and 12th Avenues. I only had a mile to walk to get to the Garment District, and luckily the weather was perfect.

I saw overly eager mannequins in wigs, and accidentally walked between two women hurling profanities at each other over what appeared to be cup of coffee and a mediocre pastry. I went to six public places before I found a public restroom, and decided I need a hit of caffeine and confidence before my appointment.

The scene inside the building was one that is somewhat familiar to me from my many buying trips (I am also a buyer for a small boutique): a narrow building with a tiny front desk where you check in, a rickety elevator that makes you fear for your life, a long white hallway with showrooms behind every closed door, not a person in sight. The textiles showroom was at the very end of the hallway, and upon entry, my first thought was: I was meant to do this.

I sensed a surreal calm and was comforted instantly by the knowledge that I actually amgood at this. I don’t say this with pride. In fact, there are very few things that I am truly good at. I am terrible at all things science and math. I am not athletic. I can be a pretty lame friend, daughter, sister, wife with a penchant for selfish reasoning. I don’t think I manage people well and am terrible at hearing or giving constructive criticism. You see, there are many things I do not do well. But I know colors. I know clothes. I know fabric. I know design, aesthetic, form. I knew what to do in that showroom–instinctively. And that was an incredible feeling.

I will admit to being a touch overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of options and apparent lack of organization. But mostly, I was just excited and eager to begin considering palettes and prints. I especially loved the mud cloth prints below (in addition to a navy and white one not pictured) and am thinking of using them in panels on some of our outerwear, which will not only look cool but also save on cost seeing as the mud cloth is more expensive. There were wax prints in abundance, and I spent some time piecing together prints that would work well together in a single collection. I still have more work to do on this.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Ibrahim. He moved to New York from Dakar, Senegal just a few weeks ago and just started working at the showroom. His family is in Paris and Dakar and he is still very much adjusting to his new surroundings. His spirits were high though and he was so helpful! I am looking forward to working with him again.

My appointment was followed by a late lunch, a little more writing, and the walk back to the bus stop. The next steps include speaking with our tailor, nailing down what types of fabrics we want for each piece, and how much we will need (and how much we can afford which is still just a shot in the dark at this point). Once that is done, I will return to New York to actually make our fabric purchases. This is getting real, folks! Until next time, NYC!

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