I picked up the TIME magazine pictured above at an airport kiosk some time ago.  While traveling that day, I lingered over this inspiring—and disturbing—story about Kym Worthy. It is true that some leaders find their calling early and some crusaders know their mission almost from birth. Others come to leadership by accident or they pick up the mantle of responsibility simply because no one else will. Perhaps Kym Worthy falls more into the latter group, but she is no less driven because of it. In fact, she is an example of how one person can have a massive impact on the life of another person, a community, and a national conversation.

In 2009, Detroit Assistant Prosecutor Robert Spada discovered over 11,000 unprocessed rape kits in an abandoned Detroit police warehouse. As Michigan’s Wayne County prosecutor, Kym Worthy couldn’t help but be shocked by this discovery. As she told Katie Couric, “These [rape kits] were women’s lives. They go through this examination thinking that this evidence was going to help find their perpetrator. And it’s sitting on a shelf, gathering dust. And this was their life—and nobody cared.”

Since that discovery, Worthy—herself a survivor of rape—has made national headlines for her work, bringing attention to the nationwide backlog of untested rape kits. She has worked at the local and national level to fight for funding to have the kits tested, eventually receiving a $1 million federal grant to begin testing Detroit’s massive backlog.  Worthy said that she and her team had to literally dust off the kits, physically open and inventory each one to collect victim information. The statute of limitations on many of the cases had long since passed. Still, Worthy’s team manually cross-referenced the kits with police reports and incomplete investigations. DNA evidence is only one component of any case—and each of these cases had to be re-established and reinvestigated (or, sadly, investigated for the first time).


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THE FACTORY | THIS WEEK 9.29.2014 – 10.3.2014

THE FACTORY | THIS WEEK 9.29.2014 - 10.3.2014

“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.” - Maya Angelou

Here is what we have going on this week, Monday, September 29 – Friday, October 3:


Register now for the October 13th On Design lecture, which will be the first in a series hosted here at The Factory. Natalie Chanin will be presenting, “The School of Bauhaus + Creative Process”.  The event is open to the public with limited seating.

Join us for First and Third Mondays in our studio space, to work on your latest sewing project in the company of other sewers.  Coffee, tea, and light breakfast will be available for purchase from the Factory Café.

Seats are still available for the upcoming Friends of the Café Dinner featuring Jim ‘N Nick’s BBQ on October 10th. For more information, contact: office (at)

Store Hours
Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm

Stop by any weekday at 2:00pm for a guided tour of our space, including The Factory, the Alabama Chanin production and design studio, and Building 14.

Join us for lunch at The Factory Café this week and enjoy a new menu every day.

Also, don’t forget to take a look in our cooler—fully stocked with homemade ready-to-go items like egg salad, pimento cheese, and our roasted tomato soup.

Café Hours
Monday – Friday, 11:00am – 3:00pm
*Lunch service begins at 11:00am, but coffee and snacks are available all day.

Below is the menu for Monday, September 29; check back each day for an updated menu.


 Four Deviled Eggs
made with locally-sourced, farm-fresh eggs 4.95

Bowl of Roasted Vegetable Soup
served with toast 6.50

Pimento Cheese Sandwich
served open-faced 7.45

Gram Perkins’ Homemade Egg Salad Sandwich
served open-faced 7.45

Grilled Cheese Sandwich 4.95


Sweet Potato Quiche
made with sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, and a Gruyere cheese,
served with roasted vegetables and a side of The Factory Salad 11.95

Four Small Puff Pastries
with house made ricotta and spinach,
served with a side of The Factory Salad 11.95

Roasted Vegetable Sandwich
roasted eggplant, squash, peppers, and red onions with fresh ricotta cheese,
served on homemade ciabatta bread,
with a side of The Factory Salad or your choice of chips 11.95

The Factory Salad
made with Jack-o-Lantern Farm’s greens, cherry tomatoes, sliced cucumber,
and shaved parmesan, tossed in a house made lemon vinaigrette,
served with a hard-boiled egg 6.95


Plain Cake
white cake with buttercream icing 3.95

 Peach-Bourbon Sorbet
topped with lime salt 4.25

Three Chocolate Chip Cookies 2.95

(All desserts are made to order; please allow 10 minutes.)


Two Deviled Eggs 2.45

Side of The Factory Salad 3.95

Cup of Soup with toast 4.50

Route 11 Potato Chips 1.50

Thyme-Infused Roasted Potatoes 3.25

Roasted Vegetables of the Day 3.25

Half Pimento Cheese Sandwich 3.95

Half Gram Perkins’ Egg Salad Sandwich 3.95

Choose three of the sides listed above,
served with one chocolate chip cookie, and your choice of tea or coffee 10.95


Mountain Valley Spring Water (flat or sparkling)
Full Bottle 3.75
Individual Size 1.90

Bottle Drinks 1.90

Organic Iced Tea
your choice sweet, unsweet, or half-and-half 1.90

Hot Tea 1.90

The Factory Blend Drip Coffee 2.50

When possible, we proudly serve organic and source our ingredients locally from
Jack-o-Lantern FarmBelle Chevre, and other purveyors.

Enjoy your lunch on exclusive Alabama Chanin @ Heath Ceramics dinnerware.



Phillip March Jones says, “Seeing is everything. But it takes practice.” Expanding our collaboration with Phillip, we asked him to take a look around our studio as part of a new and ongoing travel series—and an extension of his daily photo blog Pictures Take You Places.


“During my last trip to Florence, Natalie asked me to take some pictures of the re-imagined Factory with its new shop, café, and production facility. I spent an afternoon wandering around the building, amazed at what they had accomplished but also bewildered by this seemingly impossible marriage between a literal factory and the sophisticated, comfortable aesthetic that is Alabama Chanin. Chandeliers hang below fluorescent tubes, soft pieces of dyed cloth are hung to dry against corrugated metal walls, and plant shadows grow over the cracks in the asphalt. I love the idea of this great big metal building in Alabama, all dressed up and ready to go.”

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As a designer, I am constantly in search of inspiration for new patterns. Often, I find ideas in nature. Other times, I’m drawn to simple geometric shapes – such as circles or dots – and how they interact with one another. Polka dots, with their equal size and relative spacing, create a classic pattern on a garment. In fact, polka dots have quite an interesting history throughout fashion.

The spotted design gained popularity in the mid to late-19th century, as the polka dance came into fashion. Martha Stewart describes the origins of the term in her book, Encyclopedia of Sewing and Fabric Crafts:

“To capitalize on the popularity of the polka in the late nineteenth century, one enterprising American textile manufacturer coined the term “polka dot” to describe the dots on one of his fabrics. The name stuck, and today the term refers to round, evenly spaced dots of identical size.”

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My love for barbeque is no secret. Though I might be partial to our local fixings, I can honestly say most of the barbeque I’ve experienced throughout Alabama and the South is both distinctive and delicious. Each region and territory has its own unique recipes and tastes. One of the most well-known barbeque establishments from our state is Jim ‘N Nick’s, founded in Birmingham in 1985 by father and son team, Jim and Nick Pihakis. The company is rooted in community (with claims that it is “the key ingredient in any good bar-b-q”) and their belief that good food brings people together. Each Jim ‘N Nick’s location is locally owned and operated, which encourages every restaurant to develop relationships within their respective communities and advance the company principles of education, health and wellness, and local farming.

I’ve known Nick Pihakis for several years now. He is one of the most generous folks I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting—always in good spirits (and never one to turn down a good bourbon libation). In fact, Nick and several other renowned Southern chefs, writers, and farmers formed the Fatback Collective while discussing barbeque competitions over glasses of bourbon. The Fatback Collective has participated in competition barbecue events, while keeping the focus on quality flavor and sustainable techniques; members include John T. Edge, Ashley Christensen, Angie Mosier, and John Currence. The collective, as well as Jim ‘N Nick’s establishments, all source their pork from the farms that are part of the Fatback Pig Project—a collaboration that supports pasture-raised, heritage breeds.


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Beginning  October 13th, 2014 and as part of our ongoing Makeshift conversation, Alabama Chanin will host a series of discussions and lectures about design, art, business, community, and plenty of other topics. Events will be held at the Factory on the second Monday of each month. The format will shift, depending on topic and presenter, but you can look forward to informal talks, multi-media presentations, and hands-on workshops.

Makeshift began over three years ago as a conversation about design, craft, art, fashion, and DIY—how they intersect and how each discipline elevates the others. Since its beginnings, we have expanded the conversation, discussing how making in groups can build relationships and communities, all the while examining what the design community can learn from the slow food movement.


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Perhaps the most common advice given to any writer: write what you know. Fabric designer, crafter, illustrator, writer, friend, and heroine Heather Ross manages to do just that in her newest publication, How to Catch a Frog: And Other Stories of Family, Love, Dysfunction, Survival, and DIY. In the book, Heather shares wisdom, heartfelt stories, lessons from her eccentric childhood spent in rural Vermont, gorgeous humor, and her deep joy for life.

Published by Stuart Tabori Chang, one of the descriptions of the book reads:

“When, as a twenty-something, Heather complained to her mother about a long list of things she had missed out on and that had compromised her chance of ever leading a ’normal’ life (immunizations, a healthy respect for authority), her mother waved a hand and replied, ’Well, you should thank me, because you have a lot of good stories instead.’”

The stories that Heather weaves, particularly the tales of a childhood surrounded by nature, remind me in-parts of my own daughter, Maggie, who spent much of her summer this year in Seale, Alabama, with her dad, Butch…swimming in a cattle watering trough, exploring the woods, riding ponies, creating art, catching frogs, lizards, turtles, and snakes, and—much to my dismay—having a pretty close encounter with a crocodile.


Heather’s anecdotes of her youthful adventures elicit emotional responses without relying on conventions or tropes. I laughed, I cried, and I found true appreciation for her life lessons.

I was (luckily) invited to read an early copy of the book and contributed this review on the book’s back cover:

I’ve long counted myself among Heather’s admirers; I am now a full-fledged devotee, grateful to her for inviting us all into her world.

Purchase a copy of Heather’s book from our online store, and read more about her other noteworthy publication Heather Ross PRINTS here.

How to Catch a Frog: And Other Stories of Family, Love, Dysfunction, Survival, and DIY by Heather Ross is a Melanie Falick Book published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, an imprint of Abrams (our own publisher).


THE FACTORY | THIS WEEK 9.22.2014 – 9.26.2014

THE FACTORY | THIS WEEK 9.22.2014 - 9.26.2014

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston Churchill

Here is what we have going on this week, Monday, September 22 – Friday, September 26:


Join us for First & Third Mondays in our studio space, to work on your latest sewing project in the company of other sewers.  Coffee, tea, and light breakfast will be available for purchase from the Factory Café.

While you’re here at The Factory, see “Making Pictures: Three for a Dime”- a collaborative exhibition between Alabama Chanin, artist Maxine Payne, and Phillip March Jones of Institute 193. The exhibit will be closing at the end of the week.

Spaces are still available for our upcoming Studio Week Workshop which runs from September 29th to October 5th. For more information contact: workshops (at)

Store Hours
Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm

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Nashville-based duo Great Peacock, formed by Alabama native Blount Floyd and Mississippi-born Andrew Nelson, combine rock and roll guitars with country influences and a heavy dose of harmony. The result is what Nelson calls “pop, with folk tendencies.” In the past year, they have tackled a heavy touring schedule, making appearances on Paste’s South by Southwest stage, PBS’ Bluegrass Underground, and Music City Roots. Blount put together this playlist, inspired by the hours spent in their touring van and it includes some of their most listened-to songs. He laughed, “These are some of the songs we jam out to while chasing the rock-and-roll dragon.”

Name(s): Blount Floyd and Andrew Nelson
Band: Great Peacock
Instrument(s) you play: BF – vocals, acoustic git-fiddle, keyboard, drums and percussion; AN – vocals and guitar
Place of Birth/Hometowns: BF – Dothan, Alabama; AN – Floewood, Mississippi
Presently residing: Nashville, Tennessee

AC: When did you start playing music?

AN: I started playing when I was about 15.
BF: I started playing fiddle around age 10 and my parents have some horrible home videos of me wearing a Garth Brooks-style western shirt, squeaking away something awful. I started playing guitar around the 8th grade.

AC: What are some of your proudest moments as a musician (or in your life)?

BF: Playing Bluegrass Underground was a pretty surreal experience.
AN: Every time I write a new song that won’t get out of my head. There’s the same excitement and pride that follows every time. It’s the ultimate drug.

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